"Bob James’ recordings have practically defined pop/jazz and crossover during the past few decades. Very influenced by pop and movie music, James has often featured R&B-ish soloists (most notably Grover Washington, Jr.) who add a jazz touch to what is essentially an instrumental pop set. He actually started out in music going with a much different direction. In 1962, James recorded a bop-ish trio set for Mercury, and three years later his album for ESP was quite avant-garde, with electronic tapes used for effects. After a period with Sarah Vaughan (1965-1968), he became a studio musician, and by 1973 was arranging and working as a producer for CTI. In 1974, James recorded his first purely commercial effort as a leader; he later made big-selling albums for his own Tappan Zee label, Columbia, and Warner Bros., including collaborations with Earl Klugh and David Sanborn. James remains relatively busy in the studio and since 2000 has released several albums including Dancing on the Water in 2001, That Steamin’ Feelin’ in 2002, Hi-Fi in 2003, and Urban Flamingo in 2006, among others."
"Best known for their work with Chic in the late ’70s, siblings Debbie, Kim, Joni, and Kathy Sledge — collectively Sister Sledge — reached the height of their popularity during the disco era but had been recording since the early ’70s and were still active in the late ’90s. The group was formed in Philadelphia in 1971, when the sisters’ ages ranged from 12 to 16, and they recorded their first single, "Time Will Tell," for the Philly-based Money Back label. (For the first few years, the group called itself Sisters Sledge.) In 1972, Sister Sledge signed with Atco and recorded its second single, "Weatherman," which was followed by the Jackson 5-like "Mama Never Told Me" in 1973.
Sister Sledge’s first national hit came in 1974, when “Love, Don’t You Go Through No Changes on Me” reached number 31 on the R&B charts and the Philadelphians recorded their debut album, Circle of Love. Their second album, Together, was released in 1977 and contained the number 61 R&B hit “Blockbuster Boy.” It wasn’t until 1979, when Chic leaders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards produced We Are Family, that Sister Sledge really exploded commercially. “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and We Are Family’s title song both soared to number one on the R&B charts, and the latter (a number two pop smash) was adopted as a theme by the World Series-winning Pittsburgh Pirates.
Sister Sledge’s next album, Love Somebody Today (1980), was also produced by the Rodgers/Edwards team, and the single “Got to Love Somebody” became a number six R&B hit. In 1981, Sister Sledge switched producers and worked with Narada Michael Walden, who produced 1981’s excellent All American Girls. The title song was a number three R&B hit, and in 1982, Sister Sledge had a number 14 R&B hit with a cover of Mary Wells’ “My Guy” that appeared on The Sisters. But after that, the foursome’s popularity faded, and it never had another Top 20 hit in the U.S. — although 1985’s “Frankie” (a number 32 R&B hit in the States) became a pop number one hit in England. Sister Sledge left Atlantic for good in 1985, but its members kept busy in the 1990s. Epic released Kathy’s debut solo album, Heart, in 1992, and 1997 found the sisters recording a risk-taking date, African Eyes, arguably one of the finest albums they ever recorded.”
"Keyboardist/arranger/producer/recording artist Dexter Wansel can be heard throughout the catalog of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. His skills can be heard on non-PIR sides like Jermaine Jackson’s "Where Are You Now" from his gold LP Let’s Get Serious and "Tonight" from Junior’s Acquired Taste LP. His frequent songwriting partners were Cynthia Biggs, Bunny Sigler, and T. Life. A synth pioneer, Wansel’s first LP arranging assignment was several tracks on Carl Carlton’s 1975 LP, I Wanna Be With You, produced by Bunny Sigler. A Biggs/Wansel song, "The Sweetest Pain," a duet between Wansel and Jean Carn, originally a 1979 single from Wansel’s Time Is Slipping Away LP, was a popular radio-aired LP from Loose Ends’ Zagora LP. Two of Carn’s LPs, When I Find You Love (entirely produced by Wansel) and Sweet and Wonderful, and Jean Carn and Happy to Be With You were issued on a two-album single CD by U.K. label Westside Records in early 1999.
When Wansel was 12 years old, he got the job of a gofer for the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia, going to get sandwiches and clothes out of the cleaners for the various acts that performed at the venue like Stevie Wonder and Patti Labelle. Many years later, Wansel would co-write a number one R&B hit for Labelle. In 1975, Wansel met Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff when he was a member of a band called Yellow Sunshine, which also boasted guitarist Roland Chambers who would later become a part of MFSB, the house band for Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. Becoming a part of the staff creative collective, Wansel began arranging, playing keyboards, and writing songs for the label’s acts including the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, and the Intruders, among others.
When Patti Labelle signed with PIR, she recorded Wansel’s “Shoot Him on Sight,” a song Wansel intended for Jackson Browne, on her 1981 album The Spirit’s in It. A song Wansel co-wrote with Kenneth Gamble and Cynthia Biggs, the lovely unrequited love ballad “If Only You Knew,” held the number one R&B spot for four weeks in early 1984. It was on her I’m in Love Again LP, which went gold, hitting number four R&B.
