The Chambers Brothers
|The Chambers Brothers|
The band in 1970.
|Origin||Los Angeles, California|
|Genres||Psychedelic soul, funk, rock, psychedelic rock, R&B, gospel|
|Years active||1954–1972, 1974–present|
|Labels||Vault, Columbia, Avco, Roxbury|
The Chambers Brothers are an American soul band, best known for its eleven-minute long 1968 hit "Time Has Come Today". The group was part of the wave of new music that integrated American blues and gospel traditions with modern psychedelic and rock elements. Their music has been kept alive through heavy use in film soundtracks.
Originally from Carthage, Mississippi, the Chambers Brothers first honed their skills as members of the choir in their Baptist church. This set up ended in 1952 when the eldest brother George was drafted into the Army. George relocated to Los Angeles after his discharge, and his brothers soon settled there as well. As a foursome, they began performing gospel and folk throughout the Southern California region in 1954, but they more or less remained unknown until appearing in New York City in 1965.
Consisting of George (b. September 26, 1931) on washtub bass (later on Danelectro bass guitar), Lester (b. April 13, 1940) on harmonica, and Willie (b. March 3, 1938) and Joe (b. August 22, 1942) on guitar, the group started to venture outside the gospel circuit, playing at coffeehouses that booked folk acts. They played at places like The Ash Grove, a very popular Los Angeles folk club. It became one of their favorite haunts and brought them into contact with Hoyt Axton, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Reverend Gary Davis, and Barbara Dane. Dane became a great supporter, performing and recording with the brothers. With the addition of Brian Keenan (January 28, 1943 – October 5, 1985) on drums, Dane took them on tour with her and introduced them to Pete Seeger, who helped put the Chambers Brothers on the bill of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. One of the songs they performed, "I Got It", appeared on the Newport Folk Festival 1965 compilation LP, which was issued on the Vanguard label.
They were becoming more accepted in the folk community, but, like many on the folk circuit, were looking to electrify their music and develop a more rock and roll sound. Joe Chambers recalled in a May 1994 Goldmine article that people at the Newport Folk Festival were breaking down fences and rushing to the stage. "Newport had never seen or heard anything like that." After the group finished and the crowd finally settled down, the MC came up and said "Whether you know it or not, that was rock 'n' roll." That night they played at a post-concert party for festival performers and went to a recording session of the newly electrified Bob Dylan. Shortly after appearing at Newport, the group released its debut album, People Get Ready.
"Time Has Come Today"
The band scored its only major hit in the fall of 1968 with "Time Has Come Today", an 11-minute opus written by Joe and Willie Chambers and highlighted by echoing vocal effects and Keenan's drumming which gave the song a psychedelic feel. "Time Has Come Today" was edited for release as a single and spent five consecutive weeks in September/October at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, just missing the Top Ten.
Later incarnations of the group included session guitarist Steve Hunter (known for his work with Alice Cooper) and session whiz Stephen Patt (Northwind), freeing the brothers up to become front men, not just instrumentalists. However, due to a succession of dishonest promoters and managers, the group was unable to build on their success and eventually split up in 1972. An album recorded that same year for Columbia, Oh! My God, remains unreleased. They reformed and moved from Columbia to Avco Records and released Unbonded (1974) and Right Move (1975). In 1976 the brothers released Recorded Live In Concert on Mars for the Roxbury label. They have toured irregularly since.
Lester moved to New York and formed a band with former Electric Flag bassist Harvey Brooks. Guitarists Willie and Joe would find work as session men; George went back to singing gospel music and would later become a deacon of his church. Keenan retired to Connecticut where he set up his own recording studio, plied his trade as a carpenter , and died of heart failure in 1985.
Art Ramsey was hired as a replacement drummer. He performed live, on-the-road and in many different cities and venues with the Chambers Brothers band after Keenan's departure. Later, L.A. session drummer Fabian Jolivet joined the band for a 1997 tour that ended with the full line up returning to the Ash Grove and playing a Gospel set.
