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Pieces of Peace

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Album Review

Unearthed from the dusty shelves of Scarab Records (the Pharaohs-owned label), the only full-length (and one of very, very few records) by Chicago's soul/funk outfit Pieces of Peace presents a band whose lack of success came not from a deficiency in talent but from the inability to stay together. Shortly after they finished their self-titled debut in 1972, the group went on a six-month tour, a tour that ended up breaking them apart. It wasn't until 35 years later that a trio of cratediggers (DJ Shadow among them) brought the band from obscurity into, while not exactly the mainstream, at least into better availability, with the release of the album on San Francisco's Quannum Records. And it's a good thing they did, because Pieces of Peace, though not groundbreaking in scope, is a nice addition to the contemporary music coming out of places like Detroit, Chicago, Columbus, and Buffalo, mixing funk, soul, and jazz cleanly and warmly. "I Still Care" is poppy and sweet, featuring singer King Johnson's thick baritone and nicely picked electric guitar, while "Pollution" is a "Mercy Mercy Me"-inspired call to "clean up our scene," complete with a great jazzy trumpet solo from future Earth, Wind & Fire member Michael Davis, who articulates sharply and quickly, rolling up and down scales in bursts. It's actually in their solos where Pieces of Peace best display their musical acumen. Their basic 16- and 32-bar grooves, while certainly well executed and solid, aren't particularly exciting. But when the band launches into the time-signature-change-laden "Yesterday's Visions," where the keyboards venture near experimental territory, swooping and spacy and even atonal at times, the drums swing and the horns (Davis plus saxophonist Jerry Wilson, with help from the Pharaohs' Aaron Dodd on tuba) arch over the organ and loose bass, they're at their strongest, moving into the ether and back to the ground without ever losing their purpose or direction. It's too bad Pieces of Peace didn't come out when it was meant to, in 1972; it probably would've done quite well. But for those of us who were able to stick around, the album is worth the wait.


Formed: 1968 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active:

Formed in the mid-'60s, the Chicago-based funk and soul band Pieces of Peace certainly had the potential and manpower to reach nationwide success. The group originated around brothers Bernard and Danny Reed, who, thanks to Danny's connection to Carl Davis, soon began working with the former OKeh producer and A&R rep on his new label, Brunswick Records, and new band JaLynne Sound, alongside drummer Quinton Joseph and songwriters Eugene Record and Barbara Acklin. Things began to take off in 1967 when...
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Pieces of Peace, Pieces Of Peace
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