Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wilmer & The Dukes Forevermore CD

I featured Wilmer & The Dukes on an earlier post on NY Soul.

I have now picked up a CD from Forevermore Records which collects together all the sides Wilmer & The Dukes released on Aphrodisiac Records including their album.

Apprently, Wilmer & The Dukes achieved legendary status back in the day in NY State. Wilmer Alexander Jr. & the Dukes were the premier R&B/Soul party band of the Upstate NY region during the late 1960s to early 70s. They only released one album and a couple of singles on the Buffalo NY-based Aphrodisiac label.

The Cd has 12 cuts and the best is Give Me One More Chance which is a powerhouse song from the opening organ chord courtesy of Gap Mangione with the Dukes' pulsating rhythm to follow. Wilmer has a very strong voice and comes on like Otis Redding with his opening line, "FA-FA-FA-FA...AH!" The song bursts out with a horn section led by music legend Chuck Mangione. The single peaked at #80 on Billboard's Hot 100 Pop Chart and helped the band land a TV appearance on "Upbeat!"

Sadly, the group faced an early demise due to Wilmer becoming ill, which forced him to leave New York State for recovery in Florida. The Dukes reunited a few years ago and still perform to this day.

There are two clips on You Tube spotlighting the song. One clip has photos of Wilmer & company from 60's/70'sback in the day and was compiled in part by Forevermore Records, who own the band's masters:

The CD consists of a mixture of original and covers and has some hard hitting instumentals including "Get It!" which would have given the Mar-Keys a run for the money. Their album was cut at Olmstead Studios in NYC ("Give Me One More Chance", "Gettin'" and "Get It" were recorded in Upstate NY).

The album is good although the feel was subdued in comparison to the three tunes mentioned. They also cut a version of J.J. Jackson's "But It's Alright" which is pretty good. Wilmer's second single was their version of the Stones' "I'm Free", which was released with a picture sleeve featured on my previous post. My favouriteoff the album is another cover version but Wilmer does Billy Stewart's I Do Love You proud.

All in all - a good CD from a group I knew littel about until I picked up theri 45s off Ebay.


  1. I saw these guys many, many times around Western N.Y. during the mid to late 60's. I'd chat with lead guitarist, Doug Brown, between sets at every gig. He was a good guy. Wilmer was a wild man. On one occasion while performing at Gargoyle Park in Olean, N.Y., he climbed into the rafters of the pavilion and played his tenor sax perched there. Posts on You Tube reference The Inferno, in Buffalo, where we wedged ourselves in to hear them. Great band, great times!
    When all is said and done, for me, their ultimate song was Hold On I'm Comin'. As good as Sam and Dave.
    Eddie C.
    St. Bonaventure '68

  2. Anonymous6:33 PM

    I agree with you on best song Eddie. I would go see them at least monthly at the Cayuga Lanes in auburn, new york in the late 60's. hard to believe we had a band that good at our local bowling alley. I just listened to BB King and Eric's clapton "hold on I'm coming" which led me to a search which got me to utube and here. very good memories.

  3. Anonymous1:56 AM

    I knew Wilmer 45 years ago. My girlfriend and I would drive 200 miles in one night to see one of his performances. Soul music hit white women in the 70s and never let go. I moved out of state and lost track. Used to stay at his sister's apartment in Geneva. What happened to Wilmer? Is he alive?