Interview

  • Bobby Brown: ongeluk oorzaak dood Krissi

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    Bobby Brown twijfelt nu of Nick Gordon verantwoordelijk is voor de dood van zijn dochter, Bobbi Kristina. Hij denkt dat het auto-ongeluk - vier dagen voor haar tragische badincident - de oorzaak is geweest voor haar overlijden...

    "Terwijl we niet uitsloten dat Nick iets te maken had met de dood van Krissi, vroegen we ons ook af of het auto-ongeluk waarbij ze betrokken was - slechts vier dagen voor het incident de badkuip - niet iets te maken had met haar verwondingen aan haar hersenen", zegt Bobby in een nieuw boek: Every Little Step: My Story. Radar Online heeft een kopie ervan weten te bemachtigen.

    Bobbi Kristina verloor de controle over haar jeep en raakte een tegenligger. De bestuurder van de Ford Taurus die ze raakte, was serieus gewond na het ongeval. Danyela De Silva Bradley was haar bijrijder en moest ook in het ziekenhuis opgenomen worden, terwijl de dochter van Bobby Brown ongedeerd uitstapte. Hij twijfelt nu of ze wel zo ongeschonden uit het ongeluk is gekomen.

    "We vroegen de artsen of ze niet een hersentrauma of -bloeding had opgelopen dat zich pas na vier dagen heeft ontwikkeld, juist toen ze in bad lag. De dokters konden hier niet een specifiek antwoord op geven", aldus Bobby.

    Bobbi Kristina werd door het 41-jarige slachtoffer aangeklaagd en kreeg een rechtszaak van 730.000 dollar aan haar broek, maar toen lag ze al vijf maanden in coma door het badincident.  

    Nick trof Bobbi Kristina op 31 januari 2015 bewusteloos in bad aan en kwam meteen in actie om haar te reanimeren. "Het was zo traumatiserend. Er kwam water uit haar mond, dus ik dacht dat het allemaal goed zou komen."

    Dat was helaas niet het geval: ze bleek hersendood en overleed op 26 juli in een hospice. Lange tijd zag Krissy's familie Nick als de boosdoener en de politie startte zelfs een onderzoek naar hem. Die kwestie liep uiteindelijk met een sisser af.

  • Leon Haywood Overleden

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    Hij was in Houston geboren op 11 februari 1942 en speelde op zijn derde verjaardag al piano.
    In 1960 verhuisde hij naar Los Angeles en werkte samen met Sam Cooke waar hij toetselist was.
    Na het overlijden van Cooke bracht hij zijn eerst single uit in 1965 She's With Her Other Love.
    Tussen 1966 en 1994 bracht hij 11 albums uit en zijn grootste hot was in 1980 met Don't Push It Don't Force It.
    Verder produceerde en schreef hij nummers voor andere artiesten zoals Carl Carlton's She's a Bad Mama Jama uit 1981
    Hij werkte ook mee met grote Hip Hop artiesten als Dr. Dre.
    Produceerde Blues albums van Jimmy McCracklin, Clay Hammond, Ronnie Lovejoy en Buddy Ace en had zijn eigen platenlabel Evejim Records.
    Waaraan hij is overleden is niet bekend gemaakt.

  • Ronald Isley is Spring Levend

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    Er gingen allerlei geruchten op Social Media de afgelopen dagen dat soul legende Ronald Isley was overleden, maar dat blijkt allemaal niet waar te zijn.

    Hij is spring levend alleen zat hij vast wegens belasting ontduiking merd wordt daar behandeld als een koning.
    Komende maandag wordt Ronald 75 jaar en het gaat allemaal niet zo vlotjes meer.

    Bekijk de video op tmz - http://www.tmz.com/videos/0_3wzshtiu/

  • MAZE featuring FRANKIE BEVERLY

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    The sound is distinctive -- passionate, creative, original, soulful, honest and powerful. For nearly thirty years Frankie Beverly and Maze have created a unique sound and become one of the most influential groups in modern history.

    "We've made it this far because we love and respect ourselves and our fans. But, most importantly, we believe in what we do," remarks Frankie. The journey began when Frankie relocated from his hometown of Philadelphia to San Francisco and formed Maze. In 1976, he released his first album, Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly which yielded a string of hit singles, including "Lady of Magic" and "Workin' Together."

    The 80's brought the release of the best-selling albums, Golden Time of Day, Inspiration, Joy and Pain, containing a list of chart-topping singles including "Travelin' Man," "Feel That You're Feeling," "Joy and Pain," "Look in Your Eyes" and "Southern Girl," to name a few. The group gained worldwide appeal with its legendary sold-out live appearances, and released the deluxe album Live in New Orleans which captured the energy, excitement and electricity of a Maze stage show and offered a fourth side of new studio material which included the hit single "Running Away".

    In 1983, with the release of We Are One, Frankie Beverly & Maze solidified their international standing with such hits as the title track "Never Let You Down", "I Love You Too Much" and "Love is the Key." As the 80's came to a close, the group released Can't Stop the Love and a second in-concert package, Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly Live in L.A., which served both as a retrospective of the group's remarkable career to date and a fitting close to the first chapter of the Maze legend.

    With a change of record label and shifts in the group's line-up a new era was launched for Frankie Beverly & Maze. "We wanted to emphasize our strengths, bring together the elements that have always been a part of our music and really focus on them," continued Frankie. The band released Silky Soul, one of their most successful albums, which included the smash singles, "I Can't Get Over You" and the title track.

    After a solid year of touring North America and Europe, the group took a break to recharge their creative juices. "When you're trying to do the best you can..to give the people everything you've got, you need to be patient," Frankie emphasized. With anticipation and excitement, the group released Back to Basics which captured the passionate, electrifying essence of the group, and included the hit singles, "Laid Back Girl," "The Morning After" and "What Goes Up."

    In between preparing material for the release of their third Warner Bros. album and a Christmas album the group continues to be one of the most requested at music festivals throughout the world drawing major crowds. As a headlining act, Frankie Beverly and Maze have been instrumental in giving exposure to several new recording artists, before they became household names, including Toni Braxton, Regina Belle and Anita Baker, to name a few.

    Recently Maze released a 20-track double-CD "Anthology" of the most popular and successful songs by Frankie Beverly's smooth soul/R&B group Maze makes an almost self-evident point about the far-too-usual treatment of the deserved in the pop music game. The All Music Guide wrote, "Frankie Beverly and Maze may be the ultimate urban contemporary group, though they're much more soulful and funky than many of their counterparts."

    Although the group has never won any awards they continue to attract sold-out audiences giving them the title "best kept secret in the industry".

  • RICK JAMES NOVEMBER 1979 INTERVIEW

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    I really like my own music — honest! If I really take myself out of myself I find that though Rick James may not be the most original artist or writer in the world, he's good"

    "TO ME, a punk is someone who says what's on his mind and who doesn't take no shit!" So says Rick James, one of our music's most outspoken members. Yet, there is another side to Rick James — you might call it the James Johnson side.

    Confused? Read on as John Abbey braves the freezing cold and driving sleet of Buffalo, New York state to track down the two Rick James characters at "their" home near the Canada border.

    JA: The logical place to start is with the new album, "Fire it Up". How do you feel about it in comparison with the previous two albums?

    RJ: I love it! The first album, "Come Get It", was an experiment in simplicity for me. I hadn't made it then and everything was simple. You know, funky little changes and cute lyrical content. "Bustin' Out" was a step further in concept.

    JA: Was it experimental, too?

    RJ: In some ways, yes. It was a better album than "Come Get It" but it didn't come over sound frequency-wise as much as "Come Get It".

    JA: There was a fresh rawness to "Come Get It" that would have been hard to duplicate.

    RJ: Yes, there was — it was a sound thing, I agree. On "Fire It Up", I knew what I wanted, though, and I went after it.

    JA: Is it exactly the way you wanted it or are there some things you wish you had done differently?

    RJ: There are a couple of tracks that I could have done differently, but overall I'm happy with it.

    JA: Are you already thinking about your next album?

    RJ: The songs are finished already — all I have to do is record it.

    JA: Will it be more of what we have come to accept as the Rick James Sound, or is the need to experiment further going to arise?

