Chairmen of the Board


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After the departure of Eddie Custis, the Chairmen of the Board found themselves pared down to a trio for their 1972 release Bittersweet. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed the group to eliminate the middle-of-the-road ballad covers that Custis favored and resulted in their most consistent overall album to date. The impressive "Men Are Getting Scarce" provides the album with an energetic opener and its combination of wah-wah guitar and pulsing keyboards isn't too far from the funky, message-oriented soul sound that the Temptations were scoring with at the time. Other notable tunes on this album include the title track, a breakup ballad with an unusual but effective slow-fast-slow structure, and "Working on a Building of Love," an infectious up-tempo tune that blends a piano-pounding, gospel-tinged melody with a clever lyric worthy of Smokey Robinson. However, the album's finest moment is "I'm on My Way to a Better Place," a spiritual ballad built on a soaring, string-laden melody that features an intensely moving vocal performance from General Johnson. The other tunes don't command the attention as strongly as the songs mentioned here, but each is well-crafted and adds to the album's smooth, consistent feel. The result lacks the consistent, high level of inspiration to be judged a masterpiece but it will definitely please anyone who enjoys the Chairmen of the Board's hits.

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