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Boston isn't the first city you think of when northern soul comes to mind. While Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit were considered R&B meccas in the '60s and '70s, Boston had a reputation for being more of a rock town; after all, it was Boston that gave listeners Aerosmith, the J. Geils Band, the Inmates, the Cars, and the band Boston. But occasionally, the Boston area gave listeners some major R&B acts. New Edition is a perfect example, and before that, Boston's biggest R&B group was Tavares. Those who labeled Tavares a disco act because of "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel" and "More Than a Woman" had a limited knowledge of the quintet. Tavares was a soul group first and foremost, and it was only from 1976-1978 that the Bostonians recorded a lot of disco. Tavares abandoned disco with 1979's Madame Butterfly and continued to stay away from it on 1980's Supercharged, which found the siblings working with three different producers: David Foster, Benjamin Wright, and Bobby Columby. This respectable, if uneven, effort contains a few gems, including the sociopolitical "Bad Times" (a number ten R&B hit) and the Stylistics-influenced "I Just Can't Go on Living Without You." Most of the other material, however, is merely adequate. While Philadelphia producer Bobby Martin made Madame Butterfly triumphant, Supercharged isn't as focused or as consistent. But even a second-rate Tavares album is worth owning. And although Supercharged isn't perfect, it has more plusses than minuses.

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