Single Of The Week: Al McKay Allstars – Heed The Message (Joey Negro Extended Mix)
I guess it won’t make offense to anyone saying there’s something of Earth, Wind & Fire on the burning hot ‘Heed The Message’. And how could it ever be different at the end considering Al McKay‘s CV? A guitarist, a songwriter and a producer who’d spent 8 years as a member of E, W & F between 1973 and 1981… But also his bandmates. From the late Maurice White‘s younger brother Fred White. To Rahmlee Michael Davis, who played along E, W & F‘s first horn section to name a few.
As a result, no wonder why the uplifting ‘Heed The Message’ has that instantly familiar feel. With its arrangements bringin’ us back to the souvenir of boiling gems such as ‘Singasong’ or ‘September’. If not ‘In The Stone’. And, in the meantime, to the heydays of Jazz/Funk. With Z Records label head Joey Negro eventually enhancing the feeling on his retouching work…
Download from Traxsource.
A native of New Orleans, LA, Albert Philip McKay had his first break soon after finishing High School. This while accompanying a bandmate to an Ike & Tina Turner‘s rehearsal. And eventually impressing Ike with his left-handed playing guitar skills. And the same way he did with the latter, he would do with Sammy Davis, Jr. Although demonstrating this time his mastery of the then new Wah-wah pedal. Before comin’ to tour with Isaac Hayes among others…
McKay joined Earth, Wind & Fire to fill the void created by Roland Bautista‘s departure after the release of their 1972 ‘Last Days And Time’ album. A band member first, he would later add his voice (just like Charles Stepney) to the songwriting/production team of the band along with Maurice White. Eventually penning ‘Singasong’ back in 1975, then ‘September’ 3 years after. This before sharing the production duties with White on ‘Boogie Wonderland’ featuring The Emotions in 1979. Eventually writing the memorable ‘Best Of My Love’ for them in 1977. But also producing Renn Woods‘ debut-album, ‘Out Of The Woods’, in 1979. Itself mostly remembered for ‘Everybody Get Up’.
Al McKay left Earth, Wind & Fire soon after the release of their ‘Faces’ album which saw the light by the end of 1980. With a then returning Roland Bautista replacing him.
McKay‘s name also appeared along with the ones of Central Line, A Taste Of Honey and Glenn Jones. Not to mention Finis Henderson or The Temptations for whom he produced ‘Skip To My Lou’ and ‘Treat Her Like A Lady’. His departure from E, W & F never got synonymous with anger though. And it’s no surprising we saw him reuniting with former members of the band. Meanwhile givin’ birth to Al McKay Allstars back in the dawn of the Third Millenium. Then subsequently releasing the ‘Al Dente’ album in 2001.
The freshly squeezed ‘Heed The Message’ most likely sounds like the jam that could get them to be topping the charts. This with new arrangements courtesy of Joey Negro. Meanwhile a new album is in the pipeline, enthuzes McKay on his own website…