The Exciters are a girl (and one guy) group, largely known as a one-hit wonder due to their massive success with “Tell Him,” a Spector-esque recording augmented by lead vocalist Brenda Reid’s raspy and direct vocal delivery. But that was in 1962; by 1969, they had moved on to stronger and more soulful territory, creating the funky and suitably titled Caviar and Chitlins.
The album opener, “Blowing Up My Mind,” sets the soulful tone for the record while also lifting the bar impossibly high for the remaining tracks. The lone single from this release finds the group incorporating a marching drum beat, a la Motown, with swampy organ runs and funky, percussive guitar riffs. Reid and crew’s gospel drenched vocals provide the necessary punch, describing her love with lines like, “dynamite, and nitro-glycerine, is like a firecracker compared to you,” and, “it’s like a mountain climber, took a ton of lead, and dropped it from the highest peak right on top of my head.” It’s cartoonish and fun, flowing effortlessly.
The feeling of being crazy in love is a common theme throughout the record. “Fight That Feelin’” is a wickedly funky track that sounds a bit like a slowed down version of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” It opens with the line, “I’ve been told, I must learn to control, my emotions,” and continues with, “I can’t bear to be without you, in my arms, I can’t fight that feelin’.” A little stalker-ish, but it fails to draw an alarm due to the impressive percussion and horn groove driving the back beat.
For an album full of hits, there’s unfortunately a few misses. “You Got Me” is one of two tracks that feature Brenda Reid’s husband Herb Rooney on vocals, and it suffers from being way too slick and polished. The same goes for “A Year Ago,” which opens with one of the most annoying woodwind phrases I’ve ever heard in a song. It’s not that they’re overtly bad songs, but compared to the amazing soul and funk sounds featured throughout the rest of the album, they just pale in comparison.
The audio quality on this release is fantastic. The mix sounds exactly how you’d expect from a late ‘60s recording; hard panned guitar and organ, roomy drums, and up-front saturated vocals. The vinyl is heavy and tracks very well with defined bass and treble.
Packaging is minimal but sufficient. The record is housed in a single cardboard jacket with a curved paper sleeve. The cover is dripping with late ‘60s to early ‘70s vibes, featuring an image of the band seated in a room with wood paneling and fake flowers while a multicolor, curved border drapes both sides of the picture and titles. I can dig it.
Caviar and Chitlins is available on black vinyl at Nature Sounds.