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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Hailing from Chicago, the Chi-Lites took a while to find success but their efforts eventually proved worthwhile. Eugene Record, a singer-songwriter-producer, dominated the group, which achieved an American breakthrough hit with Give it away in 1969 although they did not enter the British charts until 1971, when they had a minor UK hit with For God's sake give more power to the people - a very different record from the soulful ballads that they are best remembered for.
1972 proved to be a big year for the Chi-Lites, yielding Have you seen her (a top three hit in Britain and America) and Oh girl (a number one American hit, though only a top twenty UK hit). Their last major American hit came with Homely girl but (after a slow start) their success in the UK continued until 1976. Homely girl, It's time for love and You don't have to go all made the UK top five, as did a re-issue of Have you seen her (just over three years after its original chart run).
This compilation contains all the important Chi-Lites hits from both sides of the Atlantic.
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When Ace Records of the UK started issuing CDs back in the late Eighties (much to the excitement of collectors) - this peach on CDKEN 911 was amongst their first vanguard of titles (originally released June 1987). I bought their Jackie Wilson CD compilation too - "Reet Petite" from May 1986 on Ace CDCH 902. I purchased both because they boasted astonishing remastered sound direct from original Brunswick master tapes. So why lose a winner to time - because Ace has clearly decided to upgrade this early CHI-LITES CD compilation gem by reissuing it in June 2004 with a different sleeve and better booklet (the same amazing Audio has been used). So here is the power to the people...

Re-issued February 2004 (see PS below) - "The Best Of The Chi-Lites: The Original Brunswick Recordings 1969-1976" on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEN 911 (Barcode 029667291125) breaks down as follows (74:18 minutes):

1. Give It Away (January 1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55398)
2. Let Me Be The Man My Daddy Was (July 1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55414)
3. 24 Hours Of Sadness (February 1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55426)
4. I Like Your Lovin' (Do You Like Mine) (July 1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55438)
5. Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So) (November 1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55442)
6. (For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People (April 1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55450)
7. Have You Seen Her (October 1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55462, Number 1 R&B hit)
8. Oh Girl (April 1972 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55471, Number 1 R&B hit)
9. The Coldest Days Of My Life (July 1972 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55478)
10. We Need Order (December 1972 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55489)
11. A Letter To Myself (February 1973 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55491)
12. Stoned Out Of My Mind (July 1973 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55500)
13. I Found Sunshine (November 1973 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55503)
14. Homely Girl (February 1974 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55505)
15. Too Good To Be Forgotten (May 1974 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55512, B-side to "There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table)")
16. There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table) - A-side of 15
17. Toby (January 1975 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55515)
18. It's Time For Love (October 1975 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55520)
19. You Don't Have To Go (July 1976 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55528)

The 1987 original CD (as I recall) had a basic inlay - the 2004 12-page upgrade features great liner notes for noted Soul expert TONY ROUNCE - a man whose name has turned up on countless Ace and Edsel reissues. This time the track-by-track text is peppered with those great US Brunswick singles, UK demos and Trade Adverts. But once again what really grabs you is the audio - fantastically good remasters full of detail and huge presence - Ultimate Sound from original Brunswick Tapes done by ADAM SKEAPING. As most fans will know the Brunswick label famously had the talents of the 5-time Grammy winner BRUCE SWEDIEN as their Audio Engineer (later worked on Michael Jackson's "Thriller") and man does it show. Take a song like "We Need Order" - a number 13 Billboard R&B hit in the States (not so in the UK) - it's a mixed tempo song - slinky one second - fast the next. The remaster brings out the fabulous rhythm and layered vocals and brass.

Every one of the 19 entries detailed above charted on the American Billboard R&B listings (they had 8 in the UK with "Have You Seen Her" being a hit twice in 1972 and 1975). Of course the big secret was the songwriting talent of EUGENE RECORD - even now in 2014 you forget how good his songs are and why they were so popular. The talking/strings tunes like "A Letter To Myself" and "The Coldest Days Of My Life" border on the cheesy and yet they tug on the heart strings with ease. But "Have You Seen Her", "Oh Girl" and "Homely Girl" are gorgeous Seventies Soul and now bona fide classics (covered by many in tribute). And while I love the huge synth intro to "(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People" and the Beyoncé-sampled brass of "Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)" - my real poison on here has always been the fabulous "It's Time For Love" from 1975 - which in my book should have been a Number One.

There are lots of cheap CHI-LITES compilations (some with re-recordings bearing the same title) - but I urge you to look no further (seek this Kent Soul compilation out). A winner then and now...

PS: Rather confusingly both the 1987 and 2004 CDs for this release use exactly the same catalogue number CDKEN 911 - and worse - the same barcode 029667291125. I mention this because a seller will use the Barcode to locate the right issue for sale. You can therefore get the 1987 original issue with the lesser liner notes instead of the 2004 version with the upgraded booklet - so 'check' with your buyer that it's the 2004 version you're getting (the artwork presently showing on Amazon with the Kent Soul logo in the top right hand corner).
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on 2 July 2017
Very happy with service and the item
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on 8 November 2013
Love this album. Took me on a trip down memory lane. They don't make music like this anymore. Highly recommend.
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on 15 April 2013
I wiould recomend this to any generation a mix of sad and feel good music and why 60s and 70s music will never die!
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on 23 April 2015
Lovely album from this iconic yet overlooked band. Sound quality was good, the tracks I was aware of and sought were all there, in particular the classic "Have you seen her", "Oh girl" (My personal favourite - put with some sledge for your classic romantic mix-tape), and the haunting "The coldest days of my life" provide a great middle segment, but there are many great tracks on here.
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on 10 January 2011
This CD comprehensively has all the hits and a few extra gems. Delivery was speedy and it arrived in excellent condition with the shrink-wrap unbroken
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on 7 February 2016
A very good album very easy listening music.
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on 10 April 2016
still love listening to this.
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on 1 June 2015
fast delivery very pleased
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