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  1. #1

    Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes

    I know that this is not Motown related per se, but since Motown released some of Al Green's material on CD, I hope this post gets a pass.

    The background vocal done by Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes were, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic. For the longest time, I assumed they were black. I was taken by surprise that they are, indeed, white.

    I'd like to see a piece done about them.

  2. #2
    Gary, I, too, am a fan of Rhodes, Chalmers, & Rhodes. I've loved the back-up harmonies of that trio since discovering Willie Mitchell's productions back in the mid-'70s. Like Phil Spector's Blossoms and Motown's Andantes, Rhodes, Chalmers & Rhodes sang back-up on not only Al Green's recordings, but on several (if not all) of the HI Records roster of artists produced by Willie Mitchell including Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles, O.V. Wright, etc. Like you, I'm super-surprised -- almost shocked, in fact! -- to learn that they're white. You sure could have fooled me! I've included a photo of them below. I hope it works.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/J8SUrRsmF4GB6kao8

  3. #3
    And here's some Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes bio info. contained within the photo link above.

    http://www.sirshambling.com/articles...odes/index.php

  4. #4
    Interesting stuff. They released an album of their own in 1980, Scandal.

    https://www.discogs.com/artist/51861...halmers-Rhodes

  5. #5
    Yeah, they did, Tom. I listened to the "Scandal" track on YouTube. You would never know it was the same group at all. (White Pop/Rock) I guess R-C-R needed Willie Mitchell's Memphis-soul HI productions to give them their signature sound that we've known and loved.

  6. #6
    they also backed Mary Wells on her Reprise single "I Found What I Wanted"bw"I See A Future In You" produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo in Muscle Shoals early 70's.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    they also backed Mary Wells on her Reprise single "I Found What I Wanted"bw"I See A Future In You" produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo in Muscle Shoals early 70's.
    Thanks for the information, motony. I wasn't aware that Mary Wells had recorded anything on Reprise, let alone this single co-produced by Rick Hall at Fame studio. Thanks to YouTube, I see the label copy says that Charles Chalmers did the String and Vocal arrangements. As always, Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes' back-up vocals are sweet and soulful as ever on both sides of the record. I wonder if the single ever came out on CD, most likely on a various artists-type sampler, if ever.

  8. #8
    This is what Soulful Detroit is all about. I remember the names on the back of Al Green albums, but never realised they had such an interesting back story. We learn all the time. Thanks for this thread

  9. #9
    Thanks for all of the responses. What a joy this website can be! Such a wealth of information.

  10. #10
    Like a lot of African American women in the 1970s, my mother was a HUGE fan of Al Gsreen. I remember that she went to see him at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ. I also remember the hens gathering at our house to listen to his albums. Ahhh, the memories!

  11. #11
    The attached article tells how Charles Chalmers got started playing sax with Willie Mitchell, and how Willie Mitchell got Charles started with Rhodes Chalmers Rhodes as permanent back-up singers for HI Records. Even more surprising is how Charles' talent afforded him the opportunity of working with Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd -- playing sax and writing the musical arrangements for Aretha's biggest early hits at Fame studio for Atlantic Records. What an all-around talented guy Charles is!

    http://www.charliechalmers.com/bio.htm

  12. #12
    very interesting.I would love to hear the other 2 songs that Mary Wells recorded there at Muscle Shoals.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    very interesting.I would love to hear the other 2 songs that Mary Wells recorded re there at Muscle Shoals.
    Here you are, motony.

    MARY WELLS (Reprise Records):

    I Found What I Wanted
    https://youtu.be/ULSCpB3LlI0

    I See A Future In You
    https://youtu.be/95UcOkjwuqM

  14. #14
    Here is a photo of Charlie Chalmers playing sax at an Etta James recording session for which he did the horn arrangements, followed by an interview discussing what it was like working with Jerry Wexler, Rick Hall, Willie Mitchell, Etta James, Aretha, Wilson Picket, etc. Very interesting and informative.

    https://www.al.com/life/2019/04/the-...etha-hits.html

  15. #15
    yea, I have my original 45 of "I Found What I Wanted" but she recorded 2 other songs at those same sessions but she couldn't remember their titles.

  16. #16
    Love the Al Green sound. Was a dedicated fan as soon as I first heard it on TIRED OF BEING ALONE. This is new information about it for me. Good stuff.

