Classics: Ronnie Laws – Always There (Blue Note)
More than 40 years have gone since the release of this gem, and feels like it’s… Always There! In such a proportion that it has most likely overshadowed Laws‘ following efforts. Produced by Wayne Henderson (The Crusaders), ‘Always There’ happened to be an instrumental on its original version.
LA-based band Side Effect gave it a sung cover version with lyrics written by Paul B Allen III. Released as a part of the band’s ‘What You Need’ album the year after, it ended up being a minor hit at the time.
We therefore would have to wait until 1991 and the release of Incognito‘s version to see Side Effect‘s reaching the upper heights in the search lists.
Born in Houston, TX, Ronnie Laws is the fifth of an eight-children family. A rhythm & blues, Jazz/Funk saxophonist, he is the younger brother of flautist Hubert Laws and the older brother of Debra Laws.
He formed his own group – The Lightmen – while still at high school. He then moved to Los Angeles where he joined Earth, Wind & Fire, playing sax and flute on their 1972 ‘Last Days And Time’ album. By the same time, he eventually recorded along with Jean Carne and Hugh Masekela before launching his solo career.
Laws released his debut-album – ‘Pressure Sensitive’ – by the Spring of 1975. An album which featured the seminal ‘Always There’ with production work courtesy of Wayne Henderson. Their collaboration gave birth to one of the most famous jams in the history of Jazz/Funk. With countless artists givin’ it a cover version. From Side Effect to Willie Bobo, Wood Brass & Steel and Incognito among others.
From his ‘Every Generation’ album back in 1980 would come its title track as a single. The latter delivered in a 12 inch package in the U.K. along with ‘O.T.B.A. Law (Outta Be A Law)’. A track which Alton Miller partly sampled in ‘Beautiful’ 30 years after or so.
Ronnie Laws also ventured into vocals. An evolution one could notice on albums such as ‘Solid Ground’ which included ‘Stay Awake’ back in 1981 then ‘Mr Nice Guy’ the year after.
In addition to this, the man has recorded with countless other artists. Be it his brother (Hubert Laws) on his ‘In The beginning’ album for CTI Records in 1974. But also Alphonse Mouzon, Ramsey Lewis, Arthur Adams and Jeff Lorber. Not to mention Sister Sledge or Howard Hewett.