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Get On Up
Get On Up
Although they hailed from Milwaukee (with one exception), The Esquires' Get On Up was catchy, carefree Windy City soul at its most effervescent.
The group was built around brothers Gilbert and Alvis Moorer, who formed The Esquires in 1957 with their sister Betty to sing doo-wop while they were still in high school (reportedly the name was coined by future soul star Harvey Scales after he noticed it on a container of shoe polish). Sam Pace joined at the dawn of the '60s, and Shawn Taylor came in circa '65 (Betty dropped out after waxing a 1963 45 for Cuca with The Esquires backing her). They came up with Get On Up and pitched it first to The Impressions and then producer Johnny Pate at ABC-Paramount without luck.
They got a more favorable response from Bill 'Bunky' Sheppard, whose resume included Gene Chandler's '62 chart-topper Duke Of Earl. In 1966, Sheppard was a partner at Constellation Records, which would soon fold. He dug The Esquires' demo of Get On Up, but sought a second opinion from Mill Edwards, a member of Bunky's namesake group The Sheppards. Mill liked it too but heard a bass part that the dub was missing. Bunky asked him to join the group to sing it, and in return The Esquires sang on Mill's Constellation single Things Won't Be The Same. Soon they weren't.
Get On Up also benefitted from Tom-Tom Washington's brassy, propulsive arrangement and the pleasant contrast between Gilbert's falsetto and Mill's deep voice on the bottom, the rest of the group's harmonic blend reflecting that of The Impressions. Out as the inaugural 45 on Sheppard's new Bunky label, Get On Up was a #3 R&B/#11 pop smash. Their Moorer/Sheppard-penned followup, And Get Away, also did very well on Bunky, precipitating an album, 'Get On Up And Get Away.'
After two minor '68 hits (You Say and Why Can't I Stop), the group transferred over to the Wand label, which had been distributing Bunky. The Esquires' last reasonably sized hit came in 1971 with Girls In The City on the tiny Lamarr logo, though Get On Up '76 did kick up a little chart dust on the minuscule Ju-Par imprint.
- Bill Dahl -
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