CJ & Co

The Devil's Gun

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One of the most interesting disco-soul hits of 1977 was CJ & Co's "The Devil's Gun," which was a major departure from the dance/love/party vibe that defined so many recordings of the disco era. While other dancefloor favorites from that period favored fun, escapist lyrics, "The Devil's Gun" warned listeners to be on their guard and not let evil bring them down. And the tune was as strong musically as it was lyrically; CJ & Co's forte was a gritty and funky yet sophisticated blend of disco and Detroit soul. Many of the people who bought that single ignored the group's debut album, which was also titled The Devil's Gun -- and that was a mistake because the rest of the LP is quite solid even though it falls short of the magnificence of the title song. Produced and arranged in Dearborn, MI, by Mike Theodore and one-time Motown session guitarist Dennis Coffey, The Devil's Gun never fails to be Detroit-sounding. Danceable tracks like "We Got Our Own Thing," "Get a Groove in Order to Move," and "Sure Can't Go to the Moon" are relevant to the disco scene of 1977, although CJ & Co never forgets disco's soul heritage -- the three-man, two-woman vocal quintet obviously owes a major debt to the Temptations, the Undisputed Truth, Edwin Starr, and others who defined Detroit soul in the 1960s and 1970s. The Devil's Gun was mixed at Philadelphia's famous Sigma Sound Studios, but make no mistake: This good-to-excellent LP is very much a product of the Motor City.

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