Lee Fields – The Faithful Man
Posted on November 10, 2012
Michael J Edwards
“…I believe, making records is like painting a picture…Picasso didn’t just say one day “Okay let me paint the Guernica,” and start painting and then say “Okay there it is!” You know what he did? He would stand back a little bit and say to himself ” No, I think it should be a little more like this…Yeah! That’s cool!” And then he moved on…That’s the way I cut my records.”
Lee Fields enters stage right at the O2 Academy, London Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw http://www.siobhanbradshaw.co.uk/
With two super soulful albums, “My World” (2009) and his most recent “Faithful Man” (2012) released on Brooklyn’s dynamic Truth & Soul Records, Lee Fields is continuing the tradition of the “Real” old school soul singers and performers. It seems Mr Fields is on a mission to educate and entertain as many people as possible with his raw and velvety vocals; deep and emotive lyrics and retro sound courtesy of his splendid backing band The Expressions. Moreover, as became evident during our conversation, it’s all about T.E.A.M! Together Each Achieves More. Lee Fields’ accumulated years of music experience makes him the perfect foil/ communicator/human conductor of the sweet soul vision of two men, Jeff Silverman and Leon Michels when they founded the Truth & Soul Record label back in 2004.
UK Vibe’s & Soul Discovery Michael “The Dood” Edwards was granted some quality one on one time with the youthful and gracious soul veteran Mr Lee fields prior to his spell-bounding performance at London’s O2 Academy to discuss his kinship with Truth & Soul Records; his musical influences and much more. Moreover he discovers that Lee Fields is a “Faithful Man” in more ways than one.
Mr Lee Fields. It’s an honour and a privilege on behalf of all true soul music lovers to be speaking with you tonight. Your music has been a revelation not only to me but many people around the UK, Europe and the world.
Lee Fields: Well thank you so much. I’m just grateful and thankful to all of you and for the love and support we’ve received since we’ve been on the road.
The Dood: You’re like the link to the classic Soul artists of yesteryear. You were there in the early days playing all the dives as they called them, plying your trade and now you’re getting your just rewards in 2012 and beyond.
Lee Fields: I appreciate all the radio stations that play my music, the fans and people such as you for helping us in getting the word out on this record.
The Dood: How old were you when you cut your first record “Let’s Talk It over?”
Lee Fields: It was cut when I was 17 and released when I was 18.
The Dood: Wow! So how did you get into the music business?
Lee Fields: I entered a talent show as a dare… And then I was asked to do a song. Once I did my song everybody went crazy! Ever since then I’ve been busy recording or doing shows, although the 80s were kind of slow.
The Dood: The 80s aside, looking back over your career since 1969 and given your constant touring and recording, it seems you’ve taken over the title from a certain Mr James Brown as being the hardest working man in show business?!
Lee Fields: Yeah! I like to keep in shape. What I try and do is give people a good show. I try to give my all and all in every performance. The people take the time to come and see you – Spend their money to come and see you and support you. I think it’s an artist’s duty to give a good show… The most valuable thing people can give is their time, so at least an artist should give the very best that they can do.
The Dood: Wonderful! I wish a lot of today’s artists/acts could hear what you said just then. Who were some of your musical influences growing up, whether vocally or instrumentally?
Lee Fields: The Beatles; James Brown; Sam Cooke; Otis Redding; Wilson Pickett. I like the Stones. I like O.V Wright, Solomon Burke – People like that
The Dood: Are you aware of the ever increasing groundswell of love, affection and demand for your “Real” kind of soul music that has led to a resurgence of other original soul artist like yourself – Great acts like Charles Bradley; Rick Webb; Jerry Wilder; Stan Ivory; Oliver Cheetham; Al Mason and many more?
Lee Fields: That’s the beautiful thing! I see all these young people coming out and I’m so appreciative. Because it’s just such a beautiful thing; I cannot even find the words to describe how wonderful I feel. The audiences are just so enthusiastic and I get enthused from them. I’m generating energy off the audience and they’re generating energy off of me. It’s such a beautiful thing. I wish i could find the words to describe it, because I really would like to.
Then don’t forget I’ve got The Expressions behind me. The way they play is like The Bar-kays. Many people say that we have a sound similar to James (Brown) or Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as those people is mind blowing.
The Dood: Staying on that theme, the sound that you’ve recreated on both these albums “My World” and “Faithful Man” is like you’ve gone back in time and recorded them in the Stax studios or Muscle Shoals studios. They have that rawness to them. How did you achieve that?
Lee Fields: Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman – these are the producers, and they wanted to get an authentic sound. I have to applaud these guys ability to be able to record such quality, I can’t even describe it. And it’s a wonderful gift to be recording with all of these talented young folks… I’m having the time of my life!
Lee Fields: It was recorded in the Truth & Soul studios in Brooklyn, New York. Jeff Silverman and Leon Michels are two of the most prolific producers of this time! Just being in the midst of all this talent man, I can’t even explain to you. I’m like a kid in a candy store man! (Laughs).
The Dood: I know that it’s got to the stage now that when they call you to come to the studio, you say “I’m there!” Because you have such an understanding, whether it’s a song they’ve written for you or one that you’ve put forward yourself. Would it be fair to say they’ve enhanced your musical identity?
Lee Fields: When we get together it’s a treat just to be there recording man! We get so much done, so much accomplished. Everybody checks their egos in at the door and everybody becomes focused. Also I’d like to say that there is a new group on the label too – “Lady.” They’ve got a new album coming out very soon. They’re female group called “Lady.” It’s a female group comprised of Terri Walker and Nicole Wray. In fact Terri Walker is from the UK. And i’ve got to take my hat off; I think the girls are going to have a great record.
