Gene & Eddie: True Enough – Gene & Eddie with Sir Joe at Ru-Jac

geneandeddie_trueenoughRare late-60s and early-70s Baltimore soul sides

Omnivore’s second volume of material from Baltimore’s Ru-Jac label focuses on the singles of Washington, D.C. soul duo Gene Dorsett & Eddie Best, and fills out the disc with a trio of tracks from their producer Sir Joe Quarterman and a pair from Gene & Eddie’s time with the Nightcaps. Ru-Jac was founded as one of the first African-American owned labels by Rufus Mitchell, and grew out of his work managing and booking musical acts for the Carr’s Beach summer resort in Annapolis. The label’s catalog began in 1963 (with Jessie Crawford’s “Please Don’t Go”) and stretched into the early 1970s, featuring mostly soul, but also some jazz and even garage rock.

Gene & Eddie opened for and toured in support of major R&B acts, but never broke nationally. They had a regional hit with the doo-wop influenced “It’s So Hard,” and plenty of other hit-worthy original material, but a small, independent label from Baltimore apparently didn’t have the muscle (or the funds) to break the act nationally. Their early singles show the influences of Sam & Dave’s effervescence, Otis Redding’s mournfulness and Wilson Pickett’s funky bounce. Quarterman’s mono productions are full-bodied and nicely balanced, backing Gene & Eddie with horn-rimmed arrangements and solid female backing vocalists. By the early 1970s, “It’s No Sin,” “Darling I Love You” and their B-sides turned from Stax to Philly and Motown for sound inspiration.

Sir Joe’s own sides are higher energy than those he produced for Gene & Eddie, with “Every Day (I’ll Be Needing You)” featuring a psychedelic guitar break. The bonus tracks include a pair recorded in 1965 with the Nightcaps, a third Sir Joe track, and previously unreleased stereo mixes of “You Don’t Fool Me” and “Let Me Go Easy.” The Nightcaps’ 1965 take of “It’s So Hard” hangs onto 1950s influences, contrasting with the 1969 soulified remake, and the sax and guitar of “Check You Later” give Gene & Eddie a real go-go spark. Omnivore’s usual attention to detail – clean remastering, a 16-page booklet stuffed with detailed liner notes, rare photos and label reproductions – makes this an extra special package of soul. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

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