Ernie Story: Chain Gang/Disco City
From Meditation Blue (Legend, 1977)
This strange, private press album out of Minnesota came via the Groove Merchant earlier in the year. It was one of those cases where I had credit to burn so I took a chance on an eclectic LP and once I really sat with it, I’m glad I did.
From the title and look of the album, you’d think Ernie Story was some kind of Christian/New Age folk singer but on the LP, it boasts that Story was a songwriter for mostly R&B groups such as The Impressions and Chi-Lites and this seems true – he wrote “Simple Message” for the Impressions’ Preacher Man album though I can’t seem to find which Chi-Lites song he did.
For his own album however, Story’s styles are varied, to say the least, a contrast best captured on these two songs which close out Side A. “Chain Gang” reminds me of Rodriguez’s soulful, folksy rock in one moment, but then it drops into a funkier, fuzzed out sound just a few beats later and then there’s that unexpected transition into “Disco City” as Story puts together what you might call a “garage disco” joint.
It must be said – Story might have skills as a songwriter but he’s not really a very good singer but given that this is a private press album, I suppose that fact is more endearing than annoying (that said, if you don’t like his singing on “Disco City,” you’ll much prefer the B-side’s “The E Groove” which is a fantastic little disco instrumental.
I’m curious what Story is doing these days – he doesn’t seem to have had an extensive musical career after ’77…