Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 10

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Welcome back! Hopefully you’ve recovered from last week’s one-two punch of Dan Hill and Little River Band. But here we are again, and you know what time it is. It’s wuss time. And I’m here to help you make the most of your wuss time with the latest edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

Earth, Wind & Fire – After The Love Has Gone (download)

I know what you may be thinking: “But I only thought soul-less white boys were capable of the Mellow Gold!” That’s where you’re wrong, my friends. No doubt about it, Earth, Wind & Fire was a truly funky band. Yes, they were responsible for some of the most fantastic, soulful songs of the 1970s. But in 1979, even EWF fell into the Mellow Gold trap. They did inject their unmistakeable R&B sound into the track, but they unabashedly wussed it up. And they were handsomely rewarded for it.

In the late ’70s, Earth, Wind & Fire was an unstoppable force. For starters, their ’77 album All ‘N All was a #3 hit on the Pop charts (and #1 on R&B). They were frequently selling out concerts all over the country, armed with not only a fantastic musical show but a visual spectacle – pyrotechnics, lasers, magic tricks and even the band climbing into pyramid formation. (These concerts were directed by magician Doug Henning, who has somehow had his fair share of mentions over here at Mellow Gold.) They nabbed the “Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Soul/R&B” American Music Award three years in a row (’77, ’78 and ’79) and won three of their six Grammy Awards in 1978. They recorded a ridiculously awesome cover of “Got To Get You Into My Life” for the movie Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and while the movie was a stinkin’ pile o’ crap, their song hit #9 pop (#1 R&B) and sold a million copies – as well as earning them one of those Grammies. Oh, and finally, they released a greatest hits compilation in early ’79, which included a new track entitled “September.” Maybe you’ve heard it.

So you see where I’m going. The band was quickly becoming the leader in R&B and Soul. They were, uh, on fire. They had yet to realize, though, that they had the potential to wuss out, if only they had somebody to guide them. Somebody who had Mellow Gold in his blood. Someone who probably cried once a day and enjoyed Wheat Thins as a healthy, mid-day snack.

Enter David Foster.

David Foster was already an up-and-coming musician, arranger, composer and producer, working with wimps such as Stephen Bishop, Neil Sedaka, Gary “Dream Weaver” Wright, Paul Anka and Seals And Crofts, not to mention television actors-turned-singers such as Cheryl Ladd, Jaye P. Morgan, and the one and only Ted Knight. He was brought in to work on the EWF album I Am mainly as a composer and arranger, but also contributed musically. “After The Love Has Gone” was a co-write between Foster, Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin, who was just about to become a new member of Chicago (that’s him singing lead on songs like “Look Away” and “I Don’t Want To Live Without Your Love”). It had several MG staples – gentle strings, unreal harmonies, and we can’t ignore those horns (which, actually, sound a lot like they belong to Chicago). The cherry on top is supplied by a gentle sax solo and a number of soaring key changes. In fact, every time they sing a higher note on those “ohh”s at the end, I think somebody’s head is going to explode. Maybe mine, as I try to sing along, or my wife’s as she winces at me pushing my falsetto to its very limit.

The song was perfect. Wimpy, but soulful as well. Some may argue its inclusion as Mellow Gold. Fuck those people. This is good wuss music. America agreed, giving EWF their second-biggest hit ever, at #2, as well as a Grammy for Best R&B Performance. Enjoy this download of “After The Love Has Gone,” and sing along, no matter how much the people around you protest.

Alessi – How Long, How Much (download)

This one is another Mellow Gold request, supplied by our friend Terje, who’s wussin’ it up all the way over in Norway. He provided this vinyl rip for us – so please excuse the crackles n’ pops – it’s worth it to get to the Mellow. (Terje would also like to point out that he never paid a penny for this Alessi album.)


Yo, Adrian!

Alessi, also known as The Alessi Brothers, was comprised of twins Bobby and Billy Alessi. After their original band, Barnaby Bye disbanded in 1974, the twins landed a deal at A&M (I wonder if they waited outside and stalked Herb Alpert?). They released a few albums and had a #7 hit with a song titled “Oh Lori.” The hit, however, was in the UK, which must have been somewhat of a disappointment for both the band and their record label, seeing as the twins were from Long Island, NY. A&M let them record four albums before sending them a clear message: boys, move to disco and get a hit, or you’re outta here. No disco hit = no Alessi on A&M.

Luckily, they picked up another record deal rather quickly (remember, friends, this was the late ’70s/early ’80s, when one could do such things). Quincy Jones’ new label, Qwest Records, released their 1982 album Long Time Friends (ironically distributed through A&M). Check out this record cover.

It featured Steve Lukather from Toto on guitar, and Patty Austin (of “Baby, Come To Me”, her duet with Michael McDonald James Ingram) on lead and backing vocals. And do you see that pink flamingo in the right corner? Here, let me enlarge it as best I can.

It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? With a producing credit from Christopher Cross, how could we expect anything less than the wussiest songs imaginable? And that brings us to “How Long, How Much.”

Truth be told, you don’t really need my commentary on this one. The wuss is so apparent. Terribly, terribly apparent. The vocal is pretty much ALL falsetto – and I’m not talking about the type of falsetto that appears on “After The Love Has Gone.” There’s no soul here, for starters. It’s all delicately enunciated, sensitive white-boy vocal on this track. The chorus has shades of Bee Gees. At 2:16, the song seems like it’s going to break down into some rocking, but have no fear, it’s really all synthesizers. There’s an electric guitar lead that plays throughout the majority of the song, but it’s not like Tony Iommi is playing it or anything. It doesn’t rock, not in the slightest, nor does it really contribute that much to the song. It just adds a bit to the ambience. It’s the parsley of guitar solos.

