Sun. Oct. 20, 2019

10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs

10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs… The establishment of an identity happened to be the ultimate key word by the end of the 70’s. Be it visually with trends applying to social if not political categories, such as brilliantly illustrated on ‘Car Wash’. As musically with the arrival of producers settin’ up a distinctive sound. Not to mention songwriters who heavily contributed crafting a direction to artists depending on their goals. Smokey Robinson, McFadden & Whitehead, Holland/Dozier/Holland… But also Baker-Harris-Young , Gamble & Huff and Norman Whitfield are among the first names coming to mind. With Rod Temperton makin’ no exception…

10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs
Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Rod Temperton

A native of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, Rodney Lynn Temperton admitted he was a musician from an early age in a BBC Radio 2 documentary titled ‘The Invisible Man: the Rod Temperton Story’. He’d go to sleep while being a kid, listening to Radio Luxembourg. Therefore naturally thinking it has been of some influence.

Familiar with the drums, he became a full-time musician. Eventually playing keyboards in various Dance bands. By 1974 he answered an advert which Johnnie Wilder, Jr. had placed in Melody Maker. This getting him to become a member of Heatwave, which the latter was putting together at the time.

Temperton played Wilder the songs he’d been composing. And they all provided material for the band’s 1977 debut-album, ‘Too Hot To Handle’. The impact happened to be immediate with ‘Boogie Nights’ scoring a #2 in the charts both in the UK and Stateside. A cut which they soon after followed with ‘Always And Forever’ on a downtempo tip. With other gems such as ‘Too Hot To Handle’ and ‘Ain’t No Half Steppin” turning this album into an essential investment. Meanwhile ‘Groove Line’ confirmed the position of the group as a part of their follow-up album – ‘Central Heating’ – the year after.

Temperton‘s last biggie for the group, which he left inbetween, was ‘Gangsters Of The Groove’ from their 1980 ‘Candles’ album. And if ever there had been a good reason for him to leave, it was because of his writing skills got to the attention of Quincy Jones. The latter hiring him to write for various projects he was working on at the time.

The feeling between the two proved to be instant. Thus leading to the release of an impressive list hits of the period. Beginning with Michael Jackson for whom he wrote ‘Rock With You’ and the title track of his ‘Off The Wall’ debut-album back in 1979. But also ‘Baby Be Mine’ in addition to ‘The Lady In My Life’. Not to mention the title cut of his ‘Thriller’ album, 3 years after.

Through Quincy Jones, Temperton also wrote the title cut of Rufus & Chaka Khan‘s ‘Masterjam’ album in 1979. Then ‘Love X Love’ and ‘Give Me The Night’ for George Benson (1980). Not to mention ‘Stomp’ for The Brothers Johnson that same year. He then came up with the memorable ‘Razzmatazz’ for Quincy Jones in 1981. Eventually contributing to his ‘Back On The Block’ album, 9 years after. But also ‘Baby Come To Me’ for Patti Austin and James Ingram. This in addition to ‘Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)’ for Donna Summer (1982). Then ‘Yah Mo Be There’ for James Ingram & Michael McDonald in 1983.

Elsewhere, one could find Temperton‘s songs in the repertoire of countless artists. From Herbie Hancock to Anita Baker. But also Stephanie Mills, Mica Paris and Manhattan Transfer. Not to mention Aretha Franklin among others.

Lesser known is the fact that Rod Temperton wrote songs for Karen Carpenter. Probably because they never saw the light back then. Most likely because of A&M label heads Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss‘s negative response at the time.
Their recording happened between May 1979 and January 1980. Two of them – ‘Lovelines’ and ‘If We Try’ – saw the light in 1996. And this, some 13 years after her passing, as a part of her eponymous album. Then a third one – ‘Midnight (Never Lets You Down)’ – ended up surfacing on Internet years after.

Rod Temperton‘s death was announced on Oct. 05, 2016. Warner/Chappell John Platt describing its cause as “a brief aggressive battle with cancer”.
He had died at the age of 66 in London the previous week and his funeral had already taken place. The exact date of his death hasn’t not been specified…

