45 Friday: WILMER & THE DUKES – Get It


By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Summer is here and life is getting pretty hectic for Bob The Record Guy. I’m finding less time to do these posts so, for awhile at least, they’re going to be on the minimal side. I will be filling in the gaps on some overlooked records from previously-discussed artists (see the archive at WNYFM for many of the past stories). I may also touch on some performers whose stories need to be told but I haven’t nailed down yet. Rather than give them short-shrift I’ll put off their stories for the future -and just share some of the great music now.

We covered Wilmer & The Dukes in the past with their classic local Soul / R&B / R&R 45 “Give Me One More Chance”. The interracial band formerly known as Wilmer Alexander, Jr & The Dukes came from the Rochester area (Geneva, to be exact). They started getting together in 1957 but didn’t really hit their stride until the mid-60s.

They were the archetypal frat ‘party-animal’ band. They blew up many college and frat house shows before settling into House Band status at local clubs, including the Inferno and later Gilligan’s.

In fact, it seems more than just rumor that the screenwriter and producer of the movie Animal House (Ivan Reitman) saw Wilmer play gigs at The Inferno and was affected to the point that they became the inspiration for that film’s Otis Day & the Knights.

“Give Me One More Chance” was their signature song, their first release and their only ‘hit’. It placed moderately on the Billboard and Cashbox Top 100 charts i 1968. It did better in regional markets (including Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse of course) and much better in Canada. This pairing was issued in Canada on the Apex label. Also issued in the UK (on Action Records, a Mod-oriented label) and in France on JAG Records, where “get It” seems to have been the featured side.

“Get It” was the flip side. It’s a Junior Walker-style R&B instrumental with drum breaks and a killer wailing sax solo. Walker was a big influence on Wilmer and the band. And apparently Walker’s talk with Wilmer – about how he thought Motown had sabotaged his release of “What Does It Take To Win Your Love” – influenced Wilmer not to sign with Motown when they showed interest in him.

Anyway, this killer instro could get any Summer party started. Roll up the rug and crank up the old internet stereo!

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