Classics: Five Star – Let Me Be The One (Philadelphia Remix) (RCA)
“Let me be the one…” Well I suppose this is what they managed to be by the mid-80’s…
A family band managed by their dad (just like The Jacksons) Five Star formed in 1983. They eventually came to give a face to the British R&B along with Billy Ocean. Both of them, incidentally, living in the same area (Surrey), back at the time.
Arranged by Loose Ends and produced by Nick Martinelli, ‘Let Me Be The One’, enlightened by the presence of the late Grover Washington, Jr. on sax, stands as one of their key cuts along with ‘All Fall Down’, ‘System Addict’ and ‘The Slightest Touch’…
‘Let Me Be The One’… Did it happened to be so for you???
– Born in Philadelphia, PA, Nick Martinelli made his classes as a teenager in 1969. He then got a job at the Chips warehouse, an independent record distributor for Motown. Developping an understanding of distribution and retail sales, he soon became manager of the company. His aside activities leading him to DJ in the local club scene along with partner David Todd before movin’ into production.
Not surprisingly, Martinelli quotes Philly Sound architect Dexter Wansel as a major influence in terms of studio technique. Stateside, he made himself quite a name on WMOT Records, producing artists such as Fat Larry’s Band, Funk Essentials and Brandi Wells.
Nick first came to prominence in the UK though through his work with Loose Ends. He there would establish an 808 drum machine-driven sound. A sound which he immortalized with the classic ‘Hangin’ On A String (Contemplating)’ soon after followed by ‘Slow Down’. In the same vein, he eventually produced ‘Tell Me (How It Feels)’ for Mancunian band 52nd Street in 1985. He then would contribute to Five Star‘s recognition with the memorable ‘All Fall Down’ and ‘Let Me Be The One’.
The list of artists he’s been collaborating with fully illustrates his talent and versatility. Standing on his client list, one can find luminaries such as Sybil Thomas, Phyllis Hyman and Stephanie Mills. But also Diana Ross and Stephanie Mills among many others.
(*) In 1988, Martinelli received the Philadelphia Music Foundation Award for notching the most Top 10 singles in one year. Two years later, they honored him again by naming him Best Urban Producer. In the UK, Blues & Soul never ceased including him in their Soul Top 10 producer list. (* Wikipedia)
– A native of Buffalo, NY, Grover Washington, Jr. grew up in a home where music was everywhere. With his mom being a church chrositer and his dad himself a sax player and an avid collector of Jazz gramophone records.
Jr. who received his first saxophone from his dad when he was 8. Four years later, he started playing professionally. Then he launched his own group by the age of 14. Luckily enough, he came to meet famous drummer Billy Cobham while doin’ his military obligations. With the latter introducing him to many musicians in the Big Apple…
Grover Washington, Jr. made his recording debut on the Charles Earland‘s 1971 ‘Living Black’ album on Prestige. Meanwhile contributing to Leon Spencer‘s ‘Louisiana Slim’ and ‘Sneak Preview!’ for the same label. And also doin’ the same on Johnny Hammond‘s ‘What’s Going On’ and ‘Breakout’ album by the same period. This being how he caught up the attention of CTI Records label head Creed Taylor. Then eventually took the place of Hank Crawford who happened to be unable to make the recording date of the ‘Inner City Blues’ album. Its success enabling him to finally put an end to his other career as record salesman.
Jr.‘s fourth album – ‘Mister Magic’ – brought him some major success and more precisely its track of the likes. And so did its follow-up – ‘Feels So Good’ – back in 1975. With thanks to its title track and the seminal ‘Knucklehead’. He made a quick detour by Motown, releasing three extra albums between 1978 and 1980. Then went back to the upper heights that same year with ‘Winelight’, his debut-album for Elektra. As led by the memorable ‘Just The Two Of Us’ featuring Bill Withers on vocals. Its follow-up – the 1981 ‘Come Morning’ album – featuring the outstanding ‘East River Drive’. Meanwhile confirming Washington‘s position as the one who set up Smooth Jazz on the map. Thus opening the path for luminaries such as Kenny G, Walter Beasley and George Howard to name a few.
As a sideman, Jr. has worked with an impressive list of luminaries. From Jean Carne (‘Keep In Touch’ and ‘The Look Of Love’). To Phyllis Hyman (‘Sacred Kind Of Love’) and King Britt (‘For Love’). Not to mention Five Star (‘Let Me Be The One’) among others. Meanwhile, he also happened to produce the three first albums by the likes of Pieces Of A Dream. Thus givin’ birth to gems such as ‘Body Magic’ and ‘Mt. Airy Groove’.
Sadly enough, five days after his 56th birthday, on Dec. 17, 1999, Washington collapsed while waiting in the green room after performing four songs for The Saturday Early Show, at CBS Studios in NYC. He was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 07:30pm after suffering a massive heart attack.