10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / Michael Jackson – Thriller (Epic)
I suppose we’ve used all the superlatives in regards to Michael Jackson‘s ‘Thriller’ album and its title cut along with time. Its construction certainly paved the way for what would become Jacko‘s trademark during the following years. Be it in terms of production as of visual effects which characterized his video films from then. The result got way over the expectations at the time. Becoming the biggest selling album of all the times. ‘Thriller’ (the single) didn’t make it as #1 in the charts though only reachin’ the #4 position. As opposed to ‘Rock With You’ from his 1979 ‘Off The Wall’ album. A cut which Temperton and Quincy Jones also happened to respectively write and produce…
10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / The Brothers Johnson – Stomp (A&M)
The Brothers Johnson saw the light back in 1975 in Los Angeles, CA. They would start as backing musicians for artists such as Billy Preston and Bobby Womack. This before meeting Quincy Jones whom they worked with on his ‘Madness’ album.
This happened to be the beginning of a fruitful collaboration. Therefore givin’ birth to classics classics such as ‘I’ll Be Good To You’ and ‘Strawberry Letter 23’ (initially sung by Shuggie Otis). Not to mention the aforementioned, taken from their 1980 ‘Light Up The Night’ album. Quincy Jones using the same collaborators as for Michael Jackson. With the latter appearing for the occasion on backing vocals, along with Rod Temperton on electric piano and Greg Phillinganes on synths…
10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom (MCA)
Rod Temperton and sound engineer Bruce Swedien teamin’ up once again. This time on ‘Sweet Freedom’ with former Dobbie Brothers lead singer Michael McDonald. A track taken from the 1986 action/comedy film ‘Running Scared’, directed by Peter Hyams with Gregory Hine on the leading role. This would be McDonald‘s last Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as a matter of fact.
Temperton and Swedien also wrote and produced ‘Man Size Band’ for Klymaxx back in 1986.
10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby Come To Me (Qwest Records)
Patti Austin got to major recognition in 1981 with the release of Quincy Jones‘s ‘The Dude’ album. There, she took the lead vocals on the memorable ‘Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me’ (which Stevie Wonder co-wrote) and ‘Razzmatazz’. An album followed by the Quincy Jones Presents Patti Austin‘s Every Home Should Have One’ one. As led by the mellow and smooth Rod Temperton written ‘Baby Come To Me’ where she shared the duties with James Ingram.
10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / James Ingram & Michael McDonald – Yah Mo B There (Qwest Records)
On the heels of his first collaborations with producer Quincy Jones on his 1981 released ‘The Dude’ album featuring ‘Just Once’ and One Hundred Ways’… James Ingram opened his account as a solo artist two years after with the Quincy Jones produced album ‘It’s Your Night’ and its key track, ‘Yah Mo B There’ along with Michael McDonald.

Although it probably stands as his most famous song (co-written by Rod Temperton) and eventually got him and fellow singer Michael McDonald to be awarded for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, his two only #1 singles on the US Hot 100 would be another duet – ‘Baby Come To Me’ – with Patti Austin in 1983, and ‘I Don’t Have A Heart’, this time as a solo artist 7 years later [More…]

10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / George Benson – Give Me The Night (Warner Bros.)
1980 marked a change of artistic direction for Jazz guitarist George Benson. Meanwhile joinin’ forces with producer Quincy Jones on his ‘Give Me The Night’ album. Although this happened to be the only collab between these 2 giants, it got Benson straight at #1 position on both the Top Soul Albums and Jazz Albums Chart as well as #3 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts. With extra thanks to Rod Temperton who wrote among others the memorable ‘Love X Love’ and its title track. Meanwhile Patti Austin delivered the backup and scat vocals.

“One of the last Disco singles to become a major success, with the steady decline of the genre in the early 80’s” according to Wikipedia… It would be Benson‘s first single to hit number one on the US Billboard Soul Singles chart.

10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / Heatwave – Boogie Nights (GTO/Epic)
The jam that started it all for both British band Heatwave and Rod Temperton as a songwriter. Produced by Barry Blue, it got the band to #2 position in the charts both in the UK and in America.
KC & The Sunshine Band, Will To Power and The Weather Girls eventually covered it. It stands as one of the group’s signature songs along with ‘Always And Forever’, ‘Groove Line’ and ‘Gangsters Of The Groove’ which Temperton all wrote [More…]
10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / Quincy Jones & Patti Austin – Razzmatazz (A&M)
Taken from his ‘The Dude’ album, the Rod Temperton penned ‘Razzmatazz’ saw Quincy Jones teaming up with songstress Patti Austin. But also along with luminaries such as Herbie Hancock (electric piano), Jerry Hey (trumpet) and Greg Phillinganes (synth) among others.
One of his signature cuts along with ‘Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me’, released as its B-side. It received a heavy support back then by the likes of Frankie Crocker on WBLS.
Patti Austin would eventually collaborate with Masters At Work 20 years after on ‘Like A Butterfly (You Send Me)’. Somehow echoing to ‘Razzmatazz’…
10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / Rufus & Chaka Khan – Masterjam (MCA)
The first team work between Rod Temperton and Quincy Jones referring to its release date (1979). With the latter collaborating once again with Chaka Khan, on the heels of his ‘Sounds… and Stuff Like That!’ album released the year before. Temperton wrote two songs on this ‘Masterjam’ album (‘Live In Me’ and its title cut). Although they’ve ended up being pretty much overshadowed by the memorable ‘Do You Love What You Feel’, itself penned by Rufus group member David Wolinski.
10 essential Rod Temperton penned songs / LL Cool J & Boyz II Men – Hey Lover (Def Jam) (MCA)
Some of you could wonder about the presence of LL Cool J as a part of this tribute which, to a certain extend, may seem quite unexpected. But wait a minute! A quick look around and you’ll realize this jam has been built on a sample of Michael Jackson‘s ‘The Lady In My Life’, from his 1982 hit album ‘Thriller’. One of the songs Temperton happened to write for the latter. This explaining why the US rapper credited him as the writer of ‘Hey Lover’. Fair enough, don’t you think?
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