Alessi didn’t record again for Qwest after this album. But before you go feeling sorry for them, let me assure you that the brothers have done quite well for themselves. For starters, they sang backing vocals for many famous musicians – Peter Frampton, Olivia Newton-John, and John Lennon, to name a few. They also had a song on the Ghostbusters soundtrack (“Saving The Day,” which I’m not sure I’ve ever heard), and most impressively, have carved out a successful career for themselves in the commercial jingle biz. Diet Coke, Ford, Twix, Slim-Fast, Dr. Pepper, Sears…all of these companies have employed the Alessi Brothers, and as a result, the duo has won ADDY and CLEO awards for excellence in advertising. These two Long Island brothers are most likely living quite comfortably. They also still perform live, especially in the Netherlands, where they have quite a strong following.

And the best news of all, everybody: Barnaby Bye got back together! I know, I know – we all never thought it would happen, right? But it DID! The triumphant return of Barnaby Bye, where they played such hits as….uh…well, anyway, if you want to see any pics of their long-awaited reunion, check out the Alessi Brothers photo page.

Thanks again to Terje for getting us this track. I might have found “Oh Lori” on my own at some point, but “How Long, How Much” would have never crossed my path. You, sir, are a wuss connoisseur. A wussisseur, if you will.

That’ll do it for this week in Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Enjoy and see you soon!

  • David

    And thus ends the streak – I didn’t have this Alessi track. I *did* have (and kinda like) the Ghostbusters track, but … no “How Long, How Much” for me.

    Gotta say, I think it’s pretty lightweight, even for Mellow Gold. It’s more like Mellow Pyrite. Lyrically and kinda musically (check out those opening verses!), it’s like an early, wispy draft of Randy VanWamer’s “Just When I Needed You Most.”

    A song which demands its due here, by the way …

  • Ha HA, David!  I win!  I’m not sure if there’s a thing as too lightweight for Mellow Gold, though…

    You are the THIRD person to suggest "Just When I Needed You Most."  Clearly this is a sign from Emasculysus.  I’ll try to cover it next week.

  • I think EWF made their first foray into the mellow mines with "Reasons" back in 1975.  "After the Love Is Gone" is definitely even wussier, though.

    Their arrangements were always awesome.  Nothing sounds like "Getaway" or "Fantasy", and they don’t sound like each other, or "Shining Star", or "That’s the Way of the World".

  • Thanks for the Alessi post! Never heard of them before.

    You just educated me.

  • Terje

    Thanks for following up on my request, Jason. And “After the Love Has Gone” as performed by EW&F is, as you said, such a perfect song – one of my favorites from this era, and a perfect counterpoint to the whiny sound of the Alessi Brothers.
     
    How does one come across such fine vintage Mellow Gold as Alessi, you might ask? Well, in about 1985, a good friend of mine discovered, of all things, a local hardware store with cutout bins where they used to dump vinyl from the late 70s and early 80s from artists no one had ever heard about – like Alessi, Atkins, Alan O’Day, Iceberg Slim, Zapp & Roger Troutman (funk was never really hot in Norway – go figure…).  
     
    He’d pay something like $10 for 50 titles, gift-wrapped a bunch of them and passed them on as Christmas presents to all of his friends that year. From then on, all these titles were in constant circulation among my friends as birthday and Christmas presents for a couple of years, as a lame kind of in-joke, I guess (we were 13). Never paid much attention to the music back then, but the covers were always priceless (I especially enjoy the goggles…)

  • That’s a great Christmas gift idea (and it’s either impressive or sad that you were 13 – not sure). I think it’d be even funnier to do it now, when many people no longer have turntables.

    I still think you’re lying – we all know you paid full price for that album and follow Alessi all over Europe – but it does make for a good story.  :)

    That cover you posted…it’s so awesome, I hardly know where to start.  I like the tall guy in the back.  He kinda looks like Rudy from The Cosby Show.

  • Love the Earth Wind and Fire selection.  I don’t care if it’s a mellow gold hit or not, it’s a great song!  And, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but back in the mid 70s (I’m thinking maybe 1976ish) I went with my sister to see Andy Gibb, and the Alessi Brothers opened for him.  What a suck ass concert.  It was mostly girls screaming and camera flashes going off for 2 hours.  Hey! Maybe you can torture me some more by doing an Andy Gibb mellow gold post. 

  • Funny that you mention Andy Gibb.  There’s this great little blurb on the Alessi Brothers bio page:

    "Alessi toured with Andy Gibb on his Shadow Dancing Tour, which was the highlight of Gibb’s career."

    You have to love the way that’s written.

  • woofpop

    "it’s the parsley of guitar solos"
    That line made my day.

  • Robert

    "Alessi toured with Andy Gibb on his Shadow Dancing Tour, which was the highlight of Gibb’s career."<br><br>I love that kind of writing too.  They should add "Alessi once toured with Andy Gibb, who later died from a drug overdose."

    • Marita

      Andy Gibb died of myocarditis, not an overdose.

  • Robert

    Oh yeah, one other thing — after I heard "After the Love Has Gone" on the radio in the fall of ’88, I wrote a song called "Before a Love Is Left."  (I was in seventh grade, so cut me some slack for my impaired sense of humor at the time.)  For some reason I thought it’d be funny to comment on EWF’s use of bad grammar in their song title.  Shouldn’t it just be "… Is Gone"?  Oh yeah, when I say I wrote a "song," what I mean is that I wrote some lyrics on a piece of notebook paper.  I could never come up with melodies.  And after I wrote my first 12 "songs" in 1987, I had pretty much shot my wad on clever grade-school-level lyrics too.<br><br>Scraps is right — "Reasons" is pretty wussy, but I like it more than "After the Love Has Gone." 

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