  17. #17
    Me, too, Boogie. Back in the day, that's what inspired me to check out some of the other HI Records artists like Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles, and O.V. Wright. As it turned out, I love all of them. They've all got the same Willie Mitchell "sound". If you like Al Green's sound, you'll like the others. Their lead vocalists could have been pretty much interchangeable with each other's albums (same producer, same musicians, all with Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes on back-up vocals) just like Philles artists were interchangeable, as were Motown's, '70s Philly Soul, or any other specialized "sound". To me, that's a good thing, not a detriment. Here are some examples:

    SYL JOHNSON - "We Did It"
    https://youtu.be/5cPY77fJTEk

    SYL JOHNSON - "I'm Yours"
    https://youtu.be/gPw-7-0P3RQ

    SYL JOHNSON - "Back For A Taste Of Your Love"
    https://youtu.be/X6gSqGrf7SQ

    O.V. WRIGHT - "Trying To Live My Life"
    https://youtu.be/WkmiokUIXFw

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    yea, I have my original 45 of "I Found What I Wanted" but she recorded 2 other songs at those same sessions but she couldn't remember their titles.
    Here they are, motony:

    MARY WELLS (Reprise):

    "If You Can't Give Her Love (Give Her Up)"
    https://youtu.be/czrlaOaGw4Q

    "Cancel My Subscription"
    https://youtu.be/D8_CY7zowd0

    NOTE: Some copies of "If you Can't Give Her Love (Give Her Up)" were released with "Don't Keep Me Hanging On" as the B-side. Unfortunately, no one has uploaded "Don't Keep Me Hanging On" to YouTube.
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 05-25-2019 at 10:34 AM.

  19. #19
    Oh, those were done a few years later, Produced by Bobby Womack in LA. The other 2 tracks I was talking about were done in Muscle Shoals, Produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo with Rhoades, Chalmers & Rhoades on BG.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    Oh, those were done a few years later, Produced by Bobby Womack in LA. The other 2 tracks I was talking about were done in Muscle Shoals, Produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo with Rhoades, Chalmers & Rhoades on BG.
    When I Googled Mary Wells on Reprise, the two singles I listed (one produced by Rick Hall and the other by Bobby Womack), that was all that came up. Maybe Mary was recalling tracks that she recorded which remained in the vaults, unreleased?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    Me, too, Boogie. Back in the day, that's what inspired me to check out some of the other HI Records artists like Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles, and O.V. Wright. As it turned out, I love all of them. They've all got the same Willie Mitchell "sound". If you like Al Green's sound, you'll like the others. Their lead vocalists could have been pretty much interchangeable with each other's albums (same producer, same musicians, all with Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes on back-up vocals) just like Philles artists were interchangeable, as were Motown's, '70s Philly Soul, or any other specialized "sound". To me, that's a good thing, not a detriment. Here are some examples:

    SYL JOHNSON - "We Did It"
    https://youtu.be/5cPY77fJTEk

    SYL JOHNSON - "I'm Yours"
    https://youtu.be/gPw-7-0P3RQ

    SYL JOHNSON - "Back For A Taste Of Your Love"
    https://youtu.be/X6gSqGrf7SQ

    O.V. WRIGHT - "Trying To Live My Life"
    https://youtu.be/WkmiokUIXFw
    Very interesting , listening to those Syl Johnson tracks. Vocally, I'd call him sort of a poor man's Al Green.

    Looks like Al Green was already at Hi and working with Willie M. when Syl came on board in the early seventies. I wonder what Al thought of that , and if the two were friends or rivals?
    Al Green definitely had the advantage of being ten years younger with all that goes with it.

    Green is one of the few artists I pursued each new release of. I even bought the retro BACK UP TRAIN LP recorded before his HI times when it came out.


    from it:


  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Very interesting , listening to those Syl Johnson tracks. Vocally, I'd call him sort of a poor man's Al Green.

    Looks like Al Green was already at Hi and working with Willie M. when Syl came on board in the early seventies. I wonder what Al thought of that , and if the two were friends or rivals?
    Al Green definitely had the advantage of being ten years younger with all that goes with it.

    Green is one of the few artists I pursued each new release of. I even bought the retro BACK UP TRAIN LP recorded before his HI times when it came out.


    from it:

    A "poor man's Al Green"!!! That's funny! Now I'm gonna think of that every time I play Syl Johnson! LOL!!! I have no idea what the relationship was like between Al Green and Syl Johnson. The only thing I've read between the two is that Al Green wrote the HI recording "Take Me To The River", but Syl Johnson had the hit with it. Seems to me that both guys made royalties on that record (Al as songwriter and Syl's performance), and both would be grateful to each other. In reality, however, that may or may not have been the case. One thing is for sure -- Al Green was 'king of the hill' at HI Records. I remember his massive popularity well at the time. He could do no wrong on the charts, and the quality of his albums was consistently high from LP to LP. (Like you, I bought each and every one of them -- up through and including "The Belle Album".) That's what made me check out Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles, as I couldn't get enough of Willie Mitchell's sound. I even like the pre-Hi recording you provided for "Guilty". It actually sounds like it could have been an early Hi recording before Willie perfected his sound. I just may have to seek out that CD, if it's still available.

