Classics: Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Back In Stride (Capitol)
“I’m just happy to see you and me back in stride again…” What a better statement to celebrate our return to activities. Therefore putting an end to our maintenance hiatus.
Ironically, ‘Back In Stride’ may not be the first piece of music comin’ to mind when thinkin’ of Maze and Frankie Beverly. To a big majority of us, it would be ‘Joy And Pain’, I suppose. But the fact is the latter only reached a modest #57 position in the U.K. Charts back in 1986. Meanwhile, ‘Back In Stride’ would be the first of their only 2 #1 R&B hits Stateside back in 1983 along with ‘Can’t Get Over You’ 6 years later.
Back in stride again to here on IDMW… There we go!
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The first traces one can find of Frankie Beverly bring us back to 1970. And the release of a first 7 inch featuring ‘Open Up, Your Heart’ on Eldorado Records. An infectious funky gem with production work courtesy of Charles Earland sounding like a so to say mash up between James Brown & The JB‘s and The Temptations. Back then, Beverly had joined forces with Robin Duhe, Roame Lowry and McKinley ‘Bug Williams under the Raw Soul guise. And together, they would release 3 extra singles including the GoGo-ish ‘Color Blind’ on Gregar Records…
Relocating from their Philadelphia, PA hometown to San Francisco, CA, their profile went up to upper heights. This on the heels of an introduction to Marvin Gaye who took them on the road with him as one of his opening acts. Eventually suggesting them to turn their name from Raw Soul to Maze in 1976.
With an extended line-up, Maze came to sign a record deal with Capitol that same year. Releasing their debut-album – ‘Maze featuring Frankie Beverly’ – a few months later. Meanwhile makin’ their first appearances in the charts with the quiet stormy ‘Happy Feelings, ‘While I’m Alone’ and ‘Lady Of Magic’.
The seminal ‘Joy And Pain’ first saw the light back in 1980 as the title track of their 4th album. Strangely enough, it didn’t make that many waves at the time. Although it pretty much would the year later as a part of their ‘Live in New Orleans’ album, three quarters of which being recorded at the Saenger Theatre, on Nov. 14–15, 1980. Even though it still didn’t chart itself, as opposed to ‘Before I Let Go’, ‘Running Away’ and ‘We Need Love To Live’.
Maze blessed us once more with the vibrant ‘We Are One’ as a part of their album of the likes back in 1983. Then, they would secure their first #1 position in the U.S. R&B Charts two years after with ‘Back In Stride’, from their ‘Can’t Stop Love’ album. With ‘Too Many Games’ being their biggest entry in the U.K. Charts.
By 1989, Maze switched to Warner Bros. Makin’ some extra noise with ‘I Can’t Get Over You’ and the title track of their ‘Silky Soul’ album. With ‘Back To Basics’ being their last studio album 4 years after.
While on tour with the group, singer/percussionist McKinley ‘Bug’ Williams sadly died on Sept. O2, 2011 of a cardiac arrest attack at a hotel in Chattanooga, TN. He was 65 (* Los Angeles Sentinel)
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