USA

Communicators & Black Experience Band - “Has Time Really Changed”/”The Road” (Tri Oak, 1974) & “One Chance/Is it Funky Enough?” (Duplex Records, 1973)

This group – or two groups together – put out some rather strange singles; one side soul and/or politico with the flipside funky. According to the excellent band summary from heavyweightfunk45s.com below, included in its entirety, “Has Time Really Changed” was considered controversial because of its “politics” for much radio play, you can hear this if you listen in, but it’s not that explicit (the bass voice that comes in to ask the rhetorical question is a bit loopy, out-there, to my ears at least, thus diminishing the message of the rest of the lyrics).

The b-side “The Road” seems to be the group’s best-known track, understandably as it’s pretty fantastic:

The other single follows a similar formula, the a-side is a highly expressive soulful, verging on doo wop, lament:

(Have to admit: I like “One Chance” a lot, yes it is extremely corny that is known to me) … then here it is, the  excursion to funky town (a truly great song in itself):

Here’s the info from the heavyweightfunk45s.com site on the group/s:

“The Black Experience Band came together around 1970 to back up the Communicators, a vocal group. The band’s early line-up featured Charles Bailey (trumpet), James “Butch” Barton (trombone), Eli Brown(saxophone), Willis Norman (lead guitar), Roy Hubert (rhythm guitar), Willie Hill (bass guitar) and Linwood Parker (drums). The B-sides of their two 45s with the Communicators released on Durham's, North Carolina, record labels Duplex and TRI OAK, highlight the band’s immersion in funk in the style of Kool & the Gang and Funkadelic. After parting ways with the Communicators, the group backed up the Modulations for a time and then played as a self-contained band before breaking up. Later line-ups included James Brown, a saxophonist who also played with Bite, Chew & Spit out of Asheville, North Carolina, and trombone player Bill Amey.

The five-member harmony group The Communicators showcased the vocal talents of Tommy Clegg, Izell Gooch, Sylvester Howell, James Jenkins, and Cager Perry. Backed up by the Black Experience Band, the Communicators’ debut recording in 1973 was a pleading love ballad called “One Chance" b/w "Is It Funky Enough?". Originally a regional sensation on the local Duplex imprint, the record was later picked up by Sylvia Robinson’s Turbo label out of New Jersey. The group followed up with "Has Time Really Changed” b/w "The Road" in 1974. Disc Jockeys considered the ballad "Has Time Really Changed" too political, and gave it much less airplay than “One Chance.”

“Going Down for the Last Time” parts 1 & 2, plus extended, Ronnie Keaton & Oceanliners (Konduko Records, 1974)

This record is a perfect example of the funk that impresses, in the way it upsets expectations about how the genre should sound; of course, there is zero foundation for this comment, or anything else at all (who am I, of all people, to make any claims?)  but I’ve always disliked the excessive showiness of funk – the solos, the waiting for applause, the glitter, flashy lights and costumes - been suspicious of it, of performers and audience alike. Too often it falls into a kind of bad faith caricature; major exceptions made for a lot of the work of Eddie Hazel. No surprise in any of this, it reflects my temperament and cultural background.

This track is wonderful, though in the way it has all the elements, the sound and essence, keeping it on mute almost. I particularly like the use of the flute, used as if it were a sample on part 1 and the backing vocals – what a smart contrast between the woman’s resolve about leaving a man (who once had a job) with the men singing their parts so gently, “no mo.” Lovely.

Then for “part 2”, this impression is even more pronounced, it’s almost a dub in the way it’s done:

The flute is replaced/supplemented by horns, or they’re made more dominant; the sleepy male backing vocals become the main element.

Here’s something I found on a website in French, funk-o-logy.com, posted by Weego on the section labelled “index funky,” which I’ll translate into English.

 “A hit (une bombe) of sister funk, Florida sauce. The b-side is falsely called “part 2” when in fact it’s the instrumental. Written by singer Ronnie Keaton and King Sporty (owner of the electro-funk/reggae label Konduko in Miami and husband of soul singer Betty Wright). Ronnie Keaton is not known to have put out anything other than this excellent single that came out in 1974. The Oceanliners are credited on the label info (Jerome Smith on guitar, Robert Johnson aka Shotgun on drums and Anthony Turner on bass) who later became the Sunshine Band, of KC & the Sunshine Band fame; “that’s the way han-han han-han I like it …”). They accompanied Betty Wright on stage. There are two variations of the label: one yellow, the other green. This information probably won’t interest anyone else apart from me!”    

