Classics: Ten City – Devotion (Club Mix) (Atlantic)
Nearly 30 years have gone since the release of ‘Devotion’ and it still sounds as a manifesto. A House masterpiece which opened an impressive series of unequalled joints such as ‘Right Back To You’ and ‘That’s The Way Love Is’. Not to mention ‘Where Do We Go’, ‘My Piece Of Heaven’ or ‘Fantasy’ to name but a few.
Behind this, a self taught producer (Marshall Jefferson). And also three Chicagoan friends (Byron Burke, Herb Lawson and falsetto singer Byron Stingily) who most likely stand as the biggest House group ever!
We would talk back then about Deep House, embodying the most emotional side of the genre. Released the same day (on the same label) as Ce Ce Rogers‘s ‘Someday’ also produced by Jefferson. Two cuts which Tony Humphries heavily championed back in the day at the Zanzibar. We’ll probably never give them enough devotion…
NB: Not to be missed with Nomad‘s track of the likes which also made big waves in the UK.
Ten City saw the light in the second half of the 80’s in Chicago, IL. Formed by vocalist Byron Stingily, guitarist Herb Lawson, and keyboard player Byron Burke, the group originally started as Ragtyme.
Stingily met Marshall Jefferson at Trax Records after he heard him singing on the obscure ‘Funny Love’ by Dezz 7. Both of them layered a few unreleased songs before coming up with ‘Devotion’. The latter to the attention of Atlantic Records who offered to sign Stingily as a solo artist. He nevertheless refused and finally brought his collegues as a part of the deal.
Ten City released their debut-album – ‘Foundation’ – back in 1989. A solid collection which featured the classic ‘Devotion’ and ‘Right Back To You’ among others. ‘State Of Mind’ followed the year after, including gems such as ‘Whatever Makes You Happy’ , ‘Superficial People’ and ‘Nothing’s Changed’.
By 1992, the trio had parted way with Marshall Jefferson and released ‘No House Big Enough’. This would be their final album with EastWest/Atlantic. An album which saw them working with David Morales on the memorable ‘My Piece Of Heaven’. One of its highlights along with ‘Only Time Will Tell’.
A last album – ‘That Was Then, This Is Now’ – followed back in 1994 on Columbia Records. But despite the presence of the outstanding ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Say Something’ (co-written with Kerri Chandler), Ten City disappeared from the radars soon after. Not because the buzz had gone, according to Discogs. But most likely because the major companies had already started getting rid of the House artists.
Stingily pursued a successful career from then. Meanwhile Byron Burke had sporadical releases soon after. The group eventually reunited on stage for Stingily‘s Bday Bashback in 2015. This givin’ space for rumors of a possible return to recording activities, although nothing’s been confirmed as of yet…
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