Formed in the mid-'60s, the Chicago-based funk and soul band Pieces of Peace certainly had the potential and manpower to reach nationwide success. The group originated around brothers Bernard and Danny Reed, who, thanks to Danny's connection to Carl Davis, soon began working with the former OKeh producer and A&R rep on his new label, Brunswick Records, and new band JaLynne Sound, alongside drummer Quinton Joseph and songwriters Eugene Record and Barbara Acklin. Things began to take off in 1967 when trumpeter Michael Davis (who later played with Earth, Wind & Fire and Phil Collins, sometimes under the name Rahm Lee) and alto saxophonist Jerry Wilson joined up and the quintet recorded "Soulful Strut" -- a song that was then used by and credited to Young-Holt Unlimited -- and soon after went on tour with other Brunswick artists. On the way, drummer Harold "Heavy" Nesbitt replaced Joseph, guitarist John Bishop came on, and co-founder Danny Reed left, unhappy with the lack of control he felt he had.
As it turned out, the entire band was unhappy with the way Carl Davis was leading things, and after spending some time backing Gene Chandler, they broke ties with Brunswick and Davis, changed their name to Pieces of Peace, and moved across town to Twinight, home of Syl Johnson. There, as the house band, the group recorded and helped produce singles not only for Johnson but also for Josephine Taylor, Annette Poindexter, and Elvin Spencer. In 1971, with the help of new drummer Fred White (who also went on to play with Earth, Wind & Fire) and singer King Johnson, Pieces of Peace released their first record, "Pass It On, Pts. 1-2." By now well established in the Windy City, the band brought on keyboardist Benjamin Wright (who would later do the string arrangements for artists like Michael and Janet Jackson) and worked closely with compatriots the Pharaohs, who had their own label, Scarab. And it was with this label that Pieces of Peace made their first and only attempt at a full-length record.
With yet another new drummer, Fred Crutchfield, flutist Joel Brandon, and help from Pharaohs members like Willie Woods, Derf Recklaw-Raheem, and Aaron Dodd, an album was recorded in 1972. The accompanying tour, however, proved to be too much for the band; they broke up in Singapore and the self-titled Scarab record was shelved indefinitely. It wasn't until famed crate-digger DJ Shadow and funk and soul experts Dante Carfagna and Rob Sevier found the LP and a label willing to re-release it (Quannum) that the general public was able to hear Pieces of Peace in the fall of 2007 (though the song "Pass It On, Pt. 1" made it on to soul-reviver Numero Group's March 2007 Eccentric Soul compilation, Twinight's Lunar Rotation). ~ Marisa Brown