The Gap Band – The Gap Band III Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz | Art scans at 300 dpi
Genre: funk, disco | 1980
Mercury Records ~ SRM-1-4003
When I Look In Your Eyes 4:58 Yearning For Your Love 5:41 Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me) 5:16 Nothin’ Comes To Sleepers 5:34 Are You Living 4:24 Sweet Caroline 3:21 Humpin’ 5:06 The Way 4:46 Gash Gash Gash 5:18 Continue reading
Patrice Rushen – I Was Tired Of Being Alone
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz | FLAC | Art scans at 300 dpi
353MB (24/96) + 107MB (16/44) + 48 MB (320) | Genre: funk / soul / disco | 1982
Elektra Records ~ K 13184 T
While I had been meaning to upload some more Prince extended 12″ singles in time for the anniversary of his passing last week, I’ve been busy with other things and I had “Around The World In A Day” ready and in the queue. As it turns out, I also picked up a couple 12″-inchers of his that I was missing at the latest Record Store Day along with other goodies in my first time visiting that crazy debacle in several years. However, I’ve also been wanting to do a run of Patrice Rushen material for a very long time as well, and had this single simmering on the proverbial stove. I got this from an independent seller at Camden market in London, because for me every day is record store day. Why am I rambling on, conflating these two seemingly different people? There’s an interesting link – Patrice helped Prince program his analog synths for his debut Warner Brothers album, is rumored to play on a couple tracks, and his song “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” from his second LP was allegedly pitched to her, and she turned it down. The young Prince may have had a bit of a crush on her, and who can blame him? He was taller than her, and that didn’t happen too often… In any case, she was destined to get together with me instead, and be my wife after Gal Costa dumped me. And she would be too, if the mailman didn’t have a secret agenda against me, hoarding all my letters in a basement next to his stockpile of C4 that he bought off the dark net. I would say something, but I’m too scared of him.
MFSB – Summertime
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96 kHz | FLAC | m3u| Artwork
800 MB (24/96) + 330MB (16/44) + 105 MB (320 kbs)| Funk, Disco, Soul| 1976
Philadelphia International Records ~ PZ 34238
Picnic in the Park (Gamble & Huff) 4:10 Summertime (George Gershwin) 4:53 Plenty Good Lovin’ 4:33 (Gamble & Huff) Sunnin’ and Funnin’ (John Whitehead, Gene McFadden, Victor Carstarphen) 4:14 Summertime and I’m Feelin’ Mellow (John Whitehead, Gene McFadden, Victor Carstarphen) 4:00 I’m on Your Side 3:30 (Gamble & Huff) Hot Summer Nights 4:25 (Gamble & Huff) We Got the Time (John Whitehead, Gene McFadden, Victor Carstarphen) 4:41
Bobby Eli, Norman Harris, Reggie Lucas, Roland Chambers, T.J. Tindall – guitar
Anthony Jackson, Ron Baker – bass
Leon Huff, Lenny Pakula, Eddie Green, Harold Ivory Williams – keyboards
Earl Young, Karl Chambers, Norman Farrington – drums
Larry Washington – percussion
Vincent Montana, Jr. – vibraphone
Zach Zachary, Tony Williams – saxophone
Don Renaldo and his Strings and Horns
Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson, Evette Benton, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead, Victor Carstarphen – backing vocals
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair, manually auditioned, and individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
Even when I attempt a timely, topical post, it’s still kind of late. I mean, I could be posting a Bobby Hutcherson album recorded by Rudy Van Gelder (two birds with one stone), or something from my stash of calypso and soca in solidarity with Notting Hill carnival (happening right now). But instead I am bringing a soundtrack for the summer, which in the 24/7 stress culture of over-planning and anxiety in the United States is unofficially drawing to a close, even though there’s nearly another month of it. But then again, we have a pretty strong South American readership at this blog, and quite a few friends in Australia, and they’re summer hasn’t even BEGUN yet, so really I’m just trying to cover all the bases here.
