Classics: Mac Band feat. The McCampbell Brothers – Roses Are Red (MCA)
The second half of the 80’s marked quite a turn in the makin’ of contemporary music with producers setting the path to so many different directions. How to not think of House Music in Chicago, NYC or Manchester? But also Techno in Detroit. Not to mention Acid Jazz in the U.K.?!? R&B makin’ no exception with major ongoing mutations at the time. As many transformations that would give birth to both R&B/Hip-Hop and New Jack Swing during the following months.
Back then, one would most likely speak of Streetbeat then Swingbeat. An approach speakin’ of which a new production unit by the likes of Antonio L.A. Reid and Kenneth Babyface Edmonds made themselves the main providers. Most likely bringin’ former New Edition member Bobby Brown to the forefront with gems such as ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ or ‘My Prerogative’. Not to mention Karyn White with ‘The Way You Love Me’. Or takin’ on where Leon F Sylvers III left while producing the killer ‘Rock Steady’ for The Whispers among others.
Among the latter, most definitely comes the evergreen ‘Roses Are Red’ for Flint, MI group Mac Band. Most likely their biggest success ever, from their 1988 ‘Mac Band feat. The McCampbell Brothers’ album with remixing work courtesy of Louil Silas, Jr. And without a single doubt among L.A. & Babyface‘s signature cuts in terms of both production and sound. The whole served by uplifting lyrics.
– The Mac Band saw the light back in the second half of the 80’s in Flint, MI. They comprised the brothers McCampbell (Charles, Derrick, Kevin and Ray) in charge of the vocals. But also Ray Flippin (bass), Sly Fuller (drums) and Mark Harper (guitar). Not to mention Rodney Frazier (Keyboards) who soon after joined Atlantic Starr.
‘Roses Are Red’, from their debut-album, with production work courtesy of L.A. & Babyface, gave them a #1 on the U.S. R&B chart. A score which they never managed to repeat after. Delivering a bunch of minor hits such as ‘Stuck’ and ‘Stalemate’ soon after.
The Mac Band prpgressively disappeared from the radar along with time, despite releasing 3 albums between 1988 and 1991.
– I remember the first time I heard of Babyface. This was back in 1983 actually. At a time, a friend of mine who was livin’ in Jacksonville, FL, used to listen to a radio named 95X. Eventually sendin’ me recorded tapes of their shows. With this being how I would get to listen to boiling cuts such as Margie Joseph‘s ‘Big Strong Man’ produced by Narada Michael Walden. But also Melba Moore‘s ‘Love Me Right’ with production work courtesy of Paul Lawrence Jones. Not to mention the then unknown The Deele (featuring Babyface) with the vibrant although quite underrated ‘Just My Luck’.
I guess the next time I saw a mention of Babyface was back in 1987. This along with partner Antonio L.A. Reid as the producers of The Whispers‘ ‘Rock Steady’. Meanwhile, I would get to stumble upon the firing ‘Mary Mack’ during that same year…
A native of Indianapolis, IN, Kenneth Brian Edmonds attended the North Central High School. Eventually writing songs as obviously too shy to express his emotions differently. Not only a vocalist but also able to play guitar and keyboards, he came to play along with Bootsy Collins. With the latter givin’ him his ‘Babyface’ nickname because of his cute face while he was still a teen.
Babyface eventually hooked up with Daryl Simmons when performing under the Manchild banner. This before joining The Deele where he happened to meet Antonio L.A. Reid who whom he would form a production unit a few years later. Then a record label by the likes of LaFace Records. Meanwhile, one of his first major credits as a songwriter remains the memorable ‘Slow Jam’ for Midnight Star back in 1983.
All in all, Babyface started his solo career back in 1986. He has released a total of 10 studio albums to date. With his latest – ‘Return Of The Tender Lover’ – seeing the light on Def Jam Recordings back in 2015. This in addition to an ‘MTV Unplugged’ and two Christmas packages.
He has written and produced over 25 #1 R&B hits throughout his career and has won 11 Grammy Awards. With his name strongly associated to the establishment of the Swingbeat (also known as Street Beat). The latter opening the path for the New Jack Swing era. Thus responsible for an impressive series of masterpieces. From The Whispers (‘Rock Steady’) and Bobby Brown (‘Don’t Be Cruel’, ‘Every Little Step’). To Karyn White (‘The Way You Love Me’) and the Mac Band (‘Roses Are Red’). But also Boyz II Men (‘End Of The Road’, ‘I’ll Make Love To You’, A Song For Mama’). Not to mention Sheena Easton (‘The Lover In Me’) and The Jacksons‘ ‘Nothin That Compares 2 U’. Or ‘Mary Mack’ and ‘For The Cool In You’ which he crafted for himself among many others.
No surprisingly, Face has come to collaborate with a countless lumiaries. From Whitney Houston to Toni Braxton, Aretha Franklin and Janet Jackson. But also her brother, Michael, Ashanti, Mariah Carey, Faith Evans and Mary J Blige among many others.
Then, if it wasn’t already enough, Babyface performed on the Season 4 episode of ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ entitled ‘Mr. Walsh Goes to Washington (Part 2)’. And soon after he set up Edmonds Entertainment Group. Thus producing films such as ‘Soul Food’ and ‘Josie & The Pussycats’. Or putting together the soundtrack for ‘The Prince Of Egypt’. In addition to act as the executive producer the BET reality series ‘College Hill’ between 2004 and 2009.