Tavares – 1973 – Check It Out
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When asked to name the Soul Music supergroups of the ’70s and early ’80s, folks tend to gravitate to familiar names such as Earth, Wind and Fire, the Spinners, the Commodores and the Isley Brothers. However, five brothers from New Bedford, Massachusetts – Ralph, Tiny, Chubby, Butch and Pooch Tavares – arguably created the most consistently high quality soul music of that period.
Originally called “Chubby and the Turnpikes,” the Tavares brothers spent the late ’60s and early ’70s in their native New England covering tunes of R&B greats at various clubs, while trying to land a record deal. They finally scored a contract with Capitol Records’ then-new black music division and released their first single, “Check It Out,” in 1973. It soared to the top 10 on the R&B charts and became the group’s first top 40 pop hit. It also became the centerpiece for the their Johnny Bristol-produced debut album, an excellent example of early ’70s Soul that also featured the hit “The Sound That Lonely Makes.” The Check It Out LP gave the first glimpse of tight brotherly harmonies and alternating lead vocals that would become the Tavares trademark sound.
A1 If That’s The Way You Want It 2:49
A2 Strangers In Dark Corners 3:57
A3 That’s The Sound That Lonely Makes 3:42
A4 Check It Out 3:25
A5 Wish You Were With Me Mary 3:23
B1 I’ll Never Say Never Again 2:35
B2 Little Girl 2:35
B3 Let’s Make The Best Of What We Got 3:35
B4 I’m In Love 3:58
B5 Mama’s Litle Girl 3:05
From Earth, Wind & Fire and L.T.D. to The O’Jays and the Dramatics, many of the great soul outfits of the 1960s and 1970s paid more than their share of dues. None of those groups were overnight sensations, they struggled a long time before becoming huge, and the same can be said about Tavares. The Boston vocal group was formed in 1964, and it wasn’t until 1973 that Tavares finally landed a deal with a major label. But there is one important difference between Tavares and those other soulsters; unlike EWF (which didn’t really start to achieve supergroup status until its fifth album) or the O’Jays (which recorded its share of commercially unsuccessful records before becoming famous at Philadelphia International), Tavares made it big with its first album. Capitol didn’t screw around when it signed the Tavares siblings in 1973; making sure that they hit the ground running, Capitol united them with singer/composer/producer Johnny Bristol on their debut album, Check It Out. Known for 1970s hits like “You and I” and “Hang on in There, Baby,” Bristol was a master of smooth, sophisticated Northern soul, and he proves to be a major asset to Tavares on gems like “Strangers in Dark Corners,” Billy Preston‘s “Little Girl,” “That’s the Sound That Lonely Makes” (a number ten R&B hit), and the romantic title song (which reached number five on the R&B singles charts). Before Check It Out, Tavares was considered a noteworthy local attraction in the Boston area. When this excellent album took off, the quintet became famous all over the U.S.