In 2016, Willie, Joe, and occasionally George, along with their nephew Jerry Warner on bass, Crazy Tomes on guitar, and LA drummer Jon McCracken, reformed as the Chambers Brothers to do shows in the Los Angeles area; including the world famous Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
Billboard singles and albums listing
Billboard singles listing
- 1968 "I Can't Turn You Loose", Pop Singles, peaked at #37
- 1968 "Time Has Come Today", Pop Singles, #11
- 1969 "Wake Up", Pop Singles, #92
- 1970 "Love, Peace And Happiness", Pop Singles, #96
- 1971 "Funky", Black Singles, #40
- 1974 "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go", Black Singles, #76
Billboard albums listing
- 1968 A New Time-A New Day, Black Albums, peaked at #24
- 1968 A New Time-A New Day, Pop Albums, #16
- 1968 The Time Has Come, Black Albums, #6; Pop Albums, #4
- 1970 Love, Peace and Happiness, Black Albums, #17; Pop Albums #58
- 1970 The Chambers Brothers Greatest Hits (Vault), Pop Albums #193
- 1971 New Generation, Black Albums #36; Pop Albums #145
- 1972 The Chambers Brothers' Greatest Hits (Columbia), Pop Albums, #166
- 1974 Unbonded, Pop Albums, #144
- People Get Ready (Vault 9003, 1965)
- Now (Vault SLP-115 - 1966)
- Barbara Dane and The Chambers Brothers (Folkways Records FA 2468 - 1966)
- The Time Has Come (Columbia CL 2722 (Mono)/CS 9522 (Stereo) - 1967)
- Groovin' Time (Folkways Records FW 31008 - 1968)
- Shout (Vault SLP-120 - 1968) & (Vault VS 390 - 1968)
- A New Time – A New Day (Columbia CS 9671 - 1968)
- Love, Peace And Happiness / Live At Bill Graham's Fillmore East (Columbia CS 9934, 1969)
- Shout - (Liberty, LBS 83272 - 1969), Reissue
- Feelin' the Blues (Vault 128 - 1970)
- New Generation (Columbia C 30032 - 1971)
- Oh, My God! (Columbia 31158 - 1972) [*Unreleased*]
- Unbonded (Avco AV 11013 - 1974)
- Right Move (Avco AV 69003 - 1975)
- Live in Concert on Mars (Roxbury RLX-106 - 1976)
- Now! Live (One Way 35142 - 1999, reissue of Now Vault SLP-115 LP)
- The Time Has Come (Columbia/Legacy 63984 - 2000), also on (Repertoire 2337 - 2007 with Bonus tracks)
- Live Fillmore West 65 (Falcon Music Germany 3537 - 2004)
- Live (Acrobat 4046 - 2005)
- Soul Up (Karussell 635050 - 19??, reissue of Now Vault album)
- People Get Ready (Collectors' Choice 08302 - 2007 reissue of (Vault 9003, 1965 LP)
- Now (Collectors' Choice 08312 - 2007 reissue of Vault SLP-115, 1966 LP)
- Shout (Collectors' Choice 08322 - 2007 reissue of (Vault SLP-120 - 1968)
- Feelin' the Blues (Collectors' Choice 08332 - 2007 reissue of Vault 128, 1970 LP)
- The Time Has Come (Sony/BMG Special Markets, 2008)
- Chambers Brothers' Greatest Hits [Double Album] (Vault SLP 135, 1970)
- Greatest Hits (Columbia 30871, 1971)
- The Best of the Chambers Brothers [Double Album] (Fantasy 24718, 1973)
- The Time Has Come / A New Time – A New Day [2 on 1 Album] (Columbia CG 33642, 1975)
- Greatest Hits (Columbia CK-30871, 1988)
- Goin Uptown (Sony Special Products, 1995)
- Time Has Come: Best Of The Chambers Brothers (Legacy/Sony, 1996)
- Time (Sony Special Products, 1998)
- Now / People Get Ready [2 on 1 CD] (Repertoire, 1999)
- Lifted: Songs of the Spirit (2002, Sony/Hear Music)—"People Get Ready"
- The song 'Funky' was sampled by Tribe Called Quest for 'I Left My Wallet In El Segundo'
- Dane, Barbara (1965). "The Chamber Brothers Do That Real Thing" (PDF). Folkway Records.
- allmusic The Chambers Brothers biography
- Richie Unterberger.com LINER NOTES FOR THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS' SHOUT! By Richie Unterberger
- 1-94 Bar ONLY FINGERS BLEED: '70s GUITAR STYLE-MASTER DICK WAGNER By GEOFF GINSBERG
- Classic Bands.com TheChambers Brothers
- Mojo Music Review of the June 28, 2006 Arthur Lee Benefit Concert at the Whisky a Go Go
- love.torbenskott.dk Whiskey-A-Go-Go, L.A.US June 28. 2006
- ALL Music The Chambers Brothers Billboard Singles
- All Music The Chambers Brothers Billboard Albums
- Allmusic People Get Ready
- Allmusic Now!
- http://www.wirz.de Barbara Dane discography
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - The Time Has Come
- Smithsonian Folkways Groovin' Time
- Allmusic The Chambers Brothers Shout!
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - Shout!]
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - A New Time - A New Day
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - Love, Peace And Happiness / Live At Bill Graham's Fillmore East
- Allmusic Feelin' the Blues
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - New Generation
- Allmusic Oh My God!
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - Unbonded
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - Right Move
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - Live In Concert On Mars
- Now! Live
- Allmusic The Time Has Come
- Allmusic Live Fillmore West 65
- Allmusic Live
- http://www.rambles.net The Chambers Brothers
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - The Chambers Brothers' Greatest Hits
- Discogs Chambers Brothers, The - The Time Has Come / A New Time - A New Day
- The Time Has Come Today, review by Paul Hollingsworth
- Your Top 20 Favorite Psychedelic Songs of All-Time
- The Chambers Brothers Shout!
- Chambers Brothers' Time Has Come Today Once Again