Thursday, June 26, 2008

Leon Ware - Rockin' You Eternally (1981)

Leon Ware is one of those great 70s soul-funk artists - like Roy Ayers and to a certain extent, Curtis Mayfield - whose impact is being both felt and recognised more in retrospect, and whose reputation continues to grow. He's an extraordinary soul songwiter, vocalist and arranger who peaked in the mid 70s with his soul masterpiece "Musical Massage", but all periods of his work deserve some examination.

Apart from a brief Japan-only CD release on East-West, and a later, even briefer re-release on Expansion Records, "Rockin' You Eternally" remains out of print, and seems to be the only unblogged album from his main period, so i'm presenting it here today along with a history in which hopefully even diehard Ware fans can find a few treats.

Bold album links take you to albums on other blogs; italic links take you to individual songs. If you follow them, please thank those bloggers :)

Born in Detroit, Ware started as a Motown writer in the late 60s, scoring some hits for the Isley brothers and the Four Tops. After writing and producing much of Ike and Tina Turner's 1971 United Artists album "Nuff Said", with great tracks like "I Love Baby", the label gave him a shot in 1972 on his first solo album "Leon Ware". Much of it references the classic RnB forms that he'd just been working on with the Turners, while tracks like "Why Be Alone" and "Nothing's Sweeter than My Baby's Love" showcase both his beautiful voice and the romantic soul for which he was to become better known.

As a writer, he continued to score hits such as Michael Jackson's "I Wanna be Where You Are" and Donny Hathaway's "I Know It's You". His vocal abilities were also being noticed in the 1973-74 period - he features on several tracks on the blaxploitation gem "The Education of Sonny Carson", and he really came to the fore when he wrote and sung two of his tracks on the Quincy Jones album "Body Heat" - the title track, which was a sizeable RnB hit, and in particular his song "If I Ever Lose this Heaven", co-written with frequent collaborator Pam Sawyer and covered by many since.

His co-singer on that track, apart from Al Jarreau, was Minnie Ripperton, then at her peak of success with "Loving You". In 1975 , the two duetted on a cover of "My Cherie Amour" on Quincy Jones' album "Mellow Madness", although Leon's smooth vocal seems a little less comfortable on the pysch/funk track "Paranoid" - good album though!
After that, Ware wrote several great songs for Ripperton's album "Adventures In Paradise", notably "Baby This Love I Have" and the haunting "Inside My Love", both featuring an increasingly upfront eroticism (let's say it almost drips on you!) that was to dominate his next work.

While working on his next solo album, Ware was also doing some demo tracks with Diana Ross' troubled brother T-Boy Ross. Motown's Berry Gordy heard the demo for the song "I Want You", and demanded it be passed on to Marvin Gaye for his next single. In the end, Ware's entire, nearly finished solo album was given to Gaye, with both Leon's lead vocals and many of his backing vocal arrangements replaced by Marvin's. The resulting album "I Want You" still stands as a 70s soul masterpiece, and a highlight of Gaye's catalogue. While much of the albums' upfront sexuality and eroticism has been linked to Gaye's sexual obsession with his younger second wife Jan, less has been written about how it stands as a natural progression from that emergent eroticism on the Ripperton album tracks, and follows in a straight line to Ware's followup.

Having given away a masterpiece, Leon Ware went into the studio in 1976 and recorded another. I've got little to say about "Musical Massage" except that I think it's the greatest soul album of the 70s, and if you haven't got it, click that link and listen to it before this one. Or just have a listen to "Instant Love", "Musical Massage", "Phantom Lover" or "Holiday", with Marvin Gaye and Bobby Womack on backing vocals. Once again, Gordy wanted Ware to hand the album to Marvin Gaye. Ware's refusal led to the album being released with little or no promotion, and it failed commercially, although its stature continues to grow with time.

Ware retreated to work as a songwriter and producer, taking the reigns for albums like Syreeta's "One to One" from 1977, Lara Saint Paul's "Saffo Music", and the albums "Shadow" (1980) and "Shadows In the Street" (1981) for the Ohio Players' offshoot band Shadow.

In 1979 he signed with Elektra and released the self-produced "Inside Is Love", a generally uptempo collection of soul numbers like "What's Your Name", and a faster, almost disco version of "Inside Your Love". Notably, with the beautiful "Love Is Such a Simple Thing", he began a collaboration with Brazilian legend Marcos Valle, who was exploring soul textures at the same time as Leon was reaching into brazilian harmonic changes. Valle began to feature Portugese versions of their collaborations on albums like 1981's "Vontade de Rever Voce" and 1983's "Marcos Valle".

