What originally started as an intentionally tongue-in-cheek post about 90s soul pop Charles & Eddie led me down an unexpected rabbit hole...
Charles & Eddie, aka Charles Pettigrew & Eddie Chacon, were an American soul music duo who had a UK #1 for 2 weeks in October 1992 with Would I Lie To You? The parent album Duophonic reached #19 but none of their subsequent singles troubled the Top 20. After a follow up album in 1995, Charles & Eddie amicably went their separate ways.
I'd describe Charles & Eddie as a guilty pleasure, only I don't feel any guilt whatsoever. Whilst other 1992 favourites included the Broken and Fixed EPs by Nine Inch Nails, the two Radiccio 12" singles by Orbital and Fear Loves This Place by Julian Cope, I had a lot of love for Would I Lie to You? Part of the affection came from my enduring impression that Eddie was throwing his poor mate Charles under the bus. Bear with me...
The basic gist of the song is that Charles is trying to convince his lover that he is faithful, in the face of rumours to the contrary. It's not revealed who has been spreading this malicious gossip, but I think it's obvious that the perpetrator is hiding in plain sight.
Charles continually pleads "Don't you know it's true girl, there's no one else but you! Would I lie to you, baby?" to which Eddie responds "Oh, yeah!"
Clearly, Eddie thought the subject of Charles' impassioned argument was with the wrong guy and was trying his darndest to split them up. Who needs enemies with friends like these?!
Great song, though.
What started as a one (admittedly not very funny) joke and (I thought) fairly quick and simple post took a turn when I looked up Charles & Eddie to write the opening intro/background. I knew that Charles had passed away but I wasn't aware that he'd joined Tom Tom Club in 1998 and remained a member until his death in 2001. To be honest, the one studio album he appeared on, 2000's The Good The Bad And The Funky, is a far cry from their 1980s peak.
Eddie's subsequent musical career, however, is far more interesting...
After a break of almost 15 years, Eddie's next musical venture was again as a duo, this time with wife Sissy Sainte-Marie as The Polyamorous Affair. They released three albums between 2008 and 2010 and, from what I've heard so far, it's compelling 'disturbdance' music (to pinch a phrase from Propaganda's Wishful Thinking). The videos, including 2009's White Hot Magic and the 'Uncut Director's Cut' of 2010's Softer And Softer, are also equally dark and funny. I'm not quite so sure about their cover of Lou Reed's Satellite Of Love, although it's a darn sight better than U2's excruciating version.
After another near-decade break from music, Eddie re-emerged last July with debut solo album, Pleasure, Joy And Happiness. The promo describes it as "a thoughtfully considered album of quiet, confident R&B: it doesn't jump out at you, but rather gets in you". Having listened to it for the first time whilst writing this post, that's a pretty spot on description. Described elsewhere as "celestial soul music", it's heartfelt, late hours music with understated vocals that mark out that this is a man who has lost, lived and grown in the 30 years since Duophonic. John Carroll Kirby is a sympathetic producer, letting the music underpin and not overwhelm Chacon's vocals. It's also a refreshingly brisk album: 8 songs in under 30 minutes, with no filler to pad out a 'normal' vinyl or CD album length.
There are a couple of interviews with Eddie from September 2020 that provide further background and insight into the album and the songs that inspired it, with Aquarium Drunkard and Andrew Male in The Guardian. You can buy Pleasure, Joy And Happiness on Eddie's Bandcamp page; you will need to trawl other channels to get hold of a physical copy.
This is why I love music so much. A random shuffle to an old song can take you to somewhere new and surprising.