Friday, September 22, 2017

Empress – Control It (Album Version)

Lost but not least! Empress – Control It (Prelude Records)

The history of contemporary music is paved with a whole bunch of interrogations, when not mysteries. Artistic disagreement, lack of motivation/finances, discouragement, A&R/marketing mistakes… As many reasons that tend to explain along with time how and why so many pieces of music never got a proper release. And therefore remained in the shadow, despite an obvious appeal…

I quite didn’t get why Prelude passed on releasing ‘Control It’ as a single at the time. This despite their reputation for putting out quality material. And I’m not even talkin’ about the instant appeal of this boiling jam. A track which opened Empress’ one and only eponymous album. On the heels of the anthemic ‘Dyin’ To Be Dancing’ and Take A Risk’ to a lesser extend. A massive synth led joint with singer Gail Smith doin’ her thing in the middle of a killer horn riff over a funky bass driven groove. Featuring Crown Heights Affair‘s musicians with production work by the likes of band leaders Bert Reid and William ‘Bubba’ Anderson

Raymond Reid and William Anderson stood among the most prolific producers in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Beginning with their activities as members of Crown Heights Affair. With Reid playing trombone and Anderson playing guitar. One can find traces of them on gems such as France Joli‘s Gonna Get Over You’. But also Trilark‘s heavily sought after ‘Love Never Looked Better’ to name but a very few.

The twosome also put together Unlimited Touch. Crafting gems such as ‘I Hear Music In The Streets’ and ‘Searching To Find The One For them. And they did the same regarding Empress. Recruiting members of Crown Heights Affair such as bassist Arnold ‘Muki’ Wilson among others. But also top notched musicians such as Samy Figueroa and Fred Zarr around singer Gail Smith.

Empress released their eponymous album back in 1982. Most likely one of the best packages Prelude ever released, it would be their one and only though. As for Gail Smith would soon after disappear from the radar. It features the memorable ‘Dyin’ To Be Dancing’, their biggest classic with mixing work courtesy of François Kevorkian. But also ‘Take A Risk’. Meanwhile both ‘Take Me Along’ and ‘Control’ never saw the light as singles, despite their undeniable appeal.

Diagnosed with cancer, Raymond Reid sadly passed from the disease on May, 21, 2013, aged 60.

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