Friday, July 14, 2017

B.T. Express Kept Dance Floors Packed With Smash “Do It (‘Til You're Satisfied)"

Funk/disco band B.T. Express exploded onto the music scene in 1974 with their smash debut single “Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)." The dynamic funk-dance groove struck a chord with radio listeners and dance-floor junkies across the U.S.—from the hood to the ‘burbs—becoming a massive crossover hit. The track’s irresistible bass line, percolating wah-wah guitar licks, bumpin’ beat and super-tight horns had folks setting dance floors on fire back in the day. The track also boasts some funky conga work, dramatic strings, scorching organ and soulful vocals.

“Do It ('Til You're Satisfied),"penned by songwriter/guitarist Billy Nichols, was the title track off the band’s debut album, released in 1974. The song shot to the top of the R&B singles chart in the U.S. and peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart. And it charted at #8 on the U.S. dance charts. The album’s sizzling second single, “Express,” topped both U.S. R&B singles and dance charts; and it climbed to  #4 on the U.S. pop singles chart. The album also performed extremely well on the charts. It reached the summit of the U.S. R&B album chart and reached #5 the pop album chart. The LP eventually went gold.

The band scored another huge success with their second album, Non-Stop (1975). The album topped the U.S. R&B album chart and peaked at #19 on the pop album chart. Following Non-Stop, B.T. Express released several more albums to diminishing returns, with the hits coming in few and far between. Songwriter/producer/singer Jeff Lane produced the band's first four albums.

B.T. Express was formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1972. The band was originally named The King Davis House Rockers and later changed to Madison Street Express, then the Brooklyn Trucking Express, and finally B.T. Express. The band’s original lineup was Richard “Rick” Thompson (guitar, vocals); Bill Risbrook (tenor saxophone, flute, vocals); Terrell Wood (drums); Barbara Joyce Lomas (vocals); Carlos Ward (alto sax, flute, piccolo, woodwind); Dennis Rowe (percussion); and Jamal Rasool, previously Louis Risbrook (bass, vocals).

The band experienced several personnel changes over the years. Some of the other members included the late keyboardist/songwriter/producer Kashif Saleem (previously Michael Jones); drummer Leslie Ming and guitarist Wesley “Pike” Hall, Jr. B.T. Express disbanded in 1987.

Give Up the Funk: The B.T. Express Anthology 1974-1982, a comprehensive two-disc, 31-track anthology package of some of the band’s best work, was released in April.

B.T. Express is considered one of the pioneering acts of the funk-disco movement that was taking hold in popular music in the mid-1970s. And their music is now being appreciated by a new generation of music lovers thanks to sampling. The band's music has appeared on numerous hip-hop and R&B tracks via samples. For instance, “Do It (‘Til You're Satisfied)” has been sampled in 37 songs, including “Déjà Vu” (Beyoncé, featuring Jay-Z); “Addictive” (Truth Hurts, featuring Rakim); “Baller” (Dr. Dre) and “Gangsta Luv” (Snoop Dogg, featuring The-Dream).

Saturday, July 1, 2017

“Fresh” (Scratch Mix ) by Tyrone Brunson

Bassist, singer, songwriter and producer Tyrone Brunson dropped this bumpin’ cut back in 1984. The super-funky instrumental showcased the musician’s prodigious bass-poppin’ skills. It also boasts a hot beat, dope scratching and sterling synth work. Additionally, the track features some great James Brown samples, which were borrowed from his classics, “Say it Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Hot Pants.”

“Fresh” is a delicious slice of the influential electro-funk sound that was dominating hip-hop music at the time. The track was written by Brunson, Barry Eastmond and Milton Bond and produced by Russell Timmons, Jr. It was the title song off Brunson’s second album, Fresh, released in 1984. The scratch remixers for “Fresh” were Reggie Thompson and Scott Folks. The track also has a cool vintage ‘80s music video filled with pop-lockers, a scratchin' DJ, breakdancing, etc. And the DJ in the video is none other than the O.G. himself: Ice-T.

Calvin Tyrone Brunson was born on March 22, 1956 in Washington, D.C. He played and sang with several local bands throughout the ‘70s, including the tight funk outfits The Family and Osiris. Brunson landed a record deal with the Columbia-distributed Believe In A Dream label in 1982. His first single,“The Smurf,” which was named after the popular dance craze, became a heavily played club banger in New York and elsewhere. It climbed to #14 on the U.S R&B singles chart and #52 on the UK singles chart. The track was included on Brunson’s debut album, Sticky Situation (1982). The album’s title track was also released as a single and was a moderate hit, peaking at #25 on the U.S. R&B singles chart in 1983.

“Fresh,”the title track from Brunson’s 1984 sophomore album, had a solid showing on the U.S. R&B singles chart, climbing to #22.

Brunson eventually moved to MCA Records and released the album Love Triangle (1987) on the label. The collection was produced by James Mtume, who's best known for his production work with the popular R&B/funk band Mtume. In addition to vocals, Brunson played bass, synthesizer and drums on the album. The title track is a lush R&B ballad that features Gayle Adams, who turns in a soulful, impassioned vocal performance. Unfortunately, the song failed to gain any traction on the charts nor did any of the other songs on the album.

Following Love Triangle, Brunson worked mainly as a background vocalist, most notably for hit-making R&B trio Levert.  He left the music scene in the ‘90s and became a teacher of computer networking. He died on May 25, 2013 in Washington, D.C., at the age of 57.

“The Smurf” is what Brunson is most remembered for, but that are many other strong tracks in his catalogue that are definitely worth checking out, including "Fresh."