That songwriting collaboration continued into the lush title track of today's album, 1981's "Rockin' You Eternally" (link at base of post). The song's a perfect slice of orchestral soul with unexpected chord progressions, Marcos Valle on the rhodes, and some unusually restrained and sensitive string arrangements from Gene Page. The album mixes uptempo numbers like "Baby Don't Stop Me" and "A Little Boogie (Never Hurt No One)" with more traditional Ware soul like "Sure Do Want You Now" and "Got to be Loved". His main writing collaborator on this album, however, was Richard Rudolph, husband of Minnie Ripperton who had died of cancer two years before. (Rudolph had co-written all tracks on the "Adventures in Paradise" album).

Some of the production suffers from FM synthesis, the scourge of the early 80s, but there's enough Leon here to still appreciate. There's a funny story from around this time where apparently Marcos Valle bought an 80s-style DX-7 keyboard in New York, sold his Fender Rhodes, regretted it, then had to beg Deodato (who was living in a NYC hotel suite) to sell him a Rhodes again, in order to get some recording done - Deodato had six Fender Rhodes.

Ware recorded one more album for Elektra in 1982, titled "Leon Ware" (just like his 1972 album), but they dropped him after it wasn't a hit. The 90s 'rediscovery' of the track "That's Why I came to California" from that album led, in part, to the resurgence of interest in his earlier work.

For most of the 80s and 90s he worked as a songwriter - here's a few early 80s examples from Nancy Wilson, Les McCann and Seawind. As a leader, he only released the albums 'Undercover' in 1987 and "Taste the Love" in 1995, and notably collaborated on the track "Sumthin' Sumthin' " on Maxwell's 1996 debut album "Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite".

The arrival of the internet and renewed interest in his older work seems to have re-invigorated Leon, and he's released four independent albums : "Candlelight" (2001); "Love's Dripping" (2003); "Deeper" (2004) and "A Kiss in the Sand" (2005). Of these, I'd recommend the jazz-focused "Candlelight", which just features Leon on vocals and Don Grusin on piano and rhodes, although they're all good. "A Kiss in the Sand" references brazilian-syle harmonies and structures, while the other two are your romantic soul-style Leon Ware. it's actually quite amazing how well his voice has lasted.

Although his website's recently had a major slickover, Leon continues to answer fan questions, as he has there since at least 1999, and still plays live.

Jazzanova's new album "Of All the Things" (2008) features a rendition of "Rocking You Eternally" with both Ware and Dwele on vocals.

He's recently signed with the reconstituted Stax Records, and in August 2008 released "Moon Ride", his first major label release in 26 years. To quote the PR : Leon says "I've never really been out there as a fully-fledged recording artist and performer because of my love for producing and writing. Now," he emphasizes, "it's time to do that..."


'A Little Boogie (Never Hurt No One)' - (L.Ware, R.Rudolph) 
2. 'Baby Don't Stop Me' - (L.Ware, M.Valle, L.Oliviera, P.Cetera) 
3. 'Sure Do Want You Now' - (L.Ware, R.Rudolph) 
4. Our Time' - (J.Williams, W.Beck, C.Willis, R.Rudolph, L.Ware) 
5. 'Rockin' You Eternally' - (L.Ware, M.Valle) 
6. 'Got to Be Loved' - (L.Ware, M.Valle, R.Rudolph) 
7. 'Don't Stay Away' - (L.Ware) 
8. 'In Our Garden' - (L.Ware, A.Anderson) 


Produced by Leon Ware for Leon Ware Productions.
Strings and horns arranged by Gene Page
1981 Elektra / Asylum Records 


Leon Ware - lead and background vocals
William Beck - piano, rhodes
Marcos Valle - rhodes on tracks 5 and 6
Chet Willis - guitar, bass
James (Diamond) Williams- drums
Laudir de Oliveira - percussion
Michael Boddicker - synthesiser
Shadow - backing vocals on track 2 


1972 'Leon Ware' at ce la plume / FLAC at Avax
1976 'Musical Massage' at Here only Good Music For All
1979 'Inside Is Love' at Never Enough Rhodes
1981 'Rockin' You Eternally' in the comments of this post

1982 "Leon Ware" at Soulfunkjazz / alternate
1987 'Undercover'
1995 'Taste the Love' 2001 'Candelight'
2003 'Love's Drippin' at zonamusical 2004 'Deeper'
'A Kiss In the Sand'

2008 'Moon Ride'
2009 "Leon Ware and Friends" collaborations comp.) at MasterfunkMoco


Rip by Simon666

Other album blog links in post go to :
Forrealheadz, Ce la plume, Blaxploitation Pride, Blak's Lair, DJ Uilson - Professor Groove, My Favourite Sound, fullundie, run's lossless library, Here Only Good Music for All, The Bossa Blog, Mellow Soul and Sensual Grooves, The Mood Indicator, Zona Musical, Let's Go Get It, regalame esta noche, funk classic master, Oufar Khan

Please thank and support these bloggers if you visit these links - lack of comments kill music blogs.



