Classics: Carl Carlton – She’s A Bad Mama Jama (20th Century Fox Records)
Although it didn’t chart as high as ‘Everlasting Love’, ‘She’s A Bad Mama Jama’ stands probably as the most well known cut by the likes of Carl Carlton. The reason being it brought him to major recognition in the clubs back in the early 80’s. With thanks to Leon Haywood who produced it as a part of his 1981 eponymous album. Featuring luminaries such as James Ingram in the backing vocals. Not to mention George Duke on keyboards.
Haywood releasing for his own account ‘Tenderoni’ in a similar vein 3 years after…
– Detroit, MI native Carl Carlton started his career in the mid-60’s as Little Carl Carlton. He first came to recognition back in 1968 with ‘Competition Ain’t Nothing’. A cut which turned into a Northern Soul Hit after its release on UK label Action. His biggest success being his cover version of Robert Knight‘s ‘Everlasting Love’. Not to mention the groovy ‘She’s A Bad Mama Jama’. A jam which Leon Haywood, who brought him to 20th Century Fox, penned and produced for him in 1981. It eventually earned Carlton a Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1982.
Another of his stand out cuts being ‘Swing Tha Sexy Thing’ with production work by the likes of Narada Michael Walden a year after on RCA…
– Houston, TX native Otha Leon Haywood first got into Blues as a child, playing piano by the age of 3. He eventually accompanied Guitar Slim in his teens. Then he came his first single – ‘The Squat/Without A Love’ – as an organist along with saxophonist Big Jay McNeely‘s formation back in 1962. Before joining Sam Cooke‘s band as a keyboardist until the singer’s death in 1964.
He would meet sporadic success as a singer. This, until his move to 20 Century Fox Records/MCA and the incorporation of Disco and Funk vibes on his repertoire.
His biggest chart success is without a single doubt ‘Don’t Push It Don’t Force It’. A cut taken from his 1980 ‘Naturally’ album which, ironically, would be his last for MCA. The year after seeing the release of the freaky ‘I’m Out To Catch’. A song where he shared the duties with Karen Roberts, taken from his ‘It’s Me Again’ album on Casablanca Records. That same year seeing the release of the memorable ‘She’s A Bad Mama Jama’ which he wrote for Carl Carlton. His last R&B chart record being the groovy ‘Tenderoni’, from an album – ‘Now And Then’ – which, for some reason, never saw the light.
More or less considered as a one hit wonder, Leon Haywood‘s music would nevertheless influence many artists along with time. From Aaliyah to Common, 50 Cent and Redman to name but a few. Not to mention Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre who notoriously sampled his 1975 released ‘I Want’ A Do Something Freaky To You’ on ‘Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang’ back in 1992.
Leon Haywood sadly died in his sleep on Apr.05, 2016, aged 74.