Classics: The Whispers – Rock Steady (SOLAR)
1987 marked the opening of a new era in the R&B production. And, in the meantime, the arrival of a new sound. But also the establishment of signatures. From Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (Alexander O’ Neal, Ralph Tresvant, Janet Jackson). To Antonio L.A. Reid and Kenneth Babyface Edmonds. The latter takin’ on where Leon F Sylvers III left while bringing the Whispers to another dimension.
One would talk about Street Beat at the time, if not Swingbeat. With ‘Rock Steady’ most likely standing as its most brilliant illustration. Meanwhile prefiguring what would come soon after with the arrival of New Jack Swing.
Ironically, ‘Rock Steady’, which features Gary Taylor in the backing vocals, would stand as the last major cut for the band.
Texas natives Walter and Wallace Scott formed The Whispers soon after moving to Los Angeles, CA back in 1964. Eventually joined by Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson and Gordy Harmon which Leaveil Degree replaced in 1973 after he injured his larynx in a car crash. The Whispers releasing their self-titled debut-album back in 1969 on Soul Clock.
The band had moderate success though until they started working with producer Leon F Sylvers III (Shalamar, Dynasty, Lakeside…). Their second eponymous album, released in 1979 including the memorable ‘And The Beat Goes On’ and ‘Out The Box’. 2 gems in an infectious vein which The Whispers set their new reputation on. Following the vibe with tracks such as ‘It’s A Love Thing’ and ‘I Can’t Make It Better For You’. But also ‘In The Raw’, ‘Tonight’ and ‘Contagious’. Not to mention ‘Rock Steady’ which saw them collaborating with the then emerging production pair made of L.A. & Babyface. As a matter of fact, it’s fair to say the band had their heyday on SOLAR.
Switching to Capitol Records with the release of their ‘More Of The Night’ album featuring the Robert Brookins produced ‘Innocent’, they started losin’ their status from then. Delivering a majority of M.O.R. R&B/Soul cuts.
Marcus Hutson left the group in 1992 due to prostate cancer and sadly died of it in 2000.
Nicholas Caldwell sadly passed of congestive heart failure on Jan. 05, 2016 at his Stockton, San Joaquin County, CA home.