Proper soul anoraks might know just a little something about cult Milwaukee group IMPULSE. The band were active in the 70s and consisted of Michael Reese (Rhodes Piano and background vocals), Cedrick Rupert (Lead and Rhythm guitar), Jeffrey Williamson (Drums and background vocals) and Robin Gregory (Bass and background vocals).They began their soul odyssey working as the backing band for The Quadraphonics. Dreaming bigger though, they then recruited John Gee as lead singer. John had a gospel background and had previously sung with the Chefs and a couple of other bands. On joining Impulse he swiftly became the more exotic “Jon Pierre Gee” and Impulse started to strike out on their own.
In 1976 the band migrated to California and hooked up with the famous Harvey Scales with whom they recorded their debut album. Sadly despite interest from Casablanca and Jerry Butler’s Fountain Records, the album was never officially released. You can guess what happened next – spot on! Some of tracks leaked out and one in particular became popular on the underground soul scene. It was a lively and sweet modern soul dancer ‘I Really Love You’ and to satisfy demand the aforementioned Mr Gee eventually released it in 2020 as 7” single on his old Kandi label. The B side, by the way was a funkier ‘Get The Funk Off My Back’ (the clue’s in the title!). Jon had previously released another single from the “lost” album in 2018. That disc paired ‘What’s That Sound’ with ‘You Changed Me’ – another pleasing sonic contrast – the former funky; the latter a sweet ballad.
In Europe and the UK, ever-dependable SOUL JUNCTION records helped with the marketing and promotion of those singles, so you may not be surprised to learn that the label is gearing up to release the complete Impulse long player. The eponymous set is a concise 7 tracker and previews confirm what those two singles showed; that Impulse could “do” funk with the very best and also deliver sweeter, softer sounds too!
Funkateers will enjoy ‘Your Love Is Smokin’’, the aforementioned ‘Get The Funk Off My Back’ and ‘What’s That Sound’ and the slightly more restrained ‘Nice Beat, Easy To Dance To’. Those who prefer things a little less frantic will delight in the above mentioned ‘You Changed Me’, ‘Free To Be Me’ and the still lovely ‘I Really Love You’. If you missed it on 45 here’s a chance to know and love it.
As a footnote, after the failure of their album various members of Impulse continued to work in the business. Jon Pierre recorded several singles – most notably the 1985 modern soul dance floor favourite ‘So Good To Me’/’Just Get On’ which he recorded under the artist name of Jon Pierre Gee on his own then newly formed Kandi Inc, Record label. On many of his recordings and at his live shows he used some of his old pals from Impulse and working as AhVantSoul they were active up to the outbreak of Covid! Sadly Jon Pierre Gee died in 2020 just as the Impulse singles reissues were gaining traction but now the whole album can be enjoyed and it stands as a fine testament to him and the other members of Impulse!