The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Love Is What They Came Here For: BBR Expands Leon Haywood, Carl Carlton Albums

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Leon Haywood - NaturallyThere was a lot more to Leon Haywood than his 1975 hit “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You.”  Texas native Haywood played keyboards for Sam Cooke, masqueraded in studio bands The Packers and The Romeos and scored his first solo pop hit with 1967’s “It’s Got to Be Mellow.”  When he began incorporating funk and disco sounds into his brand of soul, however, Haywood found his niche.    Big Break has recently celebrated the Haywood ouevre with expanded editions of his 1980 platter Naturally and the 1981 self-titled album by Carl Carlton (“Everlasting Love”) which Haywood produced.

The first track of Naturally, “Don’t Push It Don’t Stop It,” paid homage to the central horn riff from Blood Sweat and Tears’ “Spinning Wheel,” weaving it into a mélange of funk and R&B with light electronic textures.  The track – like most of the album itself – pointed in the sleek direction soul music would take as the decade progressed, with tight, danceable grooves bridging the gap between disco and eighties R&B.  Producer Haywood was joined by Rick Jones (bass), James Gadson (drums), David T. Walker (guitar), Tony Coleman and future superstar James Ingram (keyboards) and Maxine and Julia Waters (backing vocals).  Coleman and Haywood arranged most of the album, ceding a couple of charts to Gene Page and Tom Tom 84.

After the jump: more on Leon Haywood’s Naturally, plus a look at Carl Carlton’s 1981 comeback!

Five of the album’s seven songs were written by Haywood, with “That’s What Time It Is” coming from Ingram’s pen.  The centerpiece ballad “Love Is What We Came Here For,” from the Philadelphia team of Bunny Sigler and Phil Hurtt, was first recorded by Haywood production client Garland Green.  The Philly throwback, though, was just one breather on an album filled with beats, soulful and sensual vocals, slinky bass, liquid guitar licks and frenetic stabs from the busy horn section.  The forward-thinking Haywood closed Naturally with a track entitled “Lovers Rap,” and though other tracks featured some spoken portions (often referred to as “raps”), this cut features what we might think of today as rap: Haywood slinging rhymes over a rhythmic backing.  Big Break has expanded Naturally with three bonus cuts: the 12-inch and 7-inch single versions of the brassy, Stevie Wonder-esque “Daydream,” the single edit of the No. 3 R&B/No. 49 Pop hit “Don’t Push It Don’t Stop It,” and the single edit of the wry, exuberant, Salsoul-esque floor filler “If You’re Lookin’ for a Night of Fun (Look Past Me, I’m Not the One).”  Kevin Reeves has remastered, and Stephen “SPAZ” Schnee has provided a detailed essay with track-by-track observations.

Carl Carlton - Carl CarltonThe next year, in 1981, Haywood returned to the 20th Century label to produce an eponymous album by Detroit’s Carl Carlton.  Though he had been recording since the late 1960s (originally as “Little” Carl Carlton in the spirit of “Little” Stevie Wonder), the soul man scored his biggest hit with a 1974 cover of Robert Knight’s “Everlasting Love,” reaching No. 6 on the Pop chart and No. 11 on the R&B survey.  But by 1981, his career had been running cold.  Even a Bunny Sigler-produced, Dexter Wansel-arranged album featuring the strings and horns of MFSB had been unable to build on the success of “Everlasting Love.”  Haywood, making good on a promise, got Carlton signed to 20th Century and set to work to restore his friend’s fortunes.  Veterans McKinley Jackson, Paul Riser and Tom Tom 84 were tapped to assist Haywood with the arrangements, and the band included, pivotally, keyboardists George Duke and James Ingram as well as Rick Jones, James Gadson, drummer Quentin Denard, and guitarists Michael McGloiry and Tony Drake.

