Most Wanted! Keni Burke – Risin’ To The Top (RCA)
Not to be missed with Phalon‘s ‘Rising To The Top’… The aptly titled ‘Risin’ To The Top’ is without a single doubt Keni Burke‘s most famous and sought after piece of music.
A smooth funky groove, which the latter co-wrote with Allan Felder, it featured the legendary Vincent Montana, Jr. (MFSB) on vibraphone. But also Barbara Ingram and Carla Benson on the backing vocals under the direction of Norma Jean.
‘Risin’ To The Top’ fully illustrates Keni Burke‘s obvious talent as a musician, arranger and producer. He therefore reached the perfect balance, blending aerial keys over a smooth funk bassline. No wonder why countless rappers who sampled it consider this track as an influential composition. Australian songstress Charlene Smith givin’ it like a brilliant interpolation on ‘Feel The Good Times’ back in 1995.
A bassist, keyboardist, songwriter and producer, Chicago, IL-born Kenneth M Burke made his first classes in the second half of the 60’s as a member of Five Stairsteps. Meanwhile, he would mainly act as a session musician during the following decade. Gladys Knight, Terry Callier and Gladys Knight standing among those he collaborated with back then.
Burke would therefore come to prominence by the beginning of the eighties. As a solo artist, delivering jams such as the aforementioned. But also ‘You’re The Best’ (from his album of the likes), or ‘Hang Tight’. And as a producer, crafting the classic ‘Put Our heads Together’ for The O’Jays. Not to mention his contribution on The Jones Girls‘ album, ‘Keep It Coming’, in 1984. The latter resulting in gems such as its title track and the sadly underrated ‘You Can’t Have My Love’.