    RJ: It's going to be a bit different because every album I do will always be different. Part of the sound that I have been credited with comes from being able to change my sound. I don't feel I have one sound and I consciously try for a lot of different sounds.

    JA: Yet you are instantly recognisable.

    RJ: Like the Beatles — they were great at changing sounds and yet they were always the Beatles. I'd like to be able to do that.

    JA: So far, most of your success has been with uptempo material. Is that synonymous with your chosen direction?

    RJ: No — because I'm a ballad freak! I think that on "Fire It Up", there is a ballad that is strong enough for a single. But I don't know if I'm ready to do what Lionel Richie and the Commodores have done and that is to stun my audience with an over-abundance of sensitivity. But I love ballads and I eventually want to be able to create acoustical music and be accepted; and I do look to cross-over eventually with a ballad. On "Fire It Up", there is a thing I wrote about my ex-old lady called "When Love Is Gone" — it's a jazzy kind of monologue. There's another tune called "Love In The Night" on the first side, too; it's a story about meeting a girl and having a sexual affair.

    JA: Is there a way to define your sound?

    RJ: I don't think so. I could define my concept, but not my sound.

    JA: Would you say that you are a fusion of R&B, Rock and Jazz and some of just about everything else?

    RJ: For sure…

    JA: Do you feel that your varied background — which we'll go into later — helped make you what you are today?

    RJ: For sure. A lot of black musicians limit themselves to just R&B or Jazz and they don't get off into the classics, for example — or folk music. There aren't too many Funk performers who would even know who Robert Johnson is, for example!

    JA: If I were to ask you to name your major musical influences, who would they be?

    RJ: So many! But Robert Johnson, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, certainly.

    JA: Is it hard for a black musician to get acceptance as a Rock musician?

    RJ: Very! But it's in me and I'm going that way. I feel that all music is valid and should be accepted as just that. It shouldn't be just a record business tool. But personally I love doing what I call Funk & Roll.

    JA: Do you feel that you are contributing towards bringing R&B and Rock together?

    RJ: I hope so. But there aren't too many blacks into R&R. Mother's Finest are one act I can think of. I love Rock and I'd like to see more black musicians into Funk & Roll.

    JA: Would you acknowledge Jimi Hendrix and Sly as the first to bridge the gap?

    RJ: Jimi before Sly. I think Sly took funk and amalgamated it to come up with a more sophisticated music than Jimi. I don't feel there was too much Rock in there.

    JA: Did Jimi and Sly influence you?

    RJ: For sure. Sly more for his lyrical content, though.

    JA: Where does George Clinton fit into the picture?

    RJ: A lot of people compare us. George opened up the concept of comic book funk but, to me, that's very mentally limiting. And it'll prove hard for him to get away from. It I had to do what George does for a living, I'd probably get out of the business! It would be like prostituting myself to the point of musical blasphemy. A total drag!

    I have to write me a song! That's where I'm at. If George has any real songs in his material — other than "funk the dunk"! — I haven't heard them. We get classified a lot together and that burns me up because I feel that people who can compare us must be blind and deaf!

    JA: I guess the comparisons come off the bass line…

    RJ:…All funk comes from the bass line and the percussion, so if you relate that way then everyone sounds like George Clinton! But I do like George's concept and I admit I have written some songs with his concept in mind. He has a lot of talent, I'll say that much for him.

    JA: And he is the master for creating riffs — taking over where James Brown left off.

    RJ: Exactly. But to me it's not about the riffs and the licks. George could never have written a song like "Spacey Love" or "Dream Maker".

    JA: But he could have written "Sucker For Your Love"…

    RJ: Maybe — but you may be giving him too much credit! To me, he looks at music like a boxing match. All of that "let's take it to the stage" crap…

    JA: On a character note, he reminds me of you in that he is such an extrovert professionally and totally different in-person. But since he is so conscious of what he is doing, I have to respect him.

    RJ: Oh, I do respect him and he is totally conscious. But I'm just not into that "take it to the stage" crap; and "is there Doobie in your funk". On one concert, he even asked who gave Chuck Brown permission to funk! He has no patent on funk and I want to say that loud and clear!

    JA: It's surely just part of his show to be outspoken and outrageous.

    RJ: I guess so. But it's part of mine to tell it like it is.

    JA: Why do you react so violently to being called a disco artist?

    RJ: It's just some more stagnating, limiting verbal bullshit. I'm not a disco artist. I'm not a Rock artist or a Funk artist. I'm an artist.

    JA: Yet you were the one to coin the term Punk Funk. Aren't you labelling yourself?

    RJ: Labelling myself is different!

    JA: But labelling is a necessity…

    RJ:…Then let me label myself! (smile!)

    JA: Let's look at the two words. I can understand 'funk' but how come 'punk'?

    RJ: Punk, to me, is relatable because Punk Rock was poor, white British kids whose only vehicle to get away from their suppression and economic stress was through their music. Poor Cockney kids who didn't have a lot of money. So they played their music and somehow were tagged Punk Rockers. Now, I was born in the ghetto and everyone in my band has starved and we've all been through the rats and roaches syndrome. We're from the streets and we've been through the gang trip, too. So, it's relatable. Whether I'll still see myself as a Punk in five years, I don't know. Maybe I'll always be a Punk.

    JA: Are you a Punk today?

    RJ: No. Because Punk, to me, is just another word and I can't let words hold me back. If somebody calls me an asshole and I smack them in the face then that makes me a Punk. I'm not going to let anyone call me an asshole so you see, yes, I'm a punk.

    JA: But a lot of rich and educated people would react the same way.

    RJ: Then there are a lot of rich and educated Punks! To me, a Punk is someone who says what's on his mind and who doesn't take no shit. That's my definition. Some people call a Punk a homosexual — but that's bullshit to me. And since I called myself a Punk, it's my definition that matters to me. I can label myself whatever I please.

    JA: Rick, I know that lyrics are very important to you. Did your folk and Rock days have a lot of influence on your affinity with lyrics?

    RJ: Yes. People like Dylan, Sly and the Beatles are responsible for my lyrical feeling. I feel that I have to say something in a song and that it's not just enough to lay down the music.

    JA: Why is it, do you feel, that lyrics are less meaningful in R&B than some other music forms?

    RJ: A lot of people just don't have anything to say — black and white! But a lot of blacks are afraid and haven't busted out yet.

    JA: Do you think that your experiences with Rock bands has given you the confidence to bust out?

    RJ: Probably so, yes. It's a very pertinent question because it deals with the nature of the two races. Blacks have been suppressed for so long that they're a little apprehensive. Me? I'm not afraid of shit! I will tell you what the deal is and be very open. A lot of the Rock musicians are that way; they don't give a damn. Some of it with me stemmed from when I was in England because they are very, very open there — incredibly so.

    JA: Do you prefer it that way?

    RJ: Yes, I do. My message to black people is to bust out and say what's on your mind and to hell with the consequences.

    JA: How much of your lyrics is you?

    RJ: All of it! I love marijuana — Mary Jane — and you can print that! I smoke it every day and it's the greatest thing since ice cream and I'm not afraid to say it.

    JA: Who, then, was the "Fool On The Street"?

    RJ: That was me. I was in love with a lady — an English lady — and we got married but ended up in divorce. When I made it, we tried to patch it up but it just didn't work out. So, I realized I was the fool. "Hollywood" was me, too.

    JA: Now that you've made it and are no longer hungry, will you be able to write such meaningful lyrics?

    RJ: You mean, will the fame and money and shit change my attitude? Not really — because I'm still the same person. Money has never had that much effect on me. I still go to the same places and do the same things I always did.

    JA: Do you, therefore, still relate to your early lyrics?

    RJ: Yes — I certainly do.

    JA: Rick, I'd like to check out your production schedule. For example, is there a new Teena Marie album in the works?

    RJ: There is — but I'm not doing it I just don't have the time. Teena is at a point where she should be on her own. She is very talented. I hear that she and Minnie Riperton's husband (Dick Rudolph) are collaborating on the next album.

    JA: She is still with Motown, though?

    RJ: Oh, Yeah.

    JA: But you are getting ready to record your band, the Stone City Band. Is that for Motown, too?

    RJ: Yes, it is. I'm also cutting my girl singers, the Colored Girls, and my horn players, the Punk Funk Horns — but they are not with Motown…yet!

    JA: Does Art Stewart have any involvement with your productions now?

    RJ: Now now. He helped on my first two albums and on Teena's album and he helped mix them, too. He is one of the great engineers and one of the greatest people I've ever known. My break off with him only came because he didn't have the time to work with me. He taught me enough and I felt that I was ready to branch off on my own.

    JA: Do you want to briefly run through your early career for those who don't know?

    RJ: It began in Canada. I was young and with a group called the Minah Birds that included Neil Young, Goldie McJohn and Bruce Palmer. They later became Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Steppenwolf.

    JA: When was that and why were you in Canada?

    RJ: The late 60's. I had joined the navy and went A.W.O.L. (absent without leave). I had joined underage and I have since got a discharge but that's how it happened. Then after that I went to London for a year and a half and that's where I really went back to studying. There were so many starving bands trying to make it there that I realized I'd need to be extra great. Believe me, when you starve in London, you really starve!

    JA: Did you find it an advantage to be a black American, though?

    RJ: Yes, for sure. But I didn't enjoy it much because I don't like starving anywhere! I didn't see the country — but next time it'll be different — I'll have food in my stomach and some shillings in me' pocket!

    JA: Didn't the Minah Birds sign with Motown?

    RJ: That's right.

    JA: Was that intended for their Rare Earth label?

    RJ: We actually signed before that but when Rare Earth came along, they thought of us for the label.

    JA: Did you want to be with Motown?

    RJ: I always wanted to be with Motown. Ever since when I was a kid and Stevie and the Temptations were my heroes.

    JA: Is that how you ended up with them for "Come Get It"?

    RJ: Actually…no! In fact, I had told the people who were negotiating my deal not to even talk with Motown! I had heard all kinds of things about them that I later found out to be completely untrue. There were always the thing about how they ripped everybody off. But it's all bullshit. The only way these groups get ripped off is by not looking after their own interests properly and by not having the right lawyers and accountants.

    JA: Did you find it hard to get through musically at Motown because of their tradition?

    RJ: I was scared and afraid that they would lose the first album. But the deal was so great that I didn't care if the first album flopped — in fact, I expected it! But I had a guarantee for a second album.

    JA: What was it about that first album that got it over?

    RJ: "You And I" came out at a time when negroids and whiteroids were doing some serious dancing. There are negroids, whiteroids, jewroids — then there are assholes and haemorrhoids! And Polish people are polaroids. Anyway, all the 'roids were really dancing and listening at the time.

    JA: Did the disco market really break the record first?

    RJ: It helped but it was the R&B market that really broke it. A whole lot of disco records never go over R&B. A very good friend of mine is Suzy Lane and she has a Top 10 disco record out called "Ooh La La". But won't find it on the R&B charts because she has become a disco artiste. Now Donna Summer isn't a disco artiste — she's Crisco! She's oiled all the way so she goes disco, popsco, MORsco.

    JA: Out of interest, are you happy at Motown?

    RJ: Yes, John, I am. They're helping me and I'm helping them. It's one big happy, helping family.

    JA: Is Rick James your real name?

    RJ: No, my real name is James Johnson. A witch told me that I had to change my name before I could make it. At one point in my life, I was really into astrology and numerology and the occult. That was about ten years back. There was one girl who really had me hooked because she seemed to be so accurate. At the time, I was using the name of Ricky James Matthews — that was given to me while I was A.W.O.L. in Canada by Shirley Matthews. She had a hit record, remember? Called "Big Time Boy". Anyway, I was told to change my name to Rick James and that it would take eight years for me to make it and that I'd have to pay all kinds of dues first. And it happened exactly the way she said it would.

    JA: You're back to living in Buffalo again now, having moved back from L. A. What brought you back?

    RJ: Visions of earthquakes! Really! I actually left because I didn't want to risk my life. That's part of my destiny that I can control and I had a premonition that told me and my band to get the hell out of L.A. And Hollywood is so plastic! Also, my mother is getting older and I want to spend more time with her. Buffalo is a real place — it's funky. The ghetto is incredible — I grew up there.

    JA: Didn't they recently name a street after you in Buffalo?

    RJ: Right. It's the street my mother lives on. Now I can say to a taxi driver: Take me to Rick James Street. And he'll say: "where?"

    JA: Would you say that success has changed you?

    RJ: Of course, success changes everybody. But not too much. Maybe I'm crazier!

    JA: Does it give you the confidence to be more outspoken?

    RJ: Sure! Of course! If I'm riding an elevator and some guy in a suit and tie looks at my braids, we'll stare at each other now. Before, I'd look away more easily.

    JA: And do you get the temptation to tell him you could probably buy him ten times over?

    RJ: Yes — literally! Because it's true! But I'm not on an ego trip over money — though I realize what money can do. If you've got money, it doesn't matter what color you are. Probably the only place I've ever been to where that's not completely so is England because there they don't give a shit.

    JA: You have an image that you have projected through your music and on stage. Is that your true identity?

    RJ: No, it's an alter ego. There is a Rick James and a James Johnson.

    JA: Who am I talking to today?

    RJ: James Johnson…

    JA: Which do you prefer?

    RJ: I prefer James Johnson because I can deal with him better than Rick James. Generally, people can't deal with Rick James because they expect some kind of a wild lunatic.

    JA: Because that's the impression you give on stage…

    RJ:…I never meant to give that impression. You can tell from my music that I'm sensitive and that I can be hurt if you say the wrong thing. An that I don't like hurting people.

    JA: But you come across as being anti-establishment.

    RJ: Isn't everyone who busts out? But I'm not really anti because the establishment accepts you if you've got the dollars and cents. Ask Richard Nixon! But I have always known I was different — even as a kid. Today, I look at a lot of my old friends and they're junkies or winos and I know now how right I was. It used to worry me for a minute and not it saddens me that the ghetto has beaten them.

    JA: Was it your rebellious nature that helped you to bust out?

    RJ: Yes — I was always prepared to take a lot of chances.

    JA: And it was always on your mind to better yourself…

    RJ: Always. Not so much for me, but for my mother.

    JA: They tell me you have a sex image, Mr. James! For the ladies' sake, pray tell if that is an image you try to project.

    RJ: No, John, I'm just a sexual person!!! I really don't know what a sexual image means, to be serious with you. If you mean do I try to project sexuality, I guess I do — both consciously and unconsciously.

    JA: I also understand you have a large gay following, too.

    RJ: That's nice. Because they like to funk, too. And they buy records. I think that the gay community is a wonderful, open thing.

    JA: Do you feel that the world is getting a better place to live in?

    RJ: No — but I think events will put us on the right track. The only thing that will put this planet on the right track will be some visitations from somewhere else. You see, we all think we know so much and yet we understand so little. I don't think there is any hope of us solving our own problems. But individually we can all try.

    JA: Do you have any hobbies or pastimes?

    RJ: No — because I don't like the stage that much. It's boring. I'm comfortable there but I didn't see myself gigging forever. I might not even always make records. I don't like the bullshit of the business, you see. And I can't stand the travelling — except when I'm not working. I don't like having to be somewhere. I hate being regimented.

    JA: Here's a loaded question for you — how do you feel about the record business in general?

    RJ: Shit! Strange!

    JA: Do you feel a part of it?

    RJ: I am a part of it — but I wish I wasn't! People tell me I'm like the industry's prodigal son. I've seen it all — the drugs, the chicks, the money — and it's all bullshit. And it's not what it's all about or what I'm all about.

    JA: If you had made it ten years sooner…

    RJ:…I'd have been one of them, a nutcase! For sure! Neil Young is one of the few people I know who has survived. He's so much into his family and home life that he has risen above it all.

    JA: Is it necessary to find that escape route?

    RJ: You've got to! That's why I live in Buffalo. If I was in Holloweird, I'd be burned out and crazy.

    JA: Did it ever worry you that it took so long for you to make it?

    RJ: It used to. I was a catalyst for a lot of people. But the woman I told you about, she told me it would be this way. She was an honest-to-God real witch and she told me I'd be a catalyst and that I'd have to pay eight years of karma dues. But then that I would be bigger than I'd ever dreamed of being. In those days, I wanted to be as big as Sly was at the time. Now, there's no telling how Big Rick James can get if he hangs in there.

    I really like my own music — honest! If I really take myself out of myself and I find that though Rick James may not be the most original artist or writer in the world, he's good. Anyway, what is there in the world today that is truly original?

    JA: Are you still ambitious?

    RJ: Spiritually, yes. But I've not been feeling really good lately. I always wanted to be a big star and that happened. I always wanted lots of money and that happened. Now, I wake up in the morning and ask myself if it is all worth it.

    JA: Are you happy?

    RJ: In the true sense of the word — no! I was happier when I was broke. I'm happy about the security and success — but not in myself.

    JA: What would it take to make you happy?

    RJ: I really don't know, and I often try to find out. I probably need me an old lady! I don't have one regular one anymore. Then again, maybe I'm not ready to deal with that just now, either. Maybe you've just caught me on a bad day but it's the truth. Hey, if you take the joint out of a lot of guy's mouths, you'd hear the same thing.

    JA: Would you trade everything you've achieved over the years for some happiness?

    RJ: Immediately! Immediately!! To be content and to wake up happy — that has to be a magical experience. You see, I've become a recluse because I am not the kind of guy who gets off on being recognised all the time. I enjoy going out but I hate having to disguise myself to enjoy myself. Sometimes, people just want to fuck with me but they don't consider that I have feelings, too. If I don't feel like signing an autograph while I'm sitting on the toilet, it's they that get offended. And I hate hurting people because of my own sensitivity.

    JA: This gentle, sensitive side of you isn't something you try to project.

    RJ: People have their own vision of me, I guess.

    JA: The way you are talking now doesn't go hand-in-hand with "Love Gun" or "Fire It Up".

    RJ: That's Rick James and you're talking to James Johnson, today. Rick is the entertainer; he's the wild man. When I go to the city, it's James Johnson that drives in and Rick James that steps out of the car. And he is ready to play the game.

    JA: So actually Rick James is perfectly happy. It's James Johnson that isn't…

    RJ: Rick James is always incredibly happy. James Johnson is something else, though. But that's the trip when you're dealing with alter-egos. You see, James Johnson doesn't have the patience or drive to deal with the bullshit of the industry anyway. Rick James is the one who wants to stay on top and go out and have the wild orgies. he wants to get high and groove all the time.

    But now I understand it all. I know what they both are and I stay on top of the situation all the time. Meeting David Bowie and a lot of others, it seems they are all the same way. Most of them are beautiful and sensitive people. Teddy Pendergrass is the perfect example. Mick Jagger, McCartney are both the same. And George Clinton is another; he's an older guy and a perfect father!

    JA: Let's face it, the average guy couldn't stand up and perform in front of 20,000 people.

    RJ: But it's always the average guy who wants to change places. Always on about the money, the women and the fast cars. I wish they could all have it for one day and see what it really means. That's why the vast majority of entertainers need their place of escape, of solitude. For example, I haven't been outside the house in a week and a half. it's good because I have been creating. But then in another way, I'm trapped. Fortunately, I've got my pool inside and a little gym downstairs and I've got my horses. But it's also like being a prisoner.

    JA: Let's end on a happy note by asking you to explain why you referred to yourself as being the Exlax of Music.

    RJ: Because my music clears out your insides and you can have a good inner shit. Drop some Rick James music and it will give you mental diarrhea. So, for all you mentally constipated people, try my new album, "Fire It Up"!

  • PEABO BRYSON JANUARY 1979 INTERVIEW

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    Interview conducted in person at Peabo's penthouse apartment on Peachtree Street in Atlanta in December 1978

    With his debut album for Capitol, already certified as gold, Mr. Peabo Bryson is truly "reaching for the sky". His newest album, "Crosswinds" looks set to emulate its predecessor's success. Peabo expressed some of his feelings about it amongst other things...


    "I'VE learned a great deal about this business and I'm still learning. Sure, I had to take the knocks and experience can sometimes be a terrible and hard way to learn but it's what's necessary to make you aware of what's going on in the industry."

    So speaks Mr. Peabo Bryson, a young gentleman whose career is definitely on the ascent, if the reaction to his first Capitol album is anything to go by.

    "The company really thought the album, "Reaching For The Sky" had peaked but after I went out there with my show, it started to pick up again. You see, we went out live to kill! We wanted to get to the audiences. But, no, I didn't quite think it would do as well as it did. I just knew I had done my part to make it happen to the best of my ability and after that, it was out of my hands.

    "Naturally, I was ecstatic when it did hit gold and I had already perceived from the people's reactions to us on stage that something big was about to happen! My attitude to the album, I guess, had a lot to do with it: I never listened to it after we finished it.

    "I'm not one of those people who relish and roll around in their own glory. That possibly made me a little sceptical that the album would take off like it did but I'm more than thankful that it did."

    Those who may not be too familiar with Peabo's background should know that he's originally from Greenville, South Carolina. He was always around and into music during his high school and around 1968, teamed up with Moses Dillard and The Tex-Town Display. He stayed with the outfit until around 1973 and during that time, met Eddie Briscoe from Bang Records, a gentleman Peabo credits with having really been an instrumental force in his career.

    "Eddie showed me that I could write, that I could do a lot of things myself. And that's basically been the key to my development. I've believed in my own ability and I've managed not to compromise creatively."

    Peabo recalls that, once he realised that he wanted to strike out on his own, he continuously "bugged at the folks at Bang to let me record an album. It was a heavy investment for anyone to make but I guess I just stayed on their case sufficiently!"

    The result was Peabo's debut album on Bang which he still maintains "contains the best songs I've written to date. I believe there are five exceptional songs on that album including "I Can Make It Better" which is a song which we performed on the road.

    "In fact, I guess Capitol must feel pretty strongly about the album too since they recently purchased it from Bang. I guess they will re-release it at some point in the future and sure, whenever they do, I'll re-introduce some of those songs into my stage act."

    After the period with Bang, which helped to at least introduce Peabo's name to record buyers in some areas of the States, he was contacted by Larkin Arnold, then at Capitol Records who spotted in him a tremendous creative ability and signed him shortly thereafter.

    The success of his debut album has naturally led to immediate reaction on the newest set, "Crosswinds". Peabo comments on the set: "I think it's just in my nature to go against the grain, accept the challenges that come along. There are still people who aren't really aware of what I can do so I'm constantly showing people that given the freedom I can come through with what they want, without compromising myself creatively.

    "Having the first album on Capitol turn gold certainly added some pressure but I intended that this album showed more dimensions to me and I think it's done that. I think it's truly positive, it reflects more and more about me, what I'm about.

    "Take songs like "Point Of View" and "She's A Woman", they're kinda different from what people may expect from me. But so far, the reaction from everyone seems to be positive. I've had some folks say they like six songs but not two — but believe me, I don't feel bad about that! Most folks only like one or two cuts on an album these days!"

    On this album, Peabo worked with veteran producer/arranger Johnny Pate. "I needed Johnny's input as a sounding board, I needed his objective viewpoint and his experience — and he's a beautiful person so working with him was just fine. He was helpful all the way down the line although to begin with, he just couldn't understand me!

    "I mean, what happened was that I'd play something on the piano just to give the musicians a guide on a particular part but I wouldn't sing anything — and Johnny's used to hearing someone sing whatever they want as well. But he was great — he helped with working on some intros and endings for some of the songs and he's like me, he likes to break the rules! For instance, for the first time, we used all the guys from my band in the studio and we even had a couple of people doing background who'd never done that before!"

    Peabo may 'break rules' but there's no doubt that the end result hardly gives any clue to that — the album is currently zooming up all the charts and seems to have received almost immediate response from everyone.

    "I think what's really important about this album is that I'm developing. I'm constantly learning, each new album seems to reflect more and more for me. Gradually, I'm discovering my own personal formula as a producer so that I'll be able to work with other acts at some point in time, when we can actually find the time to do that!"

    Anyone who listens to Peabo's music can hardly fail to see that love and its many ups and downs is a constant theme.

    "Well, there are several things to say about that. Firstly, I'm concerned with pleasing people and giving them something they can and will relate to. In my writing and when I record, I'm aware that I have to aim and direct myself towards public acceptance to an extent so I do that with music that they will dig — because I zero in on the things that people are digging in the marketplace — whilst at the same time making it music that I also dig myself.

    "I'm fortunate in that people accept me doing ballads and they want to hear something about things that you've been through as the artist because it somehow seems to cushion a lot of things for people to know that they're not the only ones having to deal with a particular situation, for instance.

    Peabo further expounds that "I'm not afraid of being vulnerable. There's nothing wrong with admitting that you've loved and lost, that you've been hurt, felt pain. The most important thing is that you survive and that's something to be proud of. You'll find my songs deal with all aspects of those situations: the good, the bad and the ugly.

    "In my songs, I can be the victim or the victimiser, I can go through times when I feel good about an emotional experience or situation and then I can feel bad. You see, I'm basically a reflective person and I try to keep myself open to life. I can only write about truth and reality, what I've seen, what I've experienced and I don't think there's anything wrong with that kind of vulnerability because people like to deal with what's real and they can usually sense when your songs reflect a genuine feeling you've had or experienced."

    When Mr. Bryson reflects on his career in general and its present upward movement, he has this to say: "I always acknowledge the presence of God in everything I do. After all, that is the source for all the creativity. And He is the only power greater than anything, so I don't look at other people in awe, I realise that I can do all the things that the Creator has given me the ability to do.

    "The way I look on that whole being in the number one spot thing is simple: you can only ever be there for a quick minute — there's always going to be somebody else coming along. So you keep your feet on the ground, don't get overawed by your acceptance and most of all, you continue to learn about humility. In fact, that's something that should increase with any success: your ability to be humble and realise that there is a source you must acknowledge for whatever happens."

    Peabo notes: "For me, being an artist is not a personal quest. It's not about the material things — I would never have traded places with Howard Hughes! Sure, you want some things for your family and you do a few things for yourself but to me, it's about remaining the same person, just growing and learning."

    There is no doubt that Mr. Bryson is truly headed for the top. What makes it so refreshing and rewarding is to see success coming to a young man whose obvious motivation is sincere and genuine, whose love of life is paramount and whose talents match his positive goals and attitudes.

    With his head and heart in the right place, Peabo Bryson can hardly fail to captivate people everywhere with his music.

  • NEW YORK CITY AUGUST 1975 INTERVIEW

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    AT a time when we should have been welcoming George McCrae back for his second British tour, we are instead featuring that super-talented quartet, New York City. Due to George's eleventh hour cancellation, it was nothing short of a miracle that NYC were able to act as last minute substitutes. "We enjoyed our last tour so much that we jumped at the opportunity to come back," they all smilingly told me when I asked about them being here.

    But despite the group's visual success, last year was a fairly lean one as far as record success is concerned. "We've had no major hit record in eighteen months," the group's lead tenor, John Brown, admits, "but we are always working. A lot of that success is owed to our choreographer, Cholly Atkins, who has given us a show that is as visual as it is musical. We want to entertain rather than just perform and that is what has carried us over the rough waters. You see, we feel that choreography compliments the vocals and we've been of that opinion ever since we first hit big with "I'm Doing Fine Now" back in August 1973. Even before that, we had a choreographer — a guy named Louis Johnson but as good as he tried to be, he just didn't have the ability that Cholly has with vocal groups. Cholly was with Motown for years until he went out on his own — and it was he that thought up the Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes…in fact, he created every stage act that helped make Motown so unique. Cholly is really into it as a technique. When we first met him, we thought we had a tight act already but it took us ten minutes to realize how amateurish we were. At first, we even grumbled among ourselves, countering that we were singers and not dancers. But Cholly has proved us all wrong because the dance steps actually help you to remember a song. He works out a new routine for every song that we add to the show — even ballads, it's amazing what he can do with a slow, romantic ballad."

    New York City first came to fame via a Thom Bell gem called "I'm Doing Fine Now". The record gave Chelsea Records their first hit and was a monster sound all around the world. But since that giant, success has eluded the foursome and they are now in search of a new direction from a musical standpoint. "We really want to exploit our own talents a little more," lead singer Tim McQueen explains. "We have no complaints about the Philly thing, it's just that we would rather leave it to the groups living there. Recording with Thom Bell always put unnecessary pressure on us because we always felt people were comparing our records with Thom's last creation rather than what we had been doing. We even had instances where people would say that here is the new Thom Bell creation rather than the new record by New York City and that can be disheartening. And, of course, we were always being compared to the Spinners and I was always being compared with Phillippe Wynne of the Spinners. No, we feel that there must be a definite New York sound that we could help to bring forward.

    We realize that it would be hard to create something in New York like the Philly thing or the Detroit Sound. New York really is too big and there are too many musicians to be able to really get the same sound. With the Philly sessions, it's always the same musicians but in New York, it's a different set every time. In fact, the things that Tony Sylvester and Bert de Coteaux are doing now constitute towards the nearest New York has ever had as far as a definite sound is concerned. Let's face it, any 'sound' comes from the musicians and like any team, you have to be together and understand each other before you can really gell. Gell is the word, isn't it — MFSB gells! But we are looking for a new producer, a new sound. Something that you can associate with New York City and no-one else. We don't want people to say: Oh, New York City — they're fine, they're like the Spinners. I wouldn't want to critisize the Philly Sound because it's fantastic — but I feel that the public is going over to a funkier sound. Take our last album — it was fine. Good for listening; a love album. Everybody in the trade loved it but it didn't sell. Our fans didn't really support it even so we know we need to make a change. Now, I'm not suggesting that we could ever get into as funky a groove as James Brown but we'll be aiming for a sound that people can dance and be happy to. That will suit our stage image better, too. Hard R&B has gotten so close to pop anyway now that even James Brown is being considered a pop singer. All of that old authenticity has gone, the barriers are almost all away now. It's all part of what we call progress and you'll find entertainers have to constantly experiment to stay on top. The public is so much hipper today — they really know what they want. That's why music is so much tighter today. In the old days, Rock & Roll was for kids but today, music is for every age group and they demand the very best. Take fifteen years ago — a group in our situation would only have one market to aim for but today we can play Las Vegas one week, a disco the next and then suddenly show up in Europe or South America. We have to be ready to entertain anyone from fifteen to fifty and we have to be flexible. Sure, it's a good thing — if you can handle it. It provides you with longevity as long as you are prepared to work at it. If you change with the times, you can last ten years today. Musical trends change all the time — look at today and jazz. A few years ago, the public wouldn't take jazz in any shape or form. Yet jazz is the only traditional American music. Many of the big jazz names had to go overseas to make their name and then the public in the States would accept it. Even pop artists like Jimi Hendrix or Johnny Nash — they had to go to Europe and make it before America showed any interest. I guess it's some kind of rule — your own folks are often the last to accept you. Even in our case, we have never really made it in New York. When we played the Apollo, we got rave notices — yet we are still almost unknown in the city."

    Consisting of Tim McQueen, John Brown, Claude Johnson and Ed Schell. the group's origins go back eight years to 1967. It was then that Tim and Ed formed two-thirds of a trio called Mark III. A year later, John and Claude had joined and they became known as Triboro Exchange, making one unsuccessful single for Buddah.

    Factually, Tim McQueen hails from Innetsville, South Carolina, coming to New York in '66. His education includes classical music study and he penned three songs on the first of the group's two albums on Chelsea.

    John Brown is the eldest member of the quartet, being born in 1938 in New York City. His track record includes stints with such groups as the Five Satins, Cadillacs and Moonglows and his sister, Estelle, is one of the Sweet Inspirations.

    Claude Johnson was born in Beckley, West Virginia, in 1940, and came to New York in his teens. Ed Schell was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1941 and moved to New York after leaving the service in 1962.

    The quartet were known as Triboro Exchange — named after one of the bridges linking New York and Long Island — until they joined Chelsea Records. And then, at the recommendation of company president, Wes Farrell, they became New York City, Their first record with Chelsea was "I'm Doing Fine Now" and you really couldn't ask for a better start. Single hits since have included "Quick, Fast, In A Hurry", "Make Me Twice The Man", "Happiness Is", "Love Is What You Make It" and their current American success, "Got To Get You Back Into My Life". They also have two albums available — "I'm Doing Fine Now" and "Soulful Road".

    Whilst I would be the first to admit that NYC don't need a hit single to exist because their show is simply superb — I just wonder how gigantic they could be if the right record did come along now. And, in their own minds, they seem to have a fair idea where that hit could come from. Let's keep our fingers crossed for New York City is deserving of our support.

  • MARLON SAUNDERS 2006 SOULMUSIC.COM INTERVIEW

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    It’s sometimes fashionable for ‘old school’ music lovers to dismiss contemporary artists with a quick shrug insisting, per Ashford & Simpson, ‘ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.’ But every once in a great while we hear a CD that is a reminder that ‘neo-soul’ or ‘retro-soul’ or whatever term is fashionable to use actually has some great purveyors. Such is the case with Maryland native Marlon Saunders, the multi-talented singer/songwriter and musician known among those in the know as the lead singer of Jazzhole and member of Bobby McFerrin’s “Voicestra.” Marlon’s “A Groove So Deep: The Live Sessions” (released last fall) is a fine piece of work, from his remake of the Rose Royce ‘70s classic, “I Wanna Get Next To You” to original tunes like his “Afro Blue My Mind” and the album’s title cut with its wonderful vocal nod to Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover.”

    Four of the thirteen tracks on Marlon’s sophomore CD are actually ‘live-in-the-studio’ versions of songs on “Enter My Mind” cut with his band, Mood Control before an invited audience. Marlon explains, “I wanted to capture the band and the music we’ve been doing after being on the road for the past year-and-a-half. We found ourselves stretching the music out in live performances. There was a different interpretation as we lived with and through the songs. I wanted to do a ‘live‘ record but not at a club. We cut it like a lot of (older) jazz records where it’s an organic experience and the inspiration came from conversations I would have with (keyboardist) Joe Scott. We talked about how, during rehearsals, we would often go to beautiful [spontaneous] musical places and the idea of that stuck in my head when I was thinking about what the second album should be.”

    Drawn from over fourteen hours of recorded material, “A Groove So Deep: The Live Sessions” received “a really good response. I think it shows that people are ready to hear things that are live again, that they like the organic quality of what we did. Of course, when you record like this and do something live in the studio, you’re never going to be sure how it will go but I am excited that really is live…” One of the most immediately noticeable aspects of the album is the generous use of imagnative background parts done with the kind of harmony associated with some of the wonderful recordings of artists like the late Sylvester who employed gospel-flavored licks and runs to great effect on his albums. That’s not entirely surprising when you consider that Marlon’s own entry into the music biz came through session work. “As a kid, I grew up looking at the credits on my favorite records,” he explains. “I would see names like Tawatha (Agee), Lani Groves, Fonzi Thornton and Ullanda McCullough. The same people would keep occuring on albums like Quincy Jones’ “Stuff Like That,” Chic’s records, the Roberta Flack/Peabo Bryson ‘live’ album, records by Change, Ashford & Simpson… I enjoyed the harmonies: in fact, as someone who grew up playing instruments, I found the harmonies mind-blowing. They were so sophisticated, weaving through the air the way saxophones do in big bands. Then I found out that was how these singers made a living – and that great artists like Luther and Marvin Gaye had launched their careers this way. I remember when I met Tawatha on a session…it was a big deal to me!”

    While it didn’t happen overnight, Marlon broke into jingle singing “doing a Miller (beer) campaign which was followed by a Miller Lite campaign…when they were looking for a new black R&B singer! I did many tapes before I got the gig but by 1992, I was doing jingles and background session work and helped financially. In fact, I still do jingles – I did one for Oscar Meyer franks – and other background sessions but it’s not the same as it was. Nowadays, the music is already recorded and by 1998, the jingle and session scene started to change. Session work was not as busy as it was before back when you could two or three jobs a day. It dwindled down to where you might be doing just one. It changed…”

    Over the years, Marlon’s name appeared on albums by Sting, Billy Joel, Shawn Colvin and Martha Wash and he’s sung with a diverse range of artists that Lauryn Hill, Shania Twain, Nine Inch Nails and of course, Bobby McFerrin – as a member of his famed Voicestra. While still serving as a professor at the acclaimed Berklee School Of Music (also Lalah Hathaway’s alma mater), Marlon began singing, writing and producing with the renowned acid jazz band Jazzhole in 1994 working with partner Warren Rosenstein. In all, the duo cut three albums as Jazzhole with a number of guest artists appearing on the records: inevitably, Marlon’s lead vocals on the critically-acclaimed trio of CDs led to the question: “When I would do interviews, people would always ask, ‘When are you going to do a solo record?’ Then, on the road with Bobby (McFerrin), I said if I ever did the solo thing, I would incorporate that sort of musical flow. I said to myself, ‘Let me go ahead and try it.’ Doing all the session work meant I had out away some money and I knew what it took to make a solo record. I totally thought it out and when I needed to, I’d come back and hustle some session work so I could finish the record…”

    The result, the 2003 album, “Enter My Mind” : “We just thought if we could make a little noise, we’d be o.k.,” Marlon recalls. “We knew there would be a time when we would need to hit the road and traveling on the road can be costly – especially when you take keyboards, drums, bass and background vocals!” Gigs in the U.K., Sweden, East Coast cities like New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and shows in the South (“Alabama, the Carolinas”) definitely helped get the word out about Marlon’s album and it didn’t hurt that the members of his band, Mood Control are seasoned musicians whose collective credits included work with a diverse range of artists from Dizzy Gillespie to MeShell NdegeOcello and Brian McKnight.

    All of which led to “A Groove So Deep,” which sizzles with soulful spontaneity. Check “I Wanna Get Next To You,” which Marlon states “was cut after I was watching the movie ‘Car Wash’ (which features the song) at home. I knew it was a good song: I talked to my musical director, Carl Carter and we played around with it and came up with this down tempo version of it. Then, “Keep Doin’ What Ya Do,” which was on the first record, we changed the feel…it was like a magical moment for all of us. And using that “Love Hangover” line with “A Groove So Deep”? I was demo-ing the song and I felt it would be great to use it in the beginning of the song. A lot of people recognize it immediately and they jump when they hear it on “A Groove So Deep”!”

    That was certainly my own reaction when I first heard it and no question, it was something that made my ears perk up, leading to our albeit-a-little-truncated chat! Since the album’s 2005 fall release, Marlon’s been doing some dates but a lot of his time and energy has been directed to the world premiere of his original jazz composition, “Workin’ on a Building.” More than an innovative composition, “Workin’ on a Building” is a musical and cinematographic journey through slavery and the complexities of race on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and more broadly, a meditation on the Black experience in America. In addition to the live performance by Marlon and his band, the program also includes the screening of “Papa’s Branch,” a documentary created especially for “Workin’ on a Building,” in which Marlon uses the story of his own family—and especially his great-great-grandfather, “Papa” Albert James Walker—to reflect on the importance of honoring the deep roots which continue to give us a firm foundation. There are plans for performances throughout the U.S. following its’ February 2006 premiere.

    And as if that weren’t enough, there will be a new Jazzhole album featuring Marlon entitled “Poet’s Walk,” initially being issued in the U.K. on Soul Brother Records before its’ U.S. release in the spring. Clearly, this multi-talented man has learned one of the most important and valuable lessons for survival in the music biz: always diversify and never rely on one area to sustain yourself. While he continues to branch out and put his many musical talents to full use, discerning record buyers can avail themselves of one of last year’s better releases by picking up a copy of Marlon’s latest work. After all, it’s never too late for a groove this deep!

  • JOE TEX JUNE 1978 INTERVIEW

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    Joe stays close to the streets and the people who buy the records. Thus, he has a good instinct for what's a likely hit and what ain't.

    AFTER enjoying one of 1977's biggest hit successes with the disco gem, "Ain't Gonna Bump No More", Joe Tex has since been allowed to slip back into virtual obscurity and he feel that a good deal of the problem lies in the selection of the single releases ever since.

    "Let's face it", he admits, "there's nothing happening on the new album, is there? I can't just fault the company, CBS, because they are so good and have proved it with me, haven't they? My biggest complaint with them, though, is that they haven't taken into consideration my feelings when it comes down to the singles they pull off albums.

    "You see, I have always used the crowd response as the perfect test to see if a record is going to become a hit for me. It worked on "Hold What You Got", "Skinny Legs" and even on "Bump" but the company have gone against my gut feeling.

    "For example, on the new album, there are two cuts that are getting great reaction from the people. One is called "Picking The Plums" and the other is "Be Kind To Old People" but they could also have gone with the slowed down version of "I Gotcha" because the people seem to like that, too. Instead, they've gone with "Rub Down" and "Get Back Leroy" and they have not exactly set the place alight when I have included them in my show.

    "My manager, Buddy Killen, has passed all of the information on but they always come back with something like: "Oh, it never sounds the same on stage with a band as it does on record" but I would still rather put my faith in the people. And there is another cut on the album that always goes down well and that is "You Can Be My Star".

    "Oh, yeah, and then the company have said that all of the cuts that I feel good about are all slow and that I need to come back with another uptempo, disco track after "Ain't Gonna Bump No More". But there has been absolutely no response to either "Rub Down" or "Get Back Leroy" and they have both been uptempo, haven't they?"

    The problems surrounding the single situation is Joe's reason for believing that the album has died, too.

    "Look, two singles have bombed," he asserts, "and there is no album without a single to sell it. People don't take the time to get into an album if there isn't a track on there that they are familiar with. No, this album is lost and some good material has been lost, too.

    "Right now, I'm getting material ready for a new album but I am disappointed to see this one die. It's like a builder watching his new building fall down in front of his eyes. Especially when it could so easily have been saved if people had just taken a little time to listen.

    "Look, I'm out here on the streets with the people and I know how they feel. I play the little jive joints because they are the people buying the records. Oh, and another thing — the sleeve to "Rub Down" was wrong, too. The original idea was to have me in a massage parlor and being rubbed down by girls of all nationalities. What did we get? A hand sticking thru some soap suds. No, sir! N-o-o, S-i-i-r-r!"

    A lot of Joe's more dedicated fans were pleasantly surprised to see him back in vogue again via "Bump" but they insisted that this really wasn't the real Joe Tex.

    "Sure, I'm happiest on the slow things," he admits. "Thru to "Skinny Legs" in '68, I had always stayed with those slow ballads. I feel more comfortable when I'm talking a little, singing a little and doing my little bit of rap.

    "You see, I don't sing well and I know it. By rapping, I have a different way of getting over to my people. Yeah, a little bit of rap, a little bit of talk and some humor, that's always been my happiest way. And I have always stuck with what I became known for.

    "Now, with "Ain't Gonna Bump No More", it was different but because of the simplicity and the humor, I still feel it was typically Joe Tex. But it was the bass line that really hooked everyone on that — and that goes to my band because they struck it up one day when we were rehearsing back home in Texas. It's got the TK or Sunshine Band kind of sound and that was what people were dancing to at the time.

    "But that was one of my complaints about the company releasing those two dead singles afterwards. Even at the time I questioned them on whether they thought either was as strong as "Bump" and though they all admitted they weren't, they still chose to go with them. They simply didn't have the appeal but after selling a million and a half on "Bump", it was very important to me that I should be able to follow through successfully.

    "But I couldn't argue and left it that if anyone was going to make a mistake, then let it be them."

    However, irrespective of whether Joe is No.1 or No.100, the one thing you can depend on from him is a really great show. Simply because he is a true performer, a true entertainer and a definite professional. Joe has always carried girl dancers around with him but the current duo of Gloria and Angela rate as the best he's ever had.

    "They came to me from a lady in New York called Mama Lou Parkes and that's how they get their name, the Parkettes," Joe explains. "She sends dancers all over the world and everyone knows her.

    "I have always used dancers because I always like to give the public a good show. After all, the money that they are paying out these days, they deserve that, right? No, I don't feel that I need them for my show but I do feel they add something to what I'm doing. After all, we all depend on the public to eat and I like to bring something for them to get satisfaction from. Value for money, that's another way of saying it easily.

    "Hey, and don't underestimate their appeal — I'm sure that a lot of guys dig my show because of those girls!"

    So, we left Joe to continue getting material ready for the next all-important album. "I guess that most of the songs will be my own but I will consider material from the three writers that I respect above all others — William Bell, Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield.

    "But I'll listen to anybody who can bring me a hit," he chuckles.

  • JAMES BROWN JUNE 1979 INTERVIEW

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    'People are doing what I was doing ten years ago and calling it Disco'

    IN ONE of his very rare press gatherings, the legendary Mr. James Brown recently met with members of the media in New York to dicuss his upcoming album — probably to be titled "The Original Disco Man" — and other aspects of his career. Naturally, B&S was present at the event and here's some of what Mr. Brown had to say:

    "I guess I've been kinda away from the scene a little because I've been involved more with my other businesses (James owns a couple of radio stations and of course has other business investments)…but I'm thankful to the public for allowing me to take that time off. What I did was move to a ranch to get away from the phone, from everything, for a short time so that I could basically get myself together…I just needed that kind of time."

    "I'm somewhat hard-nosed when it comes to my music, I'd never had a producer before. So when the company (Polydor) suggested that to begin with, I just said no. When they mentioned Brad Shapiro (Millie Jackson's co-producer), I still said no even though I've been knowing Brad for years now. Then he called me at 2.00am one morning to play me one of the tracks he'd cut and…I dug it! So I said o.k., let's give it a try.

    "It was great working with Brad…he just said go in there and sing! Sure, I hope the people like the material we've done, but if not we'll keep on giving them something else because we know that they're gonna like something we do!"

    At this point in the proceedings, we were given the opportunity to preview two cuts from the sessions that Brad & Mr. Brown did together. The first cut, "Too Funky" combines all the elements that have made James Brown a legend (complete with a "take me to the bridge" line!) together with the contemporary disco feel that should help put him "back on top of the pile".

    Indeed, enthused Polydor executives expressed the thought that "it's our commitment to put James right back to where he should have never left, the very top! Back again to James himself….

    "Disco? No, I'm not worried about it because the people are doing what I was doing ten years ago and calling it disco. As far as I'm concerned, we were there at the beginning. What we're doing now is just a continuation of history. Sure, I get tired of people copying me, so now I want them to buy my records…the kids who are buying those folk who've been imitating what we've been doing for years."

    "Sure, I still have my protegees…The Bee Gees, Earth, Wind & Fire…But you might like to know that we did a session with some of the original protegees — Bootsy Collins, Maceo, Fred Wesley and also George Clinton. Hopefully, that project will be completed and released at some point.

    "I'm very proud of all those guys, Bootsy, Maceo, Fred and so on because they make me feel like I'm the teacher and they're certainly living up to the standards we

    "I've always been about doing what I feel in music and that will never change. The record company knows for instance that they can't make me do anything, they'll suggest things and I'm open, I listen. But I'm lucky to have people's respect. No one demands that I do anything — although it's taken a long time to get to that….I've had to fight to get to the public and say what needed to be said…but that's always been a part of my thing, saying what I feel."

    No doubt fans will recall that Mr. Brown was the first black artist to make statements tike "Say It Loud, I'm Black & I'm Proud" and he has always been a staunch supporter of various causes — like anti-drug programmes (tunes like "King Heroin") and self-help programmes (he wrote "If You Don't Work, You Can't Eat" for protegee Bobby Byrd).

    The legendary gentleman concludes: "What makes me most happy is that I've been able to bring happiness and joy to people in a lot of places and I want to continue doing just that…I want to play to as many people as I can and as many people that want to see me."

    In line with that, the gentleman is emabrking shortly on a domestic U.S. tour which will include a date at Madison Square Garden on July 4. His other plans include a new album on The J.B.s. for TK Records and some overseas touring as well as completion of the album with Brad Shapiro.

    Summing up, Mr. Shapiro stated that he felt "music is gonna get funkier" and if that's the case, there's no better candidate than James Brown to support and lead the movement because he's truly the Godfather of Funk!

  • INCOGNITO LIVE AT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL, LONDON, MAY 24, 2012

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    I woke up from a dream around 6.30am this morning (May 25). Suddenly, I realised that there was music playing in my dream and somehow Incognito and Mario Biondi had seeped into my dreams. It was a beautiful dream!! I arrived at the Assembly Rooms in Islington tired from a day’s work, full of food from Nando’s (restaurant) and thinking the venue needed air conditioning: I left feeling totally uplifted. I put all this down to Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick. I found out lots about Bluey last night. I found Bluey the storyteller introducing all the songs, introducing the singers and connecting with his audience. Bluey the 55-year old front-man, Mauritius-born and North London -raised, producer and musician leading Incognito, the band which has prolifically produced consistently great music for the last 33 years. The first thing I am struck by is how tight the band is. From the first note I am transfixed by the standard of musicianship on the stage and immediately drawn into the proceedings. I soon forgot about where I was - and the lack of air conditioning - and I was energised.

    The focus was on the latest CD “Surreal”. Bluey introduces us to the singers in turn starting with long time vocalist Vanessa Haines treating us to a stripped-back version of “Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing” and a cover of a ‘70s tune “Ain’t It Time.” Mo Brandis is next up looking extremely sharp and elegant in a stylish plaid suit and giving us “Goodbye to Yesterday” as well as treating us to a storming version of “As” later in the evening. Natalie Williams is the third vocalist to be introduced to the audience. She truly excels on “The Stars From Here” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”. Natalie is jazzy, soulful and delivers a stirring vocal whenever called upon to do so. In truth Natalie has enraptured me since her “Secret Garden” CD. It really is a highlight of the evening just listening to her vocals and her interpretation of these songs.

    Special guest Mario Biondi is invited to the stage by Bluey as the featured and fourth vocalist. We are treated to one of the tracks from his “Handful of Soul” CD. It is one of Bluey’s favourites, a song he first heard on the Giles Peterson radio sessions called “This Is What You Are”. Mario has the kind of deep, sensuous and sexy voice that is bliss for the ears as well as a great stage presence. Mario also gives us two further Incognito tracks and returns later on “Lowdown” with Vanessa Haines. Interestingly, Bluey informs us that he is producing Mario’s next CD so that really will be something to look out for.

    I think this is the best line up of vocalists Incognito have had so far and hope they stay around for more CDs and gigs. Then last and certainly not least and holding it all together we have the band : whether it’s Matt Cooper, musical director, exceptional on a variety of keys; Jeremiah on the trombone; Francesco on the drums or Joel on percussion (the latter delivering an outstanding duet whilst the rest of the band are off stage, holding their own and keeping the audience raptured).

    Together they confirm that Incognito are a collective of exceptionally talented musicians hailing from all over the world. The biggest disappointment of the evening was having the set end due to an 11pm curfew. Time really does fly when you are swept away. The group were on stage for over two hours so thanks Incognito for a great night and sweet dreams!

  • HERB ALPERT: FANDANGO (SHOUT FACTORY)

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    After leaving the Tijuana Brass in the mid '70s, Herb Alpert seemed to be casting about for a new identity. By 1979 he began to craft timely, R&B inspired music like the classic, "Rise" and "Magic Man." In the '80s, Alpert was solidly a potent chart presence well known for his excellent albums and craft. Unlike a lot of acts, especially in the commercial jazz genre, Alpert's horn became more expressive as he went along. His post Tijuana Brass oeuvre was always interesting, but this 1982 album remained elusive. In 2013 Shout Factory! brought the well-loved album back into print.

    The triumphant and flashy title track "Fandango" was the perfect song to kick off the album. While a lot of people thought this might have been a full-fledged Latin effort, sonically speaking it's more of a standard and high-level early to mid '80s Herb Alpert album. Out of the all of the songs on FANDANGO, the hard changing "Route 101" makes good on the promise of recalling Alpert's earlier Latin music and fusing it with a contemporary sheen. The evocative "Margarita" is not only the best ballad on the album but one of Alpert's best of the era.


    Not surprisingly a lot of FANDANGO has a bit of romance in it. "Quiereme Tal Como Soy (Love Me the Way I am)" features a vocal from Alpert and has a bit of cinematic sweep courtesy of arranger Michel Colombier. This album ends on a good, invigorating note with "Latin Medley" (Frensi, Bahia, Moliendo Cafe, Porompompero) all but having Alpert and the group show off their chops in great fashion. "Fandango" is all but a roll-call of late '70s, early '80s studio players like Carlos Rios, Paulinho Da Costa and Freddy Washington among others. The star here however is Alpert and FANDANGO is an album that is worth the raves and devotees fierce love.

    Rating: 8

  • GEORGE MCCRAE JULY 1977 INTERVIEW

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    In search of a new sound, George McCrae moved to New York to record his "Diamond Touch" album. But U.S. sales ain't been all they might have been. Where to now for the "Rock Your Baby" man?

    SINCE exploding on the unsuspecting world with the multi million selling disco classic, "Rock Your Baby", even his most ardent supporter would admit that George McCrae has gone rather quiet of late.

    His critics suggested that what McCrae needed was "a change" and that is exactly what George gave us on his last album, "That Diamond Touch", which, despite being released in the States during the winter, still hasn't yet emerged on to the charts.

    It took George from his Miami home to New York to record for the first time — and, instead of his usual production team of H.W. Casey & Rick Finch, better known as the brains behind K.C. & The Sunshine Band, George was produced by Greg Diamond, whose most recent claim to fame come via Andrea True Connection.

    "I think we needed a new sound," George still admits, despite the lack of sales on his newest album. "After the success of "Rock Your Baby", I felt that we needed something a little more sophisticated — away from the usual T.K. sound. And we certainly got something new, didn't we?"

    But where does he go now? Does a new album mean reverting to the tried and tested Miami sound?

    "It's too soon to know because I don't know the trend. The 'Diamond Touch' album is selling and has been accepted in the discos. And now that 'I'm Gonna Stay With My Baby Tonight' has hit the R&B singles chart, it may all end up differently even for the album.

    "Of course, 'Love In Motion' did well around the discos on a 12" release. The once thing I liked about the album was that it had something for everybody in there and since it was my first time recording out of Miami, I'm feeling satisfied with it.

    "But there is something special about recording in Miami — it's so much more of a freelance kind of thing. Nothing is prearranged and that allows far more creativity. I guess it will all depend on what we are looking for but I would certainly say we'll record in Miami again."

    Of course, another underlying reason for George's holding back concerns his recent, well publicised parting from wife, Gwen McCrae.

    "Yes, well, at the time it was very upsetting and the divorce was something that neither of us planned for. From a career point of view, it probably hasn't hurt or helped either one of us because we have always been two different entities — in fact, the only time we ever came together professionally was when we made that one album together.

    "Although Gwen was the first to record, everything was fine up until 'Rock Your Baby' and then I found myself away from home for weeks at a time and then she had a couple of big hits and we found that when one of us was at home, the other was away and we were just never together.

    "We are still good friends and we have just had to accept it as part of show business."

    Much of George's success has come overseas and I would hasten to add that although he may not be in the winner's circle in his homeland, he can still be counted upon to sell more than a few records in many overseas countries — Britain included.

    "The whole disco thing is bigger over in Europe than in America," he suggests. In fact, I have spent so much time outside of America that I feel almost as much at home in London as I do in Miami.

    "In fact, I have just returned from South Africa where I became the first black performer to play there with a white band. And they even allowed a mixed audience so we broke some barriers down.

    "Yes, I would go back because I was pleasantly surprised by the situation there. But, no, I couldn't live there — I'd feel too closed in, too restricted.

    "We had a British group on the show with us, the Realistics, and they turned out to be a really fine show. Now, I'm working on coming back to Britain for a winter tour."

    But, of course, underneath that cool exterior, George must be concerned with his record-selling status in the States.

    "We actually have an album in the can that I produced myself last summer," he adds. I used my own band, the New Born Band. Although we used them on the 'Diamond Touch' album which was recorded after the other one.

    The band is very mixed — three Cubans and three Anglo-Saxons. The funny thing is that it is hard to find black musicians in Miami who are prepared to travel and since I have to travel so much, I really need a settled band who are with me through thick and thin.

    Meanwhile, in preparation for George's possible autumn tour, RCA are releasing his "Diamond Touch" album this month. Its acceptance should be enough to secure enough bookings to make the tour a viable proposition.