The Dood: Excellent. Thanks to the heads up on that one. Back to your new album – I love it! Every track is like an individual masterpiece. One that really gets me every time I listen to it is “Wish You Were Here.”
Lee Fields: I had no idea that when I cut that song my father would soon pass away.
The Dood: Here’s the thing, my mother also passed away earlier this year and the poignancy of that song really hits home.
Lee Fields: I’m sorry to hear that. But you get good a feeling though right?
The Dood: 100%! So I have to thank you for that. You’ve recorded many emotive versions of “Wish You Were Here.” One particular version, which I love, was recorded on top of a building. Where was that filmed?
Lee Fields: That was in Detroit on top of an old motel where a lot of the movie stars used to stay.
The Dood: Studio recording or performing live on stage where you can see the eyeballs of your fans -what do you prefer?
Lee Fields: Really, I like both equally… Because recording gives this me a certain sense of satisfaction – But also when I perform live that gives me another sense of satisfaction. So I definitely like both.
The Dood: The music world recently lost a gentleman named Terry Callier, whose career funnily enough has parallels with yours in that his music was forgotten and then rediscovered by a new genre of music lovers. Were you aware of the man and his music?
Lee Fields: He passed away? I’m so sorry to hear that.
The Dood: Do you agree that there is a similarity between your careers in music? Quality vocalists and writers who aren’t necessarily getting mainstream exposure?
Lee Fields: Yes, I definitely agree and I appreciate people such as you who expose the music so that the young and old can see what we do…We do what we can to make the best music we can make. But it then has to be exposed – somebody has to get the message out to the people. And I take my hat off to everybody that is helping us get the word out about this music.
The Dood: Reverting back to the album, you’ve definitely “Still Got It!” to quote the title of one of the tracks. The feel good song “You’re The Kind of Girl,” where was the video of that recorded?
Lee Fields: The video was recorded in Los Angeles.
The Dood: And that car -where can I get hold of that car?!
Lee Fields: You know I wish it was mine!! (Chortles excitedly)
The Dood: I thought it was one of yours?! It suited you perfectly!
Lee Fields: I was so comfortable in that car. The director said, “Go around the block and come back.” I said “I’ll go around, but I wasn’t planning on coming back!” (Laughs) It was a good driving car.
The Dood: Do you have any plans in the future to record a live album with your producers and The Expressions?
Lee Fields: I’m glad you mentioned that, I never thought about that. I’m going to mention it to the guys as soon as I get back.
The Dood: While on the topic of The Expressions, tell me something about this band? They’ve got previous right, having recorded with Aloe Blacc and Jay-Z to name a few. They’re something special?!
Lee Fields: The Expressions are our in-house recording band and they travel with us on the road. The band line-up varies from time to time because the gigs are coming up so quick now that some of the guys already have themselves obligated. For example, on the UK date we have Mr Benjamin Trokan on bass; Rudy Petschauer on drums; Mike Buckley on sax; Vincent John on guitar; Toby Pazner on keys and Jason Colby on trumpet. So it fluctuates – But the sound never changes.
The Dood: Basically you’ve got a solid musical template in which these guys can interchange and when you hit town it will be 100% in your face?!
Lee Fields: It will be 100% pure unadulterated soul!!
The Dood: And I know you like to put some silky dance moves in there for the ladies. Can we expect to see you cutting-a-dash on the stage tonight?
Lee Fields: It’s gonna be the real thing! We’re going to be down and ready to put it down!
The Dood: Later this month (November 2012) I’m meeting with a gentleman by the name of Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool and the Gang. What was your relationship/interaction with Kool and the Gang from back in the day?
Lee Fields: Listen, I haven’t seen Kool in 40 years man!!! I auditioned as a lead vocalist for them. They’re one of the greatest bands on the planet man! I think I should have been a little bit more serious. Tell Kool i said Hi.
The Dood: No problem. I know you’re a big fan of the Stax record label and the Stax sound from back in the day. Have you ever thought about putting together an equivalent to the Stax reviews of the 60s featuring acts like Sam and Dave and Booker T and the MG’s, but with the current crop of soulful artists like Charles Bradley who I mentioned earlier?
Lee Fields: Well Charles and I went on tour together about 2 years ago!
The Dood: Okay, because those would be hot tickets if they had three or four of you hitting the stage on the same Bill doing a review.
Lee Fields: Yes, it was very successful, so who knows.
The Dood: Can we anticipate any Lee Fields duets in the near future, maybe with your Truth & Soul label mates “Lady?”
Lee Fields: Well hopefully I’ll be doing something with “Lady,” I would love to do something with them. Leon (Michels) mentioned something to me that it might be a possibility. I really would love to do it.
The Dood: Fabulous! I understand you just arrived in the UK from Barcelona via Madrid on the latest leg of your European tour. How long have you been on the road so far?
Lee Fields: Basically, we’ve been on the road steadily ever since May (2012), with maybe a couple of weeks off. It’s been so many cities. We started in Berlin and we’ve been at it now for about 16 days on this tour and we’ve got about eight more days to go, then we go back to the states.
The Dood: Recharge the batteries?!
Lee Fields: Yeah man! My wife and I are going to Virginia to chill out for a minute. But it’s been all go! – Which I’m happy about. I’m not complaining at all! No complaints!
The Dood: Well I can see a youthful glint in your eye, like a teenager!
Lee Fields: I’m very very happy with regards to the things that are happening in my life right now. Very very pleased! It’s hard work, but I have a good work ethic. Continuous hard work, that’s my work ethic. I’m serious!
The Dood: How many tracks did you write on the Faithful Man album?
