Thursday, November 16, 2017

Two more soul men pass on

Two more soul men have passed on in recent days, adding to the long list of those who have died in the last few years.
Chess recording artist Maurice McAlister was the leader singer of the Radiants, who made what in my opinion was one of the best records of 1965 (it made number one in my personal top ten), namely Voice Your Choice. He was also one half of the Chicago soul duo Maurice and Mac, who made a stunning version of You Left The Water Running at Muscle Shoals among other excellent recordings.
Maurice formed the Radiants in 1962 as Chicago's answer to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, having previously sung in a gospel group. Their first record Father Knows Best showed Maurice's voice off to good effect and it was followed by other singles on Chess, including Shy Guy, I Got A
Girl and I Gotta Dance to Keep My Baby which failed to break through. Their first big hit Voice Your Choice reached number 16 in the Billboard chart and the follow up It Ain't No Big Thing did even better, reaching 14. The group's only other UK single release was Hold On in 1968.
Meanwhile Maurice had begun recording with Green 'Mac' McLauren, a former member of the Radiamts who had been drafted into the Army, as Maurice and Mac. The Chess brothers took them to Muscle Shoals where they recorded several tracks with Rick Hall, including You Left the Water Running, a minor hit, You're The One and Why Don't You Try Me. The duo's final record, very much in the Sam and Dave mould, was But You Know I Love You in 1970. It's clear from the Radiants and Maurice and Mac records that Maurice McAlister was a superb talent, but somehow he, and the groups he was in, never quite made it to the top level. RIP Maurice.
Another recent loss to the soul world is Robert Knight. Originally from Franklin, Tennessee, he recorded a version of Free Me in 1961 for Dot, a song better known by Johnny Preston. In 1967 he
recorded Everlasting Love for the Rising Sons label which made the US top 20. It was a huge UK hit
for the Love Affair reaching number one, preventing Robert's original from becoming a hit there. After a couple of relatively unsuccessful pop singles he hit the jackpot again in 1973 with Love On A Mountain Top which made the UK top ten. A reissued single of Everlasting Love also made the UK top 20 soon afterwards.


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