Classics: Plush – Free And Easy (RCA)
‘Free And Easy’ initially saw the light back in 1980 as a matter of fact. This as a part of René & Angela‘s eponymous album, but also as a single. It didn’t make that much noise though. And that despite the presence of luminaries such as Louis Johnson on bass and Jerry Hey on horns among others.
No matter what, it would be given another chance two years later. René & Angela along with Bobby Watson reshaping it for the transcient Plush. With mixing work courtesy of Tee Scott. Meanwhile bringin’ it to another level, with thanks to its fat rumblin’ bassline. Although one wouldn’t hear anymore of the group soon after.
– Reputedly comin’ from the French “Peluche” (meaning “cuddly toy” or “teddy bear”), Plush saw the light in the early 80’s. This at the initiative of singing pair René & Angela who eventually produced them along with Bobby Watson. A two guy / one girl group made of Tony Phillips and Ambrose Henry II along with Siedah Garrett, Plush only released one (self-titled) album back in 1982. An effort out of which two singles saw the light. Beginning with ‘Burnin’ Love’ and more notoriously their cover version of René & Angela‘s ‘Free And Easy’.
Kevin McCord wrote and produced ‘Loved Right’ for Plush back in 1986 on Indie label Presents Records. But
we’re speakin’ here of a different group.
– René Moore and Angela Winbush met though a mutual friend in Los Angelas, CA by the mid-70’s. They first worked as songwriters. Thus collaborating with luminaries such as Lenny Williams and Tavares. Not to mention Lamont Dozier. They then soon after secured a record deal with Capitol Records. This resulting in the release of their eponymous debut-album back in 1980. An effort that featured the original version of ‘Free And Easy’. A cut which Plush eventually covered two years later.
By 1981, they co-wrote the outstanding although underrated ‘Secret Friend’ for Rufus & Chaka Khan. Eventually putting out their second album – ‘Wall To Wall’ – which saw them bringin’ their sophisticated arrangements to some bigger audience. Meanwhile delivering gems such as its title cut and the much sought after ‘I Love You More’. Then by 1982, they heavily contributed in writing material for a then debuting Janet Jackson as a part of her self-titled album. This before the release of ‘Rise’, their third and final album for Capitol the year after…
Ironically, they would reach their peak in 1985. This with the release ‘Street Called Desire’. An album which would mark their debut for Mercury but also happened to be their very last as an entity. Spanning the classic ‘Save Your Love (For #1)’ featuring Kurtis Blow and ‘I’ll Be Good’. And also featuring the premonitory ‘Who’s Foolin’ Who’ although it never saw the light as a single. The twosome soon after entering into legal proceedings against each other. With Moore blaming Winbush for lending her songwriting and production talents to other artists. And Winbush arguing the demise of the group was due to Moore‘s alleged violent behavior.
From then, Moore and Winbush went on to successful solo careers, as performers, songwriters, and producers. Moore lent his songwriting and production talents to Michael Jackson. This on his 1991 ‘Dangerous’ and 1995 ‘HIStory’ albums. Then he later formed Multi-Media Communications which operated radio stations from 2008 to 2012. On her side, Winbush managed to score five top ten R&B hits as a solo artist. Eventually writing and / or producing songs for Sheena Easton, Stephanie Mills and Lalah Hathaway, to name a few.
– A native of Los Angeles, CA, Siedah Garrett started singin’ as a child. Eventually joinin’ a five piece band by the likes of Black Velvet & Satin Soul, which performed Top 40 hits around various clubs, when she was in her early teens. With the first official recording of her bringin’ us back to 1977. And this as a backing vocalist on D.J. Rogers‘ ‘Love, Music And Life’ album. Thus sharing the duties with other luminaries such as Wah Wah Watson (guitar) Keni Burke (bass) and Jeff Porcaro (drums) among others.
The beginning of the 80’s saw her joinin’ forces with Tony Phillips and Ambrose Henry II under the Plush guise. The threesome releasing an eponymous album back in 1982 with production work courtesy of René & Angela. With the latter spanning the bumpin’ ‘Free And Easy’. Then, two years after, she topped the charts while duetting with Dennis Edwards on the memorable ‘Don’t Look Any Further’.
The mid-80’s saw her opening a long time working relationship with Quincy Jones. With the latter releasing the infectious ‘Do You Want It Right Now’ on his own Qwest Records label. This as a part of the 1985 ‘Fast Forward’ OST with remixing work courtesy of Jellybean. Then doin’ the same three years after regarding the Housey ‘K.I.S.S.I.N.G.’ produced by Shep Pettibone. Meanwhile, her connection with the Dude also allowed her to contribute to Michael Jackson‘s 1987 ‘Bad’ album. Co-writing ‘Man In The Mirror’, but also appearing on the vibrant ‘I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You’. And co-writing cuts such as ‘Back On The Block’ and ‘The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)’ for Jones as parts of his 1989 ‘Back On The Block’ album.
Later, by the second half of the nineties, she joined the Brand New Heavies on their 1997 ‘Shelter’ album. Eventually co-writing the memorable ‘Sometimes’.
Strangely enough, Siedah Garrett only counts three albums to her credit. With her latest – ‘Siedah’ – back in 2003. Meanwhile she managed to leave quite an impressive legacy. Both as a performer and a songwriter. Working with others luminaries such as Al Jarreau, Kashif and Patti Austin. This in addition to the Commodores (‘Nightshift’), Madonna, Nick Kamen and Anthony And The Camp among many others. Meanwhile 2006 saw her sharing the bill with The Freemasons on the vibrant ‘Rain Down Love’, itself interpolating The Love Unlimited Orchestra‘s classic ‘Midnight And You’. Just like Soulpersona along with Princess Freesia would do five years later on ‘Ultrasuperlove’.