Sun. May. 26, 2019

Mass Production – Shanté (Instrumental)

Lost but not least! Mass Production – Shanté (Cotillion/Atlantic)

Best remembered for ‘Firecracker’ their only hit, from their 1979 ‘In The Purest Form’ album. Norfolk, VA-bad band Mass Production established themselves as a serious force to be reckoned with during their 7 years of activity in the Jazz/Funk circuit. With each of their new album getting more attention by the aficionados.

In addition to the latter, other pieces worth the check from their repertoire include ‘Cosmic Lust’. But also ‘Groove Me’. Not to mention the instrumental ‘Shanté’, from the ‘Masterpiece’ album that saw the light the year after. But what does “Shanté” mean at the end? Sounding close to the memorable “Sashay! Shantay!” from RuPaul‘s ‘Supermodel Of The World’ years after. But also to French verb “Chanter” which means “Sing”. The ironical thing being that Mass Production‘s ‘Shanté’ is an instrumental at the end…

A cosmic jam, as a matter of fact, sounding like an aggregation of elements/influences from various classics. Beginning with The Temptations‘ ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’. But also Steely Dan (‘Do It Again’). With something of Roy Ayers

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Overview
Although they never achieved the notoriety they deserved, Mass Production were one of the most fascinating bands in the Disco/Jazz/Funk circuit. They were also one of the largest as a matter of fact. Sometimes regrouping up to eleven members. From Kevin ‘D’No’ Douglas (bass and vocals) and Joseph Robinson Smallwood (trumpet, flugelhorn, and vocals). To Agnes ‘Tiny’ Kelly (lead vocals, vocoder; later replaced by Dee (DeeDee) Henderson) and Emmanuel Redding (percussion). But also Gregory McCoy (saxophone), Ricardo Williams (lead vocals, drums, percussion) and Tyrone Williams (keyboards). Not to mention Rodney Phelps (lead guitar, keyboards) and LeCoy Bryant (rhythm guitar, vocals). Then, last but not least,  Larry ‘Rockstarr’ Marshall (lead vocals)  and James ‘Otiste’ Drumgole (trumpet, flugelhorn, and vocals).

Phelps eventually left the band before the recording of their 1980 ‘Massterpiece’ album. Thus leaving Bryant to handle all guitar duties. He was later replaced by Danny Harris (lead guitar) who toured with the group as a freelance guitarist for a couple of years before leavin’ to work as a recording session musician. Mass Production would then expand back to ten, with Samuel Williams joining on drums in the early 80’s. Thus allowing Ricardo Williams to focus more on vocals.

Seeing the light by the beginning of the 70’s in Norfolk, VA, Mass Production found some inspiration in the successful R&B bans back then. Beginning with Earth, Wind & Fire. But also the Commodores, the Bar-Kays and Cameo. They eventually relocated to the Big Apple in the mid-70’s where they signed a record deal with Cotillion via Atlantic.

Mass Production came straight to the attention of the Funk crowd with the release of their aptly titled ‘Welcome To Our Word’ album back in 1976. The latter brilliantly showcasing the fierceness of their grooves. This with gems such as its title cut, but also ‘I Like To Dance’. Their ‘Believe’ album the year after bringin’ extra goodies such as ‘Cosmic Lust’ and the smooth ‘Keep My Heart Together’ somehow reminding of Blue Magic and The Stylistics.

‘Slow Bump’, from their 1978 ‘Three Miles High’ album, has most likely something of Earth, Wind & Fire. Meanwhile, MP would reach another dimension with the memorable ‘Groove Me’ from the same package. Then the following year with the infectious ‘Firecracker’. Itself standing as the highlight of their ‘In The Purest Form’ album. Then, the same year with the stellar ‘Shanté’ from their ‘Massterpiece’ album. Its follow-up – ‘Turn Up The Music’ – pursuing the vibe in 1981 with its firing title track. Then ‘In A City’ and ‘Weird’ pretty much makin’ the interest of the 1982 ‘In A City Groove’ album. The group disbanding the year after, soon after the release of ”83′ album. The latter featuring the cosmic ‘Victory ’83’ in a vein quite reminding of Mtume

One could read on Wikipedia that “Mass Production recently reunited”, and were “in the process of recording new material and preparing to hit the stage in 2017.”

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