Lee Fields: I collaborated on three tracks – “You’re the Kind of Girl,” “It’s All over but the Crying” and I can’t remember the third track at this present time. But the rest of it man…! This writing team that we have on this album is so great, that when they come up with a song, there ain’t nothing else to put in there man, I just leave it as it is! When somebody’s got it right, only a selfish person would say, “I want to change this and that.” If it’s right, there ain’t no use in changing nothing.
The Dood: So, there’s obviously been some magic dust sprinkled over the Truth & Soul studios?
Lee Fields: What’s happening with Truth & Soul right now is that they’ve got so many talented individuals over there and everybody is in concert with everybody else. So there’s no one within the organisation stopping things from flowing smoothly.
The Dood: Are you referring to just the artists?
Lee Fields: I’m talking about the whole collective of individuals – artists; press; writers; producers; everything!
The Dood: Would you go as far as to say that the guys at Truth & Soul are creating their own distinctive sound and family vibe similar to what Berry Gordy did with Motown records?
Lee Fields: It wouldn’t surprise me, and not even adding me to the ingredients. Because if the people over at Truth & Soul keep the elements that they have and keep their level minds, it wouldn’t surprise me if they can do something on the level of a Motown. Because they’re young enough and ambitious and they DEFINITELY have the talent!
The Dood: The best compliment I can pay the “Faithful Man” album and “My World” set is that if I was blind-folded and asked to listen to them, I would think they were recorded in the early 60s or ‘70s. They have that raw earthiness to them. Every track is a mini masterpiece. And your voice is amazing! I’m curious as to how you keep your vocal chords in such good condition. Do you drink honey and lemon?
Lee Fields: Yes, I do all of that, honey and lemon, as well as taking throat lozenges. And I drink a lot of hot stuff.
The Dood: There’s something you’re not telling me. I know there’s a fountain of youth that you have access to and you’re not telling anybody where it is?
Lee Fields: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
The Dood: It’s amazing! It seems like you’ve got this energy about you which just radiates throughout the band and everyone else in your proximity. You emit this vibe, this soul, this feeling, whatever it is keep on doing it because we love what you’re doing and what your about.
Lee Fields: I truly appreciate that.
The Dood: How many times have you been to the UK to date?
Lee Fields: About four or five times because it each time we play in a different city. And I’m very much looking forward to tonight’s show!
The Dood: Your early recordings from the 60s and 70s have become very much in demand collectors’ items, exchanging hands for some big figures. Did that surprise you when you found out about it?
Lee Fields: Yes it did, because if I knew there were going to become collectors’ items man, I would have pressed up some for myself!!
The Dood: (Belly Laugh!) So are you not receiving any residuals from these records at all?!
Lee Fields: Oh yes! I get residuals from the albums being played. And I’ve made a deal to be compensated for any re-released records. But if I had known they were going to be that popular I would have got a few of them for myself because they’re selling very healthily.
The Dood: When you record a record, do you make it for Lee Fields first and if anyone else appreciates it then it’s a bonus?
Lee Fields: It’s easier for me to make it for myself, because it’s easier to please one person than it is to please a bunch of people – which in this case is me. I want things to be right. And if I can get it to the point where I think things are right then I’m happy. I’m my own worst critic.
The Dood: So in the recording studio are you a one take person or would you re-record until you nail it?
Lee Fields: Sometimes it’s done in one take and sometimes we’d redo it if need be. But you know what I believe? I believe, making records is like painting a picture…Picasso didn’t just say one day “Okay let me paint the Guernica,” and start painting and then say “Okay there is!” You know what he did? He would stand back a little bit and say to himself “No, I think it should be a little more like this…Yeah! That’s cool!” And then he moved on.
So that’s the way I cut my records. I cut my records as if I’m making a piece of art. Like a sculpture – you just chisel a little bit off at a time until you get each song. “Oh man! I captured the mood I was trying to capture in the song according to the lyrics.”
The Dood: Like the deeply emotional “It’s All Over but the Crying,”
Lee Fields: Yes, that’s a very emotional song. As a matter of fact we’re going to put that into the show too! We just put “Moonlight Mile” into the show – Because a lot of people like all the songs on this (Faithful Man) album. And then I’m still doing some of the old album, “My World.”
The Dood: Oh yes! The track “Honey Dove,” is already becoming an underground classic. It’s like a snowball effect. It’s got to the stage now where you can’t do a show without performing it.
Lee Fields: I’m so pleased that people have gravitated to the music this way and I really want to say thank you to all the people that are helping me such as yourself and the public that support us with the record – I’m so happy!
The Dood: It’s fair to say that music has been your life…
Lee Fields: Yes, for sure!
The Dood: …And as the saying goes “There’re only two kinds of music: good and bad and I’m into good.” There’s good jazz; there’s good soul; there’s good funk; there’s good news. Lee Fields you encapsulates all of the above – you have that bluesy Tyrone Davis feel, the funk of a James Brown, the rawness of a Wilson Pickett or O.V Wright or an Otis Redding…
Lee Fields: Yes, all of those guys of influenced me.
The Dood: …Growing up around all this great music, did you get to see any of these acts performing live?
Lee Fields: I had privileged and treat of seeing people like O.V Wright; Percy Sledge… I saw Wilson Pickett. I saw James Brown perform in his heyday!
The Dood: Wow! Where did you see him perform?
Lee Fields: I saw him in about 1964. He came to the Reid Street community Centre in Wilson, North Carolina.
The Dood: How old were you at that time?
Lee Fields: In ‘64 I must have been about 13 or 14.
The Dood: That must have blown your mind!!!
Lee Fields: Yeah man! We were outside when they were rehearsing. They were sound checking. And we could hear the track “Shout and Shimmy” which was hot at the time…
(Lee sings the opening lines of “Shout and Shimmy”: “Here we go! You know I feel all right children!”)
Lee Fields: …When he did that, I was just totally amazed! Listening on the outside and hearing him in a room and in singing that darn hit – that damn song so powerfully! And then later in the night I got to see the show, it was just unbelievable! It’s something that you don’t forget. It was unforgettable!
Otis Redding was a great influence on my life as well. I never got to see Otis though, but I would have loved to have seen him. Never got a chance to see him, but I would have loved to see Otis Redding live.
The Dood: Have you ever thought of throwing a tribute song to one of these artists into your live shows?
Lee Fields: Maybe down the road. I did one Otis tune, I did, “These Arms of Mine.” Like I said maybe down the line, but right now Truth & Soul has so much going on with what they’re doing I wouldn’t want to break the momentum.
The Dood: Do you have any siblings following you into the profession?
Lee Fields: No, I wish I did, but none of the kids are following me into music. I was hoping that at least one of them would follow through into music but none of them did.
The Dood: Tell me about your writing. Have you always been writing since the age of 17/18? What was the first song you actually wrote?
Lee Fields: The first song that I wrote and recorded was “Let’s Talk It Over.”
The Dood: Which is very much in demand, as we discussed earlier?
Lee Fields: Yes. And I write when I get truly in that mood, especially now with so many great writers around me; so many good ideas floating around. I definitely try to be in that mood so I can do my best. Since I’ve been on the road it’s kind of hard to write out here, because we do one show, then leave and then ride all day, and then I give all I can give that night.
The Dood: When is your most creative time for writing and do you carry a dict-a-phone around with you?
Lee Fields: I write any time. And I’ve got my iPhone and I’m writing some stuff now… When I get an idea I jot it down, hit the record and put it down…I’m writing a bunch of stuff now, but I don’t know if we’re going to use it on the new album or not because when we come together as a group, most of the time we seem to be more effective.
The Dood: Like a mastermind team?
Lee Fields: Yep!
he Dood: It sounds like you and the guys at Truth & Soul have another two or three albums worth of material already in the library?
Lee Fields: We’re going to start recording the next album hopefully around March of next year (2013). Right now we’re so busy with a lot of shows.
The Dood: How has the rest of Europe received you?
Lee Fields: They showed much love! As much love as they could show they showed! Most of the night we did about two encores – One encore is sufficient, but if they don’t stop with the chanting and stuff we’ll come back… But they showed so much love I can’t even explain in detail.
The Dood: You recently played in Madrid. Was that the first time that you’ve been on the Bill with the evergreen Mavis Staples?
Lee Fields: That was my first time meeting her. I met her and she’s a very, very nice lady! And she and her sisters were so nice to me. Man, it was so wonderful to see them!
The Dood: I feel a duet coming up maybe? (Laughs)
Lee Fields: I would love to do a duet with Mavis Staples!
The Dood: Staying on that theme; is there anybody else whether young or old you would like to cut a tune with?
Lee Fields: There is a jazz singer called Robin Keller. I think I would like to do a duet with her. As a matter of fact we did one on her album, she is a jazz artist. We did one on her album and released in the summer. She made a high numbers in the jazz charts over in France. But I would like to do another duet with her. There are so many people I would like to do a duet with. As long as it could be something moving which touches the pulse of the public, I’m down.
The Dood: Dipping back into the “My World” album, the track “Ladies” is a real crowd pleaser. What is the background to the writing of that track?
Lee Fields: We had this track and somebody mentioned that it sounded like a summertime track. And we all started talking about summertime and ladies. So we all collaborated and the words just came naturally.
The Dood: It flowed?
Lee Fields: Yeah!
The Dood: And another track from the same album, which is quite relevant at this time is, “Money I$ King.” Can you expand on this track/
Lee Fields: Well, I believe that “Money I$ King” is a message song really. Some people nowadays are holding money as their God… Money is a good thing, but when you worship money, when you think that’s all there is, it becomes your God. And you can’t serve two gods. You’ve got to serve either God or you serve money or whatever your God maybe. But the real God with the big “G,” you’ve got to put Him first. And a lot of people today are highlighting just material things, it’s in all the videos and stuff.
They’re glorifying material things and the things that money can buy to an extent where people can become lost at some point. It’s good to sing about these things and have a good time, but always keep in mind that there is a higher power. That’s what I do! It keeps me level and it keeps me focused. Because it’s so easy to get lost out here in this world man! You get lost in things; all things are going to be here forever, people are not going to be here forever.
The Dood: We’re just passing through?
Lee Fields: We’re passing through! Our purpose is to come here and know right from wrong and do the best you can.
The Dood: Finally, is there anything you would like to say the youth of the world, the up-and-coming musicians and vocalists?
Lee Fields: I would tell up-and-coming vocalist or musicians or anybody who wants to get into the entertainment business – pursue your dream with all your heart and soul, but realise that you’ve always got to keep in mind that there is a spiritual higher power. And if you keep that in mind you’re not going to go wrong. And you probably will achieve your dream. But always keep in mind that there is a spiritual higher power. Don’t get lost in just material things, the material things will be here when you’re not. And finally, a message for the readers of Soul Discovery & UK Vibe, I would like to tell all the readers of UK Vibe & Soul Discovery to keep your faith above all things in the higher power and all things will come to you.
The Dood: That is the perfect way to end. Thank you for me giving your time and I am very much looking forward to the show.
Lee Fields: Thank you for taking your time and coming over here to interview me. I really do appreciate it!
Michael J Edwards
NB* Special thanks to:-
Mike Lewis, Arthur Romijn, Toby Pazner ,Toby Harman and of course Mr Lee Fields for their collective efforts in making this interview come to fruition.