As with his own Naturally, Haywood composed most of the album himself.  He co-wrote the opening “Sexy Lady” with Carlton and the closing “Fighting in the Name of Love” with James Ingram.  Only “Don’t You Wanna Make Love” and “I Think It’s Gonna Be Alright” came from other sources.  The mood on Carl Carlton would be a decidedly steamy one with “Sexy Lady,” “Don’t You Wanna Make Love [Tonight?],” “This Feeling’s Rated X-Tra” and the breakout hit “She’s a Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked).”  The LP’s lush sound was more traditionally soulful than the dance-oriented Naturally, and also rather more varied.  But Haywood didn’t turn his back on the disco crowd, either, with the buoyant “I’ve Got That Boogie Fever” (“Everybody on the floor/Dance!”) and a little song which would give Carlton a second signature tune in addition to “Everlasting Love.”

“She’s a Bad Mama Jama” had its genesis in an older Haywood track, but Haywood and Carlton gave it a CHIC-style funk makeover playing up the melodic hook and bubbly, modern synthesizer figures.  It was disco for a year in which disco was long thought dead, and Carlton rode the wave of its success all the way to the No. 2 spot on the R&B chart.  “Mama Jama” just barely missed the Pop Top 20, landing at a respectable No. 22.  It also earned Carlton a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance.  Ironically, he lost out to one of the players on “Mama Jama”: keyboardist James Ingram, for his vocal on Quincy Jones’ “One Hundred Ways.”  Another track previously recorded by Haywood, “This Feeling’s Rated X-Tra,” was rearranged by the producer-composer as a Quiet Storm opus, with horns and strings.  It became one of the album’s ballad standouts, alongside the relaxed “Let Me Love You ‘Til the Morning Comes” and guitarist McGloiry’s mellow, string-and-horn-flecked “I Think It’s Gonna Be Alright.”

BBR has added two bonus tracks to Carl Carlton: the 12-inch version of “This Feeling’s Rated X-Tra” and the single edit of “She’s a Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked).”  J. Matthew Cobb has written the copious and meticulously researched liner notes shedding light on both the album and Carlton’s larger career, and Kevin Reeves has remastered.  Both Naturally and Carl Carlton are housed in Super Jewel cases and feature lavishly illustrated booklets as per the label’s usual high standard.  They’re both available now from Big Break Records and can be ordered below!

Leon Haywood, Naturally (20th Century Fox Records LP T-613, 1980 – reissued Big Break Records CDBBRX 0152, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Don’t Push It Don’t Stop It
  2. Daydream
  3. That’s What Time It Is
  4. Love is What We Came Here For
  5. If You’re Lookin’ for a Night Of Fun (Look Past Me, I’m Not the One)
  6. Who You Been Giving It Up To?
  7. Lovers Rap
  8. Daydream (12-Inch Disco Version) (20th Century Fox single TCD-115-DJ, 1981)
  9. Don’t Push It Don’t Force It (Single Version) (20th Century Fox single 2443, 1980)
  10. If You’re Lookin’ for a Night Of Fun (Look Past Me, I’m Not the One) (Single Version) (20th Century Fox single 2454, 1980)
  11. Daydream (Single Version) (20th Century Fox single 2469, 1980)

Carl Carlton, Carl Carlton (20th Century Fox Records LP T-628, 1981 – reissued Big Break Records CDBBRX 0157, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Sexy Lady
  2. Let Me Love You ‘Til the Morning Comes
  3. Don’t You Wanna Make Love
  4. This Feeling’s Rated X-Tra
  5. She’s a Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)
  6. I’ve Got That Boogie Fever
  7. I Think It’s Gonna Be Alright
  8. Fighting in the Name of Love
  9. This Feeling’s Rated X-Tra (12-Inch Version) (20th Century Fox 12-inch single TCD-114-DJ, 1981)
  10. She’s a Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked) (Single Version) (20th Century Fox single TC-2488, 1981)

Written by Joe Marchese

March 10, 2014 at 08:56

One Response

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  1. A side note. The Carl Carlton reissue actually features the 12″ version of ‘Sexy Lady,” substituting the U.S. LP version (3:38) for the five-minute 12-inch version.

    J Matthew Cobb

    March 10, 2014 at 21:51

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