And the extended mix :

“Song for you” Popcorn (Prime Choice, Shannell Records, 1983)  

Taken from an almost unlistenable EP, apologies to its makers, especially those commenting below the YouTube videos (the man who played keys, in particular), this song is a little marvel. Perhaps that’s unfair, there might be some interest in the Prime Choice release, some humour perhaps – the song “Handy Man” starting with a phone ringing sfx – but most of it sounds like variations on “Ma Cherie Amour,” without anything remotely Stevie about it, not really.

Here  is the EP in any case:

“Song for you,” though, is pretty much perfect in every way. I love the shy-soul-funk-type vocals, and the sentiment, the way the singer seems to be reaching out to express the feeling, it’s very nice – the way the bassline does its descending thing around 3’30” and its odd atmosphere, something that is atypical for releases of its type. Not unheard of, but less common (ergo: rare).

It turns out that the singer/producer of this Florida funk track is known for his Christian-theme recordings; see his Discogs listing: “James Ward is a composer, performer, and recording artist whose innovative Christian contemporary music has been a widespread influence throughout the Christian church and entertainment community since the early 70's..” The artist k.a. James, Jim and Calvin “Popcorn” Ward.   

Mr Walt/da Beatminerz: “Hurricane Starang”/“No Fear” instrumentals, O.G.C/Originoo Gunn Clappaz, (Da Storm, Duck Down/Priority/EMI, 1996) w/archival footage

(In one of those instances of synchronicity that repeat the more I get into this world and process, I heard this instrumental, had ideas about atmosphere then later discovered it was by Mr. Walt from da Beatminerz, the duo that produced another track that prompted the same reaction/thought; see this article on “Rino” published on this site in January, 2018)

Radio producers, documentary makers speak of “atmos” - atmosphere – which refers to the background noise captured in the recording of a room, the hum of white goods, machinery and the like. Once again this da Beatminerz/Mr. Walt instrumental makes me think of this concept, it’s the sound of the bass-line behind the other elements that makes it. The hum and the rumbling and heat of it, it’s amazing to me.

The two Mr. Walt-produced tracks on O.G.C’s 1996 album, Da Storm offer a real contrast to each other. “Hurricane Starang” is all restrained atmosphere, with what might be a “wind effect” introduced to make it seem “spooky” as the production team has said is their preference, as they explained in an interview when speaking about their style.

On a most basic level, I like the drums, the production sound and depth of the secondary-level sound in the background, the way it stays with the moment and is still; nothing too complex. It retains the analogue smokiness, yet sounds “clean.” Not much happens in terms of development, or variation but that’s okay because the power of the music lies in the way it rests in the moment, no-movement becomes its signature.

Forget seeking out music to help you “chill”, and relax, or even worse to do your “homework” to (how to destroy a producer’s original vision, extend the 2-minute running time of a beat to one hour, madness-inducing. Why not go seek out Reich, Palestrina, Monteverdi, Bach if you’re looking for extended pieces of music that won’t be too distracting as you work?)

Listening to music of this (da Beatminerz) kind helps develop discipline and focus, it cleans the mind of excess. This is my (rap) soul music, music from the temple. Here it is with the vocals on top, the video with a track “Danjer” at the end:

Interestingly the samples in “Hurricane Starang” keep it local: "Leflah Leflaur Eshkoshka" by Heltah Skeltah "Sound Bwoy Bureill" by Smif-n-Wessun, mirroring the lyrics which are all about the MCs reinforcing bonds and the community of MCs at Duck Down. With one exception, the sample from "Sounds From the Sea's Edge" by The John Payne Band:

In contrast, the “No Fear” beat is - almost - verging on the groovy, but only a bit with the bass line. Da Beatminerz, or Mr. Walt in this instance, gesture towards funky danciness but keep it low-key as is their wont. (Samples are "E.V.A." by Jean-Jacques Perrey and "I Want to Thank You" by Dr. Lonnie Smith) And the “No Fear” video/version with lyrics includes a diss of Biggie.

Check out this video with interviews and history about da Beatminerz that is really well done :

Here are some archival videos of O.G.C., also of interest I think, as a historical snapshot, where everything seems to be loose and natural, not too rehearsed (or vapid-shiny-corporate, pre-digested for consumption).

