Week 35: Still Fresh

Hey, y’all!

Welcome to Week 35 – and to the still fresh-sounding music of The Harold Wheeler Consort!

In 1973, my dad bought me one of these early portable FM/AM cassette recorders (that’s even before they started calling them boomboxes)…a Sony or Panasonic, can’t really remember – the next couple of years I went through a lot of them. I guess this was when my obsession with music really kicked in – I remember lying awake way past bedtime, listening to late night radio with one of my fingers on the REC button and another on the PLAY button, waiting eagerly for some good music to come my way. I quickly acquired a taste for funky songs with heavy use of synthesizers – you know, that special spacey synthesizer sound closely mimicking the human voice, almost always coming from a Moog or an Arp (and often handled by either Stevie or Herbie). But one night in early 1976, that specific sound was coming from Harold Wheeler’s Moog…well, I didn’t know it was Harold at the time, neither did I know the name of the song (a cover of the Eugene McDaniels penned Roberta Flack hit “Feel Like Makin’ Love”), but it sure blew me away – and probably drove my entire family crazy, since I remember playing it over and over again until the cassette eventually gave up altogether (sabotage or material exhaustion, who knows what really happened?!).

So imagine just how happy I was finding that (at least for me) very special rendition again on an album I found dirt cheap on one of my vinyl store scavenging hunts this summer. I picked up a copy of  The Harold Wheeler Consort’s 1975 album “Black Cream” for a mere $4.99, and I’m not ashamed letting you all know I did it solely on the cover photo (well, the typography too)…it just looked damn good!

When listening to it again for the first time in 33 years I found it to be at lot cheesier than I remembered it, and by now I’ve must’ve listened to the original song almost as many times as I had heard Harold’s take…and of course, hands down, Roberta is the winner for sure…but Harold’s version still sounded fresh. And so did many of the other cuts on the LP…and I’m not the only one to think so – the beat producers has been sampling it like crazy! DJ Premier used the dramatic ending of “Then Came You” for Blaq Poet’s “Watch Your Back” just a couple of years ago. Indie soulman Coultrain used some of the Isaac Hayes-inspired title cut “Black Cream” to create the best track on his 2007 debut album “The Adventures Of Seymour Liberty” – a vibrant song called “Endangered Species”. And that’s just two that I recognized immediately, I bet there’s more….”Black Cream” simply is that kind of an album!

Today, Harold Wheeler is best known for being the musical director of “Dancing With The Stars” since 2006, and before that he was responsible for all music in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta – but what about the Harold Wheeler of 1975? Let’s check an excerpt from the liner notes by Mort Goode to learn some more (and find a suitable connection to Vincent’s Diana Ross post of last week):

………………………………………………………………

The very notion of Black Cream is exactly right – to cut Harold Wheeler loose from his outstanding career as a pianist/arranger/conductor and to let him stretch out musically on records for the very first time all on his own.

The clearest way to underscore the point would be to list some of the astonishing credits Harold Wheeler has accumulated since he graduated cum laude from Howard University less than a decade ago.

Harold was the youngest man ever to open on Broadway as conductor of a major musical and, at that time, one of the very few Blacks to conduct a premiere of a Broadway show. It was only the beginning of his theater career.

That first musical was “Promises, Promises” for which he also composed the dance music. Shortly after he made a similar contribution to “Coco.” Since then, he has been Musical Director for “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death”, “Don’t Play Us Cheap”, “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and most recently arranger for “The Wiz”, the all-Black version of “The Wizard of Oz”.

Born in St. Louis in the early forties, Harold Wheeler turned professional when he was 6 years old, playing piano at his Baptist Church for $5.00 per week. Before taxes.

Harold’s “Arioso and Invention for Oboe and Orchestra” was performed by the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C. while he was still at Howard University, where he was honored with a listing in “Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges”.

Harold Wheeler has scored and conducted for films, and TV too – “Cotton Comes to Harlem”, “Fortune and Men’s Eyes”, “Don’t Play Us Cheap”, “The Martin Luther King Memorial”, The Midnight R & B Special”, New York Shakespeare Festival’s “Wedding Band”, “George M. Cohan”, “Black Journal”, “Harlem Cavalcade of Stars” and teh Tony Awards.

His distinctive accompaniements and arrangements have been heard with Lena Horne, Anne Bancroft, Jimmy Smith, The New World Symphony, André Kostelanetz, Roberta Flack, Doc Severinsen, Aretha Franklin, Billy Taylor, Bernadette Peters, Freda Payne, Ronnie Dyson, Clifton Davis, Nina Simone, Grady Tate, Melvin Van Peebles, Ruth Brown and many more…”

………………………………………………………………

To read the rest of the liner notes, check the hi-res cover scans included in the download. And don’t miss out on Harold Wheeler’s complete IMDb listings here and the article on his work with “Dancing With The Stars” right here!

OK, now try this preview clip showcasing two songs off the “Black Cream” album – as well as two songs using samples from them:

The original vinyl’s rather scarce, and the album hasn’t been reissued on CD – so act now…go get yourself a copy of the LP right here, ranging between $50-59.99! Like the liner notes end things off; “Check it out. Black Cream is smooth and sensual and very, very together. It’s Harold Wheeler. And it’s time.”

