The Choice Four – 1974 – The Finger Pointers

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choice four - the finger pointers - front

The Choice Four were a very classy all male quartet that I imagine RCA had high hopes for. The now legendary Van McCoy was beginning to hone his sound that proved so devastating in the more sophisticated 70s discos, and The Choice Four were one of his earliest projects to benefit from this flourishing talent. Ironically, their debut “The Finger Pointers” was predominantly ballad driven, but perhaps demonstrated the more mature aspects of Van McCoy’s repertoire. They went on to score with another two wonderful albums without ever really catching fire with the masses. Hear their debut and contribute to the belated rapturous applause that it deserves.

Tracks
A1 The Finger Pointers (part 1) 3.06
A2 Can’t Get Used To Sleeping Alone 3.24
A3 The Woman I’m Being True To 3.27
A4 I Need Your Love To Keep Me Warm 3.30
A5 I Can’t Make you Love Me 3.27
B1 Ready, Willing and Able 2.52
B2 You’re So Right For Me 3.59
B3 If I Don’t Love You 3.06
B4 The Finger Pointers (part 2) 3.16

choice four - the finger pointers - back

Review by Trakbuv

Only the choicest cuts are selected for your delectation – and this week we include The Choice Four. A quartet of the finest, succulent soul tenderised in a lush gravy courtesy of Cordon Bleu chef extraordinaire, Van McCoy. Mr McCoy had come fresh from success as arranger and producer with The Stylistics (“Heavy” and “Let’s put it all together” LPs, under the close supervision of Hugo and Luigi) and working withΒ Faith, Hope & Charity (with whom The Choice Four would later record “A time for celebration”). Armed with a slew of McCoy originals, he seems to be much more liberal with the soul sauce and less inclined with those familiar heavy drums and vibraphone laced melodies that scored so heavily in the mid to late seventies. And with one the earliest collaborations with long-term writing/arranger partner, Charles Kipps, this LP is as much an important statement in the career of Van McCoy as it is for the Choice Four.

The Choice Four were Bobby Hamilton (lead tenor), Ted Maduro (second tenor), Pete Marshall (first tenor) and Charles Blagmore (tenor baritone and bass). All were very adept at taking centre stage providing a lovely breadth to their quality. Maduro and Marshall had been part of a doo-wop act called The Love Tones, while Blagmore had come from The Stridells. I managed to locate a couple of very competent doo-wop numbers by The Love Tones (‘United’ and ‘Talk to an angel’) that may be attributed to the same act. The Stridells were a more progressive ensemble and had a couple of seriously soulful releases in ‘Mix it up’ and the gorgeous ‘Power to dream’. An interesting interview with Osiris Marsh, a one-time member of The Stridells who later went on to form the famed funk outfit, Osiris, showcases the rivalry between The Love Tones and Stridells : “The Stridells could out-sing just about any other group in school. To prove it, they battled against their rivals, The Love Tones, at a talent show. β€˜We blew ’em away’, Osiris laughed. ‘They were good guys, though. I know ’em all. We all went to the same high-school, Eastern High-school, here in Washington. The Love Tones had been there, doing their thing, a year ahead of me. They could dance real good.'” I’m not so clear about the roots of Bobby Hamilton, although a gentleman with a striking tenor of the same name had had a moderate hit with ‘Crazy eyes for you’ (Billboard Top 40).

“The Finger Pointers” was the debut long player for The Choice Four, released in 1974 on the powerful RCA imprint during the heyday of Sweet Soul. And what a spectacular way to open the curtain on these gifted singers with a tried and tested formula of catchy hipshakers and dreamy cuddlers all hallmarked with a Van McCoy symbol of supreme quality. We open with one of the singles, “The Finger Pointers”, a kind of homage to The Backstabbers, and it is the perfect introduction to the exceptionally catchy uptempo style that Van was developing, although I was very surprised to find it only managed to hit #85 on the R&B Charts. This is followed by the cream track of the LP, the extraordinarily divine “Can’t get used to” – a track that never fails to make my forearms bristle. “Woman I’m being true to” is a slightly more funky stepper, and is the sole contribution of Charles Kipps. Side One closes with two downtempo goodies, “I need your love” being the better and a throwback to the warm sound of The Chi-Lites at their best.

