Lost but not least! Larry Graham – Sooner Or Later (Warner Bros.)
Sooner or later… But definitely better than never!
Larry Graham‘s contribution to the maturation of the contemporary music is just unvaluable. As the bass player of Sly & The Family Stone, eventually credited with the invention of the slapping technique. As the founder and frontman of Graham Central Station, but also under his own name, gifted with an incredible baritone voice (cf.’Just Be My Lady’).
A complete artist, he also managed to play clavinet, keyboards, harmonica, drums and vocoder such as on the uplifting funky ‘Sooner Or Later’, taken from his 1982 album of the likes.
Strangely enough, and despite its undeniable brilliance, ‘Sooner Of Later’ failed to meet Graham‘s expectations in the charts. And this probably because the man had made a reputation for himself as a balladeer during the previous years.
Anyway, it’s the appeal of the vibes that counts at the end. And the blowing ‘Sooner Or Later’ definitely has what it takes.
A native of Beaumont, TX, Larry Graham, Jr. was raised in Oakland, CA. By the age of five, he started preparing for what would be his life course. Learning to tap dance, then soon after getting to take piano lessons. In Junior High School, he eventually joined the school band thus playing drums. However, his destiny probably met a new turn. This when his dad came to give him his own guitar after he’d decided to not perform anymore. Larry then taught himself to play. And, by that time (he was eleven) he started performing in his first band. Then, by his mid-teens, he was playing guitar, bass, drums piano and harmonica. Soon after joining his mom’s band (The Dell Graham Trio). This with the latter on piano, Ruben Kerr on drums and him on guitar.
At age 15, one of the nightclubs where they performed regularly had a house organ available that had bass pedals on it. Larry taught himself to play the bass pedals while playing the guitar and singing. All at the same time! One night, the organ broke down. Thus leaving the band without the bass sound they had become used to. So Larry rented a St. George bass from Music Unlimited in San Leandro, CA. until the organ could be repaired.
Larry’s mother decided to change their trio into a duo. In other words, just bass and piano. So Larry compensated for not having a bass drum by “thumping” the strings and made up for not having a snare drum by “plucking” them. He wasn’t concerned with playing the so called “correct” over hand style method of playing the bass though. Simply because this situation was only temporary until the organ could be repaired. As it turned out, it was beyond repair with the rest being history!
Larry joined Sly & The Family Stone back in 1966, aged 20. The year after, the group released their debut-album (‘A Whole New Thing’). Meanwhile its follow-up – ‘Dance To The Music’ – brought them to international recognition. This with its title cut and ‘Everybody’s A Star’. The whole allowing his voice as well as his thumping & plucking bass style to be heard around the globe.
In the early 70’s, Larry came his own way and started producing Hot Chocolate (no connection with the British combo of the likes). A band which he eventually joined then renamed into Graham Central Station. Their eponymous debut-album appeared by the beginning of 1974. It spanned the memorable ‘Can You Handle It’. Meanwhile its follow-up – ‘Release Yourself’ – which saw the light by the end of that same year yielded the powerful ‘Feel The Need’. Other albums followed during the 70’s. Thus spanning extra hits such as ‘Your Love’, ‘The Jam’ and ‘Love Covers A Multitude Of Sin’.
Larry Graham launched his solo career back in 1979. Thus makin’ himself a serious reputation as a balladeer, with thanks to his outstanding baritone voice. He pretty much wrote history in capital letters with the title track of his 1980 ‘One In A Million You’ album. Meanwhile its follow-up – ‘Just Be My Lady’ – saw him reachin’ a rare level of intensity.
‘Sooner Or Later’, the title track of his 1982 album of the likes, didn’t quite generate the same following though. Probably because too far from the expectations of his fans. With the same applying the year after to ‘I’m Sick And Tired’, from his ‘Victory’ album.
‘Fired Up’, his last (solo) album, came to light back in 1985. And the year after he eventually shared the bill with Stanley Clarke and Aretha Franklin. Respectively on ‘I’m Here To Stay’ and.’If You Need My Love Tonight’.
In the 90’s, Grand Central Station featured Larry’s former Sly & The Family Stone band members Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini. They regularly performed with Prince in a number of concerts as well as in Prince’s ‘Jam Of The Year’ tour. They released a new album – ‘By Popular Demand- on Japanese label P-Vine back in 1997. Then, the year after, they delivered the ‘GSC2000’ album on Prince‘s NPG label. Their last effort to date bringin’ us back to 2012 and the release of ‘Raise Up’ featuring luminaries such as Prince, Raphael Saadiq, Al Green and Stevie Wonder.