Harold Wheeler – thank you for the music!

(Ps. We feel it’s high time to put the producers and beatmakers often visiting the blog to another test…remember the 4BB Beat Logo Competition last year? Well, it’s time to step things up a bit – stay tuned for more information real soon!)

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44 comments on “Week 35: Still Fresh”

  1. Listen up, friends! And after that, please leave a comment – we really value the feedback!

    LISTEN:
    http://lix.in/-505b4a (ShareBee)
    or http://lix.in/-54ef2d (MirrorCreator)

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    Read more about this on our “About” page.

    DISCLAIMER:
    17 U.S.C. 107 permits copyrighted material to be used under the “fair use” doctrine without any permission from the copyright owner. As such, as far as these files are concerned, they are clips and/or low quality reproductions of material; As such they should not be used as substitutes for retail copies of the material contained within. No currency or materials in-Lieu of same has changed hands during the download and/or distribution of these files. No monetary reward is expected and/or accepted for the content of these files. No pretense has been, nor will ever be, made that these files and their contents have ever been, or ever will be, of retailable quality.

    Still, any artist or legal copyright owner who whould rather not see their music or other creations on this blog, please leave a comment with a valid e-mail address and we will sort things out A.S.A.P. If you do download any music or any other copyrighted material, please delete download within 24 hrs and hit the record shop. Always support the real artists whenever possible!

    • Ooops!
      Sorry, but I just discovered a glitch on the title track!
      I’ve just updated the links above, but if you already downloaded the album and want to replace just the “Black Cream” track, click here!

      /Laf

  2. Pure Dopeness. Gonna have this on repeat. Thanks a lot Laf….. 🙂

  3. Many Thanks for this Superlative Post

    Peace Guido/LF

  4. thanks a million Laf. This one is defintely a rare treat. Keep up the outstanding work brothers!

  5. What a great album to begin my week at the office!

    • Yes, it is…I’m at work playing it as we speak, and one of my colleagues just asked me to turn it up! 😉

  6. Very nice – many thanks for this treat!

  7. g r e a t ! ! ! !

  8. Many thanks!

  9. I haven’t even downloaders it yet, but I’m drooling from the cover. I’d have bought it too……music or not! 🙂
    I’ll get around to the music some day.

  10. downloaded…(O-O)

  11. Much Appreciated Laf!! Can’t wait to hear this one. I love the two sample songs!

  12. hi guys !
    thanx a lot, was as hot as the cover promised 🙂

  13. Great cover. Got to listen!

  14. Nice share Laf,

    I will check it out.

    Ladies in the 70’s were simply BEAUTIFUL!

    take it easy everybody…

  15. Thank you for this amazing Album!

  16. great lp, THANKS.

  17. Appreciate it guys

  18. Man, this is truly special.

    Madlib sample Black Cream for his track Greenery on the Lord Quasimoto album.

    Thanks again…

  19. Yah yah! Such a nice album. I think I might have to spring for this one.

  20. Wow! If that bio and clip does not get you off and interested you must be deceased!

    Super nice Laf! I am trying to do some comp cleaning so I must stop downloading in order to get cleaned up. I see if I’m ever going to get anywhere I’m going to have to stay away from my favorite places till I’m done. LOL I keep seeing stuff I gotta listen to right now and I can’t get organized! Like this right here.

    In case you guys don’t see me for a bit I’m just trying to clean house which is very badly needed. I will be back posting shortly.

    Tks again Laf. Great post.

  21. Wonderful production – so uplifting and sensual!
    Thanks a lot for this treat!

  22. great work thanks

  23. Just played the first track and got carried away!

    Thanks for the sweets :p

  24. great one!
    thank you!

  25. Heard two tracks so far and Isaac Hayes resurrected in my head. Why did I think of him? Maybe it was the orchestration. But anyway, I’m anticipating some enjoyable listening with the full thang. Nice one Laf…thanks.

  26. Dope post, thanks! I love the song “black cream”… but the whole lp is nice.

  27. nice work…sweet post…THANX

  28. Thank You For Your Work, Money And Time You Spend On This Side. It Is A Real Pleasure For Me With The Lot Of love You Recieved Us “Your Files”.

    A Huge Fan From Germany

  29. man, that cover rocks. whata saucy minx !!

  30. Thanks!

    Ski also used the title track for Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz’ “Cross Bronx Expressway”

  31. Thank you !!!

  32. YOOO it’s so good to see you Brothers Diggin so hard and findin Classic Gems and allow someone such as myself an opportunity to come across new Artist God Bless and Keep up the Harrd Work 1 Love

  33. Thank you for this rarity! Keep up the good music!

  34. wow this one seems crazy! thanks!

  35. Much appreciated (the cover too) ,thanx a lot

  36. this looks fire..thanks

  37. Great album.

    Right from the start, you know that you’re in from a treat.

    “Black creeeeaaaammmmm….”


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