DannyBlue said...

What a post! Thank you so much

Anonymous said...

wow, great blog, complete infos from many sources, this is great, thanks, thanks a bunch :)

travis.bunn said...

Thank you, this is great.

Doctor Okeh said...

ahh yhea , this one is new to me , looks good Simon, I'll be grabbin it when I get in tonight fo sho , many thx in advance!!!!

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

I am aWARE when I say: THANK YOU Simon!

Hunter said...

Amazing post by all means! Congratulations Simon. Leon Ware is soooooo great!!!!

jdayal said...

Nice blog simon, I linked you in my blog. Kinda different genres but U have an awesome blog and U R a fellow Throwbacks member So there ya go!!
PEACE jdayal

Simon666 said...

Thanks for commenting guys.

If anyone knows of any blog links to the following albums, it'd be great to add them to the post (not rapidshare links, but places where they've been posted) :

Ike and Tina Turner - 'Nuff said"
Syreeta - 'One to One"
'Shadow in the streets' - shadow
'Shadow' - 'Shadow'

Simon666 said...

hey thanks jdayal, added you back

ish said...

you oughtta be a per'fessor. comprehnsive! :) thanks Simon.

Simon666 said...

thanks ish :)

hey, also if anyone knows a current blog link for Quincy Jones' 'Mellow Madness', it'd be great to add that to the post as well (I've just got a youtube song link there at the moment). See the other requests above.

Doctor Okeh said...

hey Simon , Im back to check this out , hey I have that Ike & Tina over at my other spot


Simon666 said...

Thanks Doc!
I've got that one on vinyl too, hot album. But I knew I'd seen in in Blogland somewhere, should have known it'd be you :)
Anyway linked it up in the post now ...

cheeba said...

Damn. Now THAT'S droppin' science!

deaf one said...

where did this ware come from, thanks for this unknown gem

jdayal said...

Simon I have Shadow S/t (1980)on vinyl. Would you like me to upload & send it to ya? Don't quite get what you're asking, just whether it's on some other blog or not?

Simon666 said...

Hi jdayal -
Hey that'd be great - why don't you post it at 'Crates of Chao's, then I can put a link to there from this Leon Ware post?
Some of the main Leon Ware productions don't seem to be around at the moment (the two Shadow albums, Syreeta)
What I meant was - if people just know about copies from another blog, they should post the BLOG link instead of just the rapidshare etc. link, just so original uploaders can be credited.

wiljello said...

one of the forgotten ! thanks !

Unknown said...

Amazing blog you have here Simon. And what a fine this rare 81 record by Leon is! I enjoyed it very much browsing around here. Thank u man.

R Boogz said...

Thanks! i've been looking for some Leon Ware

Flashlight said...

Thanks what a write up, with some fantastic links. You have worked so hard to provide us a all witha treasure. Many thanks!

jdayal said...

Hi Simon, Look 4 it on Monday. I'll have it up by approximately 10am my time (mountain)!
enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for comments guys.
And thanks jdayal, I'll be looking out for it!

Unknown said...

Hey Simon, great post for the criminally underrated Leon Ware! Marvin Gaye's I Want You was my introduction to Ware's genius (like most folks I'll bet) and Musical Massage has been one of my favorite Soul LPs of the 70s ever since. So thanks for the added records!

Just one thing - any chance you could post the DL link for Inside is Love? The site you linked to lets you DL links but doesn't seem to supply passwords anywhere on its webpage!

Simon666 said...

Hi Mike -
hmmm yes I missed the "avec pass" note on that post ... I've now added a "password required" note to my text.
"Inside is Love" doesn't seem to currently be on other blogs. I won't put it up myself as my policy is to not publish full "in-print" albums, though I will link to other blogs within my text so readers can make their own choices.
You can get it from Expansion Records in the UK via their annoying website - search "Leon Ware" from the artist tab at top right, otherwise maybe ask at this site - he put up a few Ware albums (including "Rockin You Eternally", at a lower bitrate, and "Taste the Love", which I've now linked to in my post) the day after my post was published ...

Economiewurm said...

I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know Leon Ware before, as it is such great music.

Simon666 said...

no shame Jur :)
make sure you get "Musical Massage" from the fourbrothersbeats link in the post ..

