Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1992 debut album from duo Charles and Eddie, titled Duophonic. Was this album a Beautiful Thing, or is that just one big Lie? Let’s find out…
The 13-track album bursts opens with third single House Is Not A Home which begins by sounding like it’s just fallen off a Stevie Wonder Motown record from the 60s. Once the verses begin, Eddie Chacon and Charles Pettigrew show off their beautiful vocal harmonies with great ease throughout this chilled out song. This song should have fared better when it was released as a single, but sadly it stalled at #29 in the UK.
Next up is second single N.Y.C, which opens with a slinky, funky, bassline that collectively reminds me a little of Lou Reed‘s 1972 hit Walk On The Wild Side. The song gives a nod to Marvin Gaye, through directly mentioning him and his Trouble Man album. However, this track only reached #33 in the UK singles chart.
Their huge #1 hit single in the UK and beyond, and the lead single from this album, Would I Lie To You? follows this. This song is undoubtedly a classic early 90s song. It’s reign could have continued, but it was dethroned by the belting I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. There is nothing to dislike about this song – the music, lyrics, and the harmonised vocals are spot on. It feels like a classic that’s been dusted off for the 90s, but it’s an original, and one that earned its writers Mick Leeson and Peter Vale an Ivor Novello Award in 1992.
This is followed by Hurt No More, which opens with some gentle wandering guitar and light beats. This song gives both men more opportunity to blend their rich vocals perfectly. This is a very soft song, that sits in total contrast to the previous song. This song is nice, but it’s lack of a catchy chorus makes it fairly forgettable.
Up next is I Understand, a song written by and sung solely by Charles. He is joined only by a Rhodes played by Amp Fiddler (great name). It’s short, at just 1m 10s, and at times Charles’ vocals sound a little like those of George Michael.
The pace ups with Unconditional, which opens with what sounds like a sample of some great 70s funk song, and is then swiftly followed by some more trademark Charles & Eddie vocal harmonies before slipping into the verses. At this point, this could easily be a track on a Simply Red album – even the vocals sound a little Mick Hucknall. It’s a nice little song.
Love Is A Beautiful Thing is up next, and I thought that this was a cover, but surprisingly it’s the other way round. This is the original, but Al Green picked this song up and recorded and released it the following year. His version is a bit more up-tempo and better polished, and to be honest, his vocals suit it better. Charles and Eddie’s version is pretty gentle, and their vocals feel a little too high for the duo.
Father To Son follows this, and again this sounds like something that wouldn’t be out of place on a Simply Red album. It’s more up-beat than the previous song, and Charles and Eddie’s vocals both sound more confident here. There’s a slightly too weird freestyle section about 2/3rds of the way through where the guitarist gets too heavy with the pedal effects.
Up next is December 2, which sees Eddie take a sole writer and vocal credit. This feels like a very personal song about losing his older brother, and Eddie’s vocals are heartbreakingly powerful throughout this, as he’s pitched against nothing but an acoustic guitar. Beautifully sad.
Legendary writer and Diane Warren gets a writer credit next for Be A Little Easy On Me, which returns the duo to an almost Would I Lie To You song. This really should have been the follow-up single for them – as it’s catchy, and feels well paired to their lead hit. Musically and vocally it is superior to several of the songs on this album.
The oddly titled Vowel Song is up next, starting with a funky bass loop. Listening to the lyrics, it’s clear that the vowel in question is ‘O’. The song doesn’t stray very far musically, and just kind of wanders off towards the end with some weird spacial synth sounds and backing ‘bah bah bah-bah du bah bah‘s.
Where Do We Go From Here? is up next, and this too is worthy of having been a single. This song was solely written by Eddie, but both Charles and Eddie put in a great vocal performance here, on top of a cool Motown-sounding beat and catchy backing vocals. The song builds perfectly.
The album closes with Shine, a song that was released as their fourth and final single from this album, and only in France (earning them a #3 hit). This has a great beat, and both men again put in some great vocal performances, although at times they’re also little croaky. This does make a good closing track though. The song ends with ‘don’t give up, don’t give up‘ – quite right.
..then, tucked away at the end of Shine, after a gap and with about 1m 10s left to go, you get a rockier track. It feels like an out-take, and belts out the drums and funky wah guitars. Then as quick as it arrived, it’s gone again.
Where are Charles and Eddie now?
The duo’s success was hinged on debut hit Would I Lie To You?, and the pair struggled to sustain a UK chart career beyond this. The duo did record and release a second album, Chocolate Milk, in 1995, and this did earn them their final and lowest charting UK single I’m Gonna Love You (24-7-365) at #38, despite its musical similarity to Would I Lie To You. Their final single Jealousy, failed to chart in the UK.
Charles was diagnosed with cancer in the 1990s, and sadly died in 2001, aged just 37 years.
Eddie has continued to work in music, unsurprisingly as he wrote or co-wrote nine of the thirteen songs on this album, and is currently part of electronic/alternative duo The Polyamorous Affair, who have had their music featured in US TV shows including Ugly Betty and Dexter.
POP RESCUE RATING
Over all, it’s evident that Charles & Eddie are wrongly deemed as ‘one-hit wonders’. Whilst they didn’t re-capture the success of that debut single, due to (in my opinion) the wrong choice of follow-up singles, their contribution to music is one that should not be sniffed at.
This album is wonderfully fresh, yet familiar and respectful to their music greats, and yet mostly original.
They were robbed, and ultimately so we were.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1992 UK CHART POSITION: #19
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from Hyperion Auctions Ltd.