Mon. Oct. 25, 2021

Shalamar – The Real Thing (Real Thing Music)

This Beat Is Mine: Shalamar – The Real Thing (Real Thing Music)

As much as time goes, I wonder if we’ll be able to keep on speakin’ about ‘The Real Thing’ musicwise. Don’t you get me wrong though. I’m not nostalgic. No more than I’m affirming there are no more talents nowadays. But their impact is sadly so limited as they most likely don’t get the exposure they would deserve though. Mind you, we’ve gone under the domination of the corporatism. Meanwhile, the great names from back in the day – in other words the ones who made ‘The Real Thing’ at the time – have become older. When they’ve not sadly passed.

It is to say how we have to cherish those who keep on vibing after so many years. With Shalamar proudly standing in that list. Even though their history had something of quite confusing in recent times with two groups evolving under this banner or so. And by that, I’m thinkin’ of Jody Watley and her two partners together as Shalamar Reloaded on one hand (remember ‘Slow Dance’). And Howard Hewett & Co on the other. The latter showing as to how they still got ‘The Real Thing’ in their DNA on this single. With original member Jeffrey Daniel and Carolyn Griffey sharing the vocal duties. I just hope they’ll follow this with a new album…

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Shalamar saw the light in the second half of the 70’s at the initiative of Soul Train head Don Cornelius and future SOLAR label head Dick Griffey. A so to say Disco-driven vehicle and most likely trendsetters at the time, Shalamar scored their first success with ‘Uptown Festival’ back in 1977. It was not long after that the group’s producers decided to replace its session singers with popular Soul Train dancers Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel around original lead singer Gary Mumford. Mumford soon after left though with Gerald Brown replacing him for the recording of Shalamar‘s second album. The latter spanning the classic ‘Take It To The Bank’.

After financial conflicts with the producers, Brown also left in the middle of promotional tour. This being how Jeffrey Daniel came to call Howard Hewett and offered him to join. Three days after, Hewett was in Paterson, NJ along with Daniel and Jody Watley. There, they rehearsed the lip synch and choreography to the current Shalamar single ‘Take That To The Bank’ which they performed as a part of a local dance show. Returning to Los Angeles soon after, they immediately started recording the ‘Big Fun’ album with producer Leon F. Sylvers III.

Their collaboration with the latter would be synonymous with an impressive string of classics. From ‘Right In The Socket’ to ‘The Second Time Around’. Then ‘Make That Move’ and the lascivious ‘This Is For The Lover In You’ in 1980. But also ‘A Night To Remember’, ‘Friends’, ‘There It Is’ and I Can Make You Feel Good’ in 1982. Not to mention the vibrant ‘Over And Over’ the year after, with Jody Watley soon after leavin’, in the footsteps of Jeffrey Daniel. Hewett would nevertheless contribute to another Shalamar album, ‘Heartbreak’, in 1984 before launching his solo career.

With the classic Shalamar line-up gone, the group resurfaced under the form of a new threesome featuring Micki Free, Delisa Davis and Sydney Davis. They released two albums. Beginning with ‘Circumstancial Evidence’ along with up and coming production pair L.A. & Babyface in 1987. Then ‘Wake Up’ upon relative indifference 3 years after. The vibe had definitely gone…

The group went back to light by the end of last Autumn. Featuring original members Howard Hewett and Jeffrey Daniel along with Carolyn Griffey. And eventually releasing a single – ‘The Real Thing’ – to support their 35th Birthday UK tour…

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