Back in the mid-1990s when I was fortunate enough to be working at John Anderson’s esteemed Soul Bowl Records, I came across an acetate album of tracks by Chicago’s Jerline and Friends. I was really taken with it, and added it to my soul collection. A few years later, I dug out the acetate and played one of the tracks – ‘Joy Trip pt1’ – first on my Solar Radio shows in 2002 and then on Starpoint Radio.
The record attracted a great deal of interest because of its urban Two Step sound. Chicago-based Jerline and Friends was a premier local group, led by vocalist Jerline Shelton, who co-wrote the songs with Maurice ‘Matavani’ Commander, her long-term business partner. In the mid-1970s, they recorded under the group name of ‘Royal Flush’ and enjoyed considerable commercial success with their album ‘Hot Spot’.
It is those members of ‘Royal Flush’ who appear on this release: Jerline’s twin sister Sherline who was not only the songbird of ‘Royal Flush’, but was also a talented writer and producer; Charles Beadle was an accomplished bassist and a veteran studio musician, who had worked with such musical giants as Curtis Mayfield and Lonnie Liston Smith in his long career.
Then there was Jerline; a lead vocalist, prolific songwriter and producer who had scored numerous hit recordings. She also became a record label executive, when she and Maurice joined forces with Lucky Cordell, a renowned radio personality on the Chicago scene, to form the record company G.E.C.
From this rich history comes ‘Best of Friends’. Not much is known about the session. But I suspect that the songs from it were never actually released together in this format, although ‘Goddess Of Love’ does appear on the Royal Flush ‘Hot Spot’ album. It is also not known when exactly the recording took place, although it is likely to have been in the mid-to-late 1970s.
After airing a few of these tracks at my live gigs, I feel that now is the right time to share the whole album with soul fans across the worldwide scene. There is a huge variety of genres on the album, from Funk and Two Step to Northern Soul and the now familiar Crossover sound, which has become a scene in its own right in the UK.
The Chicago sound has been a source of endless fascination for me, and it has been very rewarding to bring this album out. As a soul fan, I always need to hear new music, whether it is a brand new find or something that has been hidden away for some 30 years or more. So it is with great pleasure that I bring you Jerline and Friends ‘Best of Friends’ as the first album release on Streetsoul Records.
Andy Davies, UK Soul DJ, 2007