Pre-Thanksgiving soul with Harvey Scales | Bleader

Pre-Thanksgiving soul with Harvey Scales


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Harvey Scales
  • Harvey Scales
The evening before Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for Chicago bars, and as usual there are plenty of live-entertainment options around town to attract thirsty patrons. I only learned a couple of weeks ago that John Ciba—who runs the Rabbit Factory label and cohosts frequent soul-music nights as part of the East of Edens Soul Express—has been back in action recently, and he's organized an old-school event Wednesday at the Darkroom. Headlining the show are Milwaukee's Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds.

Scales has been churning out gritty soul and funk since the mid-60s, cutting records for a slew of labels—from Chess to Mercury to Stax—but he found his greatest fame with an original tune called "Groove On Sexy Lady," recorded as a 1975 B side on Chicago's Magic Touch label. (The song turned up an a nice Scales anthology called Love-itis released a couple of years ago by Soul-Tay-Shus.) Don Davis, a producer with Motown and Stax, noticed the song and summoned Scales to Detroit to refashion it as "Groove on Disco Lady." In 1976 soul veteran Johnny Taylor released the song as "Disco Lady" on Columbia. It reached nuimber on the Billboard pop and R&B charts and went on to become the first single certified platinum (sales of two million copies) by the RIAA. Scales later ended up in Los Angeles, where he cut two albums for disco behemoth Casablanca; in the early 80s he returned to Milwaukee, reuniting with his Seven Sounds, with whom he's continued to work ever since.

In addition to Scales and the usual array of soul DJs, Wednesday's show will feature veteran Chicago soul singer Marvin Smith—the greatest lead voice in the Artistics—sitting in with the Seven Sounds for a few songs. Ciba is also gearing up for a Rabbit Factory release of a new album by another old-school singer he's been working with for years, Ralph "Soul" Jackson. He's planning a series of 45s too, with titles from Smith, Nellie Travis, and Herman Hitson.

Today's playlist:

En En En, Rød & Blå (Øra Fonogram)
Werly Fairburn, Everybody's Rockin' (Bear Family)
Wackies Rhythm Force, African Roots Act 2 (Wackies)
Marcus Fjellström, Schattenspieler (Miasmah)
Mike Fahie, Anima (BJU)