Classics: Lenny Williams – Choosing You (ABC Records)
Remembered as the lead singer of Tower Of Power in the first half of the 70’s, Lenny Williams went on to get the recognition back in 1977. This with the release of his ‘Choosing You’ album on ABC Records. Its boiling title track on a jazzy/funk mood seeing him on a literally rockin’ da house mood vocally speaking. Meanwhile jammin’ along with the Tower Of Power Horn Section and other luminaries. From Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar to Ollie Brown on drums. Not to mention Greg Phillinganes on Keyboards or Nathan Watts on bass.
An exceptional vocal performance, but also a firin’ groove, ‘Choosing You’ is most likely the highlight of the album of the likes. Ths along with ‘Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!’. And, more widely, one of his biggest successes ever with ‘You Got Me Running’ and ‘Cause I Love You’, released the year after as parts of his follow-up album ‘Spark Of Love’ on the same label…
A native of Little Rock, AK, Lenny Williams relocated to Oakland with his family by the age of 1.
There, he grew up in a strict Gospel environmment. With his uncle, Bishop Charles Henderson Mason being the founder of the Church of God in Christ. Istelf America’s leading Black Pentecostal church. At school, he studied trumpet. But also sang in Gospel groups, eventually thinkin’ of becomin’ a minister. He would later on develop an inclination for secular song and collaborate with various luminaries. Beginning with Sly Stone, but also Billy Preston and Andraé Crouch among others. Then signin’ his first record deal with Fantasy Records after winning several local talent contests.
Williams only made a quick stop there. Delivering two singles in 1968 and 1969. Switching to Galaxy Records for a one off, he released ‘Feelin’ Blue’ the year after. A cut written by John Fogerty of the Creedence Clearwater Revival fame (the one responsible for ‘Proud Mary’ whch Ike & Tina Turner eventually covered back in 1970). Then would come 1972 which saw him joinin’ Tower Of Power as their lead singer. And 1974 that saw him releasing his debut-album – ‘Pray For The Lion’ – on Warner Bros. Then switching to Motown where he released its follow-up – ‘Rise Sleeping Beauty’ – in 1975.
He would reach his peaktime two years later though. This while teaming up with producer/arranger Frank Wilson and signing with ABC Records. His ‘Choosing You’ album spanning its title track and the 4X12 beat-driven ‘Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!’. And his 1978 ‘Spark Of Love’ album featuring the memorable ‘You Got Me Running’ which Danny Krivit eventually came to reedit years after with its title shortened to ‘Running’. But also a new version of the vibrant ‘Cause I Love You’ in addition to ‘Midnight Girl’.
Williams has kept on releasing albums regularly since all these years. With ‘Still In The Game’ being his latest in the series back in 2012, on Bridle Ridge Records.
More recently, back in 2015, Brighton-based DJ/producer Adam Dubock aka Love Drop came with a firing edit of ‘Please Don’t Tempt Me’ from Williams‘ ‘Choosing You’ album. Eventually retitling it ‘Temptation’ which he dubbed with ‘The Buzz’ ‘Itself an edit of Maynard Ferguson ‘Gonna Fly Now (Theme From ‘Rocky’)’. That same year seeing him resurfacing with a single by the likes of ‘Hooked On You’ on Bridle Ridge Records.