A partial list of Wansel-associated sides would include Jean Carn’s popular radio-aired LP tracks “I’m in Love Once Again,” “You Are All I Need” (music by Instant Funk), “Where Did You Ever Go,” “Free Love,” and the dance classic “Give It Up”; Shirley Jones’ “Last Night I Needed Somebody” and “She Knew About Me”; The Jacksons’ “Keep on Dancin’,” “Living Together,” “Do What You Wanna Do,” and “Jump for Joy”; The Stylistics’ “Hurry Up This Way Again,”; keyboardist Patrice Rushen covered “Hurry Up This Way Again”; The O’Jays’ dreamy ballad “I Really Need You Now”; Phyllis Hyman’s radio-aired track “Living All Alone”; The Jones Girls’ “We’re a Melody”, the exotic “Nights Over Egypt,” “Love Don’t Ever Say Goodbye,” and “Why You Wanna Do That to Me”; Archie Bell and the Drells’ “Old People”; and Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “Till I Come Off the Road” and the radio-aired LP track ballad “The Show Is Over.”
Wansel’s own charting LPs were Life on Mars from summer 1976 (includes two tracks with Instant Funk, “Life on Mars” and “You Can Be What You Wanna Be”), What the World Is Coming To, Voyager (with its great space-age oriented graphics) from spring 1978, and Time Is Slipping Away from 1979. Several tracks from his LPs were radio-aired LP tracks (the lushly orchestrated “Theme From the Planets,” the spacy, funky “Disco Lights”) and some songs — “Together Once Again,” “One Million Miles From the Ground,” and “Holdin’ On” — are still in singers’ repertoire today. “Holdin’ On” was a radio-aired LP track from actor Lawrence Hilton Jacobs’ self-titled album produced by Lamont Dozier. “Global Warming” from the 1991 PIR/Zoo/BMG CD Universe Featuring Dexter Wansel received some airplay on smooth jazz radio stations. During the ’90s, Wansel continued to work with the reactivated Philadelphia International Records and occasionally toured.
Dexter Wansel-related releases are Grover Washington, Jr. Ultimate Collection, Heaven & Earth-That’s Love, Best of MFSB: Love Is the Message, and Best of the Intruders.”
"Opening with a silent "movie" of Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang, George Roy Hill’s comically elegiac Western chronicles the mostly true tale of the outlaws’ last months. Witty pals Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) join the Gang in successfully robbing yet another train with their trademark non-lethal style. After the pair rests at the home of Sundance’s schoolmarm girlfriend, Etta (Katharine Ross), the Gang robs the same train, but this time, the railroad boss has hired the best trackers in the business to foil the crime. After being tailed over rocks and a river gorge by guys that they can barely identify save for a white hat, Butch and Sundance decide that maybe it’s time to try their luck in Bolivia. Taking Etta with them, they live high on ill-gotten Bolivian gains, but Etta leaves after their white-hatted nemesis portentously arrives. Their luck running out, Butch and Sundance are soon holed up in a barn surrounded by scores of Bolivian soldiers who are waiting for the pair to make one last run for it."
"Shelley Alexis Duvall (born July 7, 1949) is an American actress, best known for her acting roles in the films Thieves Like Us, 3 Women, The Shining and Popeye.
She began her career in the 1970s films of Robert Altman, followed by roles in films by Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. She is also an Emmy-nominated producer, responsible for Faerie Tale Theatre and other kid-friendly programming.”
"One of the dance figures whose influence and exposure far exceeds his actual name recognition, Walter Gibbons pioneered the concept of the remix and 12” single in America. Influenced by Jamaican dub producers, Gibbons began altering tracks for his DJ sets in the early ’70s, then took his innovations to the studio and recorded the first commercially available remix singles. He started his career as a DJ, and became one of the most popular mixers in New York by the early ’70s. Gibbons began working for Salsoul Records in 1976, and recorded his first remix singles that year, Double Exposure's “Ten Percent” and the Salsoul Orchestra's “Nice 'n' Nasty.” Utterly transformed with the addition of echo/reverb effects borrowed from dub and drum breaks, the singles influenced dozens of producers (and DJs).
As well, the tracks’ influence hardly ended away from the dancefloor. Released on the 12” vinyl format at a cheap price, they became incredibly popular and soon spurred other labels (including the majors) to begin releasing their own 12” remix singles as well. Gibbons also worked on tracks for West End and Gold Mind during the late ’70s, but was inactive for several years. He returned in 1984 with his most seminal record yet, a classic on New York’s growing garage scene known as “Set It Off.” Gibbons' original soon became the “Roxanne, Roxanne” of the garage community, swamped by dozens of remakes and answer tracks, including versions by C. Sharp, Masquerade, Number 1, and Strafe (the latter is undoubtedly the most heard and definitive). He also remixed a 1986 Arthur Russell single for Sleeping Bag, Indian Ocean's “School Bell/Tree House,” but later left the recording industry altogether. He passed away in 1994, a victim of AIDS-related symptoms. Years later, he had his remixes compiled on the three-disc Mixed with Love (2004), which focused on his work for Salsoul, and the wider-scoped two-disc Jungle Music (2010).”