M.F.S.B. is most famous for having given us the immortal theme song to the show Soul Train (whose title was another acronym, T.S.O.P, for The Sound of Philadelphia), but you’ve also no doubt heard them on dozens of hits since they were the studio house band for Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International label. Sharing members with the Trampps and the Salsoul Orchestra, the ensemble has had as many as forty people pass through its ranks. Aside from the Latin disco-tinged spin on the Gershwin tune that gives the album its name, the songwriting and production credits are nearly evenly split, with Gamble & Huff taking half and Gene McFadden, John Whitehead, and Victor Carstarphen providing the rest. Of the latter, McFadden and Whitehead had given us the O’Jay’s ‘Backstabbers‘ and would deliver their own ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now‘ a few years later, while Carstarphen gave us “Wake Up Everybody” from Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, among others. The first cut, Picnic In The Park, was a minor chart hit off this record. To me it seems like a strange choice for a single, but that’s because I find the song better suited for the impending doom of a tense movie scene, setting up a child abduction or drive-by shooting, rather than a soundtrack for a relaxing summer day. I guess I’ve always been one of those glass-half-empty types? It’s a cool tune though, and the guitar riff engages in some accidental ska rhythms. (Incidentally, the name of my band in high school was Accidental Ska…)
While not as memorable as, say, their Music Is The Message album, it’s a fun spin of summer-themed tracks. And you can populate them with your specific memories and meanings, as their almost-instrumental format – featuring choruses with vocals, but no verses – lends itself to daydreaming. In fact, as with some of their other LPs, I can’t help feeling like some of these were half-finished tunes intended for singers on the Philadelphia International label which never came to fruition. In an parallel universe, then, some of these songs were massive smash hits that everyone knows, and you are using this record for your next karaoke party (because it is a known fact that karoake is popular all throughout the multiverse).
1977 Cotillion Records SD 9918
Free And Happy 5:20
I Believe In Music 6:46
Being Here 6:20
We Love You 0:40
Keep My Heart Together 3:58
Cosmic Lust 5:53
People Get Up 5:43
Bass – Kevin Douglas
Drums – Ricardo Williams
Keyboards – Tyrone Williams
Lead Guitar – Rodney Phelps
Lead Vocals – Larry Marshall , Tiny Kelly
Percussion – Emanual Redding
Rhythm Guitar – Coy Bryant
Saxophone – Gregory McCoy
Trumpet – Otis Drumgole
Producer – Ed A. Ellerbe
Engineer – Dave Whitman, Michael Frondelli
Design [Logo] – Gerard Huerta
Mastered By – Dennis King
Photography By – Anthony Loew
Art Direction – Abie Sussman
Produced for Pepper Productions
Recorded & mixed at Electric Lady Studios, New York
Mastered at Atlantic Studios, New York, N.Y.
Manufactured by Atlantic Recording Corporation
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed manually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
I know I am badly overdue for some Brazilian posts, but I feel a responsibility to write stuff and give half-informed commentary on those, and I’ve been just barely treading water in real life and unable to give the kind of TLC that the blog deserves. So I’m opting to post one or two things that are just good fun while I catch up on work. I don’t know why I’m worried about making sloppy half-assed posts of Brazilian music, since the Olympic committee doesn’t seem too stressed about things like preparing rooms for the athletes or non-toxic shit-free water, but let’s not get off track here. Except that I will take the opportunity to say, if any Olympians are reading this, I have a friend with a kitchenette to rent out in Rio, right in the Copa a few blocks from the train. He’s a really great guy. Gymnists are preferred, not because of any fetish or anything, but because y’all are small and he can fit more of you in there. Just call +55 21 2224-4607 and ask for Eduardo.
