Lost but not least! Gerald Alston – Activated (Motown)
To be honest, when I first heard this unsung gem by the likes of Gerald Alston, I pretty much thought he’s activated. This is it! As what a blowing track this is. Seeing him jammin’ his heart out on a firing groove at the crossroad between say R&B/Dance and Swingin’ House. Maybe too far at the end for those who knew him as the lead singer of The Manhattans. Themselves responsible for smoothies such as ‘Kiss And Say Goodbye’, ‘There’s No Me Without You’ and ‘Shining Star’.
Mind you Alston just wanted to take a break from the group and focus on his solo career. But that didn’t quite happen the way he would have like it at the end. ‘Activated’, from his 1988 eponymous debut-album, sort of illustrating the poor feedback he got as a solo artist. This despite its undeniable potential. With only Motown-UK releasing a promo 12″ of it along with additional remixes courtesy of Timmy Regisford. Although nothing could really beat the album version. Itself featuring luminaries such as Alfie Silas (backing), Paulinho Da Costa (percussion) and Fred Washington (bass) among others…
As any R&B enthusiast will attest, Gerald Alston‘s name has always been synonymous with Soul, elegance and sophistication. The one voice you never get tired of. Alston inherited some big shoes and has filled them admirably as a matter of fact. A native of Henderson, NC, Gerald Alston, the son of Rev. J.B. Alston and the nephew of Gospel great Johnny Fields of The Five Blind Boys Of Alabama learned his trade in church.
As a teen he formed Gerald Alston & the New Imperials. A group which, performing both secular and religious music, called themselves The Gospel Jubilee when they appeared in churches. During a local appearance, Alston met The Manhattans when they borrowed equipment from his band. And when The Manhattans heard Gerald rehearsing, they loved what they heard and offered the 17 year old to join them.
Alston took over as their lead singer in 1970. The group enjoyed enormous success in the 70’s and 80’s. This with songs such as ‘There’s No Me Without You’, ‘Wish That You Were Mine’, ‘Hurt’ and We Never Danced To A Love Song. But also ‘Don’t Take Your Love From Me’, ‘I Kinda Miss You’ and ‘It Feels So Good To Be Loved So Bad’. With their 1975 ‘Kiss And Say Goodbye’ single toppin’ both the R&B and Pop charts.
The Manhattans won a Grammy in 1980 for the memorable ‘Shining Star’. Then, after seventeen years, Gerald left the band to pursue a solo career. Eventually makin’ his debut back in 1988 on Motown. This with an eponymous album out of which the infectious ‘Activated’ came to our attention, even though it pretty much failed to get the attention it deserved. Like almost everything that would follow unfortunately. Thus bringin’ Alston to put an end to his solo career after four albums then eventually reunite with Blue Lovett and The Manhattans for a 30th year reunion performance. Itself resulting in the recording of an album titled ‘…Even Now…’ on Beemark Records in 2001.
More recently, in 2008, Gerald Alston released independently titled ‘Gerald Alston Sings Sam Cooke’…