Info from below the video:

“Before O.G.C's début album, 'Da Storm,' they had an incredible tape, that in addition to what would come to be known as Fab 5's "Blah," included this unreleased gem, "Hard to the Core." As Top Dog is Steele's brother, the group members were frequent attendees at Smif n Wessun recording sessions. This home video shot by @druha in 1995 offered a small glimpse of the fun and wittiness the group would soon offer.”

Description of the group from YouTube video:

“O.G.C. (Originoo Gunn Clappaz) is a Hip Hop group consisting of members Jack McNair (aka Starang Wondah) (Gunn Clappa Numba One, also known as Big Will, Hurricane Starang and Strang Da Beast From Da East), Barret Powell (aka Louieville Sluggah) (Gunn Clappa Numba Two, also known as Hennyville Guzzler or Henny), and Dashawn Jamal Yates (aka Top Dog) (Gunn Clappa Numba Three, also known as Big Kahuna and D-O). The group is mostly known through their membership in the Boot Camp Clik, along with Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun and Heltah Skeltah.

Heltah Skeltah is a hip hop duo consisting of members Rock (Jahmal Bush) and Ruck (Sean Price). The two are members of New York supergroup Boot Camp Clik, along with Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun and O.G.C.. The name "Heltah Skeltah" is a reference and homage to The Beatles, specifically their song "Helter Skelter" from the famous album The Beatles.

Smif-N-Wessun (aka Cocoa Brovaz) is a hip hop duo consisting of members Tek (Tekomin Williams) and Steele (Darrell Yates). Smif-N-Wessun comprise two-eighths of the Brownsville, Brooklyn supergroup Boot Camp Clik, with Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. Both members are known for their Jamaican Patois during their raps, which was more evident during the earlier stages of their career.”

Live performance from 1996 (notice the Sean Price dancing cameo).

Coda:

Easy Mo Bee (w/2Pac : “If I Die 2Nite”/”Temptations” Me Against the World, Interscope, 1995 & ”Runnin' (from Tha Police)” & more

What’s striking about many Easy Mo Bee instrumentals two-decades-plus on is how contemporary they sound. This is not to say that they would necessarily be the first choice for mainstream MCs around today; more that they don’t sound overly grounded in their era and location (no criticism of instrumentals that do, it’s just a point of difference).

That diffuse, murky production sound and shadowy, sepulchral hiss and grind that defines so much of the music of the 90s New York underground scene - reaching its zenith in Havoc’s production and the artists linked to Wu-Tang and the Gravediggaz is rarely found here. No, in general Easy Mo Bee beats are extremely clean, sharp in the definition of the sounds and almost formalist in the construction, in this way making me think of Large Professor. Both are best-known for their work with the era’s superstars, even while creating a lot of music that is not so well known but remains timeless, largely because of the maker’s creativity.

To get a sense of how Easy Mo Bee’s beats sound “modern” for want of a better word, check out 2Pac’s “If I Die 2Nite” from his 1995 album Me Against the World. All it needs is added swirl and a woozy effect, fading in and out, a slight loosening up of the edges and this music could offer the foundations for any of the instrumentals/remixes you hear from producers in their 20s working today.

The beat samples Betty Wright’ s “Tonight is the night” which is close to unrecognisable in the song.

Here you also find something that impresses me about many of Easy Mo Bee’s instrumentals: the layering/effects of the drums. There’s zero issue for me with a hip-hop beat that has prominent boom bap drums as its principal focus, whether back in the ‘90s/2000s or today. Keeping the drums dominant links hip-hop with other forms of music that come out of electronic/dance-based genres, Drum & Bass, dubstep etc. and has a broader significance. Bringing the drums forward for the entire song is a radical shift. Most of the time popular music keeps the musical frame and structure hidden (the bass/drums nexus); think about the way drums operate in pop songs, or even most rock music in the 60s/70s, only occasionally becoming the main element during solos maybe.

Dub, reggae have a deep skanking rhythm, of course, but more often than not it’s carried by the guitars, or keys; funk too is defined by its bounce, but again, it’s not the drums only keeping time, above all other instruments, it’s a mix. The way early hip-hop made the drums everything, the very essence of it, thus exposing the foundations is full of meaning and resonance that goes past pure music-making into the realm of culture. (I could go on and on about the significance of this: but I hope the point is clear enough and will leave it there).

This layering of the drums on this Easy Mo Bee beat is heard right from the start. Another impressive aspect of his beats is the immediate complexity, there’s no slow build-up of the sonic elements, a careful introduction of each sample: it’s all there, but in small doses so it remains subtle in the first five seconds. Note too the three-note sample that carries the melody, echoing one of the most famous aspects of his beat for Craig Mack, “Flava in ya ear” - the very simple guitar part where two notes are repeated.