Lee Fields – My World (Truth & Soul, 2009)
Lee Fields – Faithful Man (Truth & Soul, 2012)
Essay by Grammy Award Winner
A Unique Perspective of Independent Artist & Music Producer
The music business, as is a business in general, is changing. No longer will the recording industry, for example, be confined to giant stained glass skyscrapers in the major cities: technology allows an artist to record top-quality products in comfort of your own living room. Just as the “simplification” of technology allows expensive automobiles and other heretofore complicated-to-produce consumer goods, to be produced in Third World countries, where the literacy rate is very, very low, so too can those of us on the outside, avail our talents to the new advances in musical recording technology. We as independent artists, with the help of technology can become independent producers and record company executives. The internet contributes significantly to the new found ability of artists to be separate from his/ her oppressors - - The main stream companies.
The internet with its ability to allow your music to be seen and heard by millions instantaneously creates all of the needed opportunities for a company to sell its product. Since all of the major record labels in the world have websites the problem of exposure of product to suitable markets becomes in my opinion, a moot one. The internet allows the independent artist/ producer to become concept driven. This means that he or she can concentrate solely on developing new ideas, rather than developing standards to deal with the guys in the record industry boardrooms. The new control of your art brings “power” to bare which had historically eluded many.
The power of inclusion, or the power to include, is one of the more important features of the internet. We are all aware of the historical reality of exclusion experienced by blacks, women, and other minorities. All these groups, despite their being the creators of a great chunk of modern music, reaped very few rewards for their efforts. I believe that by the very nature of the internet’s existence as a media/communication device, that there will be few opportunities for the powers-that-be exclude and exploit non-white people. The internet could very well redefine the most common approaches to relations between “message” and “sender” of message.
The internet would, for example, have served the slaves of the “Old South” quite well. The creation of Blues, the compassionate emergence of Gospel music, the ironic intercourses that became Jazz, and let’s not forget the intelligent expressions in comedic drama and music, which was, called the “Minstrel” show. All of this aspirated human spirit and secular achievement could have actually belonged to Them. The Creators. Of course their political and technological irrelevance prevailed.
The Black people, who Al Jolson imitated, along with the wit that created Amos & Andy, and Porgy & Bess, could not own or control this beautiful art. The politics of race along with the technological power of that era rendered a degrading rape of these gifted souls. It also created fears in these Blacks and others that they were unimportant and delusional. In modern day terms and reality, this fascinating new communication tool allows balance between competition and cooperation. Small independent record or movie companies can take charge of their own destinies, as far as control of their intellectual properties are concerned.
Historically, technological systems, along with the prevailing socio-political realties assume that our society should propagate itself through the dialectics of ideas. Truth, as well as growth, becomes the residue of a negotiated interplay between opposites. In other words, under ideal conditions, the best man, woman, or idea prevails: we though, as compassionate individuals, know that, slavery, racial apartheid, genderism, homophobia, sexism, along with non-white male-ism, have created a playing field which assures a “guaranteed” result. Scott Jolphin and Ragtime then becomes merely cure rumors. The “creators” of the art became the “outsider”.
The individuary and non-restrictive, arbitrary access to the new global community of computers and telephones, provided by the technology called the internet, will provide the “outsiders” with the most advanced techniques of modern advertising and sales. The economic explosion that becomes possible, now extends aristocratic habits to the masses. Mass sales, mass distrubtion, and mass promotion surely attacks unpopular attempts to delay gratification to the masses. Such is the identity of wealth. Such is the theory of a technology which is capable of not only convincing people to buy goods but also release the resources of deflated egos.
No initiated into the truth of technological revolutionary implications are truth without a great credible story which addresses some of the core concepts actualized by this magical, mythical media. These concepts include for the rational and the emotional the follow: economic freedom: competitiveness: autonomy: spontaneity: and social obligation.
The internet allows us small, independents to venture into an uncertain economic climate. We can, through, look ahead with a new confidence which we will have acquired from a new freedom of self. We, through a firm sense of history, can develop business strategies as well as work purely as a “producer”. The technology of the mass illusions allows us limitless and uninterrupted prestige.
According to Donald Barthelme “There is a man known as the “Marivaudian being” who is a pastless, futureless man born anew at every instant”. These instants, according to Barthelme, “points which organize themselves into a line, but what has in sense no history. Nothing follows from what has gone before. He is constantly surprised. He cannot predict his own reactions to events. He is constantly being overtaken by events. A condition of breathlessness and dazzlement surround him.” It is within the context of this truth that I offer this history.
During the late fifties through the early seventies (1959-1971). I had a prevailing passion to write, perform, and own music. I was a member of the Civil Rights radicalism of well being who embraced the notion that an intense exciting and brilliant instrumentalist (saxophonist) and composer could be significant. I had forgotten the plight of those who had gone before me. I had surrendered the histories of Chuck Berry, Lil Richard, and Baby Washington. I had actually believed that my strong individualness would be powerful enough to assume that my tenuous quality of artistic self-hood would not submerge itself, I, as a small town (Wadesboro.N.C.) saxophonist, was doomed to social crisis.
After playing the horn (tenor saxophone) up and down the East coast with everyone from Otis Redding, to Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, I stretched out as a composer and a singer in 1969 with a group called “The Winstons.” I wrote and was the lead singer of a song called Color Him Father, I received a Grammy Award for my efforts, and anxiety, depression, and various discontents which accompanies technological ignorance. The internet would have I believe, allowed me a liberated humanity and personal well-being, which is only available to the self-esteem, that comes from the therapeutic sensibility of self-satisfaction and non-dependence. Presently, i know of an individual, who as a young modern “music man,” has a web page.