Side Two kicks off similarly to Side One, with a skip-a-long tuneful dittie in the form of “Ready, Willing & Able” (and like “The Finger Pointers”, it would be re-recorded by David Ruffin). Another single released from the LP was the adorable ballad “You’re so right for me”, a direct link with Van’s time with the Stylistics, and surprisingly it only attained #63 R&B considering how popular The Stylistics were, and how lovely the track is. Then one of my very favourite Van McCoy compositions (with Joe Cobb), the utterly brilliant “If I don’t love you”. And while this does not quite match the deft beauty of Bobby Reed‘s version from 1970, it is still undeniably stunning. An album that may have been hindered by the lack of thump to the butt with being more perfectly attuned to the lump to the throat, it is still a very honourable reminder that many outfits, like Blue Magic and The Chi-Lites, were not overly concerned with having a ballad heavy 33. And for me, that was always a welcome pleasure.

Another exceptional LP from an exceptional outfit, this time capturing Van McCoy at his most exquisite.

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38 Comments
  • Unclefester
    Posted at 15:43h, 15 August 2010 Reply

    Thanks a lot! That’s going to make my day a little brighter.

  • Yiannis
    Posted at 17:35h, 15 August 2010 Reply

    A rare beauty! Much appreciated!

  • invisiblenigma
    Posted at 19:30h, 15 August 2010 Reply

    Wow!! Never heard any of this Group!! Much Appreciated.

  • wallofsound
    Posted at 19:50h, 15 August 2010 Reply

    Yes, this is a great mid-1970s sweet soul LP. Far better than it’s profile would suggest.

  • Eugene
    Posted at 00:28h, 16 August 2010 Reply

    Nikos & Team,

    Thank you for introducing me to a group I’m not really familiar with, and this album I certainly don’t know. You continue to broaden my musical education.

    Many thanks & Respect,

    Eugene

  • Nuno
    Posted at 12:51h, 16 August 2010 Reply

    You reconsidered well πŸ™‚

    Great band.

  • Alvaro
    Posted at 15:58h, 16 August 2010 Reply

    Got this when it first came out, still
    a fave. great post, you do such a wonderful job!!

  • hooch
    Posted at 16:37h, 16 August 2010 Reply

    Many thanks – lovely album!

  • Kletcher
    Posted at 17:53h, 16 August 2010 Reply

    Great! It’s a really good soulful album. Thanks for the share Nikos.

  • Jose
    Posted at 10:16h, 17 August 2010 Reply

    Wow! Man, this is really grooovy stuff! thanks! Great stuff!

  • trapper
    Posted at 14:22h, 17 August 2010 Reply

    mad props on the site. i’ve come across many music blogs over the past 8 years, but yours is in the top echelon. as a major funk fan, i’m ecstatic to find your treasure trove. thanks.

  • rich
    Posted at 21:55h, 17 August 2010 Reply

    nikos glad ur back thanx for this amazing post

  • Pery
    Posted at 22:49h, 17 August 2010 Reply

    Sweet soul at it’s best. Thanks so much.

  • jahcisco
    Posted at 23:52h, 17 August 2010 Reply

    Thank you.

  • Gabriel
    Posted at 11:09h, 18 August 2010 Reply

    Collectible album,Thanks.

  • mavrtje
    Posted at 11:46h, 18 August 2010 Reply

    Thanks Nikos and nice to have you back!

  • Zion
    Posted at 20:46h, 18 August 2010 Reply

    What a nice surprise, thank you very much!

  • dopey
    Posted at 00:33h, 19 August 2010 Reply

    Great stuff, thank you so much !!

  • lmscle
    Posted at 12:56h, 19 August 2010 Reply

    Utterly DELICIOUS !! Ta Muchly

  • Taufique
    Posted at 16:32h, 19 August 2010 Reply

    Thank you! hope you had a good holiday!

  • T.L.P
    Posted at 19:37h, 19 August 2010 Reply

    A great way to replace my old vinyl. Thanks

  • brianbrora
    Posted at 20:58h, 19 August 2010 Reply

    Many Thanks for this, it’s great!

