Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Set It Out" By The Detroit Emeralds

“Set It Out” is a forgotten gem by R&B/soul group the Detroit Emeralds. This irresistible track  transports you back to the 1970s, a truly glorious period for R&B and soul music. During this era, there was an abundance of great R&B vocal groups, including the Dramatics, the Whispers, the Temptations, the Four Tops and the Stylistics to name a few. The Detroit Emeralds weren’t as popular as the aforementioned groups, but they were a very talented outfit who released some splendid tracks during their time.

 “Set It Out,” (released in 1977) is an infectious slice of smooth soul, boasting catchy horn parts, kickin’ congas, tight bass work, rockin’ piano and sweet vocals. The song was co-written by Abrim Tilmon, Belda Baine and Louis Crane. It’s from the group’s 1977 album Feel The Need.

The Detroit Emeralds (originally known as the Emeralds) were formed in the early 1960s in Little Rock, Arkansas by the four Tilmon brothers: Ivory, Abrim, Cleophus and Raymond. Cleophus and Raymond later left the band and were replaced by vocalist James Mitchell. Abrim, Ivory and Mitchell moved to Detroit and changed the group's name to the Detroit Emeralds. The vocal trio quickly scored a modest hit in 1968 with the song “Show Time,” which was released on Ric-Tic Records. The song peaked at #22 on the R&B singles charts and climbed to #89 on the pop charts.

 In 1970, the group signed to Detroit-based label Westbound Records. The move to Westbound proved very beneficial for the trio. From 1971 through '73, the group had a string of R&B hits (with four top tens) under the label, including “You’re Gettin’ a Little Too Smart,” “Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms),” “Do Me Right” "You Want It, You Got It” and "Wear This Ring (With Love).” Abrim, who also played guitar, wrote all the hits during this period, and Chapter 8 was the group’s backing band.

Despite this successful run, the group began to fall apart in '74. Things were such a mess that for a time, there were two versions of the group touring. Ivory and Mitchell finally exited the group, making way for new members Johnny Allen, Paul Riser and Maurice King. Abrim was the only remaining original member of the the group. And Mitchell went on to co-found the vocal group the Floaters in 1976. The Floaters scored a major hit with the single “Float On” in '77.

The Detroit Emeralds are most remembered for their transatlantic hit “Feel The Need In Me” (released in 1972), which was penned by Abrim Tilmon. The song performed particularly well across the pond, reaching #4 on the UK Singles Chart. It peaked and #22 on the U.S. R&B charts and #110 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group rerecorded the song in 1977 under the title “Feel The Need.” This version also performed well overseas, peaking at #12 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was covered by Graham Central Station in 1974, and Bryan Ferry recorded a cover of the song in ’78, which wasn’t released until ’85. And American singer Forrest covered the song in ’83.

Contemporary artists have kept the group’s music alive through samples. For instance, their song “You’re Gettin’ a Little Too Smart” has been sampled by well-known artists such as Nas, Monica, Common, Raekwon and Limp Bizkit. Other tracks by the group have also been sampled by popular artists.

"Set It Out" at Amazon

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