"Best known for its 1979 hit "Glide," Pleasure was a risk-taking, horn driven band that often brought jazz overtones to its funk/soul foundation. Pleasure, which shouldn’t be confused with the ’90s rock band Pleasure, wasn’t huge but enjoyed a small cult following. The band was formed in Portland, OR, in 1972, when guitarist Marlon "The Magician" McClain (born August 8, 1955), lead singer Sherman Davis (born March 15, 1952), and keyboardist Donald Hepburn (born June 30, 1950) joined forces with saxophonist Dennis Springer (born July 21, 1949), bassist Nathaniel Phillips (born December 30, 1955), trombonist Dan Brewster and drummer Bruce Carter (born December 28, 1956). Pleasure was a merger of two Portland outfits: Franchise (which included McClain, Phillips, and Carter) and the Soul Masters (which was Hepburn’s band and also included Springer, Smith, and Davis). The Oregon residents got a lucky break when trombonist Wayne Henderson, a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders, saw them performing in a Portland club — Henderson was impressed with what he heard, and his enthusiasm led to a deal with Fantasy (where he produced four of its six albums) in 1974. Pleasure’s debut album, Dust Yourself Off, came out on Fantasy in 1975 and was followed by Accept No Substitutes in 1976 and Joyous in 1977. After Joyous, there were a few personnel changes: Brewster left the band, and Donald Hepburn’s younger brother Michael (born May 21, 1953) came on board as a keyboardist/lead singer. Get to the Feeling, Pleasure’s fourth album, came out in 1978 and was followed by 1979’s Future Now, which contained the hit "Glide." Pleasure’s cult following really swore by the band, but it wasn’t until "Glide" (which reached number ten on Billboard’s R&B singles chart) that the funksters finally scored a Top 10 hit. Trumpeter/flugelhornist Tony Collins (born May 16, 1957) was added to the lineup for Future Now, and Doug Lewis came on board as a lead guitarist for 1980’s Special Things, which was Pleasure’s sixth and final album. Unfortunately, Pleasure didn’t have any more major hits after "Glide," and in 1981, the band broke up."
"Toto was formed in Los Angeles in 1978 by David Paich (b. June 21, 1954, Los Angeles; keyboards, vocals), Steve Lukather (b. October 21, 1957, Los Angeles; guitar, vocals), Bobby Kimball (b. Robert Toteaux, March 29, 1947, Vinton, LA; vocals), Steve Porcaro (b. September 2, 1957, Connecticut; keyboards), David Hungate (b. Texas; bass), and Jeff Porcaro (b. April 1, 1954, Hartford, CT; d. August 5, 1992, Hidden Hills, CA; drums). Paich was the son of arranger Marty Paich; the Porcaros were the sons of percussionist Joe Porcaro. The bandmembers had met in high school and at studio sessions in the 1970s, when they became some of the busiest session musicians in the music business. Paich, Hungate, and Jeff Porcaro wrote songs for and performed on Silk Degrees, the multi-million-selling 1976 album that combined pop, rock, and disco elements into a slick combination which heavily influenced mainstream pop music.
Toto released its self-titled debut album in October 1978, and it hit the Top Ten, sold two-million copies, and spawned the gold Top Ten single “Hold the Line.” The gold-selling Hydra (October 1979) and Turn Back (January 1981) were less successful, but Toto IV (April 1982) was a multi-platinum Top Ten hit, featuring the number-one hit “Africa” and the Top Tens “Rosanna” (about Lukather's girlfriend, movie star Rosanna Arquette) and “I Won't Hold You Back.” At the 1982 Grammys, “Rosanna” won awards for Record of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Instrumental Arrangement With Vocal; and Toto IV won awards for Album of the Year, Best Engineered Recording, and Best Producer (the group). In 1984, a third Porcaro brother, Mike (b. May 29, 1955), joined the group on bass, replacing Hungate. Then lead singer Kimball quit and was replaced by Dennis “Fergie” Frederiksen (b. May 15, 1951, Wyoming, MI).
Toto's fifth album, Isolation (November 1984), went gold, but was a commercial disappointment. Frederiksen was replaced by Joseph Williams (b. Santa Monica), the son of the conductor/composer John Williams, for Fahrenheit (August 1986). Steve Porcaro quit in 1988, prior to the release of The Seventh One. In 1990, Jean-Michel Byron replaced Williams for the new recordings on Past to Present 1977-1990, then left, as Lukather became the group’s lead singer. Jeff Porcaro died of a heart attack in 1992, but was featured on the group’s next album, Kingdom of Desire. By this time, Toto was far more popular in Japan and Europe than at home. The group added British drummer Simon Phillips. Tambu, released in Europe in the late fall of 1995, appeared in the U.S. in June 1996. For 1999’s Mindfields, Bobby Kimball returned to the lineup after a 15-year absence. The group members continued to do session work during the band’s tenure, contributing significantly to the sound of mainstream pop/rock in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s.”