Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Modern Soul: Ms.Gwen Guthrie's Portrait (1983)

Gwen Guthrie – Portrait - front
Gwen Guthrie

( LP Island Records, 1983 )
Catalog # 90082-1

Gwen Guthrie (July 9, 1950 – February 3, 1999) was an American singer-songwriter, who also sang backing vocals for Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, and Madonna, among others, and who wrote songs made famous by Ben E. King, and Roberta Flack.

Tracklisting & Hide Credits:
A1 Peanut Butter
Keyboards [Bass Synthesizer] – Frankie Waul 5:01
A2 Seventh Heaven 4:18
A3 You're The One 4:42
A4 Family Affair
Engineer [Recording] – Steven Stanley
Synthesizer, Keyboards [Clavinet] – Bernie Worrell 3:42
B1 Hopscotch
Keyboards [Bass Synthesizer] – Frankie Waul 5:18
B2 Younger Than Me 4:38
B3 Padlock 4:51
B4 Oh What A Life 4:48

Personnel & Credits:
Bass – