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DynamicSuperiors - The Dynamic Superiors

DynamicSuperiors - The Dynamic Superiors

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Genre: soul
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title:  The Dynamic Superiors
Company: Motown
Catalog: M6-822S1
Year: 1974
Country/State: Washington, D.C.
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 5611
Price: $50.00

Michael McCalpin, George Wesley Peterbark Jr., George Spann and brothers Maurice and Toni Washington grew up in the same Washington, D.C. housing project. The five went to school together, singing on street corners and playing in various talent contests along the way. By the time they were in high school they'd formed The Superiors and were lying about their ages in order to play D.C. nightclubs.

Signed by the Sue label, they made their recording debut with an instantly obscure 1969 single:

- 'Heavenly Angel' b/w 'I'd rather Die' (Sue catalog number 12)

Two years later they got their big break when they were discovered Motown executive Ewart Abner at a 1972 dj convention in Atlanta and signed to the label. It apparently took Motown management awhile to figure out how to deal with the group, eventually teaming them with the writing and production team of Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. To Motown's credit the label made no attempt to hide lead singer Tony Washington's openly gay lifestyle - a fact underscored by one quick look at "The Dynamic Superiors" cover art. Not that it mattered ... Washington may have worn false eye lashes, rouge, lipstick, and occasionally performed in drag, but he had a killer voice. On tracks like 'Shoe Shine Shine' and 'Star of My Life' he was more than capable of hitting high notes a-la Russell Tompkins Jr.. At the other end of the spectrum Washington's falsetto was nicely offset by tenors Peterbark Jr. and Spann. With Ashford and Simpson bringing their top-shelf material to the recording sessions (they were responsible for nine of the ten songs with the one exception being penned by Valerie's brother Raymond Simpson of future Village People fame), this was simply one of the best old school vocal group LPs I've ever heard. With the exception of the overly sensitive 'Cry When You Want To' virtually every one of these songs would have made a dandy single and was worth hearing. With so many standout tracks highlights were hard to pick up, but included 'Leave It Alone', the blazing 'Don't Send Nobody Else' and 'I Got Away'.  

- A near perfect slice of old school soul, the opening ballad 'Shoe Shoe Shine' had it all including Washington's heartbreaking falsetto, pretty melody, killer chorus, and wonderful harmony vocals. Easy to see why Motown tapped it as the lead-off single. rating: ***** stars
- Washington may have attracted most of the attention, but as demonstrated by 'Soon', Peterbark Jr. was an equally talented singer. In fact, I'd be tempted to argue that he was even better given his ability to effortlessly glide between raspy R&B moves and a falsetto. Great up-tempo number that would have made a nice single. rating: **** stars
- Ballad heavy albums have a tendency to bore me since the genre starts to sound the same when you hear one after the other. Not the case here. While it was a ballad, 'Leave It Alone' saw Peterbark Jr. injecting a nifty Gospel feel into the mix. rating: **** stars  
- An up tempo, dance floor number and one of my favorite performances, 'Don't Send Nobody Else' found Washington and Spann (?) sharing lead vocals. Fantastic and hard to believe it wasn't tapped as a single. rating: **** stars  
- The least commercial song on the first side, 'Romeo' was also the most interesting. A slow groove grinder, it took awhile to kick into gear but served as a nice showcase for the group and unveiled one of the album's best hooks, though it didn't appear until the tail end of the song. I think this one also showcased Spann and Washington on lead vocals. rating: **** stars  
- Side two started off with the first disappointing performance. Powered by Washington at his shrillest, at least to my ears 'Star of My Life' was simply too cocktail jazzy for my ears.    rating: ** stars 
- Hard in isolation 'Cry When You Want To' was a pleasant old school ballad, but stacked up against the rest of the album it came off as little more than pleasant. Washington handled lead vocals, but this time out he sounded like he was simply trying too hard, giving the song a screechy edge.    rating: ** stars 
- The lone non-Ashford and Simpson track (as mentioned Simpson's brother wrote it), 'I Got Away' was also one of the standout performances. Boasting a fantastic melody and bright hook, this up tempo should have been a single.     rating: ***** stars 
- Given the voice didn't sound like any of the other performances, I've always wondered who handled the lead on this one. While it started out as a typical 'life on the road is tough' number, it opened up into a breezy, mid-tempo number that benefited from sounding completely unlike the rest of the album.     rating: *** stars 
- I remember playing 'Release Me' time after time when I got this album. Easily the album's highlight, it was simply a classic slice of mid-1970s soul. Washington's falsetto was never as effective and coupled with a killer song, an instantly memorable hook, and fantastic backing vocals, this one was impossible to overlook. You just had to scratch your head and wonder how Motown managed to overlook it as a potential single. rating: ***** stars 

Elsewhere Motown tapped the album for a pair of singles:

- 1974's 'Shoe Shine Shine' b/w 'Release Me' (Motown catalog number M 1324F) # 6 pop; # 16 R&B
- 1975's 'Leave It Alone' b/w 'One-Nighter' (Motown catalog number M 1342F) # 102 pop; # 13 R&B

One of my favorite Washington, D.C. soul group albums ...
"The Dynamic Superiors" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Shoe Shoe Shine (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:45
2.) Soon (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:44
3.) Leave It Alone (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:40
4.) Don't Send Nobody Else (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:39
5.) Romeo (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:45

(side 2)
1.) Star of My Life (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:44
2.) Cry When You Want To (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 4:17
3.) I Got Away (Raymond Simpson) - 2:18
4,) One-Nighter (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 4:00
5.) Release Me (Nicholas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:29
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