Friday, 6 January 2012

Randy Crawford - You Might Need Somebody (1981)

A track made famous by Shola Ama's 1997 cover, You Might need Somebody was first recorded in 1979 by Randy Crawford. Tom Snow wrote the music for the song and collaborated on the lyrics with Nan O’Byrne pretty much in one sitting, apparently in Bonnie Raitt’s living room one night in 1978; the song was chosen for Randy by her producer Tommy Lipuma  and released on her solo album, Secret Combination, in 1981. The album stayed on the UK charts for sixty weeks and You Might Need Somebody  (her seventh single release in total) reached no.11 on the UK Singles Chart.
The song has been cut by multiple artists through the years; notably by Joe Walsh and most famously, Shola Ama in 1997. Shola Ama’s version reached no.4 on the UK charts and remained in the top 40 for almost 2 months. It broke airplay records in England and topped charts in France, Italy, Germany, Israel, Australia, New Zealand.
It continues to be recorded in many different formats today (Joe Walsh, Mick Fleetwood and Turley Richards among many others have recorded versions) and although it was a hit twice, with Randy Crawford in '79 and eighteen years later with Shola Ama, it never achieved hit status in the US. Go figure.
The song is a great example of the elegant appeal of simplicity; it requires a great vocalist to use it's potential to the fullest - no room for Autotune here. But out all of these versions (even Shola Ama's oh-so-sweet and soulful version of this, which I love), Randy's version has that extra touch of class that shines through for me. The song is purpose-written for her vocal style and it shows; the way she wraps her voice around the words is a classic RC trademark.
A fine example of 'the original and best'.

Club Nouveau - Share Your Love (1989)

Club Nouveau is a contemporary R&B-pop band that was formed in Sacremento, California by record producer/performer Jay King in 1986 in Sacramento, California, subsequent to the breakup of his first group, the Timex Social Club. The original members of Club Nouveau included Denzil Foster, Thomas McElroy, Samuelle Prater, and Valerie Watson. Later members include James L. Richard II, Kevin Irving, David Agent, Walter Phillips, and Mario Corbino. The band's name (French for New Club) was changed from its original incarnation, Jet Set, to exploit the breakup of the Timex Social Club. King was also the creative force behind their hit Rumors, released in 1986.
Club Noveau were signed by Warner Brothers Records, which released their first three albums; the debut album, Life, Love, and Pain, released in 1986, scored the group four consecutive hits: Jealousy (essentially an answer song responding to Rumors), Situation #9, a cover of Bill Withers's Lean on Me, and Why You Treat Me So Bad  (The latter was interpolated by the Luniz on that group's hit single I Got Five on It and by Puff Daddy on Satisfy You). Lean on Me and Why You Treat Me So Bad both made it to no.2 on the Billboard R&B chart the next year, with Lean on Me becoming a big Billboard Hot 100 hit. Jealousy also made an appearance on the soundtrack of the film Modern Girls.The band also recorded a song for the Who's That Girl soundtrack called Step by Step. Club Nouveau's version of Lean on Me won a Grammy award.
Foster and McElroy soon left to form their own production team and focus on working with other acts with some success, most notably with En Vogue and Tony! Toni! Toné!. Prater, who had performed the lead vocals on Lean on Me eventually left as well to pursue a solo career,  tasting solo success with the 1990 smash So You Like What You See, produced by McElroy & Foster.  The replacements were David Agent and Kevin Irving.
The group's next albums - beginning with Listen to the Message - were laced with an evolving social consciousness, though these later albums were not as successful commercially as the group's debut. Notable recordings include a dancehall - influenced version of the gospel classic Oh, Happy Day from the album A New Beginning, and the track featured here; Share your Love, from the 1989 album Under a Nouveau Groove. Never released as a single, Share Your Love is yet another one of those Quiet Storm-style tracks that deserves more recogition; it also proved (along with the slow jams Time and Money Can't Buy You Love from the same album) that even though the line-up of the group had changed by this point, 'Noveau could stand comparison with the best soul acts of the time.
Under A Noveau Groove was a better album than 1988's Listen To The Message, but most people slept on it because no one wanted to hear Club Nouveau after the overly message-laden album predecessor; in my mind that setback plus the change in musical tastes (New Jack Swing was now the sound of the day) meant they never relaimed the lofty heights of their earlier material.
As of 2011, the current Club Nouveau roster consists of Jay King, Valerie Watson English, and Samuelle Prater, (vocals), with James L. Richard II, (guitar, keyboards, vocals).
Thump Records issued a greatest hits compilation album, and Club Nouveau occasionally regroups to record.

Soul Family Sensation - I Don't Even Know If I Should Call You Baby (1990 & 1991))

In 1989 Johnny Male teamed up with Guy Batson and Jhelisa Anderson to begin the project Soul Family Sensation. Their debut album New Wave was praised by the UK media as was the single, I Don't Even Know If I Should Call You Baby. 
Despite interest from the style press and radio play for the single release, SFS bombed. Too white for the dance kids, too black for the indie kids it seemed, SFS were stuck in a sort of no-mans land inbetween.
I Don't Even Know If I Should Call You Baby was re-released in 1991 and spent 4 weeks in the UK Charts, reaching no.49.
Their second LP, Burger Habit, recorded without Jhelisa under the band name of Sensation, disappeared without a trace and SFS split. Male,  after reputedly writing songs for Jimmy Nail, turned up next in Republica.
Jhelisa Anderson of course has become an accomplished solo artist singing, writing & producing under the name Jhelisa. She has made two albums and struck gold with Friendly Pressure. Her sister is P.Y. or Pamela Anderson (No, not that one) who sang with D*Note and Incognito and of course, her cousin is Carleen Anderson, daughter of Vicki Anderson & Bobby Byrd.
I've loved this song since day one, both versions here are absolutely sublime. Don't be misled by the alternate title of the remix, it's another version of the same song but remixed by the iconic producer Marshall Jefferson, produced just before he took a break from music in 1990; he then returned to DJing in 1993.

Original 1990 version

1991 re-release