(Top) An incomplete pic of the Radiants
(Bottom) Maurice McAllister and Mac McLauren
(Mac on the bottom, Maurice on top)
“Listen – The Radiants – Voice Your Choice – MP3″
I come to you midweek, with yet another choice Chitown soul side.
The Radiants (as well as Radiants subset Maurice and Mac) have been featured in this space before. They were responsible for one of my all time favorite soul records ever, that being ‘Baby You’ve Got It’ (billed as Maurice and the Radiants), as well as a fairly solid run of quality soul 45s between 1963 and 1969.
The tune I bring you today, ‘Voice Your Choice’ is one of their best, and might fairly be described as one of the greatest Curtis Mayfield records that Curtis Mayfield never made.
Released in 1964, ‘Voice Your Choice’ may or may not feature Green ‘Mac’ McLauren, as I’ve seen references that indicate that he may have been in the Army at the time*. No matter, since even without his voice, the Radiants were capable of warm harmonies and soaring falsettos that so bring to mind Mayfield’s work with the Impressions. The arrangement – by Phil Wright – bears all the hallmarks of a Mayfield record with the slick, muted horns, solid drums (I’d be willing to bet that the same drummer is playing on both this record and ‘Baby You’ve Got It’), and bright lead guitar. The production is by Chess house producer Billy Davis.
The tune was written by Maurice McAllister and Gerald Sims (who I’ve seen mistakenly listed as a member of the group**), and was a huge hit in Chicago, charting nationally in the R&B Top 20 and Pop Top 50.
When I stated in Monday’s post that Mayfield’s influence was all encompassing in Chicago, it certainly wasn’t restricted to that area. One need only listen to records like ‘No Man Is an Island’ by the Van Dykes (Texas), or ‘Let’s Let It Roll’ by Eddie Bo and ‘Emperor Jones’ by Eldridge Holmes (both New Orleans) to see that he was inspiring performers all over the country.
As far as I can tell, there isn’t currently a comprehensive Radiants compilation in print, which considering the consistently high quality of their catalog is puzzling. Their singles don’t tend to be too expensive though (with the marked exceptions of ‘Baby You’ve Got It’ and ‘Heartbreak Society’), so head out into the field and start digging. You won’t be sorry.
I’ll be back on Friday with something funky.
*the membership of the Radiants was in flux for most of their existence, with McAlister – and often McLauren – being the only constants, thus their partnership closing out the Radiants and related discography toward the end of the 60s
**Sims was a noted Chicago writer/producer/arranger who had performed with the Daylighters and composed material for Gene Chandler, Mary Wells, Jackie Wilson, and the Radiants, as well as producing and/or playing guitar on a wide variety of Chicago-based blues and soul recordings.