Classics: Nuyorican Soul – I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun (4Hero Remix) (Talkin’ Loud)
“Hey, I am the one song of the sun. Above the deep within the light, father of the one, I am the black gold of the sun…”
And here we go with a classic – ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’ – that speaks to various generations of music lovers. “I am the tall oak tree, I am the jungle stream. I am the morning sun. Smiling on everyone. I am the shining sea, I am the mountain high. I am so free (I am the black gold of the sun)…”
As a matter of fact, ‘I Am The Black God Of The Sun’ appeared as the official opener to the seminal Louie Vega & Kenny Dope‘s Nuyorican Soul album concept back in 1996. With Jocelyn Brown takin’ the lead in some unexpected way. As Louie Vega came to explain me in an interview we had by the end of that year.
This rendition of Rotary Connection‘s classic ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’ is just an outstanding production work. Something that doesn’t come as a surprise though when havin’ a deeper look as to who contributed to it. Beginning with Lisa Fisher who arranged the backing vocals. But also the late Vincent Montana, Jr. (MFSB, Salsoul Orchestra) who conducted the strings. And last but not least, London Broken Beat dons 4 Hero in charge of the remixing treatment.
Reminding me of Barry White‘s words. The latter saying in substance that a clever reinterpretation of a good song most likely gives birth to another good one. This pretty much being the case regarding ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’. Whichever version we may be speakin’ of…
“Gold, I am the daughter of the sun. Shadows that light up the day, Dark moon shadow on the way. I am the black gold of the sun…”
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– The first mention to Nuyorican Soul dates from 1993 with the release of ‘The Nervous Track’ on Nervous Records.
Nothing more from then on until 1996 and the release of a self-titled album. “Nuyorican” (meaning “New Yorker” in Spanish) being a reminder of both Louie Vega and Kenny Dope‘s Puerto-Rican roots. Although both of them have a slightly different background. With Louie (Hector Lavoe‘s nephew) inheriting from Fania / Salsoul Records’ influences. And Kenny being more of a Hip-Hop B-Boy guy. The twosome getting their connection via Todd Terry and makin’ themselves a name under various guises such as KenLou and Masters At Work.
As a result, ‘Nuyorican Soul’ stands pretty much as their legacy. Paying props to classics that have nurtured their teens such as The Salsoul Orchestra‘s ‘Runaway’ featuring Loleatta Holloway. Or Rotary Connection‘s ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’. But also collaborating with some of their heros from Roy Ayers to Tito Puente, George Benson and Vincent Montana, Jr. among others. This giving birth to gems such as ‘Our Time Is Coming’, ‘You Can Do It’ and ‘Sweet Tears’. Not to mention ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It!’ which received countless remixes, from Roni Size to Armand Van Helden or Mood II Swing.
Louie and Kenny told me about their aim to release a follow-up, eventually mentionning their will to collaborate with Manu Dibango among others. Alas, the project never saw the light. Most likely due to the promotional costs of the volume 1, with so many legendary artists on board.
– A native of South Philaldelphia, PA, Vincent Montana, Jr. grew up in an Italo-American neighborhood. He first began playin’ drums as a child before venturing into other percussion instruments such as the marmimba and the glockenspiel. By the late 40’s, one would find him playing in clubs with Jazz luminaries such as Charlie Parker or Sarah Vaughan. Soon after, he went to perform in various hotels in Las Vegas, NV, accompanying artists such as Harry Belafonte and Louis Prima. Then he returned to Philadelphia by the late 50’s, eventually playin’ vibraphone on Frankie Avalon‘s 1959 smash hit ‘Venus’.
As a matter of fact, Vincent Montana, Jr.‘s contribution to the maturation of contemporary music has simply no equal. From setting up the legendary Sigma Sound Studio with Joseph Tarsia in Philadelphia, PA. Which is how he met Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. To his position as a major actor in the establishment of the Philadelphia Sound. Meanwhile gathering people from all origins/ethnics. Be they Blacks, Jewishes, Italians or Rednecks. And by that, embodying beforehand what Indamixworldwide is about…
All in all, the list of artists he arranged music for stands as a who’s who of the groove. Jamming along with The Intruders for instance. But also The O’Jays, The Trammps, William DeVaughn and Lou Rawls. Not to mention The Stylistics and Teddy Pendergrass to name but a very few. This in addition to being one of the founding members of MFSB with whom he recorded an impressive series of classics. From ‘Love Is The Message’ to ‘TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)’ to name a few.
Although promised to reach the upper heights, his partnership with Gamble & Huff brutally came to and end in 1974. And this, after financial issues. Hopefully, the wait didn’t last before Joe Bataan gave him the opportunity to jump on the next wagon. This while introducing him to the Cayre brothers. Three guys who were the owners of a NYC distributor of Latin Music whom he helped setting up Salsoul Records.
By that time, several members of MFSB had left for the same reasons. From John Davis who soon after formed John Davis & The Monster Orchestra to others who joined Ritchie Family. Not to mention Ronnie Baker, Bobby Eli, Norman Harris and Early Young who regularly joined Montana for recording sessions.
Montana put together The Salsoul Orchestra and soon after delivered the first release – ‘Salsoul Hustle’ for the label. An instant success, it opened the path to a string of 6 albums. Including classics such as ‘Getaway’ and ‘Ooh I Love It (Love Break)’ to name a few. But also collaborations with Carol Williams and Loleatta Holloway. This resulting in extra gems such as ‘Love Is You’ and ‘Run Away’.
By 1978, Montana left Salsoul Records and joined Atlantic. There, he put together Goody Goody along with his daughter, Denise, on vocals. Releasing one album – ‘Goody Goody’ – which spanned memorable cuts such as ‘#1 Deejay’ and ‘It Looks Like Love’.
Another 4 years on and Montana launched his own Philly Sound Works label. And then again, he would add a couple of goodies to his impressive collection. Beginning with ‘Who Needs Enemies (With A Friend Like You)’ and the infectious ‘Heavy Vibes’.
Last but not least, one might also remember him for his collaboration with Louie Vega and Kenny Dope back in 1996. The latter resulting in the release of their Nuyorican Soul album concept. A package which saw them comin’ up with a cover version of ‘Run Away’ with La India on vocals. And also span extra classics such as ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’, ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It’ and ‘Sweet Tears’ among others.
He sadly died at Cherry Hill, NJ, on Apr. 13, 2013, at the age of 85.
– 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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