This is a funky soul album by the group "East Coast", released on drummer Bernard Purdie's short-lived label Encounter Records in 1973, and completes the label discography - see the base of the post to links for all five releases.
Veering away from the soul-jazz focus of the other four, this is more of an RnB/soul effort with some psych-funk guitar flavours. "East Coast" is notable as the debut of two figures who would both enjoy later n' greater success :
Vocalist Gwen Guthrie later became famous for her self-penned 1986 gold-digger anthem "Ain't Nothing Going On But the Rent". After working on some background sessions for Aretha Franklin soon after the "East Coast" album, she became quite prolific as a songwriter, working with collaborators like Patrick Grant on albums like Sister Sledge's debut, "Circle Of Love" in 1975, of which the two composed the majority. Between 1982 and 1990 she released eight solo albums, with 1986's "Good To Go Lover" spawning the aforementioned big hit.
"Leader"/drummer Larry Blackmon formed the seven-piece East Coast Band, who had a house gig at 'Small's Paradise' in Harlem, which was co-owned by the famous basketball player Wilt Chamberlain. Over time, the band evolved into the thirteen-piece New York City Players, which also featured keyboardist Gregory Johnson from East Coast, and were heavily influenced by goups like Funkadelic. Upon signing a contract, they changed their name to Cameo, and went on to record an astonishing seventeen albums.
Blackmon (second from right, back row in top photo) took center-stage as vocalist with Cameo, refined his flattop haircut, put on a red codpiece, and like Guthrie will probably be most remembered for one hit single - in his case, his nasally-twanged "Word Up!" from the band's 1986 album of the same name. If anyone's looking for a good party trick, here's a tab for playing it on ukelele. Ukelele players who end up here via Google, please leave MP3s of yourself playing the track in the comments.
But meanwhile, back in 1973 with East Coast :
This is clearly a live party band recorded pretty straight-up in the studio. Hammond B3 organ with full tremelo versus a distorted-wah-wah guitar anchor a heavy sound. A tough brass section push through, while Blackmon's drums are all cymbal crashes. 22-year-old Gwen Guthrie has a strong soulful voice, which she obviously needed over this sort of density.
The opener "I Found You" is a seven-minute soul stormer, while "Something Deep Inside of Me" crosses the soul with some Chicago-ish pop touches. "Keep on Trying" starts out with the funk before the (uncredited) guitarist adds a distorted rock layer a la Funkadelic.
The loose instrumental "Miss Gigi" gives a workout and a solo space to everyone except for vocalist Guthrie, who somewhat paradoxically composed the track! The closing seven minutes of "You Can't Let It Get You Down" veer in prog territory, with political lyrics alluding to Vietnam and other troubles of the 1970s. You can tell that this is an ambitious band after some success, but it was all perhaps a little too rough n' ready for the charts, though this roughness gives it some of its charm 36 years later.
I hope you enjoy this one or any of the other four albums!
Scroll down for links.
Quality note : I've ripped this from a clean reissue (now O.O.P) vinyl, but I strongly suspect that the reissue master has been taken from an original vinyl copy rather than from master tapes. There are some edges of distortion and a slightly overcompressed sound, which lacks definition in the high frequencies- it's not in the league of great reissues. OK, I'll remove my sound lecturer hat and get back to the party ....
01. 'I Found You' - 7:12 - (Billy Jones - Larry Blackmon)
02. Keep On Trying' - 4:07 - (Larry Blackmon - Gregory Johnson)
03. 'Miss Gigi' - 5:14 - (Gwen Guthrie)
04. 'Any Thing You Have In Mind' - 3:22 - (Larry Clement)
05. 'Something Deep Inside' - 2:30 - ( Gregory Johnson - Larry Blackmon)
06. 'I've Got to Reclaim You' - 4:08 - ( Gregory Johnson - Larry Blackmon)
07. 'You Can't Let It Get You Down' - 7:08 - (Larry Clement)
Larry Blackmon - leader, drums
Pat Grant - trombone
Gwen Guthrie - vocalist
Michael Harris - percussion
Gregory Johnson - keyboards
Melvin Whay - bass
James Wheeler - alto sax
Hikey Muldune - Alto Sax solo on track 1
Unknown - guitar
Encounter Records catalogue # EN3002
Produced by Larry Clement for Crude Productions
Executive Producer - Lloyd Price
Photography - Chuck Stewart
Design - Steve Malinchoc
All selections published by Access Music Corp / Lori-Joy Music / Integral Image Music (BMI)
ENCOUNTER RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY
Label run by Bernard Purdie, all releases 1973.
(Download) donated by Vpex
Commercial soul-jazz session with CTI-touches led by saxophonist Powell, featuring players like Bernard Purdie, Frank Owens, Garnett Brown and David Spinozza. Covers contemporary soul songs like "I wanna be where you are", "Backstabbers" etc. Pick is the flute-driven "Afro Jazz".
(Download) donated by Vpex
Similar format and style to the Seldon Powell album with many of the same players - perhaps a little funkier and better! Great organ work from Don Sands. Tracks include "People Make the Workd Go Round', "Let's Stay Together" and "Shaft". My pick is the hammond number "Had a Dream", which I love.
Links at the base of this post.
Uptempo soul and pop album with heavy guitar, featuring Gwen Guthrie and Larry Blackmon. See above!
(download) donated by Vpex
Still soul-jazz from keyboardist Owens, but a more produced edge with strings and some nice rhodes on tracks like Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead" and Franklin's "Rock Steady". Featuring Bernard Purdie, Hugh McCracken, Doug Bascomb and others. Good funk on the title track with some clavinet. Nearly killed by a saccharine version of Michael jackson's "Ben" but enough good stuff here to recommend.
also at Never Enough Rhodes, click the link
Soulful jazzy album featuring saxophonist/flautist Harold Vick recording under the pseudonym "Sir Edward", with Joe Bonner, Wilbur Bascomb and others. Recommended! More info at the link.
Vinyl rip of "East Coast" by Simon666
Vinyl rip of "The Power Of Feeling" by Simon666
Other Encounter files donated by Vpex
Other album links in this post go to the following blogs/sites :
Raider of the Lost Ark, The Sound Of Feeling, Blak's Lair, and of course ukelelehunt.com
Please thank these guys if you download their albums or ukelele sheet music!