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Review Fri Feb 27 2015

The Chicago Party Is the Place to Be

chicagoparty.JPG
The best thing about Numero Group is that they are determined to give forgotten musicians their due. They carefully mull over the strangest and most obscure sections of musical history in order to curate amazing compilations. Over the past few months, the archival record label has set their sights on the late '70s and early '80s post-disco era of Chicago. There are so many acts that truly deserve attention from this time and Numero Group has been dolling out great releases

December saw four 45s from the time period including music from Universal Togetherness Band, Jesus Wayne, and Donnell Pitman. A larger more detailed compilation of Universal Togetherness Band gave a deeper look into the funk filled sounds that were sadly being left behind during the era. These releases were a primer for the centerpiece of this collection, Ultra High Frequencies: The Chicago Party. This music and video collection takes a look at content of "The Chicago Party," a more realistic and older-skewing version of Soul Train that aired for 23 Saturday nights on WCIU-TV during 1982.

The Chicago Party successfully looks at the wide range of disco funk music that appeared on the show. It would have been really easy to just throw in all instant dance starters and make it a nonstop party. The compilation instead finds a great balance between the obviously dance worthy tracks and the softer notes. Donnel Pitman's "Love Explosion" and Jesus Wayne's "Rush" don't make any excuses for their innuendo that verges on just blatantly sexual lyrics as the songs careen through twinkling instrumentation. The final few songs turn down the more sexual innuendos and go for more loving and smoother edges of the funky disco. The Harvey-Allison Experience duet "This is Our Love Story" closes out the album in a tender ode to romance.

The songs that straddle the line between the sexual and tender or simply diverge from it ended up being the biggest highlights of the compilation. Magnum Force's "Girl You're Too Cool" is probably my favorite track as it walks through that initial attraction of seeing a standout girl on the dance floor. The song is so funky and its chorus is instantly catchy, something that would easily give the Commodores a run for their money. "Garden of Eve" has Yvonne Gage's soaring vocals declaring an end to being a fool to deceptions. The socially conscious "Pull Up" by Universal Togetherness Band continues to show how great of a band they were and deserving of accolades.

The release includes lengthy essays on"The Chicago Party" and all the artists featured in the set. It's great breakdown of the whole scene by Jake Austen. The release also comes with a DVD, which may be the best way to experience short-lived television shoe. There is short documentary that quickly details the rise and fall of "The Chicago Party" and the CopHerBox II, the club that housed the outrageous program. It gives a little insight to the workings of the show and its ultimate goal, to have fun and enjoy yourself.

That sentiment of pure entertainment is clearly apparent in the 23 musical performances and reaches a peak in "Main Program," which highlights over an hour of "The Chicago Party" segments. The show was a perfect mixture of music, dance, and sketch comedy that verge on absurdist. It honestly feels like a whirlwind of anything and everything the creators thought was interesting and fun. One minute you get a fantastic performance from Magnum Force, the next a contortionist, a full figured fashion show, and maybe even a ninja.

The compilation, housed in a die-cut tube television jacket with interchange covers, is incredible entertaining and falls squarely in the must-have releases from Numero Group. Ultra High Frequencies: The Chicago Party will be released March 3 on CD+DVD, 2LP+DVD, FLAC and MP3. It's a nice, fun slice of Chicago history that is finally getting a spotlight.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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