His name is Stan Ivory. He, unlike me and “Marivaudian” man has not forgotten. The purpose of this introduction to my good friend is to show the tremendous change that has transpired which allowed the internet to come forth. Stan, whom I’ve known for 25 years, exemplifies all of the prevailing passionate concepts which originates with “access” to technology. Stan has control of his music.
In the age of diminishing expectations, Stan transforms normal expectations of self-preservation. In a violently competitive, and unpredictable business climate, Stan has been able to survive and proper with increasing self-made manness. By writing, producing, and distributing his music, as well as managing other artists, he personifies the opposite of Barthelme’s Marivaudian being. His is not constantly overtaken by events because he does have a sense of history. He understands.
Stan talks about lying in bed as a youngster in Austin, Texas on 1907 East 17th Street, listening to music coming through his bedroom window from the Joints on 12th Street. He heard the Blues being played and sung by B.B. King as well as Bobby Blue Bland. He remembers he experienced through his grandfather Stan Ivory, himself as Blues singer, who sat him on his knee and sang and played the guitar to him, that these men were owned by others. His recollections serve him well. He markets his products over his own Cyberspace site. (http://www.totalcontrolrecords.com)
Stan personifies all of the opposites of “crude” experience I have tried to bring forth in this piece: He understands history: and he understands the relation between technological power and wealth. Most importantly, he pursues economic and political prestige by combining all of this creativity and instantaneously blasting it into Cyberspace. As a final attribute, Stan reaches, with the internet, to influence collective behaviour as a pure correlation of “his” art. In a perfect world, God would intervene and he and others could wipe out poverty and gluttony. Stan agrees that under those unique and complicated type of experiences, creativity as a “pure” process would cease to exist.
The internet allows Stan’s to write, produce, and perform his music. He has his own record label “Total Control,” he manages such acts as: “Face to Face,” “Dazzlin D”, “Hollywood,” and “Faith’s Destiny.” He has produced music videos and is currently contemplating producing his first full length movie.
Stan’s new musical product appears as a CD and is entitled New York Rush. This musical presentation of Pop, Jazz, and the unique combination of African and Blues/ Hip Hop textures fused into this exciting composition and performance, speaks clearly of his creative energy. The appearance of this musical offering on his initial web page precedes a much fuller page offering “Total Control’s” full product line.
The unique combinations of various forms such as presented above would be impossible to sell to major label. The majors would insist, according to Stan, that his music follow a well-worn format which they themselves would designate. Stan proclaims that freedom of artistic expression and therefore, integrity is impossible when there exists splintered authority in the decision making process concerning: how and why his ideas should be presented. He credits historical perspective as well as technological competence, on his watch, with his decisiom to be free strategically.
A fine example of this strategic freedom is his decision to include “House” music on the same CD as African and Blues fused with Jazz and Pop. The majors in the recording arena would question such a bold and risky undertaking, Stan believes that the freedom to make that type of business/ musical decision predates oppression and dependence. The internet allows him a sacred area reserved only for free expression. Of course, the success of his musical autonomy predates even the internet. Stan prior to this technological arrival was making inroads into Canadian, European, as well as the Japanese music markets. He becomes, because of this fact, in my view, the proper evidence for the reliability of “will” and “technology.” He personifies and transcends experience and still can bring us to the internet.
We have tried in this writing to define and examine what makes the internet as an expectation, true. We have also tried to share a historical and present-time argument about “knowledge” and access to “knowledge.” We have throughout this writing assumed that there are uniformities and logic which we believe becomes clearer with modern day technology. I offer the internet as the logical resolution to the problems of artistic dependence. I have no doubt that this offering is sufficient to overcome all practical restraints to economic liberation for small business. The name and category of the independent group may vary, but I believe firmly, that the internet, as a proposition of knowledge, will deliver us from our present day experiences.
In finality, Stan’s grandfather was right. Although he died in a horrible fire aboard a Greyhound bus on his way to a “chitlin’ circuit” gig his truths remain as true as ever: wealth is analogous to freedom and justice, and economic and political prestige as reality is hard to come by. He would be proud of his grandson for actualizing his dreams.
I think his grandfather would be very, very proud! I am.
Ivy George Hunter
Native Detroiter Ivy Jo Hunter was born Ivy George Hunter on August 28th 1940. As a child his parents sent him to music classes where he learned to play the Trumpet and Euphonium. Which pre-teens saw him perform with the Detroit City Youth Orchestra. Ivy’s mother told her son that being a professional musician was a very unsecure future and persuaded him to take up art at High School. Upon leaving High School Ivy also realized the life of an artist was tough going so he joined the army as an electrical engineer. After four years in the service Ivy returned to civilian life and decided to follow his first love and become a full time musician. After a stint of working several different clubs Ivy eventually wound up at one of Detroit’s most renowned clubs, The Phelps Lounge. It was a chance meeting there one afternoon that changed Ivy’s life around. Ivy was rehearsing with the clubs resident band and giving them their instructions as he had done many times before, when a guy who was just having an afternoon drink stepped out the audience and introduced himself as Hank Cosby. Cosby liked what he saw Ivy doing and invited him down to the Motown studios. So in 1963 Ivy Jo Hunter signed four contracts as a writer, producer, artist and artist manager with Motown Records. Cosby was also responsible for introducing Ivy to William “Mickey” Stevenson and thus forming one of Motown’s most accomplished song writing and producing teams of the 60’s. Ivy’s song writing credits can be found on a multitude of songs that achieved top 100 status both in the USA and throughout the world. Some of the highlights being such timeless classics as the Four Tops “Just Ask The Lonely”, The Spinners “I’ll Always Love You”, The Marvelettes “ I’ll Keep Holding On” and the Martha Reeves & The Vandellas seminal anthem “Dancing In The Street”.