Now on to this record from this ten-piece band from Virginia. Any “disco sucks” people who stumbled on this blog can just click through this and move on, unless of course you are willing to open your mind and trust me that this record will neither turn you gay nor black (the root fear of most disco-phobia). Mass Production was also a solid funk and soul outfit but they had their own approach to rescuing dance music from the blahs, and that was to show ’em how it’s really done. A couple of these cuts are unarguably disco, and they jam so much you’ll want to call them Smuckers. I don’t know if maybe its the difference between a band playing a disco groove, and a bunch of session musicians assembled by a producer, but I like it. On this record Mass Production reminds me of Gary Tom’s Empire on the upbeat cuts and maybe Frankie Beverly & Maze on the mid-tempo material (their Firecracker-era stuff often gets compared to Brass Construction). Singer Tiny Kelly adds a nice touch, especially to “Being There”, salvaging a schmaltzy ballad with genuine feeling (“long as you’re here/nothing matters” is wonderfully succinct). She’s no Minnie Ripperton, and tends to go off pitch when reaching for some of the high notes, but in this age of Auto-tuned everything, this imperfection is actually kind of refreshing. Note: I’m referring to the original use of the Auto-tune plug-in, and not the modulated effect that sounds like a malfunctioning Vocoder that was on every modern R&B song for a while. The actual purpose of Auto-tune was to correct the pitch of vocalists in the studio, to greater or lesser degrees depending on their skill and on just how sterile and slick a production was desired. I’m only some anonymous voice on a blog, but to my ears, when literally everything sounds “perfect” all the time, I find myself profoundly bored in about two minutes flat. So, bring on the slightly sharp or flat high notes, Tiny Kelly, and remind me that you are all living and breathing humans making these glorious sounds. I can handle it.
Most people are going to gravitate to the rump shakers on the disc, though. I am pretty sure the first track, Free and Happy, was the inspiration for one of Weird Al Yankovic’s early pastiche singles, Gotta Boogie. The secret weapon of this album is the instrumental cut called “Cosmic Lust,” which nowadays sounds like it could be a brand of synthetic cannabis (melon-flavored and with aphrodisiac properties), but in 1977 was actually a hit single off this record and huge club favorite. Love these warbly analog synths from the space age, and the saxophone solo by Gregory McCoy (who wrote the song) is nice too.
Mass Production’s first album was in 1976, but the idea for the band was actually hatched during some house parties thrown by Frankfurt school theorists Max Horkheimer (d.1973) and Theodore Adorno (d.1969). The two were renowned for throwing wild get-togethers involving Hollywood celebrities, music luminaries, piles of cocaine, and stag films on 8mm. Reportedly after hearing Eddie Kendrick’s 1973 solo album, Horkheimer confessed from his death bed that one of his main regrets in life was that he was about to miss one of the crowning achievements of human creativity, the efflorescence of disco funk. Entrepreneur and producer Ed A. Ellerbe, a regular attendee of the Frankfurt exiles’ bacchanals, assembled the group Mass Production in his honor.
Recorded and mixed at Counterpoint Studios, N.Y.C.
Additional recording at Music Grinder Studios, L.A.
Additional mixing at The Hit Factory, N.Y.C.
B.T. Express is:
Carlos Ward – Alto Saxophone, Flute, horn arrangments on ‘Give Up The Funk’
Rick Thompson – Guitar
Wesley “Pike” Hall, Jr. – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bill Risbrook – Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
Dennis Rowe – Percussion, Vocals
Jamal Rasool – Bass, lead vocals
Buddy Williams – Drums
Gary Scott – Arrangements and conducting, keyboards, synthesizer
Howard Westley “Butch” Stevens – keyboards
Recorded and mixed by Alan Meyerson and Gary Chester
Additional recording engineers – Gary Skardina, Ryan Ulyate
Assistant engineers – Ben Wisch, Karl Westman, Michael Ruffo
Mixed by – Gerry Block
Mastered by Greg Calbi
Additional production and arranging – Morrie Brown
Concertmaster – Marcy Dicterow
Executive Producer (supplied the coke) – Fred Frank
Barcode and Other Identifiers
Matrix / Runout: AL 36333
Matrix / Runout: BL 36333
If you’ve never listened to a record by B.T. Express, this probably isn’t the place to start. Not that it is a bad album, it’s just not a really good album – but the good cuts on it are pretty damn good. The quintessential 1970s funk sound of the band’s classic years is being “updated” for a new era here, complete with futuristic themes in the cover art and a little bit of the music. Take the opening cut, “Taking Off!”, which appears to be about getting an aerobic workout in outer space. It’s important to stay healthy in zero gravity, after all. This song only becomes listenable after about the two-minute mark, when a blast-off of delay on the vocals signals that it’s time for the Express’ best asset, slinky horn lines. Over all, though, the song is pretty awful, flirting with a “yacht rock” sound that is absurdly becoming hipster-trendy and undergoing a “revival” by certain contemporary music artists who want to argue for it’s musical sophistication while they tell their audiences not to yell out during concerts or show up in football jersey’s because that’s too low-rent for their wine connoisseur pretensions. Seriously, “yacht rock” and AOR are the new crate-digging frontier? What’s next, Madlib remixes of Barry Manilow tracks? Sorry but I’ll pass and wait for the next fetish they come up with, I ain’t biting on this revival.
