Chess Records’ Forgotten Duo: Maurice & Mac

Maurice and Mac

As we have seen over the last couple of weeks, “You Left The Water Running” is a damn fine tune. Versions by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Fire Dept all sound fab and groovy – and other artists that have covered the song include Sam & Dave, (“Hold On! I’m Comin’”) and Barbara Lynn (The Rolling Stones covered Lynn’s “Oh Baby (We’ve Got A Good Thing Going)”), whilst there exist incendiary versions by both Don Varner and Geno Washington and, ah, I’ll tell you what, here’s a playlist to save you looking them all up….

Top of the heap is the little known Maurice and Mac, surely one of Chess Records’ least heralded acts, despite their absolutely nailing this track. Their version, released in 1968 and recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals is, to my ears at least, an absolute no-holds-barred genuine R&B classic.

Funky drums, that plucked-violin-string riff, the harmonies, the horns, that bluesy guitar lick, then the church organ and Maurice and Mac’s cries….ah, it’s a thing of wonder and joy! Take a listen and tell me this isn’t a hit record.

Ah, but of course. It wasn’t.

Maurice McAlister and Green ‘Mac’ McLauren were previously members of Chicago-based group The Radiants, a vocal act signed to Chess Records until 1965.

Maurice and Mac formed a duo and recorded a few sides for Chess in a style similar to that of Sam & Dave, but never broke through with any chart success. They weren’t so much a one-hit wonder as a no-hit wonder.

The reason for this is a mystery – on the evidence of “You Left The Water Running” it wasn’t down to the music. The duo split in 1972, hitless, but having bequeathed to the world a classic song or two of finest R&B.

The other interesting thing about Maurice McAlister is that as well as being a great singer, he could also pen a decent tune, not least Sugar Pie DeSanto’s “Soulful Dress”, mentioned in the pages at the turn of the year, and which – because looking up stuff on Google is a chore – I have cleverly inserted below. I know. I’m such a professional.

That’s two great, slightly obscure R&B tunes for the price of one.

Now, let me see you dance around your kitchen….

You’re welcome…






4 responses to “Chess Records’ Forgotten Duo: Maurice & Mac”

  1. 45spin Avatar

    What a fantastic song! Now I gotta do is find the 45 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Saritha Washington Avatar
    Saritha Washington

    I was looking for a particular record of theirs and so happened to come across this article. I am the youngest of Maurice McAlister’s children, Saritha Washington. It is always an honor to see anything mentioned of theirs, for I absolutely feel that they were robbed of an opportunity to be more present in the entertainment scene and this was way before my time. On his behalf I thank everyone who keeps them relevant & acknowledged as they so very much deserve. Dad eventually had one of his tunes that was recorded by Etta James titled “Only Time Will Tell” featured in the movie Angel Eyes starring Jennifer Lopez and Jim Caviezel and that was very exciting! His oldest son is in the entertainment industry out in Las Vegas, Mr. Rory “Madness” McAlister. You can find him on Facebook and myself under Saritha BossTeambegood Washington. God Bless!


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Hi Saritha, thank you so much for getting in touch! Lovely to hear from you. x


  3. […] the story of Sugar Pie DeSanto here, the Maurice and Mac track here, a review of the Sweet Billy Pilgrim album here, and – well check out the links above if any […]


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