“Dancing In The Street” was initially composed as a ballad but Ivy and Mickey struggled to come up with a suitable title. That was until Marvin Gaye intervened, Marvin was chilling out smoking a cigarette in the studio at the time and was listening in to what the guys were doing. He then made the suggestion to call the song “Dancing In The Street” and to make it a up tempo dance number. Thus in doing so earned himself 25% of the song writing royalties. While “Dancing In The Street” was recorded as a innocent dance record it also became an unofficial civil rights anthem with many young disillusioned black activists claiming the title was a call to riot. This was vehemently denied by both Martha Reeves and Berry Gordy. Although “Dancing In The Street” is regarded as Martha & The Vandellas signature tune, other Ivy Jo compositions on the Vandellas included the sublime “My Baby Loves Me” and the driving “You’ve Been In Love To Long” (later covered by Barbara Acklin). Towards the end of his tenure with Motown Ivy was placed with the company’s V.I.P subsidiary. The V.I.P logo had the reputation of being somewhat of a graveyard label for artists and writers who had fallen out of favour with Berry Gordy (even though some of Motown’s finest releases can be found on the label). Here Ivy recorded two 45’s “I Remember When (Dedicated To Beverley) / Sorry Is A Sorry Word (V.I.P 25055) and “I’d Still Love You / I Can Feel The Pain” (V.I.P 25063). An album release was also planned although given a release number (V.I.P.S 406) and a title Ivy Jo’s “In This Bag” no release ever materialized. Ivy was to eventually leave Motown in late 1970. After leaving Motown Ivy later joined forces with his brother John Maxey (who’s day job was that of a special needs teacher) to form the Independent Detroit based Probe 1 Production Company in 1972. Throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s the brothers continued to produce and record releases on many local Detroit groups, The Citations (five former pupils of John’s) Empulse and North By Northeast amongst others. Most would appear on the labels that Ivy and John operated through Probe1 Productions, Redline, Probe 1 and Midwest International etc
Ivy himself recorded solo outings such as “Ain’t No Black & White In Music / When Does The Loving Start” (Red Line PRL-01) and “ Everytime I See You It’s Hello / Anthem (Midwest 011087) as well as singing lead vocals on North By Northeast’s “Pain Of City Living / Slave Of Society” (Probe 1). Probe 1 Productions did manage to achieve some limited national attention. Firstly with the mellifluous “Two On A Cloud / Grown Up Fairy Tale” (Buddah 556) recorded by Curt Darin (a.k.a Curtis Gadson) but this release coincided with 20th Century’s buy out of Buddah records and the record failed to make any major impact. Other releases on Gadson (whom Ivy and John actually discovered) included “In The Middle OF The Night” (Midwest International 8150) and the heavily synthesised “Fire It Up” which they released in conjunction with fellow Detroit entrepreneur Ernest Kelley. This was later followed by the song “Hold On To Your Dreams” that Ivy Jo co-wrote with Vernon Bullock. “Hold on To Your Dreams” was recorded on former Dramatics vocalist the late William Howard and was released on the local Detroit Ju-Par label, based on Eight Mile Road. Howard recorded the song under his High School nickname of “Weegee”. The song became a big local hit, and through Ernest Kelley’s long time association with Henry Allen the song was soon picked up by Atlantic records and released on their subsidiary Cottilion label. The deal also included an album release using “Hold On To Your Dreams” as the title track. The album was recorded at the Sound Suite in Detroit under Vernon Bullock’s direction. (“Hold On To Your Dreams” was also later covered by The Staple Singers). A further collaboration between Probe1 and Ernest Kelley in 1981 produced the disco influenced “Coast To Coast” (MT 9710) which was recorded on a local Detroit act by the name of Solid State. This release came out on the Independent Music Town label. A previous Music Town release by Solid State “I’m Gonna Make You Mine”(MT9709) had no production connections with Probe 1. 1981 also saw the release of the Ivy Jo penned “Love Won’t You Hurry / Open Up Your Mind (To My Mind)” and was recorded by three male singers known as “Suade” this was released on Red Line (101042).
Released back in May this 45 is well worth another shout as it is simply so good.
Ivy Jo Hunter in collaboration with William “Mickey” Stevenson formed one of the most formidable song writing teams of the Motown stable during the 1960’s. Ivy’s writer’s credits can be found on a multitude of songs that achieved a top 100 status both in the USA as well as around the world. Towards the end of his tenure with Motown Ivy was placed with the company’s V.I.P subsidiary. Here he recorded two 45’s “I Remember When (Dedicated To Beverley) / Sorry Is A Sorry Word (V.I.P 25055) and “I’d Still Love You / I Can Feel The Pain” (V.I.P 25063). An album release was also planned and although given a release number (V.I.P.S 406) with the title of Ivy Jo’s “In This Bag” no release ever materialized. Some of the highlights from his eight year association with Motown include such timeless classic’s as The Four Tops “Just Ask The Lonely”, The Spinners “I’ll Always Love You”, The Marvelettes “I’ll Keep Holding On” and the Martha Reeves & The Vandellas seminal anthem “Dancing In The Street”. After leaving Motown Ivy joined forces with his brother John Maxey to form the Independent Detroit based Probe 1 Production Company. Throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s the brothers continued to produce and record releases on many Detroit groups and solo artists which appeared on several of their labels. Ivy himself recorded several solo outings such as “Ain’t No Black & White In Music / When Does The Loving Start” (Red Line PRL-01) and “ Everytime I See You It’s Hello / Anthem (Midwest 011087) as well as singing lead vocals on North By Northeast’s “Pain Of City Living/Slave Of Society (Probe 1). Their only releases to break out of Detroit nationally were the mellifluous “Two On A Cloud / Grown Up Fairy Tale” (Buddah 556) recorded by Curt Darin (a.k.a Curtis Gadson) but this release coincided with 20th Century’s buy out of Buddah records and the record failed to make any major impact. Followed by ex Dramatic Willie “Weegee” Howards local Detroit hit for Ju-Par Records “Hold On To Your Dreams” which was later picked up by the major Cottilion label. Ivy eventually hit paydirt when in 1985 David Bowie and Mick Jagger covered “Dancing In The Street” as their contribution to the Live Aid Appeal. And so to the present, for this release Soul Junction have selected two previously unissued tracks from circa 1979 that Ivy Jo cut for Probe 1 productions. The excellent mid paced dancer “See You Around” b/w the sublime ballad “Yea, Yea, Yea” which showcases Ivy’s vocal talents to perfection.