There’s something soothing, meditative about the simplicity of these sounds on repeat. Here’s Easy Mo Bee speaking about how he put the Craig Mack beat together, first thing getting up, in about 2o minutes, without even getting fully dressed.

Something else that appeals is the way Easy Mo Bee uses discordant sounds, with a scratchy static to build atmosphere most notably on the hook that really comes through in the version with 2Pac rapping over it, 50 seconds in, where it’s let run before he almost speaks the rhymes. The quality of 2Pac’s delivery is markedly different from many of rappers who chant such key lines for emphasis; it’s as if he’s thinking aloud, it sounds spontaneous.

The second Easy Mo Bee beat on Me Against the World “Temptations” is a 90s-era-masterclass, certainly more typical with those drums, but transformed into work of real brilliance because of the interplay between the harsh sounds and the swooning, sentimental aspects. Beautiful in terms of its definition that keeps shifting, weaving the various sounds/samples with perfect control.

And the Tupac version.

“Runnin’ (from tha Police)”

“Runnin’ (From tha Police)” 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G, feat. Outlawz and Buju Banton, is probably my favourite Easy Mo Bee beat, it’s a shame I can’t find it online to include here. There is this one on YouTube which appears to be the same track included on the Nas Kingston tape see below - coming in just after 18 minutes, but there’s countless comments below saying it’s not the real one. Get in touch, if you know where the real instrumental is and you can vouch for its authenticity, thanks.

I’ve included the unreleased version of the track here, because of it’s slightly rawer/rougher sound. The instrumental is a perfect example of balance: none of the elements are over-extended, or over-used, they appear for a second or two at most and create a soundscape that is at once elegant and disturbing, for those harsh, screeching sounds that are almost painful to hear. Yet, there is a definite groove sustaining it, building on the on the original classic sample - Bootsy Collins’s “Munchies for your love”. In the same session, Easy Mo Bee created another key song for 2Pac, “Str8 Ballin’” that used another iconic Bootsy Collins’s sample.

Coda:

Credit is due to Nas Kingston’s selection of beattapes that have been an essential stop for me when thinking about who to write on in this (approximate) series. The two Easy Mo Bee selections, vol. 1 and 2 were key to me deciding to write this piece. When listening to the Easy Mo Bee vol. 2, in particular, the title of just about every track got written down, this one and this and the next. I couldn’t believe the quality, how good it all was.

Mal Waldron ‘Left Alone’ (Mal Live 4 to 1, Philips/Japan, 1971; Left Alone ‘86, Paddle Wheel, 1986; w/ Archie Shepp, Left Alone Revisited, Enja Records, 2002) & Abbey Lincoln

Personnel: piano, Mal Waldron, alto saxophone, Kohsuke Mine, bass, Isao Suzuki and drums Yoshiyuki Nakamura

While at Prestige Mal Waldron estimated he wrote up to 400 compositions, the most famous being ‘Left Alone’ written for Billie Holiday and the John Coltrane destined ‘Soul Eyes’. First recorded by Coltrane for his Interplay for 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors (1957), the musician loved the piece that would become of the genre's classic songs so much he recorded it three times with different ensembles.

‘Left alone’ became known as Waldron’s ‘signature tune’, even though the lyrics were written by Billie Holiday. Holiday never released her version; it was one of the seven songs she wrote but never recorded, as she said she was meant to but would 'always forget the damned sheet music.' This absence is deeply poignant and powerful. The fact that there is no record of her singing something so indelibly hers, transforms her absence into a presence in an almost ghost-like way. With this in mind; it is striking how often Waldron recorded versions of songs from Holiday's repertoire throughout his his career. It's as if he were continually seeking out some connection with her.

As heard in the interview extract with Waldron included at the bottom of this piece their bond was a tender one, he likened their relationship to one of brother and sister. It is affecting to hear him speak of Billie Holiday in this way, especially when he remembers her as relaxed and warm (she was the godmother of his child). Perhaps especially because Holiday is so often represented and remembered in a fashion that emphasises the brutal nature of the circumstances of her death and difficult life and by so doing erases her complexity as a woman and artist. Waldron speaks of how Holiday taught him to value words, in themselves, and how this shaped his phrasing as a musician.

