Week 51: Leon, Gene & Billy
Welcome back, friends!
We’re deep into Week 51, and the holiday season is closing in. So I guess an early Christmas gift is in order…how about this vintage Leon Haywood collaboration with the Page brothers?!
Yep, Leon’s 1974 release “Keep It In The Family” more or less keeps things in the Page family…Gene Page handling all arrangements and the conducting, and older brother Billy Page writing the irresistible “Sugar Lump” – the hit single off the album.
Released on 20th Century Records, with entrepreneur-extraordinaire Russ Regan at the helm (you know, the former UNI-boss who hired Barry White as a producer and later did us all a favor by coaxing Barry into recording as a solo artist as well) – which of course gives a clue on how Leon, Gene and Billy met up.
“Keep It In The Family” is definitely among my favourite Leon Haywood albums (long-time followers might remember a near complete discography post on the old blog, excluding only this one and only LP) – with wonderful cuts like the instrumental masterpiece “B.M.F. Beautiful” (written by Gene & Leon), the sweet and upbeat, yet socially conscious, “Sugar Lump” and the highly dramatic “Long As There’s You (I Got Love)”…the latter one sounding like the main influence for pretty much all songs on Portishead’s “Dummy”.
On that topic, I prolly should mention Leon’s massive influence on hiphop…his next album, “Come And Get Yourself Some” from 1975, included the massively sampled “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You” – which instantly should have you reminiscing on Dre & Snoop and their 1993 epic, “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”! Funny enough, if you go dig up your copy of “The Chronic”, you’ll find that Leon is wrongfully credited as “L. Hayward”!
Now, check out to this short preview of the Leon/Gene/Billy collab “Sugar Lump”:
For those not in the know regarding Leon Haywood, here’s a short but efficient recap courtesy of AMG’s Richie Unterberger:
Soul/funk journeyman Leon Haywood periodically dented the charts in the 1970s with hits that tapped into the grooves and musical hooks of the day’s trends. An accomplished songwriter and arranger, Haywood never pretended to be an innovator, and his hits are cheerful derivations of ’70s midtempo funk and romantic ballads, usually embellished by smooth string charts. His best material recalled the late-’60s/early-’70s Motown sound; on the slower material in particular, his vocals bore a resemblance to those of Marvin Gaye.
Haywood’s roots extend way further back than the ’70s; he toured and recorded with R&B saxophonist Big Jay McNeely’s band (which also backed Sam Cooke on the road) in the early ’60s. In the mid-’60s, he had his first chart entry with “She’s with Her Other Love” on Imperial. In 1967, he had a solid R&B hit (and small pop one) with “It’s Got to Be Mellow,” whose commercial soul sound betrayed his Motown influence.
He didn’t come into his own as a solo artist until the mid-’70s, when he had big R&B hits with “Strokin’,” “Come and Get Yourself Some,” and “Keep It in the Family.” His biggest single, “I Want’A Do Something Freaky to You” (with orgasmic female gasps and moans that made it pretty clear what “freaky” really meant), crossed over to the Top Twenty pop listings. The discoish “Don’t Push It Don’t Force It” was his biggest splash, making #2 R&B in 1980. After the mid-’80s, he eased out of the record business into business ventures; in the 1990s, he produced blues albums by Jimmy McCracklin and others on his own EveJim label.
Aight, that should do it! :¬)
To buy yourself a copy of the original vinyl for less than $15, click here! If you just won the lottery, you might be interested in this $172.50 CD compilation “The Best Of Leon Haywood” from 1996 right here?!
Leon Haywood – 4BB salutes you!
Just two more weeks to go for a complete first year for 4BB Weekly…and we sure got some sweet surprises up our sleeves to make these two last weeks count! See y’all next week!
(Ps. Damn, almost forgot…can’t really do a post on Leon Haywood without including this groove – one of the ass-wiggliest beats ever, sure to fill any dancefloor in an instant!)