Charles Cherell – 1974 – For Sweet People From Sweet Charles
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A supremely fantastic album by Charles Cherell, one that’s always woefully overlooked in discussions of James Brown’s incredible People label! Sweet Charles, Charles Sherell, was a great lost soul vocalist who had a voice that was warm and mellow, with a sweetness that was often missing from James’ singing – but which sounded great with his arrangements and production. Fred Wesley and Dave Matthews arranged this one and only album, and the record’s a great blend of sweet soul tracks, funky numbers, and other stellar grooves. There’s a killer version of “Soul Man“, that begins with a very tasty break; the monster “Yes, It’s You“, which has a sweetly sliding intro that’s ripe for sampling; the righteous political “Why Can’t I Be Treated Like A Man“‘; and lots of other nice ones too!
A1 Strangers in the Night 3:32
A2 Soul Man 2:57
A3 Dedicated to the One I Love 3:55
A4 I’ll Never Let You Break My Heart Again 3:22
B1 Why Can’t I Be Treated Like a Man 4:03
B2 I Like It Like That 3:18
B3 Give the Woman a Chance 3:33
B4 Yes It’s You 3:02
B5 Outa Sight – Outa Mind 3:33
Charles Sherrell climbed on board the James Brown soul train back in 1968, acting as bassplayer/singer and organist. He got thrown out of the band even before the major ‘Maceo & Co.’ walkout in 1969, but he evidently fell back in grace with the Godfather, who pulled him back in in 1974.
Sherrell’s bass chops are stupendously funky, as is displayed on such Brown classics as “Say It Loud, I’m Black & I’m Proud”, “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing” and, post-reconciliation, “I Can’t Stand It ’76” and “Get Up Offa That Thing”. On his own, however, Sherrell traded in much of the vicious FONK for a slicker, more sophisticated bag of soul, going for a Marvin Gaye/Love Man approach.
Dubbed Sweet Charles by the Boss himself, his sole solo LP is more sweet, lavishly arranged soul than lowdown, dirty funk. But it is appealing all the same.
A Latinized version of Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man” is the most well-known cut here. Sherrell’s take on the chestnut “Strangers In the Night” is more of a schmaltzy, jazzy affair whereas “Why Can’t I Be Treated Like a Man” surely ranks as the most controversial, political tune here, even if the music still is more akin to Philly Soul than JB funk.
Sweet Charles really stretches out on such orchestrated luv ballads as “Dedicated to the One I Love”, “Give the Woman a Chance” and “Outa Sight – Outa Mind”.
Most funky of all are the mid-tempo, uplifting romper “Yes It’s You”, the busy, pacey “I’ll Never Let You Break My Heart Again”, and, especially, “I Like It Like That”, the only track here that oozes with that James Brown vibe of rollercoastin’ funk.
A great soul album, to be sure, but for those strictly into funk, Sweet Charles’ effort may be a tad too polished.