Most Wanted! Black Ivory – Mainline (Buddah Records)
From the very first note, you can tell… You can tell you’re in the presence of a magnetic piece of music. From its uplifting lyrics, to its sophisticated arrangements. In an appealing vein somehow reminding of Chaka Khan‘s ‘I’m Every Woman’ or Diana Ross‘s ‘Love Hangover’. No wonder why it found extra echo years after. As sampled on Barbara Tucker & Darryl D’Bonneau‘s ‘Stop Playin’ With My Mind’ on Strictly Rhythm. Then more recently on Frankie Knuckles presents Director’s Cut feat. B. Slade‘s ‘Get Over U’ with edit courtesy of Sami Dee…
– Hailing from Harlem, NYC, the Mellow Souls saw the light back in the late 60’s. Originally a twosome, Stuart Bascombe and Russell Patterson invited Leroy Burgess to join and sing the lead.
Searchin’ around to find a record deal, they met producer/songwriter Patrick Adams. The latter took them under his wing and eventually signed them on Today, an indie label which he was running at the time. He then suggested them to change their name and Black Ivory was born!
Despite some obvious talent, the band never got the recognition they deserved though. At least on a national level and this, because of the structures of the U.S. distribution system. Not that far away from groups such as The Stylistics and Blue Magic on downbeat songs such as ‘You And I’, they nevertheless encountered a positionning problem as unable to compete in the meantime with Disco when it became the dominant sound.
As a result, none of their jams generated a big following at the time. Including the infectious ‘Mainline’ which most likely gained some attention after being partly used by artists such as Barbara Tucker & Darryl D’Bonneau on ‘Stop Playing With My Mind’. Not to mention Frankie Knuckles on ‘Get Over U’ as edited by Sami Dee more recently.
Black Ivory released a total of 6 albums between 1972 and 1984. With the latest – ‘Then And Now’ – including the phonky ‘You Are My Lover’ on Panoramic Records. Meanwhile, Leroy Burgess went on to join R&B/Boogie Funk band Aleem 2 years after.
– A singer, songwriter, keyboardist, arranger and producer, Leroy Burgess stands as a key figure in the NYC Disco scene. He started as a backing singer for Black Ivory at the age of 17 and would write most of the band’s hits, beginning with the seminal ‘Mainline’.
Burgess is also remembered for his countless collaborations with Patrick Adams. Be it as a member of Inner Life (along with Jocelyn Brown), The Universal Robot Band or Bumblebee Unlimited. But he also happened to work with producer Greg Carmichael under the Convertion guise. A transient act whom you might remember for ‘Let’s Do It’ which Frankie Crocker heavily championed back then on WBLS. With Louie Vega givin’ it a revamp back in 2015.
He joined Taharqa and Tunde Ra Aleem to form Aleem (later known as The Fantastic Aleems) in the mid-80’s. Together, they would drop gems such as ‘Get Loose, ‘Confusion’ and ‘Love’s On Fire’. They also produced the memorable ‘Over Like A Fat Rat’ for Fonda Rae.
Meanwhile, joining forces with artists of the current times was just like a natural progression for him. Collaborating with luminaries such as The Sunburst Band, Cool Million and Yam Who? But also Jonny Montana & Craig Stewart. With his latest delivery – ‘More Love’ – seeing him sharing the duties with NYC vet DJ/Producer Kenny Carpenter.
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