Anyone who boogied through the disco era will remember the tune 'Feel The Need' - it's right up there with 'I Will Survive', 'We Are Family', and - dare I say it - 'YMCA', as one of just a handful of true mirror-ball anthems. What's more it's still played today. You can hear it in discerning clubs where the 70s feel still rules - while no mobile jock would be without a copy as he plys his trade in weddings and engagement parties up and down the land. The funky brass stabs and shimmering strings of 'Feel The Need' are a sure guarantee to get the punters off the wall and on their feet. But ask those self same punters to name the band responsible for this epic piece of dance floor magic and they'd probably be at a complete loss. More's the pity 'cos the band - The Detroit Emeralds - were more than just one hit disco wonders! This new 24 tracker is an attempt to put the record straight - it contains no less than 11 tracks which were hits in some shape or form both here and in the US, some classy B-sides, a slew of sophisticated album tracks and, to complete the picture, two unreleased gems!
Real soul fans know, of course, that the Detroit Emeralds have a long, checkered and sometimes incestuous history. The Emeralds were essentially the brothers Abe and Ivory Tilmon and childhood friend James Mitchell. They began their recording career with Detroit's semi-legendary Ric Tic label but when Ric Tic folded the band eventually signed with Westbound.
Touring in Memphis the boys eventually cut some tracks in Willie Mitchell's famous studio. The Memphis rough-cuts had vocals and sweetening added in Detroit and the result was the band's first real hit - If I Lose Your Love. Westbound clearly thought they had found a winning formula and this strange hybrid method of recording was repeated again and again to produce a sound for the group that combined the down-home funk of Memphis with the sophisticated soul of Detroit. This GREATEST HITS set perfectly captures that unique sound.
Hit followed hit and egos got bigger. By 1974, however, the group had started to fall apart, with two versions of the band on the road at one time! Different combinations of the group gigged and recorded throughout the 70s. Sadly Abe Tilmon died of a heart attack in 1982, and other band members eventually retiring. This new compilation is a testimony to what the Emeralds were at their peak - an all-round first-rate vocal harmony soul group - oh and yes - 'Feel The Need' is included here - twice!
by Bill Buckley (www.soulandjazzandfunk.com)