Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
You'll Never Know
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Jazz, Pop, R&B
Much more than just "The Groove"
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 07/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who was musically aware back in 1980 will have heard keyboard prodigy Rodney Franklin's mega hit "The Groove", even if they didn't know the name of the tune or whom it's by. Apart from, maybe, Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" and, to a slightly lesser degree, Bob James's "Sign Of The Times", I know of no other jazz tune that made such an impact on party/club dance floors & non-jazz/r&b radio alike and seemed to make the leap so effortlessly.
I loved the tune the first time I heard it and love it just as much now if not even more. Whenever any of my peasant-like friends would sneer at jazz and say it was "boring" or "impossible to dance to", this is one of the tunes I'd always use to wipe the smirks off their faces. I'm not sure what it did on the Billboard charts if anything but "The Groove" got to #7 on the Top 40 here in the UK and apparently even inspired a dance craze called "The Freeze". At least so they say on Wikepedia.
When I eventually got my hands on the album, (once again, many years ago on second-hand vinyl), I was even more elated to find out that this is by no means the only interesting tune on it. Favourites of mine include "Felix Leo", the album opener, and it kicks off in a flurry of drums, bass, strings and flute before settling into a steady groove with flourishes of bass clarinet. "God Bless The Blues" is another; a freestyle mellow number that seems almost completely improvised but isn't, and it's followed neatly by the more structured ballad, "The Watcher", also a firm favourite featuring soprano sax solos.
"You'll Never Know" is one of two vocal tracks and it's a lovely ballad with very inspirational lyrics. The album ends on a high note just as it began, with "Parkay Man", the second vocal track, a contemporary funky piano-led number that always makes me smile even though I still no idea what a "Parkay Man" is after all these years!
Franklin is on grand piano, Rhodes piano, bass guitar and vocals and I give mad props to him, as he practically wrote all the songs here as well. Mad props also to everyone who played on this album, most notably, Randy Merritt (drums), Kenneth Nash (percussion), Mel Martin (flute & soprano sax), Ray Pizzi (bass clarinet) and Vincent Spaulding (electric guitar). Also definitely worthy of mention are the vocalists Phyllis St. James, Lisa Roberts, Brooks Hunnicutt & Audrey Franklin. Incidentally, A. Franklin and St. James co-wrote the title track with R. Franklin and St. James co-wrote "Parkay Man" with him. Impressive, I think.
This is an album I've loved for years and I highly recommend it. Experts say it has "one foot in electric fusion and crossover jazz and the other in acoustic post-bop" but however you choose to categorize the material, it's simply fine jazz and a lot of fun.
This wasn't Franklin's first album nor was it his last but it's the only one I have real time for. I'm so happy I've finally got it on CD. I almost threw in the towel and got a copy of his "Best Of" that was floating around for a while last year but heard that the Japanese were putting this one out just at the last minute. I'm so glad I waited. I also especially love the way they've reproduced the exact album cover, back and front. 5 stars, no question."