If there has to be just one Eugene Church (born January 23, 1938 in St. Louis but raised in Los Angeles) CD around we can't ask for any more than to have it produced by Ace of London with their trademark excellent sound, attention to detail in their background information and thoroughness in delivering a comprehensive anthology, especially for a guy who had but three hits under his own name and one as a member of a duet. When just 17 years old he befriended 22-year-old Jesse Belvin, already somwwhat famous locally for having actually had records released.
In 1956 the two collaborated as The Cliques and cut The Girl In My Dreams which, with I Wanna Know Why as the flip, made it to # 45 Pop that May on Modern 987, surprisingly making no dent at all on the R&B listings. Nor did the follow-up I'm In Love With A Girl (here) b/w My Desire (not here) on Modern 995, which failed on both charts (the lone hit can be found on Ace's excellent Golden Age Of American Rock `N' Roll, Volume 3). What is also here is Church's first solo effort, Open Up Your Heart, which came out in 1957 on Specialty 604 b/w How Long (not here). Two more sides with Belvin not included are Is It True? b/w Rock `N' Roll Show which came out in 1958 on Contender 1313 billed as The Saxons.
While performing back-up vocals for Belvin on several of his solo cuts for Knight Records, Church and roommate Buster Williams were driving idly around when Buster blurted out 'Man, look at this, pretty girls everywhere!' which prompted Eugene to start jotting down a tune. To make a long story short, they wound up at Leon Rene's Class Records who released it late in 1958 as Pretty Girls Everywhere by Eugene Church & The Fellows (Buster, Jesse, Gaynel Hodge, Richard Berry, with Bobby Day adding some background vocals) on Class 235 b/w For The Rest Of My Life. It peaked at # 6 R&B and # 36 Hot 100 in early 1959.
The follow-up release didn't fare too badly either as Miami peaked at # 14 R&B and # 67 Hot 100 in September b/w I Ain't Goin' For That on Class 254. billed only as Eugene Church. But then he hit a brick was as neither of Jack Of All Trades b/w Without Soul (Class 261) in late 1959, and The Struttin' Kind b/w That's What's Happenin' (Class 266) in early 1960 went anywhere nationally, although they did well locally. On all Class sides he was backed by the house band, The Googie Rene Combo, which consisted of the legendary soul-jazz tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson (e.g, The Pink Panther Theme), guitarist Rene Hall and drummer Earl Palmer.
After one failed side with Rendezvous (Good News/Polly - Rendezvous 132), Church moved to King Records in 1961 where Mind Your Own Business (again with The Googie Rene Combo) got as high as # 19 R&B b/w You Got The Right Idea on King 5545, but that was to be it insofar as hits were concerned. None among That's All I Want/ Geneva (King 5589), Light Of The Moon/I'm Your Taboo Man (King 5610), The Right Girl, The Right Time/Pretty Baby Won't You Come On Home (King 5659) - all 1962 - and Time Has Brought About A Change/Sixteen Tons (King 5715) in 1963 did well. Church then moved to Texas and turned to Gospel, before training as a beautician in the late `60s and opening his own beauty parlor. On April 16, 1993 at age 55 he passed away after battling a severe illness.
Right now this is the only Eugene Church compilation around, and there likely won't be any others as it would be pointless trying to compete with perfection.