South Shore Commission's claim to fame are the disco classics "Free Man," "We're on the Right Track," and "Train Called Freedom." All three were mid-'70s hits produced by Philly soul songwriter/singer Bunny Sigler and included on South Shore Commission, an album released by Wand/Scepter in December 1975. The LP was mixed by Tom Moulton, the club DJ who did numerous remixes for Salsoul Records (Sigler's "Let Me Party With You," Instant Funk's "No Stoppin That Rockin," Loleatta Holloway's "Love Sensation," Eddie Holman's "This Will Be a Night to Remember"). The group consisted of vocalists Frank McCurry, Sheryl Henry, guitarists Sidney Lennear and Eugene Rogers, bassist David Henderson, and drummer Warren Haygood. Formed in 1960 in Washington, D.C., they were originally known as the Exciters -- not to be confused with the '60s NY vocal quartet who hit with "Tell Him" and "I Want You to Be My Boy." By 1965, they were the backup band for the Five Dutones, who were signed to George Lerner's One-derful label in Chicago. The group's biggest hit was "Shake a Tail Feather," which peaked at number 28 R&B in summer 1963. Some of the Exciters moved to Chicago and nearby Gary, IN. In 1967, the Five Dutones disbanded with the band's lead singer McCurry joining the Exciters and this new group became the South Shore Commission. They recorded a 1970 single for Atlantic, "Right on Brother," and "Shadows," a 1971 single for Nickel. New York-based Sceptor Records, who had success with Chicago-based acts like the Independents ("Leaving Me," the group included the songwriting/production of team Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy who had hits with Natalie Cole and Ronnie Dyson), signed the group to their Wand label and released the group's only LP. With some production from Dick Griffey, the bulk of the album was produced by Bunny Sigler at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia. The backing tracks were by Instant Funk's core lineup of bassist Raymond Earl, guitarist Kim Miller, and drummer Scotty Miller. South Shore Commission yielded three Billboard-charting singles: the jubilant "Free Man" that hit number nine R&B in spring 1975, the smooth "We're on the Right Track," and "Train Called Freedom." The aforementioned singles and the LP track "Handle With Care" were club favorites and charted high on Billboard's disco charts. The 12" version of "Free Man" breaks into a hypnotic four-on-the-floor vamp that directly connects it to the disco-influenced house music of the '80s and the ambient techno of the '90s.
by Ed Hogan