    Here's a quick comparison of Al Green's version of "Take Me To The River" and Syl Johnson's, of which I love both equally:

    AL GREEN's:
    https://youtu.be/9FBUgdhxe9M

    SYL JOHNSON's:
    https://youtu.be/jF-VGjAwh9E

  23. #23
    Hi!

    From my Syl Johnson story:

    Syl: "I made a mistake of going to Hi (in late '71). All attention was on Al Green. When I had my first press party, I went to New York. 'Take Me to the River' was a big hit, and I thought I had a press party. Next thing I know, Willie Mitchell comes over 'say, can you boys play Al's songs.' I asked why. 'Al's on the show tonight.' And it was my press party! That's why I made a mistake. I should have gone to Atlantic, but that's too late now. If Willie Mitchell was good, why didn't he produce a big hit on me. It was like a lousy set-up."

    https://www.soulexpress.net/syljohnson_discography.htm

    Best regards
    Heikki

  24. #24
    Thanks for sharing that, Heikki! I sure wasn't expecting to hear that. You wouldn't expect to be double-crossed and humiliated by your own record producer. It surely must have been hard for Syl to work with Willie again after that slap in the face.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    A "poor man's Al Green"!!! That's funny! Now I'm gonna think of that every time I play Syl Johnson! LOL!!! I have no idea what the relationship was like between Al Green and Syl Johnson. The only thing I've read between the two is that Al Green wrote the HI recording "Take Me To The River", but Syl Johnson had the hit with it. Seems to me that both guys made royalties on that record (Al as songwriter and Syl's performance), and both would be grateful to each other. In reality, however, that may or may not have been the case. One thing is for sure -- Al Green was 'king of the hill' at HI Records. I remember his massive popularity well at the time. He could do no wrong on the charts, and the quality of his albums was consistently high from LP to LP. (Like you, I bought each and every one of them -- up through and including "The Belle Album".) That's what made me check out Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles, as I couldn't get enough of Willie Mitchell's sound. I even like the pre-Hi recording you provided for "Guilty". It actually sounds like it could have been an early Hi recording before Willie perfected his sound. I just may have to seek out that CD, if it's still available.

    Here's a quick comparison of Al Green's version of "Take Me To The River" and Syl Johnson's, of which I love both equally:

    AL GREEN's:
    https://youtu.be/9FBUgdhxe9M

    SYL JOHNSON's:
    https://youtu.be/jF-VGjAwh9E

    Ha! Ha! Gary! Glad you are amused. I'll explain my poor man's comparison.

    When I worked in a record store in San Francisco in the early eighties, free tickets to events often came my way. When Sheena Easton's tour passed through SF , (at the Orpheum Theatre on Market St.?) , I went with a co-worker and her husband . When it was over , and we were discussing the night , Gloria called Sheena "a poor man's Barbra Streisand" . I was struck by it , and have ever since gauged some artists against others in that way . lol!

    Immediately ,the stand out difference of the two TAKE ME TO THE RIVERs is the harmonica on Syl's version of which his playing is apparently a big part of his stage persona.
    That version's intro reminded me of MISS YOU by The Rolling Stones , so I looked it up to see if that was Syl Johnson playing on it . (no)

    For me , each of Al Green's single releases topped the one before it , until his sound culminated to its peak in the uplifting "YOU OUGHT TO BE WITH ME". ( the later "L-O-V-E" though has proved itself a perennial favorite for me). Album cut faves include HOW CAN YOU MEND ... and FOR THE GOOD TIMES . How about you Gary?

    I had the good fortune at the age of sixteen to first see Al Green in concert in 1971 and in.... Detroit!! and it was quite a memorable experience . I'll have to share the details here sometime.

    Of my favorite concerts , that one comes to mind, that and the Ohio Players when at their peak, Donna Summer in the 70's, and ....and in the late eighties, ...Barry Manilow!!!! lol!!
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 06-02-2019 at 04:06 PM.

  26. #26
    Boogie, your "Poor Man's" theory has caused me to compare more artists than I care to admit to here! To avoid offending anyone, I think it's safest if I keep the results to myself! HaHa!!!

    Yeah, Syl Johnson's "Take Me To The River" contains a harmonica, while Al Green's has strings in the intro as well as in the bridge of the song. Other than Al's spoken intro, both versions are pretty much the same backing track. (I sure love Charlie Chalmer's horn arrangements! They're stellar!)

