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"She's Gone" by Tavares has been one of the Christmas period's most requested records and if you ask virtually any soul fan to name his top five records of 1974, odds are that "She's Gone" will be in there somewhere.

TAVARES is not only the group's name but also the family name of the five brothers who make up the entity. The group's elder and innovator is Ralph Tavares. Ralph is also the group's steadying influence and when things weren't going so well, it was Ralph who kept things going. Next comes Arthur Pooch's, the voice that is so impressive on "She's Gone". Then there's the jovial Antone 'Chubby' Tavares. Next up is Feliciano 'Butch' Tavares, who is co-lead voice on "She's Gone" and who counts among his blessings the fact that he is married to the lovely Lola Falana. Finally — but far from least — is the youngest of the singing brothers, Perry Lee 'Tiny' Tavares.

However, this quintet only makes up half of the Tavares family — apparently 'tavares' is Portugese for 'friend' and the family's heritage is half-Portugese and half-African. At home in New Bedford, a town close to Boston, Massachusetts, there are two other brothers — one older and one in the middle — and three sisters. The elder brother is now married but the middle one, Victor, used to make up a sixth member of the Tavares Brothers until he chose to try his luck on his own.

The brothers have been singing together professionally now for more years than they care to remember and they can trace back their early musical roots to their teens when they would sing around local clubs in the Boston area. Their father was their inspiration and he is a proud man now that his sons perseverance has paid off so handsomely.

The brothers joined Capitol Records in 1973 and they immediately scored with their very first record released — a deadly slow but haunting ballad called "Check It Out". A complete album was recorded with Johnny Bristol as producer and the team scored again with the pop slanted "That's The Sound Lonely Makes", a song that Johnny Bristol co-wrote, too. The album, entitled "Check It Out", is a classic in anybody's book and includes several high spots — notably the six minute version of Billy Preston's "Little Girl" and the enchanting "Wish You Were Here With Me Mary". The musicians on the album also read like a 'who's who' of the music industry — James Gadson on drums, Wahwah Ragin and David T. Walker on guitars and Joe Samples on piano, for example.

Then, when Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter did their production agreement with Capitol, they assumed production responsibilities for the brothers and an album, "Hard Core Poetry", was immediately recorded and released. It's from this album that "She's Gone" came from. Originally a hit for its writers, Darryll Hall and John Oates, the song emerged as a strong album cut and was so popular that it prompted Lou Rawls to record it, intending to give himself a hit first time out with his new label, Bell. But Capitol pipped him to the post and pulled Tavares' version from the album and the rest is now history. "It was Lambert and Potter's idea to cut the song," Ralph Tavares is quick to give credit. "Actually, we still haven't heard the other versions of the song, you know."

Now there is positive talk that the brothers will be in Europe during February or March as part of a proposed tour by another Capitol artiste, Nancy Wilson. Judging from the rave reviews that their 'live' show has been getting in the States, it's a date that any self-respecting European soul fan will not want to miss.

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TAVARES: LOVELINE Expanded Edition (Caroline Intl/SoulMusic Records)
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