East of Underground - Hell Below (Music CD)

Release Date: 14 November 2011
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Not to be confused with the rap band of the same name, this East of Underground is a group of American servicemen produced by the United States Army in 1971, according to the liner notes by David Hollander. The master tapes unavailable, a lone copy of the vinyl was used to generate this compact disc, making for a unique R&B historical artifact. The three vocalists, PFC Bobby Blackmon, PFC Larry Watson, and SP4 Austin Webb do a fine job on Curtis Mayfield's "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go," singing in unison with the two guitar, bass, and drum accompaniment credibly building the groove. Mack David's "East of Java" sounds like a vintage '60s single while Dionne Warwick's "Walk on By" is treated to an interesting falsetto à la Little Anthony & the Imperials. The choice of material ranges from early-'70s pop like Santana's cover of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" to Sly Stone, Undisputed Truth, and Curtis Mayfield's essential "People Get Ready." Though the recording from the studios of American Forces Network in Frankfurt, Germany was made on what the liner note writer calls "German recording gear at the zenith of audio technology design," the production isn't at the level of a Marvin Gaye or Bacharach & David. What is in these now digital grooves are sounds made during the Vietnam war that are preserved and packaged lovingly by the people at Wax Poetics Records, an amazing group of professionals who are true fans and purists. As their publishing division's book, Cover Story: Album Cover Art is an impressive array of colorful reproductions, this kind of audio preservation of once lost music is commendable and needed. The packaging is superb and if the label continues seeking out forgotten works and republishing them in this excellent fashion, it could create an entirely new subgenre worth watching. ~ Joe Viglione
Release Date: 14 November 2011

1. I Want to Take You Higher
2. Smiling Faces Sometimes
3. (Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go
4. People Get Ready
5. Getting Over
6. I'll Bet You/California Dreamin'
7. Popcorn/Oye Como Va
8. I Love You for All Seasons
9. East of Java
10. Walk on By

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Catalogue No: NA5083CD