Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Loose Ends: Ooh you make me feel!

Loose Ends remain for much in the recognition of what was to be called the Brit Soul back in the second half of the 80’s paving the way for a whole generation of new names such as Soul II Soul, D-Influence and the Young Disciples among others. A band whose repertoire brings us back to the souvenir of classics such as ‘Hanging On A String’, ‘Slow Down’, ‘Watching You’, ‘Love’s Got Me’ or ‘Mr Batchelor’, which would get them remembered as being the first UK Black group to be signed on the newly formed Virgin label back in 1981, as well as the first of the likes to score major hits in America…

“I’ve never forgotten that night when we was said that Marvin’d been gunned by his dad. I was home, listening to Kiss-FM and I felt literally shocked. Could it be the reason why I have those tones in my singing? That, I can’t really say but Marvin’s death has no doubt deeply affected me…”

I remember the very first time I met Carl McIntosh. I’d crossed the Channel with Dimitri from Paris to attend a final of the DMC DJ World Championships in London by the beginning of the 90’s. Luckily enough, I happened get seated at a table alongside Jazzie BMaxi Priest and Carl. I couldn’t tell you about the pleasure I felt meeting such a talented and sensitive guy who, at some time, reminded me of the late Marvin Gaye vocally speaking. We would stay in regular contact from then, meeting later on in Paris for the promotion of the ‘Loose Ends Tighten Up Volume 1’ album featuring former Soul II Soul vocalist Caron Wheeler and Maxi Priest to name but a few…

Loose Ends
Carl McIntosh, Jane Eugene & Steve Nichol
The Loose Ends era Pt.1 would last for more than 5 years, with usual ups and downs, until the moment it was obvious that the three founder members had no space anymore together, for the same reasons as what would happen to many British acts along the years when being signed with US labels and pushed to respond to the supposed expectations of the American crowd, as opposed to sticking to the style which made them famous in their home country. And that’s exctly what happened when female original member Jane Eugene (the other one being Steve Nichol) was tempted to sound more American. “We came to a point where there was not anymore room for the three of us under the same banner”, he said. “I mean, the fact of being simultaneously signed on an American label (MCA) had progressively made us lose who we were. At least, I could feel it myself”, thus leading Loose Ends to have a 30 months hiatus from the recording of ‘The Real Chuckeeboo’ album in 1988 to the one of the ‘Look How Long’ leaving Carl as the sole survivor of the original line up…

There was no real musical conflicts between us”, he explained. “Jane simply wanted to do an American type of thing with the help of people such as Jam & Lewis or L.A. & Babyface. Meanwhile I had the feeling that we’d become a little bit too confident, thinking that we were flying the flag for UK. I tended to make the comparison with upcoming British acts in the same vein as us such as Soul II Soul and Blacksmith, but when I mentioned their names to my pals they ended up being like : Say wot? Who are they??? We wanna work with L.A. & Face! The divorce was then consumed, with Carl expressing the desire to get back to the Brit street expectations. “To me, there’s nothing like being caught by kids in my surroundings tellin’ me : “Yo, Carl. I gotta got out and buy your record!” It’s far more important than being fronted to an American record company exec. telling you the name of the next thing to come… I don’t want to become predictable while sticking to a reputedly safe sound. It’s the best way to stop innovate.”

In America, you would find too many people saying ‘yes’, should your music be crap or not. Most of the time, you would find people over there who don’t know anything about music whereas in England no one’s gonna tell you that your record’s doin’ it when it’s not. They would even take a certain pride telling you that your work is a sh.. if they feel like it is, and I think it’s the best attitude to make you more competitive. I mean, when we as Loose Ends were thinking as a whole – but also when we were hungry – we was the kind of band that couldn’t fail. With History confirming Carl‘s sayings a few years later, seeing most of the British acts signed with American labels such as Soul II Soul, Mica Paris, D-Influence and Omar caught in the same kind of situation…

Back to ‘The Real Chuckeeboo’ which would be the very last album recorded by the threesome in 1986, Carl said : “It sucked because of the working conditions which have been ours at the time, flying back and forth when we recorded it, and I’m not even talking about promotion havin’us going from a place to another on a 7-5 interview process for 2 weeks, then go back to the studio to record the next single! We ended up being literally swallowed by a system. I mean, as far as I’m concerned, I ended up entering the ‘real world’ when buying a house and collecting bills as opposed to the previous period having me living what was to me a more appropriate lifestyle, I suppose. So when Loose Ends broke up, it made me realize how much music was important to me and how much I wanted to keep on doing it…
Carl proved to be right once more, reloading Loose Ends on his own alongside friends Linda Carriere, Sunay Suleyman + Christine and Trisha Lewin with the release of the ‘Look How Long’ album including the flamboyant ‘Don’t Be A Fool’, as if nothing had happened between, although with different people. “I guess this is one of the particularisms of the British system as opposed to its US counterpart. I mean, when a hot tune hits the streets in UK, it does its own promotion when it’s all about promotion or nothing in America. An album soon to be followed by ‘Loose Ends Tighten Up Volume 1 in 1991’ with the inclusion of the seminal ‘Hanging On A String’ as retouched by the late Frankie Knuckles.

Has the Loose Ends story gone to a definitive end? You never know! As a matter of fact, Carl has always left an opened door to his former partners, being recruited alongside Jane Eugene on Pete Rock’s ‘Take Your Time’ on Loud/RCA back in 1999 and doing many remixing works and collaborations on his own for people such as D’Angelo, Angie Stone and Omar, before working on an album with former Sunchilde singer Quazey B, and another one – ‘Territory’ (for the Japanese market) – with Pharoah Saunders and one time Loose Ends vocalist Laurnea with additional production work by Ali Shaheed of A Tribe Called Quest. McIntosh performing since under the Loose Ends Experience guise…
Quite hard indeed to predict if ever Loose Ends, whatever their formation may be, are to have a new life one day or another, but if there’s a thing we can definitely take for granted, it’s the fact that their vibe remain alive in the memories of all of those to whom Soul Music has a meaning…

Chosen few
Loose Ends – So Where Are You? (Virgin)
Loose Ends – Zagora (Virgin)
Loose Ends – The Real Chukeeboo (Virgin)
Loose Ends – Look How Long (10 Records)
Loose Ends – Tighten It Up Vol. 1 (10 Records)

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