Lost but not least! Change – Angel In My Pocket (RFC Records)
I never forgot the first time I got to hear Change‘s ‘The Glow Of Love’ album. I was just like just like: ‘Say wot?’ Literally caught up by the flow of its arrangements. From its melodies to the maestria of its concept, showcasing a hypnotic diversity. Getting me into a I wanna know more will about its protagonists. In other words about its producers, musicians and singers. From a then relatively unknown Luther Vandross delivering the lead vocals on its title track and the 4X12 driven ”Searchin”. To Jocelyn Brown who did a cameo appearance as Jocelyn Shaw on ‘Angel In My Pocket’.
From its very first note, ‘Angel In My Pocket’ brings us into like an irresistible whirlwind. With Jocelyn Brown delivering an uplifting message full of emotion along with a firing orchestration. From its fierce synth parts to its killer string lines over a rumblin’ bassline. Makin’ of it one of the singer’s best vocal performances ever. And in the meantime one of the definitive highlights from Change‘s ‘The Glow of Love’ album.
Strangely enough, and despite its undeniable conviction, ‘Angel In My Pocket’ never saw the light as a single Stateside apart from being delivered as the flipside of the promo package of ‘Searching’. Now you tell me why…
– The end of the 70’s saw the establishment of a new team en route for worldwide recognition in the Disco/Funk circuit. On one hand, Jacques Fred Petrus, a French West Indies native who would act as an executive producer. And on the other, Mauro Malavasi, an Italian musician, songwriter, arranger and producer who crafted their sound in his Bologna-based studio. A song which he elaborated with bass player Davide Romani and guitarist Paolo Gianolio.
They started their collaboration back in 1978. Delivering no less than two albums. Respectively for Macho and Peter Jacques Band. With both of them in a typical Italian Disco vein.
1980 marked a big change for them artistically speaking. This with the arrival of Change‘s ‘The Glow Of Love’ album. An album which saw them defining a new standard and, in the meantime, a signature sound in the Disco/Funk circuit. With thanks to cuts such as ‘A Lover’s Holiday’ or ‘Angel In My Pocket’ featuring Jocelyn Brown. It also brought Luther Vandross to the first league with gems such as its title track and ‘Searching’. But also The B.B.& Q. Band (‘On The Beat’, ‘All Night Long’, ‘Starlette’). Then High Fashion (‘Feelin’ Lucky Lately’) or Zinc (‘Street Level’, ‘Punkulation’) to a lesser extend. And, last but not least, Ritchie Family (‘I’ll Do My Best (For You Baby)’)
Change released 6 albums between 1980 and 1985 and an impressive series of classics in the meantime. From ‘The Glow Of Love’ and ‘Searching’. To ‘Hold Tight’, ‘Heaven Of My Life’ and ‘The Very Best In You’. Not to mention ‘Change Of Heart’ and ‘You Are My Melody’ with production work courtesy of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. And, last but not least, the Nick Martinelli produced ‘Mutual Attraction’ back in 1985.
An accusation of tax evasion by the US Internal Revenue Service hit Petrus back in 1986. As a result, he put his activities on hold and fled to his native Guadeloupe. He got shot a few months after, in the late Spring of 1987, reportedly by a Swiss man whom he’d had a dispute with a few hours before at his owned club L’Elysée Matignon in Le Gosier…
Change eventually came to release an extra album – their seventh – back in 2010. But it was more of a collection that should have seen the light twenty years before.
2018 sees them back to the forefront along with Mauro Malavasi and Davide Romani, a new line-up of singers and musicians and a new album by the likes of ‘Love 4 Love’.
An effort comin’ up with all the ingredients that made Change sounding like no other back in the ealy 80’s. In other words, a stellar Disco/Funk approach. Itself enlightened by the presence of First League singers along with lush arrangements. This resulting in an impressive amount of goodies from ‘Hit Or Miss’ to ‘All My Life’. But also ‘Make Me Go Crazy’ in a vein somehow reminding of Bruno Mars‘ ’24K Magic’. These in addition to ‘Living In Your Love’, ‘How Will We’ and its title track with remixing work by the likes of Joey Negro. Not to mention a couple of remixes of classics such as ‘Searching’ and ‘Oh What A Feeling’ featuring respectively Luther Vandross and Deborah Cooper.
– A Kingston, NC native, Jocelyn Brown grew up in a family of 7 brothers and 2 sisters whom she was the eldest. Her aunt, Barbara Roy, was the lead singer of Ecstasy, Passion And Pain. Her mom, two aunts, cousin and grandmother were all accomplished singers.
Singin’ acapella among the family quickly became a way of life. Jocelyn would develop her art upon moving to NYC at the age of 6 while singing further in the churches of Harlem. A few years on, and she ended up leavin’ the Gospel to become a session singer, working with countless luminaries. From Bruce Springsteen to Bette Middler and Bob Dylan. But also R&B/Disco acts such Musique, Chic and Change (‘Angel In My Pocket’). Not to mention Kleeer or Cerrone (‘You Are The One’) among others.
The first time I got to hear her brings me back to 1979. Back then, she was singin’ the lead for Patrick Adams‘ band Inner Life on ‘I’m Caught Up (In a One Night Love Affair’ (Prelude). An experience she would repeat two years after. This with a memorable interpretation of Ashford & Simpson‘s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ (Salsoul). The year after seeing her teamin’ up with Salsoul Orchestra on ‘Take Some Time Out (For Love’). Then back with Inner Life on ‘Moment Of My Life’ and ‘I Like It Like That’.
Jocelyn Brown released her debut-album back in 1984. Its title cut – ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’ – standing as her most famous song as a solo artist. This with production work courtesy of Allen George & Fred McFarlane. She would eventually deliver its follow-up – ‘One From The Heart’ – 3 years after, collaborating with producer Hubert Eaves III (D-Train). An album which featured another goodie of her by the likes of ‘Ego Maniac’.
By 1985, Brown released ‘Love’s Gonna Get You’ along with producer John Jellybean Benitez. Eventually sounding like an answer to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, it most likely inspired artists such as Snap! then Bizarre Inc.. The first sampling one particular line in the song by the likes of “I’ve got the power!” on ‘The Power’. And the latter borrowing another line – “Why waste your time, you know you’re gonna be mine” – on ‘I’m Gonna Get You’.
Meanwhile Polish producer Juliet Sikora would embed (uncredited) vocals of Jocelyn Brown on ‘Larrys Garage’ back in 2015. The latter comin’ from her live performance at the Larry Levan Street Party on King St. in New York, outside the original venue of The Paradise Garage, May 11, 2014.
Facing problems with the development of her own career, Brown would most likely spend her time singin’ for others from then. Teamin’ up back in 1989 with Spanish producer Raúl Orellana on ‘Gipsy Rhythm’. Then a year after with Incognito on a memorable cover version of Ronnie Laws‘ ‘Always There’.
And how couldn’t we remember her brilliant performances on the 1996 Nuyorican Soul album? From her one of a kind rendition of Rotary Connection‘s ‘I Am The Black God Of The Sun’. To the uplifting ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It’. Not to mention, more recently, the firing ‘You Are Everything’ from Louie Vega‘s 2015 ‘Starring XVIII’ album. This in addition to ‘Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys’ with Bollo. And ‘Don’t Quit (Be A Believer)’ with Diephuis which Reelsoul eventually remixed a few months later.