The Imperial Wonders

Time Machine

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Originally from Cleveland, OH, the Imperial Wonders lit up their hometown in the early '70s with hot local tokes like "Trying to Get to You," "Just a Dream," and "Turned Around Over You." After a single on Musicor Records in 1973, the entertainers took a 28-year hiatus before dropping Time Machine, their first LP, with a revamped lineup consisting of originals Al Boyd and Avaughn Wells along with E.J. Welch, Russell Watts, and Darol King. The group's patented, unison "bong bong" harmonic fills are missing, but their imperial-quality soul and transcendental aura of romance are represented on every cut. These are singers born to express themselves musically. There are no scraps -- these are eight prime soul filets worthy of serving to royalty. Addiction comes fast on the opening track, "DNA," with its sly reference to O.J. Simpson and its infectious romping rhythm; the lead switches between the tenor, falsetto, and baritone, with Wells' Melvin Franklin-quality bass trolling the bottom like an ocean predator. Dangerous listening on a bar stool -- you might bounce right off grooving to it. The level remains high as a giraffe on "Tales From the Grip," a haunting son of a gun with horror movie ambience and tightly strung vocals around a compelling lead. You'll think the Dramatics stopped by when "Time Machine," written by Boyd and Larry Hancock, unrolls. Wells mimics Willie Ford on the intro and the lead enchants with a beguiling vocal reminiscent of Lenny Mayes, only stronger, on the smoldering slow jam. They bounce the lead lines around on "Sweet Delight" and "Just Leave," a free-flowing Delfonic-ish ballad that showcases their strong voices. "You're Good in Bed" is a turn-off-the-lights and lets-get-it-on song. A passionate lead, impeccable backing vocals, sensuous lyrics, tantalizing music, and a vamp that brings back memories of New Birth's "Been Such a Long Time" set this one out. Two more hotties, "Spiritual Love" and "In the Bedroom," wrap up the Imperial Wonders' first LP with a bang. Al Boyd co-authored the Temptations' "Shaky Ground" and wrote or co-wrote every song on Time Machine.

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