Oh right, I was discussing a B.T. Express album. Well, the Michael McDonaldisms get put away and things get more enjoyable. There are a lot of non-band members on this record, most likely assigned to it by Columbia after their previous album failed to do much on the charts. There is something shameless about the interference in the band’s work ethic here, and the attempts at FM-crossover hooks in the choruses doesn’t always work for me. I mean the second track is called “Heart Of Fire,” for Pete’s sake. It’s almost like it was intended to confuse a slightly drunk person at a jukebox looking to for Earth Wind & Fire’s “That’s The Way Of The World” aka Hearts Afire. Aside from the title, though, the similarity ends there. It’s a good disco-funk burner, and has subtle poetry in lines like, “But my love for you, it keeps on comin’ and comin’ and comin’ and comin’…” The third song, however, sounds to my ears like almost a direct theft of the tune “Don’t Hold Back” by Chanson to a degree that would even embarrass Robin Thicke and Pharell. I can’t objectively say anything about this tune.
The big track that people remember from this album, the one that charted, is “Give Up The Funk,” which sports another profoundly unoriginal title. Thankfully there are no Parliament ripoffs to be found here, and no references to “the bomb,” as the sound is 100% B.T. Express with an updated sound, including the ray gun ‘pew pew pew’ of electric tom tom drums. The tune also brings back the Express’s best trademark: long, darkly-hued horn phrases used to punctuate the jams in a an understated way, as if Maceo Parker took a few Valium and was trying not to be noticed off somewhere near the back of the stage. Sax player Carlos Ward may have shunned the spotlight, but it’s the big failing of this record – and evidence of typical major label short-sightedness – that the one and only track that he arranges is also the only one to be a hit. The others are all arranged by outsiders Morrie Brown and Gary Scott. It should be noted that this cut contains an unusual spelling, “F-F-U-F-U-N-K”, which the band determined was the way our Alien Overlords were going to spell their favorite genre of music, due to their leader having a chronic stutter.
Side Two opens with the ballad “Closer,” the first ballad of the album. I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about how so many albums from this period would open with a tight, upbeat song for four minutes to get you dancing, then on the second track they would go all Barry White. Too soon, man, not even Barry moves that fast. So bonus points to B.T. Express for holding back until the second side. This track is melodic and smooth, but not overdoing either one of those qualities. The best thing about it is a completely nonsensical saxophone solo at the end, which begins each bar all Grover Washington but ends all Eric Dolphy. What would Barry think of that? Barack?
“Have Some Fun” is a good mid-tempo roller-skating tune, and the only time they dust off the old Hammond organ that featured so prominently on earlier albums. Again, the chorus sounds written by committee, a formulaic hook that is pretty forgettable an hour later. It has a nice breakdown with cool riffing on flute, organ, and guitar that makes me pretty happy, though. It’s probably been sampled a bunch of times. The next song, “Better Late Than Never,” probably could have just gone with “never,” I don’t have much to say about this tune either. In fact you could probably just stop the record after “Have Some Fun” and preserve a better memory of this album, because the closer “Funk Theory” is pretty bad. While putting together this post I noticed that it seems reasonably popular on YouTube, so what the hell do I know? The title sort of says it all, it’s as if a bunch of number crunchers wrote a program in DOS that would churn out FM-friendly funk hits, with lyrics that would look better on a chalk-board written a hundred times by an errant, unfunky student.
