Classics: Inner Life – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (The Garage Version) (Salsoul)
OMG, despite all these years that have gone, it’s still hard for me to find something to start with when comin’ to think of Inner Life. Of course, this wasn’t the first pîece of music I had from then. With the latter being ‘I’m Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair)’ two years before, back in 1979. But Inner Life were comin’ with a cover version of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. A song written by some of my fav artists – Ashford & Simpson – back in 1967 for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Inner Life‘s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ never ceased havin’ a special resonance on me. First, because it served as the ideal environment for Jocelyn Brown to express her unique talent. Second, because it sort of came as the icing on the cake regarding the legacy of two among the greatest although underrated producers of their generation. In other words, Greg Carmichael and Patrick Adams. Third, because it came to me as the first mention ever of The (Paradise) Garage. Meanwhile counting among the best remixes by the likes of its legendary DJ resident, Larry Levan. And last but not least, because it also appeared on the first WBLS shows recorded tape which I ever got in the series. Remember, I was livin’ in Paris at the time. And not in London or even more in New York where almost everything was happening!
Besides, I was far from figuring I would get connected with some of the protagonists around Inner Life along with time. From Frankie Crocker who gave me some precious support on my project to bring a WBLS sister for the English speakin’ community in Paris during the early 80’s. To Mel Cheren whom I happened to meet for the very first time in Miami in 1996. But also Patrick Adams whom I managed to chat with on the phone for a big feature on a French mag by the early 2000’s.
– Inner Life saw the light back in 1979 at the initiative of producers Greg Carmichael and Patrick Adams. This studio project featuring Jocelyn Brown and former Black Ivory lead singer Leroy Burgess along with guitarist, songwriter and producer Odell Stanley Lucas. They delivered their debut – ‘I’m Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair)’ – that same year. Although it was more of a 5 track EP than an album at the end. With its titled track generating quite a gentle following.
Switching to Salsoul Records, Inner Life delivered its follow up – a self titled 6 track vinyl – two years after. Scoring their biggest success with their cover version of the Ashford & Simpson penned ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. With extra thanks to its additional 10 minute + remix courtesy of Larry Levan. ‘Inner Life II’ completing their discography in 1982 featuring two extra classics by the likes of ‘Moments Of My Life’ and ‘I Like It Like That’, although to a slightly lesser extend.
Inner Life delivered a couple of extra singles on Personal Records from then. Although nothing of reel significance. This before definitely disappearing from the radars in the second half of the eighties.
– A Kingston, NC native, Jocelyn Brown grew up in a family of 7 brothers and 2 sisters whom she was the eldest. Her aunt, Barbara Roy, was the lead singer of Ecstasy, Passion And Pain. Her mom, two aunts, cousin and grandmother were all accomplished singers.
Singin’ acapella among the family quickly became a way of life. Jocelyn would develop her art upon moving to NYC at the age of 6 while singing further in the churches of Harlem. A few years on, and she ended up leavin’ the Gospel to become a session singer, working with countless luminaries. From Bruce Springsteen to Bette Middler and Bob Dylan. But also R&B/Disco acts such Musique, Chic and Change (‘Angel In My Pocket’). Not to mention Kleeer or Cerrone (‘You Are The One’) among others.
The first time I got to hear her brings me back to 1979. Back then, she was singin’ the lead for Patrick Adams‘ band Inner Life on ‘I’m Caught Up (In a One Night Love Affair’ (Prelude). An experience she would repeat two years after. This with a memorable interpretation of Ashford & Simpson‘s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ (Salsoul). The year after seeing her teamin’ up with Salsoul Orchestra on ‘Take Some Time Out (For Love’). Then back with Inner Life on ‘Moment Of My Life’ and ‘I Like It Like That’.
Jocelyn Brown released her debut-album back in 1984. Its title cut – ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’ – standing as her most famous song as a solo artist. This with production work courtesy of Allen George & Fred McFarlane. She would eventually deliver its follow-up – ‘One From The Heart’ – 3 years after, collaborating with producer Hubert Eaves III (D-Train). An album which featured another goodie of her by the likes of ‘Ego Maniac’.
By 1985, Brown released ‘Love’s Gonna Get You’ along with producer John Jellybean Benitez. Eventually sounding like an answer to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, it most likely inspired artists such as Snap! then Bizarre Inc.. The first sampling one particular line in the song by the likes of “I’ve got the power!” on ‘The Power’. And the latter borrowing another line – “Why waste your time, you know you’re gonna be mine” – on ‘I’m Gonna Get You’.
Meanwhile Polish producer Juliet Sikora would embed (uncredited) vocals of Jocelyn Brown on ‘Larrys Garage’ back in 2015. The latter comin’ from her live performance at the Larry Levan Street Party on King St. in New York, outside the original venue of The Paradise Garage, May 11, 2014.
Facing problems with the development of her own career, Brown would most likely spend her time singin’ for others from then. Teamin’ up back in 1989 with Spanish producer Raúl Orellana on ‘Gipsy Rhythm’. Then a year after with Incognito on a memorable cover version of Ronnie Laws‘ ‘Always There’.
And how couldn’t we remember her brilliant performances on the 1996 Nuyorican Soul album? From her one of a kind rendition of Rotary Connection‘s ‘I Am The Black God Of The Sun’. To the uplifting ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It’. Not to mention, more recently, the firing ‘You Are Everything’ from Louie Vega‘s 2015 ‘Starring XVIII’ album. This in addition to ‘Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys’ with Bollo. And ‘Don’t Quit (Be A Believer)’ with Diephuis which Reelsoul eventually remixed a few months later.
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