For almost 45 years a complete album by Vic Pitts & The Cheaters has been forgotten, waiting until now to be released. In the late 1960s, Vic Pitts & The Cheaters were one of Milwaukee’s top R&B bands. They had their own TV show (for 3 years), played some of the city’s biggest clubs, and backed up big name acts. Between 1969 and 1970 they recorded over a dozen songs with producer Andre Williams at Chess’ Ter- Mar Studios in Chicago. The results show why they were such a popular live act; some tracks reveal their roots as James Brown fanatics, others relate the happening sounds of Sly & The Family Stone and Chicago’s first record. Highlights include an early instrumental version of their sought after “Loose Boodie,” a funky cover of Herbie Mann’s “Comin’ Home Baby,” and a soulful reimagining of Neil Young’s “Down By The River,” among many others. But, as misfortune would have it, the album never saw the light of day.
Van Patterson, guitarist with the Cheaters, recalled the fate of the album. “Andre Williams wanted us to cover ‘River Deep’ and use it as the lead single for the record.” Williams saw an opportunity, as the song clearly had hit potential – it had reached #3 in the UK charts – but no one had made noise with it in the US. The Phil Spector produced Ike & Tina Turner single was originally released in 1966 and barely cracked the US top 100. In the months that followed, the “River Deep-Mountain High” album was abandoned and Spector went into retirement. Fortune was not on the Cheater’s side, though. In late 1969, after they recorded “River Deep,” Spector and A&M released the “River Deep-Mountain High” album for the first time in the US. According to Van, the Cheater’s plans lost momentum at that point and before long Andre Williams took off for California and their album was never released. Over time, the band forgot the tapes even existed. To respect the karmic power of “River Deep” – it both derailed Phil Spector’s career and the Cheaters’ album – Secret Stash has omitted the track from the album.