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Preacher Man

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Album Review

This is an unexpectedly fine album, particularly in light of the circumstances under which it was recorded. The Impressions had just finished a European tour in late 1972 when Leroy Hutson, who had been Curtis Mayfield's successor in lineup, left them to pursue a solo career. So it was two-man version of the Impressions — consisting of Sam Gooden and Fred Cash — who went into the studio in early 1973 with producer Rich Tufo, with Cash handling the lead vocals. Tufo as producer and arranger, as well as songwriter for a good chunk of the album, surrounded the pair with some of the best music and overdubbed background vocals of the group's history; and the result, instead of a threadbare effort by a reduced lineup version of the Impressions, was something new and amazingly bold, never more so than on the ten-minute "Thin Line," which opened side two of the LP — this was getting into the same realms of conceptual soul that Marvin Gaye had remade his career with on What's Going On. Preacher Man, which could have been an effort to buy time for a group in disarray, ended up being a strong artistic statement in its own right, and a record that was well worth owning, and opened a new era for the group.


Formed: 1958 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '10s

The quintessential Chicago soul group, the Impressions' place in R&B history would be secure if they'd done nothing but launch the careers of soul legends Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield. But far more than that, the Impressions recorded some of the most distinctive vocal-group R&B of the '60s under Mayfield's guidance. Their style was marked by airy, feather-light harmonies and Mayfield's influentially sparse guitar work, plus, at times, understated Latin rhythms. If their sound was sweet and lilting,...
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