Vic Pitts & The Cheaters - The Lost Tapes LP

(Secret Stash Records, 2014)

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"Established in 1966, R&B band Vic Pitts and the Cheaters had its own television show in Milwaukee, ran the Mint Lounge nightclub in town, played in Europe, served as a backing band for Isaac Hayes and Jackie Wilson, and opened for legends like Frank Sinatra, James Brown and Ray Charles. And it was one of the first interracial bands in the city.

But one thing the band didn't do was release a full-length album.

Better late than never. About four decades after the Cheaters disintegrated in the mid-'70s, Minneapolis label Secret Stash has put out the Cheaters' first album, "The Lost Tapes." In 2012, Secret Stash general manager Will Gilbert stumbled on three poorly labeled but well-preserved Cheaters tapes in Chicago while assembling recordings for another project. The tapes were never released, until now.

"It was almost a holy grail, finding a complete album that never came out," Gilbert said.

The tapes — featuring a little more than a dozen songs, including covers of songs by Neil Young and Sam Cooke — were recorded between 1969 and 1970 at Chess Records' Ter-Mar Studios in Chicago.

...the Cheaters' sound was inspired by acts like Chicago, Grand Funk Railroad, and Earth, Wind and Fire. It became one of the most popular bands in the state, to the point that it was given its own sketch and music TV show on WVTV-TV (Channel 18) called "Grapevine." Intended to promote positivity to inner-city kids, "Grapevine" ran from 1969 to 1972." - Piet Levy for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel