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Chicago 17 is the fourteenth studio album by American band Chicago, released on May 14, 1984. It was the group’s second release for Full Moon/Warner Bros. Records, their second album to be produced by David Foster and their last with founding bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera.
Chicago 16 finally gave Chicago a big hit after a four-year drought, thanks in large part to new producer David Foster, who steered the jazz-rock veterans toward a streamlined, crisply produced pop direction on that 1982 effort. Given that success, it’s no surprise that the septet teamed with Foster again for its next album, 1984’s Chicago 17 (apparently Roman numerals were left behind along with their progressive jazz-rock).
It’s also no surprise that Foster took an even greater control of 17, steering the group further down the adult contemporary road and pushing Peter Cetera toward the front of the group, while pushing the horns toward the back. Indeed, it’s often possible to not notice the horns on 17; they either fade into the background or meld seamlessly with the synthesizers that are the primary instruments here, providing not just the fabric but foundation of nearly all the arrangements, as synth bass and drum machines replaced the rhythm section. This did not sit well with many longtime fans — and it may have also caused some tension within the group, since Cetera left after this album — but it did make for the biggest hit album in Chicago‘s history, going quadruple platinum and peaking at number four on the Billboard charts.
A big reason for its success is the pair of hit ballads in “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re the Inspiration,” two big and slick dramatic ballads that each peaked at number three on the charts and helped set the sound for adult contemporary pop for the rest of the decade; the likes of Michael Bolton and Richard Marx are unimaginable without these songs existing as a blueprint (in fact, Marx sang backup vocals on “We Can Stop the Hurtin'” on 17).
Ballads were a big part of 17 — in fact, these hits and album cuts like “Remember the Feeling” are among the first power ballads, ballads that were given arena rock flourishes and dramatic arrangements but never took the focus off the melody, so housewives and preteens alike could sing along with them. Power ballads later became the province of hair metal bands like Bon Jovi and Poison, but Foster‘s work with Chicago on 17 really helped set the stage for them, since he not only gave the ballads sweeping rock arrangements, but the harder, punchier tunes here play like ballads.
Even when the band turns up the intensity here — “Stay the Night” has a spare, rather ominous beat that suggests they were trying for album-oriented rock; “Along Comes a Woman” has a stiff drum loop and a hiccupping synth bass that suggests dance-pop — the music is still slick, shiny, and soft, music that can appeal to the widest possible audience. 17 did indeed find the widest possible audience, as it ruled radio into late 1985, by which time there were plenty of imitators of Foster‘s style. There may have been plenty of imitators — soon, solo Cetera was one of them, making music that was indistinguishable from this — but nobody bettered Foster, and Chicago 17 is his pièce de résistance, a record that sounded so good it didn’t quite matter that some of the material didn’t stick as songs; as a production, it was the pinnacle of his craft and one of the best adult contemporary records of the ’80s, perhaps the best of them all.
Certainly, it’s hard to think of another adult contemporary album quite as influential within its style as this — not only did it color the records that followed, but it’s hard not to think of Chicago 17 as the place where soft rock moved away from the warm, lush sounds that defined the style in the late ’70s and early ’80s and moved toward the crisp, meticulous, synthesized sound of adult contemporary pop, for better or worse, depending on your point of view
Four singles were released from the album, all of which placed in the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The success of the singles propelled Chicago 17 to achieve an RIAA certification of six times platinum. Chicago 17 remains the biggest-selling album in the band’s history.
A1. Stay The Night (3:48)
A2. We Can Stop The Hurtin’ (4:11)
A3. Hard Habit To Break (4:43)
A4. Only You (3:53)
A5. Remember The Feeling (4:28)
B1. Along Comes A Woman (4:14)
B2. You’re The Inspiration (3:49)
B3. Please Hold On (3:37)
B4. Prima Donna (4:09)
B5. Once In A Lifetime (4:12)
Genre: Soft Rock
Label: Warner Bros. Records
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Les Chants Magnétiques (English title: Magnetic Fields) is the fifth studio album by French electronic musician and composer Jean-Michel Jarre, released on Disques Dreyfus on 22 May 1981. The album was one of the first records to use sampling as a musical element and represents a departure from the sound of Jarre’s previous efforts.
The long first track consists of three distinct movements, the slower second movement being heavily laden with sample work. It was also used as the interval signal of a numbers station of the same name.
The album has official titles in both French and English. The French title, Les Chants Magnétiques is a play on words. Literally translated into English this means “Magnetic Songs” or “Magnetic Singing”. Spoken aloud however, it sounds as “Les Champs Magnétiques” (literally: “Magnetic Fields”), due to the French words chants (songs or singing) and champs (fields) being homophones. As this is not the case in English, the more straightforward title “Magnetic Fields” was used in English.
In the caption for picture 5 on the album’s inner sleeve, the word “champs” in “champs magnétiques” is crossed out and the word “chants” is written above it.
Les Chants Magnétiques was the third of Jean Michel Jarre‘s albums in a row to update Tangerine Dream‘s atmospheric sequencer trance for a synth pop and mainstream crossover audience. The side-long “Les Chants Magnetiques, Pt. 1” is the capstone of the album, while “Pt. 2” through “Pt. 5” move through driving electronic pop and several passages more indebted to Jarre‘s past in the musique concrète scene. It’s often just as melodic and inventive as Oxygène, though not as consistently creative.
A1. Magnetic Fields Part 1 (18:07)
B1. Magnetic Fields Part 2 (3:50)
B2. Magnetic Fields Part 3 (4:41)
B3. Magnetic Fields Part 4 (6:07)
B4. Magnetic Fields Part 5 (The Last Rumba) (3:28)
Genre: Electronic, Instrumental
Label: Polydor Records
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Gerald Rafferty (16 April 1947 – 4 January 2011) was a Scottish singer-songwriter known for his solo hits “Baker Street“, “Right Down the Line” and “Night Owl“, as well as “Stuck in the Middle with You“, recorded with the band Stealers Wheel.
On his second release for United Artists, Gerry Rafferty focuses an equal amount of attention on his lyrics and on the sincerity of the song’s moods to create one his strongest and most heartfelt albums. Delicate, touching, and extremely poignant, Rafferty blankets all of Night Owl‘s tracks with a late-night/early-morning earnestness that is highly effective throughout. Although he managed to do just that with 1978’s City to City, Night Owl generates a stronger intimacy and a genuine romantic feel through Rafferty‘s guitar playing and the way in which his lyrics are sung.
Gerry Rafferty should be sitting on top of the world. Instead, he seems to be carrying its weight on his shoulders. It isn’t every day that an artist breaks a three-year silence and immediately enjoys an international hit like last year’s “Baker Street,” not to mention several successful followups from the same album. But on his new LP, Night Owl, Rafferty shrugs like Atlas when he describes receiving the news that “Baker Street” was Number One in America, where he couldn’t be bothered to tour. “Here we go for one more memory. Way back here in the twentieth century,” he sings with weary bemusement — and complains that his feet hurt.
Those lines are from “The Tourist,” a title that sums up Rafferty’s attitude toward rock & roll: he wouldn’t want to live there, and it isn’t even a particularly nice place to visit. Success will have a tough time spoiling Gerry Rafferty, because he always looks a gift horse in the mouth with his jaundiced eye. But his vision is clear, unclouded by psychoses or contradictions. Unlike, say, Elvis Costello, who’s toured America indefatigably in pursuit of a stardom he purports to despise, Rafferty, the night owl, never blinks.
And what Rafferty sees is as tough, brutal and truthful as anything the New Wave has yet washed up. “You gotta grow,” he sings tersely. “You gotta learn by your mistakes/You gotta die a little every day/To try an’ stay awake.” I’ll stack that unsentimental insight up against the best of Graham Parker or, for that matter, Neil Young.
Gerry Rafferty is the odd man out of rock & roll because his perspective is so radically different. After all, most rock is about instant gratification: we want the world an we want it now — and if we don’t get it, we protest or whine. But, for Rafferty, the present is a piddling blip in time that’s “already gone,” overwhelmed by both the past and the future. “I’m travelin’ this long road with you/Still got a long way to go,” he sings to his wife. No sooner does “Baker Street” hit the jackpot than it’s simply “one more memory/Way back here in the twentieth century.”
Night Owl harks way back to the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries and beyond. Though Rafferty and Hugh Murphy’s production is once again glossy and up to the minute, the music is given an archaic, Gaelic feel through the use of accordions, mandolins, fiddles, recorders and penny whistles. In “Take the Money and Run,” Raphael Ravenscroft’s saxophone wails like a bagpipe on a blasted heath.
Because Gerry Rafferty expects so little from the long haul of life and love, his music is devoid of anger or self-pity — and even of desire. A remarkably unsexy singer, he’s grateful to his wife not because she turns him on, but because she occasionally lightens his gloom with a glimmer of understanding. The inevitable result of such resignation is a certain lack of energy — the blandness that endears Rafferty to AM radio programmers. Thus the new record’s title track begins with great promise as Hugh Burns’ guitar snaps, crackles and pops percussively in the style of Robbie Robertson, only to disappoint when it comes to a sagging Polymoog bridge.
Which brings us to the crucial difference between 1978’s City to City and Night Owl, an album I suspect won’t sell quite as spectacularly. There was an expansiveness to City to City that reflected Rafferty’s relief at having finally extricated himself from the contractual hassles that, according to his version of events, sabotaged Stealers Wheel (the group he co-led with Joe Egan) and kept him out of the studio for years. You could feel the exhilaration in Ravenscroft’s saxophone riff in “Baker Street,” a song about those hassles, while the gospel music that served as a subtext of sorts throughout the LP provided a subliminal uplift.
Night Owl, however, offers no easy, exuberant escapes. The arrangements are dense and clunky, with no open spaces in which soloists can kick up their heels. The gospel influence is gone, replaced by the dour, earthbound strains of country music, and the rhythms tend to trudge — like life itself, in Rafferty’s view.
If Rafferty’s insistence that living is hard, grueling work is admirable for its stubborn integrity, it also encourages him to settle for the merely workmanlike in his music. Night Owl is beautifully and immaculately crafted, but it smacks of a certain cowardice — as if the artist were so wary of being deluded he couldn’t trust even the free play of his own melodic imagination. Because Rafferty doesn’t dare to hope, he doesn’t dare at all, and in playing it suspiciously, Night Owl ultimately pays it safe. Nothing here is as stark as City to City‘s “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart,” as frolicsome as “Mattie’s Rag,” as inspiring as “The Ark” or as ingenious as “Baker Street.”
But when Gerry Rafferty pays yet another modest tribute to his wife, when he sings one more song that’s infinitely sad and infinitesimally hopeful, his refusal to play the role of the hero becomes a kind of hard-bitten heroism. And the melancholy he’d never dream of inflating into melodrama becomes sweetly, profoundly moving.
A1. Days Gone Down (6:27)
A2. Night Owl (6:09)
A3. The Way That You Do It (5:06)
A4. Why Won’t You Talk to Me (3:56)
A5. Get It Right Next Time (4:39)
B1. Take the Money and Run (5:48)
B2. Family Tree (5:55)
B3. Already Gone (4:52)
B4. The Tourist (4:14)
B5. It’s Gonna Be a Long Night (4:22)
Genre: Soft Rock
Label: United Artists Records
Catalog# 5C 062-62700
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The Dream of the Blue Turtles is the first solo album by English musician Sting, released in the United States on 1 June 1985. The album reached number three on the UK Albums Chart. It reached number two on the Billboard 200.
In the US the album spawned four singles, “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free“, “Fortress Around Your Heart“, “Russians” and “Love Is the Seventh Wave“. The album earned Grammy nominations for Album of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Jazz Instrumental Performance and Best Engineered Recording.
The Police never really broke up, they just stopped working together — largely because they just couldn’t stand playing together anymore and partially because Sting was itching to establish himself as a serious musician/songwriter on his own terms. Anxious to shed the mantle of pop star, he camped out at Eddy Grant‘s studio, picked up the guitar, and raided Wynton Marsalis‘ band for his new combo — thereby instantly consigning his solo debut, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, to the critical shorthand of Sting‘s jazz record. Which is partially true (that’s probably the best name for the meandering instrumental title track), but that gives the impression that this is really risky music, when he did, after all, rely on musicians who, at that stage, were revivalists just developing their own style, and then had them jam on mock-jazz grooves — or, in the case of Branford Marsalis, layer soprano sax lines on top of pop songs.
This, however, is just the beginning of the pretensions layered throughout The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Only twice does he delve into straightforward love songs — the lovely measured “Consider Me Gone” and the mournful closer, “Fortress Around Your Heart” — preferring to consider love in the abstract (“If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” one of his greatest solo singles, and the childish, faux-reggae singalong “Love Is the Seventh Wave”), write about children in war and in coal mines, revive a Police tune about heroin, ponder whether “Russians love their children too,” and wander the streets of New Orleans as the vampire Lestat.
This is a serious-minded album, but it’s undercut by its very approach — the glossy fusion that coats the entire album, the occasional grabs at worldbeat, and studious lyrics seem less pretentious largely because they’re overshadowed by such bewilderingly showy moves as adapting Prokofiev for “Russians” and calling upon Anne Rice for inspiration. And that’s the problem with the record: with every measure, every verse, Sting cries out for the respect of a composer, not a pop star, and it gets to be a little overwhelming when taken as a whole. As a handful of individual cuts — “Fortress,” “Consider Me Gone,” “If You Love Somebody,” “Children’s Crusade” — he proves that he’s subtler and craftier than his peers, but only when he reins in his desire to show the class how much he’s learned.
A1. If You Love Someone Set Them Free (4:14)
A2. Love Is The Seventh Wave (3:30)
A3. Russians (3:57)
A4. Children’s Crusade (5:00)
A5. Shadows In The Rain (4:56)
B1. We Work The Black Seam (5:409
B2. Consider Me Gone (Congas by Eddy Grant) (4:219
B3. The Dream Of The Blue Turtles (1:15)
B4. Moon Over Bourbon Street (3:59)
B5. Fortress Around Your Heart (4:48)
Genre: Pop, Jazz-fusion
Label: A&M Records
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Noord-Amerikaanse band rondom de broers Mark en Clark Seymour. De Mark & Clark Band scoort in 1977 een Top 10-hit met ‘Worn Down Piano‘. Ook scoort de band een hitje met ‘When It Comes To Love’. Paul Sheffer (bandleider van David Letterman) speelt piano op het album “Double Take” (1977).
“Worn Down Piano”, ruim acht minuten durende volledige versie, was een opvallende orkestrale compositie met een tijdloze schoonheid. “Als kitch bestaat in de muziek, dan is het zoiets als dit nummer. En dan hebben de gebroeders Seymour het gelijk tot kunst verheven. Een klein epos met een mooi verhaal.
De rest van het songmateriaal was van die typische midden-jaren-zeventig-pianopop die zelfs toen al het ene oor in en het andere weer uit ging. Daarvan is de single “When It Comes To Love”, destijds de opvolger die nog goed was voor een bescheiden hitnotering, het meest geslaagde voorbeeld.
De zingende en piano spelende broers blijken in de Verenigde Staten nog altijd een goede boterham te verdienen met een kitscherige liedjesshow waarin Worn Down Piano het hoogtepunt is. Hun platencarrière ging destijds voortvarend van start met Double Take, het album rond de single, maar hield begin jaren tachtig al op. (translate: https://www.bing.com/translator)
A1. Worn Down Piano (8:08)
A2. Jigsaw Women (3:02)
A3. When It Comes to Love (3:30)
A4. Sidestreets (3:50)
B1. You Will Make It Someday (3:41)
B2. Cold Corporate Dealings (4:05)
B3. Your Point of View (3:13)
B4. Double Take (3:30)
B5. A Drinking Man’s Concerto (4:38)
Label: CBS Records
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Little Creatures is the sixth studio album by American new wave band Talking Heads, released in June 1985. The album examines themes of Americana and incorporates elements of country music, with many of the songs featuring steel guitar. It was voted as the best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll and is the band’s biggest-selling studio album, with over two million copies sold in the US.
Talking Heads‘ most immediately accessible album, Little Creatures eschewed the pattern of recent Heads albums, in which instrumental tracks had been worked up from riffs and grooves, after which David Byrne improvised melodies and lyrics.
The songs on Little Creatures, most of which were credited to Byrne alone (with the band credited only with arrangements) sounded like they’d been written as songs. Perhaps as one result, the band had been streamlined, with extra musicians used only for specific effects rather than playing along as an ensemble.
Byrne, who was singing in his natural range for once, frequently was augmented with backup singers. The overall result: ear candy. Little Creatures was a pop album, and an accomplished one, by a band that knew what it was doing. True, Byrne‘s lyrics were still intriguingly quirky, but even his subject matter was becoming more mature. “I’ve seen sex and I think it’s okay,” he sang on “Creatures of Love,” and suddenly the geek had become a man.
Where he had once pondered the hopes of boys and girls, he was now making observations about children. And even if his impulses remained strange — “I wanna make him stay up all night,” he declared about a baby (presumably not his own) in “Stay Up Late” — he retained his charm and inventiveness. Little Creatures was, in a sense, Talking Heads lite.
It was hard to think of this as the same band that produced “Psycho Killer.” But for the band’s expanding audience, who made this their second platinum album, that was okay. And their popularity was being accomplished with no diminution in their creativity.
A1. And She Was (3:37)
A2. Give Me Back My Name (3:20)
A3. Creatures Of Love (4:12)
A4. The Lady Don’t Mind (4:03)
A5. Perfect World (4:26)
B1. Stay Up Late (3:51)
B2. Walk It Down (4:42)
B3. Television Man (6:10)
B4. Road To Nowhere (4:19)
Genre: Art Rock
Label: EMI Records
Catalog# 1C 064-240352-1
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Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in London in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Pick Withers (drums and percussion). The band became one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with records sales of over 100 million.
Rushed out less than nine months after the surprise success of Dire Straits‘ self-titled debut album, the group’s sophomore effort, Communiqué, seemed little more than a carbon copy of its predecessor with less compelling material. Mark Knopfler and co. had established a sound (derived largely from J.J. Cale) of laid-back shuffles and intricate, bluesy guitar playing, and Communiqué provided more examples of it. But there was no track as focused as “Sultans of Swing,” even if “Lady Writer” (a lesser singles chart entry on both sides of the Atlantic) nearly duplicated its sound.
Communiqué was recorded from 28 November to 12 December 1978 at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, and mixed in January 1979, in New York. The album was produced by Barry Beckett and Jerry Wexler, veteran producers from Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
The album cover was designed by Phonogram’s advertising agency Grant Advertising UK. It won album cover of the year in the NME awards in 1979.
A1. Once Upon a Time in the West (5:25)
A2. News (4:14)
A3. Where Do You Think You’re Going? (3:49)
A4. Communiqué (5:49)
B1. Lady Writer (3:45)
B2. Angel of Mercy (4:36)
B3. Portobello Belle (4:29)
B4. Single-Handed Sailor (4:42)
B5. Follow Me Home (5:50)
Genre: Pop Rock
Label: Vertigo Records
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Confrontation is a reggae album by Bob Marley & the Wailers, released posthumously in May 1983, two years after Marley‘s death. The songs on this album were compiled from unreleased material and singles recorded during Marley’s lifetime.
A posthumous collection produced by Rita Marley, based on work left behind by Bob upon his death. Some of his best post-Wailers work is here, with songs like “Buffalo Soldier,” “Chant Down Babylon,” and “Blackman Redemption.” Given that he wasn’t alive to do the production that he usually helped in, this album seems remarkably true to the general vision of Bob Marley‘s albums.
Other somewhat lesser-known tracks also help to fill in all of the cracks with some remarkable material. Case in point: “Jump Nyabinghi,” a nice danceable groove with perhaps less of the usual politics mixed in, but with just as much musicality. Overall, any Bob Marley fan ought to own this album. For the uninitiated, Legend is always the starting point, but, after that, this may not be such a bad choice for additions to the collection.
Many of the tracks were built up from demos, most notably Jump Nyabinghi where vocals from the I-Threes were added, which were not there when Marley released the song as a dubplate in 1979.
In addition the harmony vocals on “Blackman Redemption” and “Rastaman Live Up” are performed by the I-Threes in order to give the album a consistent sound – on the original single versions they are performed by The Meditations. The most famous track on the album is “Buffalo Soldier.”
A1. Chant Down Babylon (2:36)
A2. Buffalo Soldier (4:15)
A3. Jump Nyabinghi (3:43)
A4. Mix Up, Mix Up (5:02)
A5. Give Thanks And Praises (3:15)
B1. Blackman Redemption (3:33)
B2. Trench Town (3:12)
B3. Stiff Necked Fools (3:25)
B4. I Know (3:20)
B5. Rastaman Live Up! (5:23)
Label: Tuff Gung/Island Records
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On the surface of things, Combat Rock appears to be a retreat from the sprawling stylistic explorations of London Calling and Sandinista! The pounding arena rock of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” makes the Clash sound like an arena rock band, and much of the album boasts a muscular, heavy sound courtesy of producer Glyn Johns. But things aren’t quite that simple.
Combat Rock contains heavy flirtations with rap, funk, and reggae, and it even has a cameo by poet Allen Ginsberg — if this album is, as it has often been claimed, the Clash‘s sellout effort, it’s a very strange way to sell out. Even with the infectious, dance-inflected new wave pop of “Rock the Casbah” leading the way, there aren’t many overt attempts at crossover success, mainly because the group is tearing in two separate directions. Mick Jones wants the Clash to inherit the Who‘s righteous arena rock stance, and Joe Strummer wants to forge ahead into black music. The result is an album that is nearly as inconsistent as Sandinista!, even though its finest moments — “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “Rock the Casbah,” “Straight to Hell” — illustrate why the Clash were able to reach a larger audience than ever before with the record.
During this period, drummer Topper Headon escalated his intake of heroin and cocaine. His occasional drug usage had now become a habit that was costing him £100 per day and undermining his health. This drug addiction would be the factor that would later push his bandmates to fire him from The Clash, following the release of Combat Rock.
The album had the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg during the recording and mixing stages. After early recording sessions in London, the group relocated to New York for recording sessions at Electric Lady Studios in November and December 1981. Electric Lady Studio was where the band had recorded its previous album Sandinista! in 1980.
While recording the album in New York, Mick Jones lived with his then-girlfriend Ellen Foley. Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon stayed at the Iroquois Hotel on West 44th Street, a building famed for being the home of actor James Dean for two years during the early 1950s.
After finishing the New York recording sessions in December 1981, the band returned to London for most of January 1982. Between January and March, The Clash embarked on a six-week tour of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Thailand. During this tour, the album’s cover photograph was shot by Pennie Smith in Thailand in March 1982.
A1. Know Your Rights (3:40)
A2. Car Jamming (3:58)
A3. Should I Stay Or Should I Go (3:06)
A4. Rock The Casbah (3:42)
A5. Red Angel Dragnet (3:46)
A6. Straight To Hell (5:26)
B1. Overpowered By Funk (feat. Futura 2000) (4:52)
B2. Atom Tan (2:27)
B3. Sean Flynn (4:30)
B4. Ghetto Defendant (4:43)
B5. Inoculated City (2:40)
B6. Death Is A Star (3:08)
Label: CBS Records
Catalog# CBS 85570
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Low Ride is the 9th studio album by Earl Klugh released in 1983. The album features Klugh’s signature sound of blending “heavy, rhythm-and-blues-oriented background with the feathery sound of Klugh”. Conductor and arranger David Matthews joins Klugh on the orchestrated song “Christina”.
A nice little slice of Jazz fusion. By the cover art on this one, I was expecting something quite different. Side A zips along, a cool 80’s vibe. But, by side B he really starts to wear out his welcome. There really isnt anything here that is particularly innovative or stands out in any way.
All the tracks on Low Ride were written by Earl Klugh and recorded in February and May 1982 at A&M Studios in Los Angeles and Media Sound in New York. The album was produced by Earl Klugh and Roland Wilson. Engineers included Tom Jung, Dave Palmer, Jim Cassell and Andy Hoffman. Dave Palmer assisted Earl Klugh and Roland Wilson with final mixing and track listing. Mastering was undertaken by Bob Ludwig at Masterdisk, New York.
There were connections with other artists all over this album. Most of the album’s personnel were extremely well known. Ronnie Foster and Greg Phillinganes had worked with George Benson (Foster appeared on Benson’s award-winning Breezin’ (1976) LP as well as Benson’s In Flight (1977) and Living Inside Your Love (1979)). Greg Phillinganes also appears on Living Inside Your Love with Earl Klugh amongst others – Earl wrote the title track. Paulinho Da Costa was a popular musician that worked with many artists whilst carving out a very interesting solo career, notably releasing the critically acclaimed club classic Deja Vu. Earl Klugh had honed much of his craft from George Benson. Benson himself did not appear on the Low Ride project due to the fact that he was recording his own album which was released at the same time as Low Ride, entitled In Your Eyes.
Charles Meeks played bass on the album’s lead track Back In Central Park and then appears only on Christina, and If You’re Still In Love With Me (which also features James Bradley, Jr. on drums). Denzil Miller, known affectionately as “Broadway” Miller at the time, plays the solo electric piano on the title track. Lucio Harper appears for one track namely “Just Like Yesterday” which got a lot of airplay on radio in the US and UK though was never released as a single in the UK.
“Back in Central Park” is a departure from much of the other tracks in that it has an underlining “live” party feel to the recording. Featuring the chatter and vocals of Frank Floyd, Merle Miller and Dana Kral, the lead album track was released as a single in the US and UK just ahead of the album’s release by Capitol. The single, available in both 7″ and 12″ formats in the UK scaled the top 10 of the UK Jazz Funk and Soul charts and performed well in the UK Jazz Fusion Forty Chart.
On the title track, the sessions were joined by vocalists Marti McCall, Carolyn Dennis and Myrna Matthews. Orchestral arrangements for If “You’re Still In Love With Me” were in the hands of Johnny Mandel; with Clair Fischer taking care of Christina. Responsibility for all horn arrangements on the album rested with Dave Matthews.
Leading UK Jazz Funk DJ Robbie Vincent played the outstanding track Night Drive on his famous Radio London “Saturday Show” when the album was still only available as an import. This caused a big scurry of fans and DJs to the London record shops that same weekend where import copies quickly sold out. Within two weeks, the album was released officially in the UK by EMI and sold well. Night Drive has been released in an edited format for radio play since but is now restored to full version on all pressings.
The album’s original cover shot was taken by Jerry Farber with the album’s overall design concept led by Pete Parsons.
Low Ride is significant in many regards. It was a dramatic and inspiring collection of contemporary jazz compositions, featuring some of the finest musicians of the time. Earl Klugh himself appeared to really come to the fore with this album and achieved one of the highest points of his career. The album also took its place alongside other albums at the time which included Bob James’ All Around The Town (which featured Earl Klugh), Joe Sample The Hunter, Lonnie Liston Smith Dreams of Tomorrow, McCoy Tyner Looking Out and Sadao Watanabe How’s Everything.
A1. Back In Central Park (3:47)
A2. (If You Want To) Be My Love (5:18)
A3. Low Ride (5:36)
A4. Just Like Yesterday (4:26)
B1. If You’re Still In Love With Me (2:37)
B2. I Never Thought I’d Leave You (3:46)
B3. Christina (4:09)
B4. Night Drive (6:48)
Genre: Crossover jazz, Instrumental Pop
Label: Capitol Records
Catalog# 1C 064-400166