Chancellor of Soul's Chronicles-Journals Dedicated To The
Historical Preservation Of R&B, Pop and It's Artists and Music

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The Dells In The Beginning (The 70's & 90's) Part Il

 As a dawn of a new decade enters, music listeners experienced a new change take place in music. Even in the career of the Dells, as their hitmaker / producer, Bobby Miller, would soon move on to the Motown label in 1970 and the tape company, GRT (General Recorded Tape), would take over Chess Records after it's owners Leonard & Phil Chess, sold the company for  6.5 million, in 1969.In the month of October 69', Leonard Chess would die of a heart attack. In 1970, Charles Stepney would step in as the Dells new producer / songwriter,
and two new releases,  " Oh What A Day" (No 10 R&B Singles ) and "Open Up My Heart / Nadine" ( No 5 R&B ), including a LP, " Like It Is, Like It Was", ( No 7 R&B LP), would keep the group hitbound. A year later in 1971, the Dells would record, a beautiful whispery ballad entitled, " The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind)" (No 8 R&B Singles), from their " Freedom Means" LP. In 1972, the group would dedicate the works of Dionne Warwick in an LP entitled, "The Dells Sing Dionne Warwick".  This is a very underrated album which music critics consider not their best work. I think they are wrong. The Dells version of, "A House Is Not A Home", is the finest piece work I've ever listen to !!!   Marvin Junior puts
his heart into the song, as it's soars into a climatic ecstasy !!!  The rest of the LP is excellent, although no hits were made from the LP. Another LP, " Sweet As Funk Can Be", did pretty good on the R&B LP charts as well (hitting No 33), but they needed a spark in their faltered material. Marvin Schlater, who became president of Chess Records in 1971, teamed the Dells with legendary Detroit producer / songwriter,  Don Davis. Don had a track record of success with such acts as, The Dramatics,  J.J Barnes, Carla Thomas, and Johnny Taylor. This would also add the Dells to his roster because he wrote and produce the group's first certified million seller, '"Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation", (hitting No 3 R&B Singles) including a successful LP of the same title, which hit (No 10 R&B LP). In
1974, they would score again with brown album as I title it, " The Dells", would release two more outstanding cuts, " I Miss You" ( No 8 R&B) and  "My Pretending Days Are Over", ( No 10 R&B). On the back of the LP, are the words of each of the songs. Afterwards, "The Mighty Mighty Dells" album was also released and one single, " Leaning To Love You Was Easy ( It's So Hard Trying To Get Over You)", climbed to (No 11), in the summer of 74'. The Dells were hitmakers again !!!  The year 1975, would be their last at Chess because it began to decline rapidly. Their last LP,  " The Dells Vs The Dramatics", another fine album, produced yet another beautiful ballad entitled, " Love Is Missing From Our Lives", ( hitting No 46 R&B). The LP itself would hit (No 31).  As the end of great musical era would come, Chess Records would close it's doors, in August of 75'. Sylvia & Joe Robinson of All Platinum Records in Englewood, New Jersey, would purchase all of the Chess masters, for nearly a million dollars and 3 years later,  release a 3 record set compilation LP entitled, " Memories Of Pillow Talk", in 1978.  It was advertised on television, and sold nearly a half million copies !  The album features some songs from the Chess songbook and Sylvia's own Turbo and Vibration labels. I love the pensive bedroom look she possesses on the front cover of the LP. The Dells would then sign to a new company, Mercury Records.  3 LP's entitled, " No Way Back" (No. 47 R&B ) 1975   , "Love Connection"  ( No 45 R&B) 1977 and " They Said It Couldn't Be Done, But We Did It", ( No 40 R&B) also in 1977, were released. The
latter album produced an LP cut called, " God Help Those Who Help Themselves" which became extremely popular in the dance clubs !!!  The company of course couldn't handle a class act like the Dells, so they later signed with ABC Records, in 1978.  Two albums, "New Beginnings"  ( No 55 R&B LP)  and "Face To Face", (No 71 R&B LP), did poorly.  Their next stint was on the 20th Century label in 1980. There they would team with the great singer / songwriter and producer, Eugene Record ( lead singer of the Chi-Lites) and would write and produce the group's top twenty hit,  "I Touched A Dream", ( No 17 R&B Singles). The LP of the same title would fare better at No 23 on the album charts. In 1981, The Dells would re-record for the 3rd time, their masterpiece,  "Stay In My Corner". This is where
lead singer Marvin Junior, holds his note for nearly two minutes more than the 68' version !!  Although they stayed active in the business by touring around the world throughout the years. it wasn't until 1989-90, when movie actor / director Robert Townsend, wanted to do a movie based on a non-fiction R&B 60's group called, The Five Heartbeats, in which he called the Dells for advise. The group not only became the technical advisors of the movie but the most of the story was rewritten as a biography, based on the story of their musical journey as a group !!  A song from the soundtrack of the movie of the same title, "A Heart Is A Heart For Love", would rejuvenate the group's career by hitting (No 13 on the R&B Singles)
charts !!!!!   A total masterpiece !! The Dells were once again back !!!  9 years later in 2002,  the group would create a wonderful organization called, " Open Your Heart Foundation", for forgotten 9/11 victims and their families. I would hear of this organization through a wonderful website called Soul-Patrol, from Bob and his brother Mike Davis, who both created the SP site. I dee jayed that event.  And now onward to Monday, March 15, 2004, the Dells finally got their musical due by being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame !!!!  I would also like to add that one of the members of the Dells,  Johnny Carter, was inducted twice, as a former member of the Flamingos in March of 2001, along with Tommy Hunt and Terry "Buzzy" Johnson !!!  Many groups come and go in the long run, but the Dells manage to stay in the race for 52 years, without tiring out !!!! Congratulations fellas !!!  All of your hard work and efforts. paid off very handsomely !!  And now you can finally ride and sing those
wonderful colorful rainbows into a beautiful musical sunset !!!!

 

                                               Enjoy !!!!!
                                             Mike Boone
                                        (Chancellor of Soul)

Material should not be used without the expressed
permission of the writer, Mike Boone (Chancellor of Soul)

 

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