Economiewurm said...

Just grabbed Musical Massage. Thanks for the pointer.

invisiblenigma said...

Thanks Simon! I have never seen this one before! Much Appreciated Brother!

Simon666 said...

Thanks guys.

The megalinks in this post continue to grow ! :

Jdayal has just posted the Leon Ware-produced "Shadow" - Shadow (1980) at Crates of Chaos - Ware also wrote several songs on this album, my pick is "I can't keep holding back (my love)".
Anyway follow that link or see it in the post itself.

So ... what we're still after are bloglinks for :

"Mellow Madness"- Quincy Jones (1975)
"One to One" - Syreeta (1977)
"Shadows in the Streets" - Shadow (1981)
"Undercover" - Leon Ware (1987).

So drop back here with a note if you find them ..

And thanks jdayal!

Cheebs said...

he loooks like tay zonday off youtube!!


Justice said...

Thank you very much!

Simon666 said...

i've added a better link in the post for the Leon Ware album "Inside is Love", let me know how you go with that one.

emile63 said...

Simon, Leon Ware is amazing, and his influence is underestimated, you're right he is only now being recognised. Thanks for posting Rockin' Much appreciated.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the new INSIDE IS LOVE link!

I don't have any of those others, but hopefully someone will fill in those gaps shortly!

Simon666 said...

Those crazy italian boys at "My Favourite Sound" have done a special re-up of Quincy Jones' "Mellow Madness" just to help complete this Leon Ware discography, so go there from this link (which is now also in the main post).

So, that just leaves :

'Shadows in the Street' - Shadow (1981)
'One to One' - Syreeta (1977)
'Undercover' - Leon Ware (1987)

... to be found. We won't worry about Leon's production for Melissa Manchester :)
keep a watch out!

Thanks to all for comments and contributions ....

ish said...

Back from the mountains and oh look what I have posted for you.


Simon666 said...

Thanks so much Ish!
Syreeta's all linked up in the post now ...

Anonymous said...

awesome blog, thx for your hard work and great taste!!!! just lovin' it

hooch said...

Many thanks guys for the Leon - Stunning!

Man, track 3 on rocking is simply awesome! - WOW :)

Simon666 said...

'Sure do want you Now'? Yeah it's beauiful, it's got those twisting brazilian-style harmonic progressions, somehow unexpected in a soul song - I love what he does there.

Simon666 said...

This post still lives!
In the section where I talk about Leon Ware's 80s/90s songwriting, I've added a link to three of his songwriting examples from the early 80s - tracks by Nancy Wilson, Les McCann and Marlene/Seawind that you can get here from the blog "Mellow Soul and Sensual Grooves".

kenzo said...

thanks for this well researched post

k02 said...

Thank you ever so much

Simon666 said...

For those of you who were following the related blog links for this post : the 1983 Marcos Valle album (that contains some of the Leon Ware co-compositions) has now been re-upped here

Anonymous said...

thanks for that. i was looking for this for the longest! do you mind if i link it in my website?

invitecode: enoughjoy

Simon666 said...

hi chuck -
Glad that you found it :)
I would prefer you to link this post, but not the direct download links, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Ok Simon

Thanks will do! Much appreciated!

oui said...

thanks sir simon for this in WAV format! but i'm surprised that i can't burn the WAV on cd or open it in sound forge: file seems DRM protected! how comes? am i the only one having this problem?

Simon666 said...

Hi oui -
Surprised to hear that, interested to hear if anyone else has the same problem.
I know I've made compilations including tracks from the CD before. I got it in Japan in 1999, I think that's pre-DRM days ?
My only suggestion would be to put it through a file conversion program, i.e. open it up and save it (again)as a WAV ....

oui said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oui said...

that's exactly what i tried to do all an afternoon long. unsuccessfully of course on ANY wav edition program, on ANY music converter and on ANY burner... until i finally tried with after half hour uploading time (for the 1st track only) it finally told me: "error, impossible to convert. it must be a DRM protected file, blahblahblah" or something really close. simon, how do your wav react when trying to open it with specific softwares like burner, encoder or editor? please, could finally someone else tell his experience too? thanks in advance!

Simon666 said...

Hi oui -
Now, I've realised that these are actually .aiff files, as they came from a CD (whereas most of the others I've noted as WAV were recorded as such when I ripped them from vinyl.
I'm on a Mac and have no trouble converting this to/from anything. My understanding is that .aiff was once a problem on PCs but that this is not the case now. The format itself is pretty interchangeable - it's the same sort of information.
I did read somewhere on a forum that on a PC you can simply change the file extension from .aiff to .wav and then it works OK. Please try this and let me know how you go.

