The Chi-Lites

The Very Best of the Chi-Lites [Metro]

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With a multitude of the Chi-Lites hits collections on the market, there are really only two things the potential buyer needs to check before picking up one or the other: Does it have all of the key hits, and if so (or if not), what else does it have that the others don't? This British package contains most but not all of the smooth Chicago R&B group's hits for the Brunswick label. Naturally, the silky soul ballads "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl," both of which reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart (the latter duplicated that feat on the pop chart, while the former made it to number three), are accounted for. So are the funky protest tunes "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People" and "There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table)." After that it's hit or miss. The group's first R&B charter, 1969's "Give It Away," is shunned, but the follow-up, "Let Me Be the Man My Daddy Was," which didn't fare as well on the charts, is included. The R&B Top Tens "Are You My Woman?" and "The Coldest Days of My Life" are nowhere to be found, but other Top Tens like "Homely Girl," "A Letter to Myself" and "Stoned Out of My Mind" are. Some of the non-hits are intriguing, others (like the "Have You Seen Her" clone "A Lonely Man") sort of fizzle. In place of the nixed hits, The Very Best of the Chi-Lites does offer some excellent though not as well known nuggets, for example the 1970 contender "I Like Your Lovin' (Do You Like Mine)," which, as Ian McCann's liner notes point out, is a ringer for the psychedelic-era Temptations. And keeping Motown in mind, there's also a 1972 cover of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," which, while not bad at all, doesn't hold a candle to Gaye's prototype. Still, anyone seeking a definitive one-stop collection of all of the Chi-Lites' biggest recordings won't find it here. The set also avoids the Chi-Lites' post-Brunswick Records recordings, which is no big deal since the group is really recalled for the Brunswick era above and beyond anything that followed.

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