That Eddie Chacon spent almost five decades as a sort of creative vagabond in the lead-up to 2020’s Pleasure, Joy and Happiness only made him more fascinating. I wrote very briefly about his story at the time: his pre-teen band with Cliff Burton and Mike Bordin, later of Metallica and Faith No More respectively; his work on 2 Live Crew’s infamous As Nasty As They Wanna Be; his moment in the mainstream as one half of Charles & Eddie, climbing the charts with the gargantuan “Would I Lie To You?”; his disillusionment with the industry after their demise; his stint writing for Danish popstars; his eventual move into photography and role as Creative Director for AUTRE Magazine. If he hadn’t started releasing his own music again, he’d still have had a better arsenal of stories than most musicians in Greater Los Angeles.
John Carroll Kirby, who produced his last album in full, told Andy Beta at the Times that he’d “pictured Eddie as this guy looking down from his Spanish casita in Los Feliz, waiting for the right time to come back and make his statement.” Which half-explains why Chacon seemed to emerge fully formed from the early-pandemic fog, this slinky middle-aged soft-funk maestro with a supple falsetto and a wooziness that only deeply embedded Angelinos can really pull off. I wore Pleasure, Joy and Happiness out that summer, and the LP still in almost constant rotation now.
Given those years wandering adjacent to the music industry and never quite settling, I didn’t expect any more from Chacon. So his latest single “Holy Hell,” is a brilliant surprise. It conjures the same atmosphere as before: dry heat, frictionless vocals, textured synths. But it’s not just a continuation of Pleasure, Joy and Happiness. The melodies come through more clearly now, and here’s an undeniable little synth hook that underpins the track and eventually mingles with some muted horns. It blows through the track like a blast of A/C in a half-cooked car. It’s produced again by Kirby, whose deeply Californian attitude to jazz-fusion really does work perfectly for Chacon’s oddball approach to R&B. Hopefully it’s the precursor to another full-length album, because, strange though it seems after everything he’s seen and done, Chacon sounds compellingly like he’s at the start of something.