TITLE: Rags to Rufus
YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: #4, #4 US R&B
SINGLES: Tell Me Something Good (#3, #3 R&B), You Got the Love (#11, #1 R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I don’t think so
LINEUP: Chaka Khan, Dennis Belfield, Andre Fisher, Kevin Murphy, Al Ciner, Ron Stockert, Tony Maiden.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After one rather unsuccessful album, the record company hears the reactions to the Khan-sung singles, immediately says Chaka Khan should be the focal, and viola, hit city. Half of the band leaves after the album’s recorded.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Rufus had a tangled history from its formation to the recording of its first album, which rather much laid an egg. Still, the record company saw that some stations were playing the songs sung by Chaka Khan instead of the main single sung by Stockert. So, it was decided that Khan should be the focal point.
Tension? Yeah, that created tension. But that also created a new sound a pretty decent album. There’s some hot funk, some decent soul and Khan can sing some ballads as well. They also had some heavy-hitting songwriting help. Stevie Wonder gave them “Tell Me Something Good” and Ray Parker, Jr. co-wrote “You Got the Love” with Khan and the team of Ashford and Simpson contributed the ballad “Ain’t Nothin’ But a Maybe”.
It’s not totally polished, as the tension also made the production rushed (Stockert left halfway through the recording – and Ciner and Belfield left soon after). Still, there are enough good cuts to keep this around.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first album seems not to exist in the streaming world. That’s OK; I’m not listing as missing. It was little noticed when it was out.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: B+: I wavered on moving this up a notch because of the great singles, but there’s just something a bit rough about some of the album cuts.