Album Review: The Lost Generation — Young, Tough and Terrible

From Chicago in 1970 came The Lost Generation. Their sleek, sensuous and soulful sounds is in line with the growing symphonic soul movement of the era. Smooth, layered vocals from this group with multiple singers are layered atop sophisticated string section and such. The group released its debut, The Sly, Slick and the Wicked in ‘70, scoring a hit single (on both r&b and pop charts) with the title track. “Wait a Minute” charted as well. That record also featured some credible covers of tunes that had been hits for other acts.

In 1972 the group returned with The Young, Tough and Terrible. Again a collection of original songs and covers, it featured “This is the Lost Generation” a highlight of the album. Well-produced, featuring sturdy songs and appealing arrangements, the album failed to catch fire. It certainly deserved a better fate; in all likelihood, factors working against the record’s success included (a) the limited promotional resources of Brunswick Records and (b) the staggering surfeit of quality soul releases at the time.

True to the group’s name, their second album would truly be lost in the shuffle. But a loving reissue from the archivists at Org Music rescues this gem from obscurity. Original cuts like the title track are quite good, and while the group’s readings of others’ hits (“Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” a hit months earlier for the Persuaders, Al Green’s “Tired of Being Alone,” Ashford and Simpson’s “One More Bridge to Cross” etc.) don’t offer earth-shaking variations on the tunes, they’re well done and entertaining when considered on their own.

An original song, “Sure Is Funky” presents a simmering, sinister character and a herky-jerky rhythm that displays the group’s musical ambitions. The title track features some very Stax-y guitar work coupled with Motown-ish strings and street corner finger snaps; it should have been a hit. “Paulette” sounds a lot like another girl-name song (The Four Tops’ “Bernadette”), and that slightly derivative quality may not have helped the group, however solid their material was.

Alas, it was not, and the group wouldn’t make another LP. Members went on to other projects, leaving this album – long out of print – to be forgotten. Kudos to Org Music for bringing it back, and on vinyl.