Here’s Waldron’s recollection of how the song was written/composed, taken from the 2001 Ted Panken interview:

'In the previous set, we heard Mal Waldron with two great divas of the generation that grew up listening to Billie Holiday.  Mal Waldron played for several years with Billie Holiday.  I wonder if you can talk about how that happened and address the experience.

It was really an accident.  Because her pianist… She was working in Philadelphia, and her pianist just conked out, he couldn’t function any more.  So she needed the pianist.  So she asked Bill Duffy, who had written the book with her, to find a pianist, and Bill asked his wife, Millie Duffy, if she knew any musicians, and Millie asked Julian Euell, who was one of her friends, and Julian Euell asked me, and I said “The buck stops here.”  I got on a train and went there.  So it was an accident, but it was a beautiful accident for me.

Were you always a fan of her music?

Oh yes, I was a fan of her music, but I had never played it.  But I got a crash course!

And “Left Alone” was written for her?

Yes.  She wrote the words and I wrote the melody.  We were on a plane going from New York to San Francisco.  It took more time than it does now because they were propeller planes.  She just wanted to write tune about her life, so she wrote those lyrics, and I wrote the melody.  By the time we got off the plane, it was finished.

What was she like with the band?

She was very relaxed.  In fact, she didn’t make rehearsals.  She didn’t like to make rehearsals.  She just came on and did it.  So I had to rehearse the band!' 

Here is the Abbey Lincoln version of 'Left Alone' from 1961, recorded with Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Mal Waldron and Max Roach for her album Straight Ahead. It’s an extraordinary performance by Lincoln, her bold style perfectly suits the lyricism's direct nature. The fact that she sings it so straight makes it all seem even more tragic. She sings the lines as if recounting something factual, a weather report or something of that kind.

Lincoln's interpretation appeals to me because it feels honest, real. Something I really dislike in singers is the way they over-dramatise tragic material, or do something stagey (slow it down, stretch words or whisper parts of it, pause for drama etc). Such mannerisms only emphasise their lack of knowledge. When I first heard the Abbey Lincoln interpretation of this song I thought it was a bit strange, the forthright tone of it all and the distance (I was imagining how Billie Holiday might have sung it, how she might have used her trademark brittle elongation of words and sounds).

Then I came to really love it for those same reasons. As anyone who has heard someone speak like this of life, or love – or heard themselves perhaps speak like this – this is how such words are said, without self-pity or self-doubt. They are said as a statement of fact external to the speaker. Such words are a lament of the resigned, the broken. Then if you listen closely there are gradations in Lincoln’s performance, especially in this part, which is repeated:

Maybe fate has let him pass me by
Or perhaps we'll meet before I die
Hearts will open, but until then

I'm left alone, all alone

Something about the way she sings ‘perhaps’ as if there might be space for doubt is extremely touching. Waldron said that Billie Holiday wanted to write something of 'the story of her life.’ The fact that this song remains as her last testament is deeply sad.

Musically it’s a beautiful performance by the group: the Coleman Hawkins solo is moving, Waldron’s presence is so muted it can hardly be heard and I particularly like the way the music comes together, offering some kind of grounding or foundation for Lincoln to sing her truth, as she sees it. The music in terms of its performance feels deeply empathetic to me.

The live performance in Japan with Waldron with Kohsuke Mine (alto saxophone) Isao Suzuki (bass) and Yoshiyuki Nakamura (drums) is also very beautiful, a technically flawless performance, where Mal Waldron’s piano solo begins ever so gently, at points a a repetition of single notes. It is not so different from the first Waldron recording of the song from 1959 with Jackie McLean. The album description has it that Waldron is at the piano playing ‘the moods of Billie Holiday.’ Both performances have the same clarity, lacking perhaps the expression of something deeply felt, defined by a certain control.

Later performances, for example this one from 1986, when Waldron reunites with Jackie McLean and then in the one from the final year of his life, recorded with Archie Shepp are more emotional in the way they show a more expressive side of the pianist (the second one especially).

My favourite, along with the 1971 performance in Japan is this version Waldron recorded in February 2002, the year of his death (he passed away at the age of 77 the following December in Brussels). I understand that Archie Shepp’s sense of drama as a performer might not be to everyone’s taste, especially when compared with the other more formal renditions, but I always appreciate it. You sense something of his spirit when he plays. This quality I think encouraged Waldron to become more expressive as well, more lyrical, more present in his final performance of the song that defined his career.