  • Ike
    Posted at 23:06h, 20 August 2010 Reply

    Thanks Bro!
    nice music!

    what up with that idea of making PDFs of the artist infos and attaching them to the RAR Archives?

  • Trakbuv
    Posted at 00:26h, 21 August 2010 Reply

    Hi Ike – I’m only speaking for myself here – and in principle I think your idea is a good one, but practically it is not so easy. Doing these reviews is a timely process, particularly as much, sometimes most, of the info gained is never used due it being inappropriate, or leading to dead ends, etc. For myself, this often means that poor old Nikos gets my review at the very last minute, and the last thing I want to do is add an even further burden to his already limited available time.

    However, copy and pasting the info from the webpage of FMS (with LP covers if you so wish) is possible using Microsoft Word, and I would expect with many other word processor applications. It would also be the finished article, and hopefully look more professional. Plus you can add your own input, such as marking the tracks out of 10 or more info, if you desire. I hope this is helpful.

  • Alan
    Posted at 18:41h, 22 August 2010 Reply

    Thanks for the album. I’ve never heard this one before. Very Special.

  • Vick
    Posted at 12:46h, 27 August 2010 Reply

    New to me too. Great.

  • Angel
    Posted at 11:51h, 29 August 2010 Reply

    Thanks a bunch for this lost treasure.

  • Ted Maduro
    Posted at 16:55h, 05 September 2010 Reply

    Hi, this is Ted Maduro, one of the members of The Choice Four. Thanks for the comments and love!

  • Will
    Posted at 07:00h, 14 September 2010 Reply

    Incredible post. Love the music, so happy to have discovered this amazing blog! Rich with culture, cheers, shout out from New Zealand!

  • Fulvio
    Posted at 21:37h, 25 September 2010 Reply

    It is always a pleasure to listen to this wonderful album.Thanks.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 20:40h, 14 October 2010 Reply

    Thanks for your generosity and hardwork.

    Best of Luck!

    My regards,

    Jim

  • Jimi Dougans
    Posted at 00:11h, 10 November 2010 Reply

    Just to let you all know, that Pete Marshall of The Choice Four was operated on in September of 2010 with a tumor (cancer) on his brain. The operation was successful (thanks be to God). Now, the Friends of Pete Marshall are doing a fundraiser for him, to help him and his family with his high medical bills on Friday, November 26, 2010 at The Days Inn 2700 New York Ave; NE Washington, DC at 8:00 PM until 1:00 AM.
    For further information contact Jimi Dougans (202) 255.1814

  • Reggie Cartee
    Posted at 20:06h, 16 June 2011 Reply

    BOBBY HAMILTON : Bobby knew Van McCoy because Van’s musical Director lived several blocks from Bobby in upper N.W. Washington,D.C. Bobby told him about a group that he was in and later Van added him to the group with Charles, Pete & Ted. All of these guys were born around 1951 or 1952…This Bobby Hamilton did NOT record the hit song in 1958. The gentleman that recorded the song in 1958 used the stage name of BOBBY HAMILTON; his real name was ROBERT CARISTO who was born in 1939 in Locust Valley, Long Island, Nes York.

  • Reggie Carter
    Posted at 20:07h, 16 June 2011 Reply

    CHARLES did sing with the STRIDELLS along with Otis Marsh,Twin and Ford at Eastern H.S., but his name is CHARLES BLACKMON. His brother sang with 4 Mile High or 5 Mile High, but Charles’ two older sisters sang with James Brown.

  • Ron Hustleman
    Posted at 04:38h, 03 July 2011 Reply

    The Choice 4 is one of my alltime favorite vocal groups! THANX

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:50h, 13 August 2011 Reply

    Could you please post their 1975 album ?The one with ”Hook it up” I call it the gold apple crate album!My vinyl is wore out! thanx!Love FUNK MY SOUL!

  • Nikos
    Posted at 22:56h, 13 August 2011 Reply

    Give me your mail to send you a link, cause I won’t post it soon.

  • 2phuckedup
    Posted at 20:42h, 26 March 2012 Reply

    Thx 4 this, new group 2 me & thx Reggie for the xtra info.

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