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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Watson Beasley - s/t

Name: Watson Beasley
Album: Watson Beasley
Year: 1980
Style: R&B Disco
Similar Bands: Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, Pointer Sisters, Dr. Buzzards Original Savannah Band
"One Word" Review: Disco Soul Wave
Based Out Of:  Tennessee (?)
Label: Warner Brothers, Warner Communications Company, Unison Records
 Watson Beasley - Cover & Record
Watson Beasley - Back & Record
Watson Beasley (1980)

  1. Darlin I 5:05
  2. Body Free 5:01
  3. Dimensions 4:52
  4. Helpless 3:43 /
  5. Breakaway 3:47
  6. Don't Let Your Chance Go Bye 5:48
  7. Fantasy Island 4:50
  8. What's On My Mind 5:10
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Zappy - Art Direction, Cover Concept
Ron Rivkin - Art Direction, Cover Concept, Coordinator of Production
Brian Smith - Bass (Fred Anderson Quintet, Henry Threadgill Sextet, Luther Thomas Quintet, World Bass Violin Ensemble, Justine McCoy, France Joli, )
Harold Fisher - Bass (Tchukon, Freddie James, Gino Soccio, Maurice Massiah, Kat Mandu)
Gabriel Boucher - Engineer
Chuck Gray - Engineer, Mixing
Harvey Finkelstein - Executive Producer
Steven Grossman - Executive Producer
Howard Forman - Guitar (Witch Queen, Gotham Flasher, Karen Silver, Gino Soccio, NIkki Yanofsky)
Kathleen Dyson - Guitar (Kat Mandu, Tchukon, The New Power Generation)
Jack Lenz - Keys, Arrangements (The Bat Boys, Seals & Crofts, Anne Murray, Raffi, Atomic Betty, Lafleur)
Randy McCormick - Keys (Ronee Blakley, Roadside Band, Candi Station, Swamp Dogg, Paul Anka, Jinx, Travis Wammack, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Mac Davis, Clarence Carter, Toulouse, )
Warren Williams - Keys (Tchukon, Massiah, Daniel Lavoie)
Jose - Mastering
Karen Coshof - Photography
Alfred Beasley - Asst Producer, Vox, Drums, Percussion, Arrangement (Gino Soccio, Boule Noire)
Gina Watson - Asst Producer, Arranger, Vocals, Percussion
Peter Alves - Producer, Arranger, Percussion, Engineer, Mixing

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this, but I love the cover. The hot, neon colors, the angular "glasses" over the eyes, the angular logo, and the suits with thin ties scream new wave, yet I get the feeling that this will be an album full of disco-like R&B. Perhaps it is the song titles and lengths. Maybe it will be a cross between the two genres. All I know, is that I had to buy this once I saw it.

Album Review: So Watson and Beasley are the two main performer’s last names…and here I had them under “B” when they should be “W.” Change made. There is not much on the interwebs about this duo. They approach disco from a pop/rock standpoint, incorporating rock guitars and some new-wavish synth effects. The album seems to have been re-released on CD in 2006. Alfred Beasley is now a preacher and still into music as a way of getting his message across, and was an award winning drummer when he went to Tennessee State.

“Darlin I” starts with a new wave edge: guitars and some bouncy synth piano. The female vocals begin and are rich, and produced with a disco flair. The power chords continue throughout the song, as does the piano buried in the back of the track. The steady marching drum gives a feeling of confidence. The male vocals support the lead, and are just as high in pitch. In the middle of the song, the bass line becomes bouncy and is combined with a spastic synth whistling flutter that adds more of a disco element. The guitar becomes a bigger part of the song in the later half, jamming out with miniature solos toward the end and as the song fades out.
“Body Free” has a simple two note drum beat in the beginning, and is layered over with some synth effects that propel the dance tempo forward into the realm of disco. The bass beat is confident and the space-age synth effects glisten in the background. The backing harmonized female vocals in the chorus come in to support the powerful lead. The thing about these tracks are that they are catchy and designed to repeat in order to create an anticipatable dance routine. So once they hit upon their sturdy hook, they cycle out as long as they can, and end in fades.
“Dimensions” has an angelic choir of Ahhh-ahhs and swirling harps for the first 45 seconds. Then a hip slow dance melody takes form with the harps and male vocals gently glide over the slow jam. The song slowly picks up the pace and by the second half of the song, it finds its feet as a shuffling dance groove.
“Helpless” is a steady bouncy bass line under a single strummed jangley note. The soulful female vocals carry the song along the disco melody. A backing choir of female vocals takes the production back to a comparison to Supremes or Ronettes.

“Breakaway” was the big single that came out with lots of remixes. It immediately jumps up and down with a no nonsense driving tempo and jittery melody. The production of the vocals and backing vocals paired with the looping bass line places the song firmly in the disco category. With a different execution of the vocals, this could easily have been a nervous new wave hit. Each section has its own distinct twist on a common hook. In the breakdown section toward the end, the bass line quits displaying the drum beat and some twinkling synth chimes like shooting stars.
“Don't Let Your Chance Go Bye” was also a single. It is a little funkier; with a bass groove that steps wider across the music landscape. The vocals are multi layered like a choir, and it jumps right into what sounds like the chorus. The tempo is not as driving, and gives way for slower and slicker disco dance moves. The happy groove is enhanced by an upbeat precise guitar section.
“Fantasy Island” begins with a windy effect, and some show tune guitars with a jazzy progressive beat. The choir of vocals acts like another instrument in the beginning, but once the solo female vocals begin, they take on an organic, loungey path of their own. This reminds me a little of Sunshower by Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah band.
“What's On My Mind” embraces new wave with a sinister, metallic synth beat. Then a piano is introduced, and the high female vocals ease in, giving balance to the original notes. This is a toe tapping disco song, with simple, repetitive musical support and a constant stomping drum beat. The shady synth melody returns, combated with power guitar chords, but it quickly resumes the disco distinction, utilizing the chorus of female vocals in backing support of the lead in the chorus. Toward the end it is a call and response between the female lead, and the high male vocals. But the dark two note bass beat never rests. 

Stand Out Track: Breakaway


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