A lifelong performer, Tracey Whitney's musical roots run deep
Her mother Louise Whitney and father Ellis Ray "Ray Boone" Leary, both incredible singer/performers (and proverbial "big fish in a little pond") in Portland, Oregon had eight children who all came out singing. When Tracey was 5, her mom packed up the kids and moved to Los Angeles. Shortly after establishing new roots, Louise toured with legends of soul Solomon Burke and Johnny Otis. Aunt Mary Lee Whitney (who became a member of Stevie Wonder's "Wonderlove," singing on many of his biggest hits, and was the female lead on his “Songs In The Key Of Life” classic, "As"), Uncle’s Sam Whitney and James Whitney (both singers) and Kenny Roy Whitney (a drummer), also made the trek to California, and became well-known LA-area entertainers.
Louise Whitney Whitneys studio recording
With all this music going on around them, it was only natural that the kids would start to mimic the grown-ups, who were always rehearsing. Mom Louise took note of her children's talent, and together they would go on to become the singing group, “The Whitney Family,” debuting at the famed Coconut Grove in Los Angeles when Tracey was 11 years old. For over 15 years The Whitney Family toured the U.S. and worldwide, played Las Vegas and Tahoe, corded albums for Warner Curb Records (which featured "Let Me Be Your Woman," a Billboard Magazine Top Singles Pick), and United Artists Records. They made guest appearances on local and national TV shows, including Burt Sugarman's famed "Midnight Special," and appeared in several teen magazines, most notably, Right On!
"Crystal Motion" was a singing group from "New Bedford" Massachusetts. The group was formed in 1974 and the original members were "Kevin Gomes"(lead vocals)," Rodney (Skeeta)Santos"(and cousin to Kevin), Daniel(Buddy)Monterio" (A lifelong friend),and "John Paris". The group was managed by"Carter Management"(Eddie Carter) Of Onset, Mass., who now resides in Orlando, Fl.. They had a brush with stardom in 1975 with a recording called" You're My Main Squeeze", which was on the "Sound Gems" record label, and was a small hit in the Boston, Mass. and Providence, R.I. area. It also was played on radio stations in Philly, Atlanta and Houston, Texas. The group was formed by Kevin in 1974 when he wrote a song with the help of his good friend, Arthur "Buddy Monterio" of New Bedford and sent it to a small record company in Philly called "Sound Gems". The label had just had a super hit called " Be thankful for what you Got" by "William DeVaughn" and Kevin decided to submit one of his own compositions to the label. Within a few weeks he received a positive response and was invited to the label for an audition. Without a second thought he called his cousin and his friends who were waiting for the results and the group was formed.
The recording "Main Squeeze" was written by a young man named "Pal Rakes "who still works with the Philly label and has had some success working with the "Allman Bros. Band" The song was a big hit with the teens across New England and drew lots of attention from other performers, producers and song writers. The group also drew attention from the producers for "American Band Stand" and "Soul Train". The group, which was named by singer and member" John Paris", toured the east coast in 1975 and 76 promoting themselves and preparing themselves for an upcoming album which they never got to finish. They had generated a fan base from Burlington, V.T. to Philadelphia, P.A. Eventually, John Paris was replaced by a long time friend "Douglas Mendes" and the show took to the road with nothing in their way. They seemed to be on their way to following the footsteps of their very good friends the "Tavares" Bros. when Kevin, the lead singer of the song "Main Squeeze" was forced to leave the group shortly after their success in 1976 for personal reasons and ultimately the group broke up after about a year of trying to keep it together. Sadly, Skeeta and John Paris have since passed on to a better place and the surviving members are, Kevin, Buddy and Dougie. Their hit song is still being played in the U.K. and other countries in Europe till this day. And, two of their unreleased recordings ("There'll Be Another") and ("Love is on its way") were played on Mick O’Donnell Soul Discovery Show on Solar Radio in the U.K.
“Love is on its way" was written by Buddy Monterio (Arthur) and Victor Tavares of the Tavares Bros. who also sings background vocals on the song was the lead singer of the their own 1st hit single "Check it Out". You can purchase Crystal Motions' hit song "You're My Main Squeeze" on various web sites around the internet. A Quote from the members: Thanks to all of you who helped with our career in music. Thank you "Carlton Pina", "Johnny Morton" "David Antunes" "Mike Antunes" (from Eddie and the Cruisers) "Paul (Chips) Almeida"(Who was a big part of our life’s and we truly miss) "Tavares"(Who influenced us greatly) "Eddie Levert " ( The O Jays) ," Bob Wayne"(WNBH) "Big Ange"(WPRO), Etc. Crystal Motion would also like to thank all of you who remember us and supported us back in the 70s. From Burlington V.T. to Cherry Hill N.J. We still remember and will never forget. It was a fun time. Peace, love and God bless......... Kevin, Buddy and Dougie