Here is the interview where Mal Waldron speaks of what he learnt from Billie Holiday, the context of this, his most famous song which ended up becoming a dedication to the late artist throughout Waldron's professional life.

‘Getting Nowhere Fast’/’Soul Strut,’ single, Floyd Smith (Dakar Records, 1968)

What a phenomenal single from Floyd ‘Guitar’ Smith. The contrast between the perfect on every level lament speaking of love and loss on side a) and the boss groove – it’s bossy too – of side two is something of real note. It’s hard to think of other releases as varied as this.

When doing some research on Floyd Smith, the fact that he had a career spanning two very different genres and sharply contrasting musical moments made me doubt whether it was in fact the same person: I’m still not completely confident that it is (the same man).

How was it possible that the same man who met and played with Django Reinhardt in Paris during the Second World war ended up recording 70s soul/disco greats (and even won the heart of one)? To quote da wik: 

In the 1970s, Smith moved into writing songs and record production, working with Dakar/Brunswick Records in Chicago, for which he recorded a few singles. He produced two albums with R&B star, Loleatta Holloway for Aware Records of Atlanta, as well as two (one completed, but un-issued when the label folded) with John Edwards, who later became lead singer of the Detroit Spinners. He produced two Top 10 R&B hits on Aware with Edwards (“Careful Man”, No. 8 in 1974) and Holloway (“Cry To Me”, No. 10 in 1975). In the late 1970s, he produced tracks on several albums with Loleatta Holloway for Gold Mine/Salsoul Records. He managed the former gospel singer and later married her.

Here’s a maybe too intense disco song from Smith, 1975.

Check out this strong interview with Smith by Jas Obrecht (former editor of Guitar Player and the founding editor of Pure Guitar magazine), published on his site, date unknown.  

‘Color Blind,’ single Maze, feat. Frankie Beverly (Capitol Records, 1977) two versions, plus live performance of Raw Soul

Could have selected any number of great songs by Frankie Beverly in his various groups (Maze, Raw Soul) but chose this 1977 version of ‘Color Blind’ for the depth of the recording, the no-space nature between the elements and its simplicity. The other side of the single was ‘While I’m alone’

Here's the earlier version, which follows the other funk path of the big-band sound and interests me a lot less.

Below the video on YouTube, there's a nice comment from Michael Burton Sr (such comments are one of the best things about YouTube) :

'As the original Stage Manager of Maze featuring Frankie Beverly 1975 - 1978, I'm always excited to find a rare oldie of the Guys, and no exception with this track with my best friend McKinley "BUG" Williams (R.I.P.) singing. Color Blind said it then, and still makes a statement today, it was a real story in 1971 when this was recorded. Some things just never get old.'

Some info on Frankie Beverly now, just love the names of these groups: this in itself indicates an earlier innocence (something that continues in contemporary rap/hip-hop culture with the MC names that are often impossible to pronounce and/or made up of bizarre capitalizations, it's as if the artists are both playing and constructing barriers, ie to say their name you need to have heard it first).

As a teenager (Frankie Beverly) formed The Blenders, a short-lived a cappella, doo-wop group that were influenced by The Dells, The Moonglows, and The Del Vikings. After that outfit dissolved, he founded The Butlers (subsequently Frankie Beverly and the Butlers), which would be the first group he recorded with in 1963. In 1967, he cut “If that’s what you wanted”, which became a northern soul standard. As time passed, they caught the attention of the record producer Kenny Gamble, who eventually released recordings by the group.

It turned out that music performed by The Butlers did not fit into the “Philly Sound”, and after some heavy touring, the group relocated to California. The unit was re-christened as Raw Soul and caught the attention of a sister-in-law to Marvin Gaye. Gaye featured them as an opening act at his shows, and also convinced Beverly to change the band’s name to Maze.

To close the story, I'll let Frankie Beverly’s lyrics have the final word:

'I've often heard that white is right
You better believe black is alright too
So is blue and green and yellow
What difference should it make to you

These ties we got on us just ain't too hip
I know you got your thing and I've got mine
We've been judging people by colors
Maybe we should all be color blind

What I want to know is
What color have you colored peace
What color is harmony
What color have you colored peace
What color is harmony

There's a saying you can't judge a book by it's cover
What are we doing but just that
We've been judging people by color
Love ain't got no color that's a fact

What color have you colored peace
What color is harmony
What color have you colored peace
What color is harmony'

Really like this live performance at by Raw Soul (Recorded Live: 2/15/1975, Winterland, San Francisco, CA) – everything everything everything.