A1 Don’t Hold Back 4:23 A2 I Can Tell 7:03 A3 I Love You More 3:49 B1 Why 4:25 B2 Did You Ever 4:33 B3 All The Time You Need 5:10
LINEAGE: Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
James Jamerson Jr – lead vocals and bass guitar
David Williams – lead vocals, guitar
David Paich – Keyboards
Jeff Porcaro – drums
Eddie Bongo Brown – congas, bongos
Ollie Brown – percussion on “Did You Ever”
Al McKay – guitar
Steve Porcaro – Synthesizer on “All The Time You Need”
Linda Evans – lead vocal on “I Can Tell”
Horns – Donald Myrick, Michael Davis Michael Harris, Louis Satterfield, Fred Jackson Jr., Willian Green, Oscar Brashear, George Bohannon
Backing Vocals – Julia Tillman, Lorna Willard, Marti McCall
Recorded At – Kendun Recorders
Mixed At – Kendun Recorders
Mastered At – Allen Zentz Mastering
Arranged By – Benjamin F. Wright Jr.
Art Direction, Illustration – John Georgopoulos
Published by Kichelle Music/Jamersonian Music/Cos-K Music ASCAP.
Produced for MK Productions.
Concertmaster [Strings] – Janice Gower
Contractor – Don Myrick
Coordinator [Production Coordination] – Susan Evans
Engineer [Recording and Mixing] – Richard Heenan
Executive Producer – Marc Kreiner, Tom Cossie
Mastered By – Brian Gardner
Photography By [Back Cover] – Art Maruyama
Photography By [Front Cover] – Sam Vinci
Typography [Lettering] – Tom Nikosey
Recorded and mixed at Kendun Recorders.
Mastered at Allen Zentz Mastering Inc.
“Chanson” was a project of James Jamerson Jr. – son of the great Motown legend James Jamerson, and who had played with a bunch of Motown bands in his own right, including the 70s incarnation of the Temps – and David Williams, who had played with The Dells. The two standout tracks were released on the single – “Don’t Hold Back,” the manically funky anthem to the 70s philosophy of “if it feels good do it” (actually a lyric in the chorus, shamelessly) with which they had a reasonably big hit and which features a classic breakdown in the middle, and the slower tune “Did You Ever,” which sounds like it might have been aiming for the Quiet Storm radio format. Ollie Brown’s percussion on that tune is some of the most quiet conga playing I have ever heard and the whole tune works real nicely. “I Can Tell” is straight-up disco-funk with lots of conga and a nice vocal from Linda Evans. “I Love You More” is a modern soul number with a funky verse, a pop hook in the chorus, and a tight little flute riff. Side One only lasts about fifteen minutes (the whole album clocks in a half an hour). So at this point you would get up and refresh your drink, powder your nose or whatever other rituals compel you, and when you flipped the record over hopefully you wouldn’t notice that the next song “Why” has the exact same chord pattern as the last tune. Except it sounds more like Billy Ocean or maybe the Doobie Brothers covering a song by Billy Ocean. It’s not bad but at this point you start to wonder if some of this record isn’t a kind of “paint by numbers” modern soul / R+B album. The mellow “Did You Ever” brings things back from the brink and keeps it interesting, and the album goes out on another slow-burner, “Take All The Time You Need”.
The playing is all super-tight and the arrangements are solid but lean, with a live-band sound to all of it even though there are some string overdubs. I particularly like how they favored using acoustic piano over keyboards, kind of an unusual production choice for an album of this kind in 1978. The few synth patches here and there stand out because of that, but in a good way, like in the lead off track. All in all, this group had potential but sort of prove that oodles of talent and tight grooves can only get you so far without the stellar songwriting available to the environment nurtured Jamerson’s dad. The whole thing has a pretty radio-friendly sound, and the first track will stay stuck in your head for days, but the rest of the tunes may need a little superglue or chewing gum. They made one more album, which I have but about which I can literally remember nothing at all. Which leads me to believe this is the better of the two, although I suppose I can dig that one out again sometime.
P.S. – Louis Satterfield of Earth Wind and Fire toots a horn on this record.