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Maurice & Mac

Maurice & Mac emerged when Maurice McAlister and McLauren Green splintered from the Radiants in 1966. McAlister was a founding member, lead singer, and songwriter for the group; Green replaced first tenor Charles Washington before the Radiants started recording for Chess Records. The Radiants, composed of members from the Greater Harvest Baptist Church Youth Choir (located in Chicago, IL), formed in 1960 to record some stellar but poorly promoted singles for Chess Records. On their biggest record, "Voice Was Choice" (1964), the members were McAlister, Wallace Sampson, and Leonard Caston. The Army snatched Green, and Caston, an organist at Greater Harvest, had recently returned from the service. "Voice Your Choice" went to number 51 pop and number 16 R&B, but deserved better; its successor, "Ain't No Big Thing," scraped into Billboard's pop 100 at number 91, but did better on the R&B chart (number 14). Later editions of the Radiants consisted of different members and a different sound. The group was initially a quintet, then a quartet, a trio, then back to a quartet before disappearing. The first Maurice & Mac single surfaced around 1967 or 1968 on Checker Records, a subsidiary of Chess. But "Try Me" b/w "So Much Love" went unnoticed by everyone except the parties involved with the recording. Their second release brought some acclaim, but no fame, and no fortune. "You Left the Water Running," released in 1968, and written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, is one of the best Southern soul recordings, period. Yet, it never made Billboards' pop or R&B charts; Cashbox's survey listed it for three weeks, but it never rose from the bottom rungs. Recorded at the Fame Studios in Muscles Shoals, AL, the production is so tight that the vocals and the instrumentation literally explode from the compelling, shuffling track that reaches its zenith with a gut-wrenching "Lord Have Mercy" near the end. Chess did an awful job promoting the single and the guys were fuming. But they forged on with a third single, "Lay It On Me" b/w "What Am I Gonna Do," which few people knew about, much less purchased. The fourth and last Checker single, "Baby You're the One" b/w "Oh What a Time," duplicated the dismal showings of the first and third singles. The last-known release by Maurice & Mac surfaced on Chess Records. But the move from Checker to the parent label didn't help, as "You Can't Say I Didn't Try" b/w "Lay It On Me" failed miserably and became the final straw. They gigged sporadically but received no support from Chess Records so there were no tours. Chess is lauded for their recordings, and should be, they waxed some remarkable sides, but none of their artists enjoyed long careers, and few had album releases. Neither the Radiants nor Maurice & Mac ever had an LP release on Chess. When Maurice & Mac disbanded, McAlister washed his hands of the music business. After a promising start with the Radiants, and writing songs for others, such as Sugar Pie Desanto's "Soulful Dress," McAlister's songwriting efforts ended at 36 titles licensed by BMI. McAlister and Green still call Chicago home. Leonard Caston went on to write and produce Eddie Kendricks' two monsters, "Keep on Trucking" and "Boogie Down." Little do the rights owners of the Radiants' recordings know, but to many, the Radiants, and Maurice & Mac were all that, and a compilation CD chronicling their respective careers is long overdue. ~ Andrew Hamilton
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