Bandleader and radio DJ Chet Ivey released over 30 singles and was a star of the Maryland airwaves but has hardly left a trace in the ether. This compilation of his 1970s funk and soul recordings shines some light on his career.
Everybody loves a mystery, right? That’s what I thought when we released our first Chet “Poison” Ivey tracks on a compilation the best part of two decades ago. When you can’t solve the mystery, however, it becomes frustrating, and then makes you a little angry.
Chet released record after record from the late 50s through the early 90s. Most featured his group the Mighty Avengers and were released on bandleader Al Sears’ group of labels, usually Sylvia. You’d expect a man with more than 20 singles to his name to have at least been acknowledged in the industry papers. But no, virtually nothing. The number of records he issued suggests a certain popularity, so why didn’t anyone know anything about him?
The music was never less than good and sometimes downright brilliant. This compilation looks at the sides he recorded for Sylvia in the 1970s – slick attempts at the sounds of the day, from James Brown-style funk numbers to faster and smoother proto-disco 45s. The labels tell us they were self-produced, often at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia, but little more. They deserve to be heard.
So we put this compilation together, then went looking for Chet. With the help of soul super-sleuth George Korval, we hunted high and low and began to build a picture of the life of a journeyman musician and DJ in the 1960s and 70s. After many months of searching, we found his base in Washington DC and the nearby Atlantic seaboard. What we discovered was tantalising, but never fully realised. In the end, much of the mystery remains.
What we are left with is a slew of great funk tracks. Whether the remake of Johnny Otis’ ‘So Fine’, the frenetic onslaught of ‘Bad On Bad’, or the dancefloor good times of ‘Get Down With The Geater’, these are records that will take the roof of a party and are sought after by DJs the world over.
Rest assured, if our investigations reveal anything more solid on this fine musician, we’ll be here to inform you. In the meantime settle in and just get down with Chet!