    I agree, I love all of Al Green's singles. He also had an array of super album tracks. Since you asked, my favorites, in addition to the ones you've already listed above, are: I Can't Get Next To You, Love And Happiness, The City, ONE-NIGHT STAND (my all-time favorite), I'm Hooked On You, Let's Get Married, That's The Way It Is, Keep Me Cryin', Smile A Little Bit More, I Tried To Tell Myself, and The Truth Marches on. I wasn't crazy about "The Belle Album". For me, the appeal of Al's albums, as well as Syl Johnson's and Ann Peebles', was the sound of Willie Mitchell's productions. Without that element, "The Belle Album" didn't cut it for me. How about you, Boogie? Did you like it?

    For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with Al Green's "One-Night Stand", I rate it as my favorite because it's the perfect combination of Willie Mitchell's production, Al Green's lead vocals, Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes' back-up vocals, and those Memphis horns! Everybody involved was cookin' in high gear. Here's why:

    AL GREEN - "One-Night Stand"
    https://youtu.be/rYXayKgMVl8

    Living in Detroit in 1971, as you were, I can easily imagine you being in the center hub of everything musical -- especially Motown, for at least another year before their exit to California. October '71 was when I was given a tour of Motown's Donovan Building. Just as 1960's Phil Spector and Motown had made an incredible impact on my life, Hi Records' 1970's Memphis Sound and '70s Philly Soul made an equally gigantic impact on me. Musically speaking, it was an exciting time to be alive! The 1973-1982 Disco era was equally thrilling for me -- at least the American disco productions of which most of the best were Black. The Euro-Disco white-artist productions not so much, although they were widely revered by some disco fans.

    Even Barry Manilow, eh?!!! Don't feel bad -- I have my own favorite middle-of-the-road artists as well, like Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray. Heck, I even love Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra!
    I have all 50+ of his Dot albums on CD. When I admit that, people younger than me usually cringe! But that's alright. I seriously couldn't get enough of his twin-sax sound, as on his biggest '50s hit "Sail Along Silvery Moon". To each his own!
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 06-02-2019 at 07:41 PM.

  27. #27
    Hi Gary. yes , I agree ONE NIGHT STAND incorporates well all the needed ingredients of the Mitchell sound. Thanks for mentioning The City, I'm enjoying it a lot , think it might've worked as a single , if Al were willing to depart from his ongoing romantic themes. What's glaringly missing from THE CITY though , is the title of this thread ...those back up singers! Time for another round of listening to LOVE AND HAPPINESS too.
    I agree that THE BELLE ALBUM was weak and revealed the importance of Willie Mitchell, just not the same without him, and that was the end of a great run.
    I do remember hearing I FEEL GOOD at one of the bigger discos in SF at the time and it was satisfying to know his sound was being welcomed there.

    We parallel a lot it seems in our musical journey Gary. I never distinguished at the time that the Philly sound was so largely responsible for the music that was dominating the club scene . I knew the Ojays and Harold Melvin, Lou Rawls etc.... they were PI, but not Salsoul and The Trammps and John Davis and on and on. I just was enjoying the music and hadn't taken the time to connect the dots.
    One of the things I most treasure about the disco era , was its color blindness . It just didn't matter what color the producers of the music were --- Patrick Adams , Warren Schatz, Hal Davis, Rinder and Lewis ... all just anonymous names behind the music. Same with the performers, many remained faceless even on the album covers.

    Just as it's so interesting to now learn that R C and R , the voices backing Al Green were white. Who knew? Who cared ? Who gave it a thought? I think it's a good thing though , because it just proves the point of ....who cares.

    My taste in music is pretty vast, that's why Top 40 worked so well for me, the diversity of it. Sad that's gone . I'm not apologetic about any of , I liked Barry Manilow's stuff pretty consistently. I had to mention him when it comes to concerts though because his really stood out. I've attended many concerts. What made this one of Barry's special was that it was an outside show at a fair grounds hardly the Barry Manilow image one might have as a setting for him. This was at a point in his career where he couldn't yet claim legendary status and just hang out in Vegas. He was doing less than choice gigs. SO it was a hot summer day at the fair, and they had a huge fan blowing for him. Barry performed as if he was having the time of his life , lots of banter and spontaneity . At one point he could hear another performer on one of the lesser stages. he asked the crowd "who is that?" Jack Johnson!!! "Hey ,Jack Johnson !, " Manilow shouts into his microphone , "Shut UP !!" lol!
    Then at another point he centered himself in front of the giant fan that was blowing for him, undid his vest and let it blow like short wings in the wind. He went with the flow and that's what made it entertaining . Too many of the concerts I've seen are over rehearsed and the performance delivered is for anywhere - any city.

    The Carpenters are top tier in my book . John Denver. Billy Vaughn though, I know nothing of , I will check him out !! (where do I start?)
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 06-06-2019 at 06:08 PM.

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