Lost but not least! Atlantic Starr – Circles (A&M)
“Circles, goin’ round in circles…” Something we’ve all gone through at a moment or another of our respective lives. Although I remember falling in love with Atlantic Starr when gettin’ to hear ‘Circles’ by the time of its release back in 1982. With the sophistication and the delicacy of its arrangements most definitely reminding me of Ashford & Simpson‘s. If not of the evergreen ‘You Know How To Love Me’ by the likes of Phyllis Hyman. With big ups due to James Anthony Carmichael (The Commodores, Lionel Richie) for the quality of his production work.
Besides, I guess I never understood why they got more recognition with their ballads which, to be honest, happened to be quite middle of the road. When, in the meantime, a masterpiece such as ‘Circles’ didn’t get the same recognition. And I’m not even talkin’ about ‘Silver Shadow’ or ‘Let The Sun In’.
No need havin’ a deep look at the history of Atlantic Starr to understand it has been a long and winding road. And this, most likely due to the unceasing changes in terms of line ups, beginning with their lead singers.
Atlantic Starr saw the light by the second half of the seventies in Greenburgh, NY. Comprising drummer Porter Carroll Jr., bassist Clifford Archer, percussionist and flutist Joseph Phillips. But also the Lewis brothers. In other words, David (vocals/guitar), Wayne (keyboards and vocals) and Jonathan (percussion and trombone). Not to mention trumpeter Duke Jones and guitarist Sheldon Tucker who both left the band before their first recording. The band’s membership stabilizing itself around Archer, Carroll, Phillips and the Lewis brothers. This in addition to lead singer Sharon Bryant (whom Barbara Weathers eventually replaced), trumpeter William Sudderth III, and saxophonist Damon Rentie (who was later replaced by Koran Daniels).
It’s interesting to know that Atlantic Starr first released 2 albums as Newban. This back in 1977 on Guinness Records, meanwhile displaying an obvious penchant for Jazz/Funk vibes. They eventually changed their name upon A&M Records executive Herb Alpert‘s request when signing on his label. Their liaison lasted during 7 years which saw them releasing 6 albums.
Peaking at #2 in the US R&B charts, the groovy ‘Circles’ stood as their biggest success for quite some time. But it would be nothing as compared to the one they managed to get from ballads. Beginning with ‘Always’ which got them to top the Pop charts, but also ‘Secret Lovers’ and ‘Masterpiece’ to a lesser extend. Meanwhile, one could definitely feel the sophistication of their compositions when flirting with R&B, Soul and Funk vibes. This with absolute gems such as ‘Silver Shadow’ and ‘Let The Sun In’ athough they would have deserved a greater recognition at the end.
Atlantic Starr are still in activity nowadays with their last album to date – ‘Metamorphosis’ – released back in 2017.
Sharon Bryant left the group back in 1984 to pursue a solo career. Eventually releasing a solo album – ‘Here I Am’ – back in 1989 on Polydor. She’s also remembered for a feature along with Juliet Roberts and James ‘D-Train’ Williams on David Morales Presents The Face‘s ‘Needin’ U II’…
After leaving Atlantic Starr, original drummer and founding band member Porter Carroll, Jr. released ‘Porter Carroll II’ in 1986. An album that featured contributions from luminaries such as Marcus Miller and David Sanborn. But also former Atlantic Starr bandmate Sharon Bryant.
He has continued to do session work since that time. Besides, one could hear him playing percussion in Daryl Hall‘s live band for some time. But also joinin’ forces with Cool Million on the laidback synth led ‘Oh!’ as remixed by Dimitri from Paris. A cut we welcomed as our Single Of The Week back in February 2016.