The latest 7” release from boutique label SOUL DIRECTION features one of those “cult” groups that soul collectors really relish. Said group is SHARISMA and like most cult artists they released very little music (in this  case, none!) and not too much is known about them – I guess that’s why they achieve cult status!

Anyway, here’s what we know. It seems that Sharisma were a quartet – two guys, two girls and (oddly maybe) even the soul sleuths at Soul Direction can’t trace their names! It’s thought  that sometime in 1969, the foursome opened a show in Wilmington, North Carolina for someone called Teddy Pendergrass – again a little odd as soul histories tell us at that time Teddy was drumming for a band called the Cadillacs! Whatever, in the audience was Manny Campbell of Emandolynn Music (pictured below) who was always on the lookout for new talent to record. And he was impressed with the young quartet

He signed  the ambitious foursome and had them record two tracks at Philadelphia’s Upper Darby Studios. The songs were ‘Love Is The way’ and ‘Something Wonderful’ and they were meant as demos to hawk around the labels. The group also needed a name and Campbell came up with “Sharisma”, which could have been a play on the term Charisma as he suggested they were seen to have a certain charm. They liked the name  and, buoyed by the moment, Manny took his finds to Sigma to cut a record with a better sound quality; working with musicians who formed the nucleus of the Trammps and with Joe Tarissa engineering, Sharisma and Manny delivered a lovely light Philly floater, ‘Trouble, Trouble’.

Then Uncle Sam stepped in; he drafted the group’s lead singer and sent him packing to Vietnam! Without that key focus, Manny dropped the Sharisma project and the three tracks sat in an unmarked tape box for many, many  years. The three tracks were eventually  released digitally but now thanks to the good auspices of Soul Direction all three songs will be good to go in the way they were intended – on vinyl.

So what do we have? Well ‘Trouble Trouble’ (written by Campbell as a ‘letter’ to his firstborn son who at the time was getting into all kinds of trouble) is a  typical early 70s Philly affair – not surprising given where, when and with whom it was recorded. It might remind you of what Gamble and Huff were doing with the Intruders at that time. ‘Something Wonderful’ is a little different – sunshine pop/soul; think the Fifth Dimension/Friends of Distinction. ‘Love Is The Way’ is different again – a lovely, soulful harmony ballad. Three good ‘uns! Recommended!

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