24 Carat Black: The Best Of Good Love Gone
From Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday (Numero, 2009)
(Editor’s note: It must feel good to be running The Numero Group. One of the advantages to creating one of the best reissue labels of our generation is that when something unexpected turns up – say the tapes of the unreleased second 24CB LP – you’re in the position to really do something good with it. When last I wrote about the group’s debut album, Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, I noted that it was one of those “big digger titles” that was so incredibly good as to transcend its status as as “big digger title.” Not surprisingly, any other material by the group would be of major interest and thanks to TNG, we now have access to these long-lost tapes. –O.W.)
24 Carat Black was headed by Dale Warren whose music, with its challenging, often operatic backdrops, was panned by critics when it was initially released. With its dark lyrical, musical, and topical overtones, it was too close to home to have any real commercial success. To further complicate matters, Stax was going broke. A couple of years after “Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth” was issued, Stax turned belly up.
Numero has dug up lost treasure with material that was being worked on for the follow-up album. Much of it was damaged beyond repair, lost to the sands of times. However, what has survived gives us a glimpse of the direction that Warren was headed. The societal doldrums were mostly gone as Warren had decided to revisit some material he had previously written as well as rearrange other work. However, darkness still looms over the album with titles such as “I Begin To Weep,” “I Don’t Love You,” and “The Best Of Good Love Gone.”
While the most known feature might be the title cut’s reworking of the Mad Lads classic, the album is filled with imaginative reinventions. The opening song has a slick and slinky bass groove that really rides while Princess Hearn’s vocal interpretation of material that was well beyond her teenage years is both breathy and emotion-filled. Elsewhere, the album’s most light-hearted affair is“I’ll Never Let You Go,” which is jaunty at first (reminiscent of the first album’s “Brown Baggin”) before an explosive bridge that then transforms into an almost masturbatory interlude and finally revisiting its bouncy beginnings.
Numero’s blog, periodically updated by the powers that be at the label, has linked clips of some of the original material against Warren’s reworkings that give you an idea of his new vision. Interestingly, they also posted another song from the project that was too damaged to make the final cut. You can also hear other snippets here.
Warren took away any further insight of the record’s proceedings with his death in the mid-’90s. We may never know what the final product may have sounded like in full form, but we get a glimpse into the producer’s mind of where the project was going. Incomplete never felt so satisfying.