On this day in music history: June 12, 1970 – …

On this day in music history: June 12, 1970 – “Groovy Situation” by Gene Chandler is released. Written by Russell Lewis and Herman Davis, it is the forty first single release for the singer, songwriter and producer from Chicago, IL. With more than a decade in the music business behind him, singer Gene Chandler finds himself at a career crossroads. Having scored a string of R&B hits since the chart topping “Duke Of Earl” in 1962, by the late 60’s those hits begin to dry up. Bouncing between Brunswick and Checker Records, Chandler can’t get a hit, in spite of working with producers like Carl Davis and Chi-Lites leader Eugene Record. However, it is during this time that the singer makes musical connections that are vital in the next phase of his career. During this time, he branches out into producing other artists. Establishing a production company and his own label Bamboo Records, Chandler co-produces the smash “Backfield In Motion” by Mel & Tim. On that project, he works with Chess Records arranger Tom Washington (aka “Tom Tom 84”). Leaving Brunswick Records in early 1970, Gene signs with Mercury Records. Producing his first album “The Gene Chandler Situation”, among the songs recorded include one titled “Groovy Situation”. It is first recorded on Mel And Tim’s album “Good Guys Only Win In The Movies”. Their version is arranged by Brunswick in-house arranger Sonny Sanders, but is only an album cut. Chandler decides to record it himself, Washington borrows from Sanders’ arrangement, but tighter and a slinkier back beat that the original lacks. Recorded at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago in the Spring of 1970, the track features musician Richard Evans on bass. Also a staff producer and arranger at Chess Records’ Cadet subsidiary, Evans mentors arranger and producer Charles Stepney (Earth, Wind & Fire) and Donny Hathaway, as well as working with artists signed to the label including Ramsey Lewis and Marlena Shaw. Also a respected jazz bassist, Evans establishes himself as a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra. Putting down a wonderfully elastic and funky bass line on the song along with Chandler’s soulful and smooth vocal topping it all, it’s an obvious hit. Released as a single in June of 1970, it takes off quickly, entering the Billboard R&B singles chart #35 on July 4, 1970 and #86 on the Hot 100 on July 11, 1970. “Groovy Situation” peaks at #8 on the R&B chart on August 1, 1970 (holding that position for three weeks) and peaking at #12 on the Hot 100 on September 26, 1970.

“Groovy” re-starts Gene Chandler’s recording career, earning a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song.

Though only hitting the R&B top ten one more time with the disco-funk smash “Get Down” in 1978, “Groovy Situation” has a lasting legacy as an R&B classic. The song later appears in the comedy “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy”. “Groovy Situation” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.