Classics: Mystic Merlin – Just Can’t Give You Up (Capitol)
OMG! What a stellar production which such a sense of the little detail. Props have to definitely be given to Charles Kipps for that. On the heels of work(s) he did for luminaries such as Van McCoy and Faith, Hope & Charity to name a few.
“No matter how hard I try, I Just can’t give you up. Just dunno the reeason why, I can’t give you up.”. ‘Just Can’t Give You Up’ which appeared on the group’s eponymous debut-album back in 1980 has everything of an obsession. Lyricwise of course, but also in terms of conception. Smoothly blending a jazzy sax part courtesy of Barry Roark Strutt with sprakling keys in addition to soothing strings. The whole over a driving rhythm guitar part and a rumblin’ bassline. And I’m not even talkin’ about its 5 star vocal arrangements comin’ up as the icing on the cake.
Andrew ‘Doc’ Livingstone and Pat Leacock gave it a brilliant interrpolation 10 years after. Titling it ‘Can’t Give You Up’ for the circumstance, with production work by the likes of Dave Lee aka Joey Negro.
– Hailing from NYC, Mystic Merlin probably got their name because of their initial activity. As a matter of fact, they started as a novelty act incorporating magic in their shows.
Infos may vary upon sources as to if they started as a 5 or 6-piece band. In other words, if Leslie Dorsey was on the original line-up made of Barry Strutt, Clyde Bullard, Jerry Anderson, Keith Gonzales, and Sly Randolph. Or if he happened to join them later on. One thing for sure being the fact that Freddie Jackson joined them as the lead vocalist on their third and final album. The group being mostly remembered for gems such as ‘Just Can’t Give You Up’, ’60 Thrills A Minute’ and ‘Mr Magician’. If not the unsung ‘Full Moon Rising’.
Clyde Bullard has been seen collaborating on a couple of tracks with Manu Dibango in the early 80’s. Meanwhile Freddie Jackson made himself a serious reputation in the R&B scene.
– A native of Harlem, NYC, Freddie Jackson got trained as a Gospel singer from an early age. Singin’ at the White Rock Baptist Church of Harlem where he met Paul Laurence Jones who would later become his producer and songwriting partner. With both of them eventually writing for luminaries such as Lillo Thomas or Howard Johnson among others.
Among the first traces of him, the recording of the obscure ‘Ain’t Got Time’ along with Ednah Holt as Holt’45 on Sutra Records back in 1980. Then Jackson soon after joined Mystic Merlin as their lead singer. This resulting in the release of the 1982 ‘Full Moon’ album featuring the highly sought after ‘Mr Magician’ and the unmissable altough unsung ‘Full Moon Rising’. Eventually singing back up for Melba Moore. With the latter being of a precious help to get him to sign a record deal.
Jackson finally made his solo debut back in 1985 with the ‘Rock Me Tonight’ album on Capitol. From then, he would establish himself as a solid contender. Competing for supremacy in the R&B scene, along with the late Luther Vandross and Alexander O’ Neal. Meanwhile showing a rare prowess as a balladeer. This resulting in smoothies such as ‘Rock Me Tonight’ and ‘You Are My Lady’. But also ‘Have You Ever Loved Somebody’ and the Quite Stormy ‘Do Me Again’. Even though he made the proof as to how he could groove too on ‘Nice ‘N Slow’. Not to mention the memorable ‘Crazy For Me’.
Years have gone since this flourishing period for him. But Jackson has always managed to come up with quality material from a decade to another. 2014 seeing him makin’ his debut for Climax Entertainment with ‘Love & Satisfaction’. Then eventually releasing its follow-up – ‘One Night’ – by the beginning of May 2017. Then ‘Without You’ in April 2018. With an album – ‘Love Signals’ – still in the pipeline…
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