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23 Jul 2017

Archie Whitewater "Archie Whitewater "1970 US Psych Soul Jazz Rock,Brass Rock

Archie Whitewater  "Archie Whitewater "1970 US Psych Soul Jazz Rock,Brass Rock

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Archie Whitewater was not a person, but an eight-member band, none of whom were named Archie Whitewater. Their sole and self-titled album attracted little notice on its 1970 release, in part because it was recorded for the Cadet/Concept subsidiary of Chess, which was nearing the end of its time as an active label of consequence. Though it's sometimes categorized as jazz-rock or horn rock, and there's some validity to those tags, in fact it's more of a laid-back blend of soul, jazz, and a little rock and pop than most early jazz-rock albums. Refreshingly, it's not nearly as bombastic as some of the material by the most famous bands in the vocal jazz-rock genre, instead sounding relaxed and fluid without getting boring or too mellow. While the songs (all original, with keyboardist Bob Berkowitz doing the bulk of the writing) aren't too special and lack the hooks of Chicago or Blood, Sweat & Tears, they offer pleasing genre-crossing grooves. The high-pitched male singing on "Northstar" and the ballad "Life Is a River" in particular project a nice fluttering quality, and "Mist of the Early Morning" has a cool effervescent loping feel, especially when it goes into a vibes break. Though it fits only loosely into the jazz-rock designation, this is recommended to collectors of the style looking for something obscure and a little different, with some of the more low-key cuts in particular suited for reflective late-night listening with a muted warm glow. The 2011 reissue on RPM adds good historical liner Richie Unterberger........

Can you imagine paying $100,000 for a group and then hiding it away for over a year?" So ran the first line in an article about Archie Whitewater back in August 1970. in the Free Lance-Star newspaper out of Fredericksburg. Virginia. "Well, that's exactly what Chess Records did with the group..." Not that Chess's eventual publicity campaign made stars out of the nine musicians in the band. In fact. Archie Whitewater's lone album for Chess's cool spin-off label Cadet Concept, is a best-kept secret among collectors - and this reissue, remastered from the original tapes, marks its first-ever appearance on CD.

Copies of Archie Whitewater now sell for upwards of £100. fuelled chiefly by the plethora of funky drum breaks and beats scattered across the album. The album's most acknowledged track is probably 'Cross Country', a mellow funk track with some sublime electronic piano and serene vocals, because it was exhumed by Chicago hip-hop artist Common (or Common Sense. as he then called himself) for the track 'Chapter 13 (Rich Man Vs Poor Man)' on his second album Resurrection from 1994.

Another Archie Whitewater song. 'Hulk', was borrowed by 90s New York hip-hop act Blahzay Blahzay. Other rap artists followed suit, usually recycling some aspect of 'Cross Country' within their music. Since the 90s. the cult status of Archie Whitewater's sole album has grown steadily: a quick glance at websites like Popsike reveals just how many copies of the album have sold for silly money on eBay and the record is praised by numerous blogs which pride themselves on their crate digging credentials.

And yet despite the plethora of information now available about myriad acts via the internet, precious little has been documented about their story. Simply put, Archie Whitewater adopted the big band 'horn rock' mould pioneered by the likes Blood Sweat And Tears in the late sixties, fusing elements or funk soul. psychedelic rock and jazz into their songs. Also some debate dwelt on their possible association with other acts on the Cadet Concept labels (namely Rotary Connection and the productions of Charles Stepney) or even whether they were black or white.

Archie Whitewater captures a period in American music when musicians adopted a carefree approach to combining their influences. In so doing, they created some idyllic music which sounds unrestrained by the usual straitjacket imposed on artists on major labels. After some forty years. RPM is proud to usher this fine record into the digital age. John Reed. November 2011.......

Obscure one, this. A lot of soul and funk fans will know of the Rotary Connection fronted by the late, great Minnie Riperton. They issued albums on Marshall Chess's progressive soul label Cadet Concept, produced by Charles Stepney. Terry Callier made similarly serene stuff for Cadet. But Archie Whitewater have remained the best-kept secret of crate diggers and vinyl obsessives. The album's been selling for £150 on eBay mostly because it's been sampled by hip-hop artists like Common. But nothing was known about the band.

So what's it like? Well, it's less inyer-face than the likes of Blood, Sweat & Tears and other "horn rock" acts of the period. Maybe it's jazzier, which is explained by the presence of experienced jazz saxcophinist Travis Jenkins. But what really sells it is the serene, sublime quality of the music and the vocals. Only 'Hulk', the last track, is proper funk. The rest is just beautiful: music that the likes of Zero 7 et al could only dream of making........By Angular.............

There was a minor movement in the late 60s/early 70s to make rock’s sound larger without turning the amps up; Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago and CCS were brassy bands capable of a cacophony thanks to horn sections and sometimes soulful grooves. While you’d pay 50p for some Chicago LPs, 1970’s Archie Whitewater – the product of a band, not an individual – is worth megabucks, partly due to being stuffed with sample-friendly beats and partly because, like most Cadet Concept LPs, it’s experimental, with jazzy, occasionally psychedelic tendencies. Mist Of The Early Morning is an example: it sounds like a traditional folk song (it’s co-penned, like most of the record, by keyboardist Bob Berkowitz) placed in 3/4 time and given an extended jazzy break. Friends And Neighbours is a templated countryish pop tune about going away to find yourself, but offers a samba beat and a lovely guitar solo. Side Two gets funkier, as on Home Again, which boasts a lowdown automaton groove and horns as tight as Speedos. Cross Country drops the tempo but retains a sparkling swing; the fusion instrumental, Hulk, is seven minutes too short.
You’d never mistake this for an Archie Blackwater: the vocals are too thin and lyrics too hippie. But Whitewater’s groove tunes still stir up silt, and the rest is decent 1970 explorative rock. ....Record Collector...........

Whitewater, Archie (hwit'woter, arch'e), An eight member musical entity developed in the early 1970's, which revitalized the musical art, by emphasizing the importance of the music, not the men adj: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a style of musical expression in the 1970's, that is marked generally by strong harmonic textures and well defined melodies, made special by the distinctive quality of composition and the unique timbre.................

Archie Whitewater
*Travis Jenkins - Tenor Flute, Vocals
*Tony Vece - Bass,
*Sam Burtis - Trombone
*Lynn Sheffield - Alto, Vibes
*Peter Labarbera - Vibes
*Bob Berkowitz - Keyboard
*Fred Johnson - Vocals
*Paul Metzke - Guitar
*JIm Abbott - Drums

A1 Don't Be Short
A2 Northstar
A3 Mist Of The Early Morning
A4 Life Is A River
A5 Friends And Neighbors
A6 Country To The City
B1 Home Again
B2 Cross Country
B3 Lament For The Walking Dead
B4 Seacost
B5 Hulk

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