The Choice Four – 1975 – The Choice Four
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Rip & Research by Raphy, Main Review by RDTEN1
Posting and additional info’s by Nikos
One of the greatest albums by this sweet east coast vocal group – also known to folks as the Golden Apples album, because of the crate full of gold-covered apples on the cover. The album’s got a wonderful mellow harmony sound, arranged and produced by Van McCoy, much more in the style of his early uptown soul work than some of his other more overblown mid 70s work. Features the sublime stepper “When You’re Young & In Love“, the hit “I’m Gonna Walk Away From Love“.
Like Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. had a vibrant 1960s/early-1970s musical scene with more than its share of talented soul outfits. The difference is that D.C.’s scene wasn’t as well as organized as some of the former locales. As a result, much of the city’s talent has been forgotten over the years.
Formed in 1970, Washington’s The Choice Four featured the talents of Charles Blagmon, Bobby Hamilton, Ted Maduro, and Pete Marshall. Blagmon had previously been a member of Eastern High School’s The Stridells, while Maduro and Marshall had been in a competing group – The Love Tones. The group apparently did fairly well on the Washington/Baltimore club circuit, including establishments like Baltimore’s Checkerboard Lounge.
Released in 1975, their cleverly-titled sophomore album “The 4 Choices” teamed the group with Washington native Van McCoy who was credited with arranging, conducting, producing, as well as writing about half the material. While Hamilton was the nominal lead singer, all four members were capable performers; each given an opportunity to handle lead vocals. In case anyone cared, Hamilton had the best all around voice with Blagmon coming in a close second. To be perfectly honest the first time I played this album it didn’t don’t all that much for me. The material was competent, but on first brush came off as being fairly pedestrian and routine. McCoy’s string-heavy arrangements didn’t exactly help the situation. Luckily I set the album aside for a couple of months and came back to it on a cold Sunday morning. For some reason, something clicked and I found myself really enjoying the set the second time around. Be forewarned you won’t find anything particularly innovative or exciting here. On the other McCoy provided the group with several first rate tracks and the responded with performances that were every but as good as their better known competition. The opener ‘Hook It Up‘, ‘You’re My Happiness‘ and ‘Until We Say Goodbye‘ offered up a series of nice and commercial up-tempo pieces, but the group’s calling card were old school soul ballads. With Hamilton lead, Mccoy’s ‘Angel Don’t Fly Away‘ and ‘When You’re Young and In Love‘ offered up a pair of near perfect slow grooves. Great melodies, coupled with fantastic harmony vocals made them irresistible. Elsewhere RCA tapped the album for a series of unsuccessful singles:
– 1975’s ‘When You’re Young and In Love’ b/w ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ RCA catalog number JH-10342)
– 1975’s ‘Until We Say Goodbye ‘ b/w ‘Angels Don’t Fly Away’ (RCA catalog number JH-10445)
– 1976’s ‘Beside Me’ b/w ‘Hey What’s That Dance You’re Doing’ (RCA catalog number JH-10602)
Anyone into mid-1970s soul (think Chi Lites, Stylistics, etc.) should check these guys out …
Never released on CD. Enjoy a perfect vinyl rip by brother Raphy.
You can also enjoy their 1974 LP “The Finger Pointers” in our back pages here.