Svend G said...

Thanks. Always been a Ware-fan. This post is the hi-light of the week. Thanks again

oui said...

simon: no way, i'm afraid. changing extensions to wav changed nothing to the problem, that's something else i really can't figure. what's overfrustrating is that everybody else but you seems to not give a fuck about the fact i requested someone else's experience. nobody reacted yet apart you, that's lame.

analog6 said...

Thanks Simon, not only for sharing the music, but for the effort you put forth in composing these informative posts.

lovemonkey305 said...

Hello Simon,

Do you know the password in order to download the Leon Ware album entitled "Inside Is Love" because it constantly says that a password is required. If so, it would be greatly appreciated if you could supply it for me. Thx a mil!!!!!!!

Simon666 said...

Actually, hold on a few hours, I'm going to post it ...

Simon666 said...

OK ....
This post has been updated, most dead links replaced, four more albums added, AND I've also done a new post of "Inside is Love"(1979) in WAV and MP3 format ..

lovemonkey305 said...

Hey Simon,

I was wondering if you knew where I could get any of Leon Ware's cds for low prices because all of the other websites sell them are high prices?

Simon666 said...

Hey lovemonkey -
No idea sorry - my Ware collection is either expensive vinyl or CDs that I bought in Japan ten years ago ...

jzj said...

Fantastic blog. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to dig deeper! Awesome.

Unknown said...

wow incredible drop! I already had "Kiss in the sand" and "Muscial Massage" but to find the rest of these gems is amazing...thank you guys for all your is much appreciated as well as the music. Thanks!!!

scorpio said...

Many thanks. Leon Ware has been a favourite artist of mine for years. These posts will add to my collection. Regards.

Mark said...

Have just gotten into Leon Ware's stuff, so many thanks to you & the other contributers for a chance to hear some of his expensive out of print material.
FYI the link you have to Leon Ware 82 is dead, but you can find it here
The link to 'Taste of Love' is also dead.
Thanks again.

Simon666 said...

Thanks Mark,
I'll reup "Taste The Love" later.

Simon666 said...

Hi again -
"Taste the love" re-upped in discography above, also fixed all links in the post above, including Minnie Ripperton's "Adventures in Paradise" ( a must!) snd Quincy Jones' "Mellow Madness"

Economiewurm said...

Hi Simon,

Just wanted to say, that there is a killer Leon Ware song available at:

It is a soundtrack for the movie “The education of Sonny Carson.


Simon666 said...

Thanks Jur -
In the text of this post , there's a link to the whole soundtrack album, Leon sings on a few other songs as well, check it out :

RS link is in the word "Leon" under the video. After you download it, change the file extension from '.bad' to '.rar' then unzip it.

Hope you enjoy it, great soundtrack!

Economiewurm said...

Thanks for the pointer! Shame on me. I should have read this post more carefully. My only excuse is that the information you always provide us is simply overwhelming :)


Mark said...

Hi Simon
The UK Expansion reissue of 'Musical Massage' seems to have a couple of different tracks than the US 2003 reissue on Motown (which you link to). One of the tracks 'Best of two worlds' is on YouTube ( but the other track' With You' does not seem to be posted. Just wondering if you know of anyone who could post this track?
Many thanks.

Simon666 said...

Hi Mark-

I've got the Exapnsion one, and will upload the extra tracks when I get a chance.

I've also added a link in the discography for "Leon Ware & Friends" (2009) - a compilation of his collaborations with other artists.

Simon666 said...

Hi guys,
MP3 link has been deleted due to constant leeching by the Bentleyfunk blog - they're a copy-paste blog who just re-post from other blogs. I'll re-up at some stage, sorry. WAV version still active.

Vel_Kam said...

Tnx, Simon!!! Great stuff!Wave links
are still workin'...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


AIFF ?!?!?!




Simon666 said...

Hi Anonymous -
1. These are WAV files
2. If you ever get AIFF files, use a converter to change to WAV, they're the same quality.
3. On your keyboard there's a button called "caps lock". If you push it again, it turns Caps Lock off.

Lewis said...

Wow.... this is NICE! I have one Leon Ware LP, the one he did right around the time of "Let's Get It On" (never knew he was such a part of the Marvin Gaye sound until later), and this is the first time I've seen his music on a blog. Thanks Simon!

Simon666 said...

Thanks for your comments here and on other posts, Lewis :) Make sure you check "Inside is Love" :

Anonymous said...

Mega-Post.....amazing real-music. Tk you very much for posting!!!!
My respect.

Anonymous said...