The Mansion

Side A - The Girl Next Door

Side B - Stop, Let Your Heart Be Your Guide

Catalogue # SJ548

Posted in: Release Listings

The Mansion - The Girl Next Door

Release Date: Monday 7th November 2022

The Mansion were initially a prison group formed by Charles Lorenzo Blakely in 1970 while serving time in the Green Bay Reformatory at Allouez, Wisconsin. The Mansion’s line up included at different times Michael Locke, Stanley Newburn, Carl Anderson, John Crawford, Michael Smith, Larry Moses, Ronald Hardin, Jerome Wagner, Larry Lister, Maurice Payne and Charles himself.

One day while rehearsing in the prison chapel, the Mansion attracted the attention of the warden’s wife who happened to be showing some local dignitaries around. Impressed by what she heard the warden’s wife was instrumental in the Mansion being invited to perform for the city’s television station WBAY, where they recording two holiday programs. The warden later gave them permission to perform outside the prison which brought them to the attention of a Milwaukee neighbourhood program adviser by the name of Al Dunlap of the Commando Project One. It was through Dunlap that the Mansion recorded their solitary 45 release in 1974 “The Girl Next Door /Stop! Let Your Heart Be Your Guide” for a local Milwaukee label Gibbs (406).

The label’s owner Bill Gibbs held the release back until some of the members of the Mansion were granted their release papers as at that time prisoners were unable to sign any contract agreements while still incarcerated. Although Charles Blakely remained incarcerated, he was later moved to a medium security prison in Fox Lake County, Wisconsin. While there he formed a gospel group, called the ‘Bell Tones’ who’s line up included Charles, Mayweather Lee, Joe Hayes, and Levell Rudd. The formation of this group was seen as major factor in Charles’s rehabilitation which led to his eventual parole in 1976.

Once on the outside Charles with former ‘Bell Tone” member Mayweather Lee were joined by Charles (Sonny) Bryant and Jimmy Taylor to form a new ensemble by the name of The “Final Chapter”. As the final Chapter they recorded a solitary release for Marvel Love’s New World Label “Now I Know/Get Down For Your Action” (NW800) during 1980, a brief association that for several reasons was to eventually brake down. Although Jimmy Taylor left to pursue a career as a blues musician the remaining three members of the ‘Final Chapter’ continued to perform until they finally disbanded in 1987.

Three previously unissued Final Chapter songs can be found on Soul Junction Various Artists CD compilation “We Got A Sweet Thing going On” Volume II. The Mansion’s Gibbs 45 is now is a highly prized and sort after item amongst Sweet and Group Soul collectors.

Words By: David Welding

The Mansion - Stop, Let Your Heart Be Your Guide