From Milwaukee with love

The days of digging through dollar records and coming away with a stack of 20 LPs for $20 seem to have passed. The last few record digs haven’t yielded much.

Saturday was no exception. There were two record sales within a half-hour’s drive. There were thousands of records, too many of them country and easy listening. In the days when records dominated the scene, this was a somewhat less sophisticated corner of Wisconsin.

However, all that digging yielded two gems. This is one.

You may know the Esquires for “Get On Up,” their 1967 hit. There was a time when I knew of the song but not the group, which came out of Milwaukee.

But not now. “Get On Up And Get Away,” the Esquires’ 1967 LP, was of the records I came across Saturday, and one I never expected to come across. Its jacket needs some TLC, but the grooves inside are just fine.

The Esquires started out in 1957 in Milwaukee as a family group. By the time this came out a decade later, they’d moved to Chicago in search of a higher profile. At the time they made this record, the group consisted of brothers Gilbert and Alvis Moorer, and Shawn Taylor, all of Milwaukee, and Millard Edwards of Chicago, none of them older than 25.

The Esquires wrote most of their own material, along with producer Bill “Bunky” Sheppard, who ran the Bunky label and had managed or produced several similar groups. The arrangements are by “Tom Tom” Henderson, who later arranged a couple of Chicago soul classics: Tyrone Davis’ “Turn Back The Hands of Time” and the Chi-Lites’ “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People.”

With Valentine’s Day at hand, how about some sweet soul from those gents, some love songs from a more innocent time, all laid down at Universal Recording Studios in downtown Chicago.

“Listen To Me,” written by Gilbert Moorer and Bill Sheppard. A real fine stew, with call-and-response vocals, some cooking percussion and some hot horns.

“My Sweet Baby,” written by Gilbert Moorer, whose falsetto soars above the smooth harmonies and more big horns.

“When I’m Ready,” written by Millard Edwards and Sheppard. This seems inspired by Barbara Mason’s “Yes, I’m Ready,” but its driving Chicago groove is way more upbeat, its vibe far more streetwise.

All by the Esquires, from “Get On Up and Get Away,” 1967. (The buy link is to a 1995 CD reissue.)


Filed under February 2011

2 responses to “From Milwaukee with love

  1. This was among the many fine albums sacrificed in the vinyl to cd purge in the 80s (alongside my original copy of the Larry Williams and Johnny Watson). Still have the hit single though. A classic.

  2. Pingback: When giants roamed Milwaukee | The Midnight Tracker

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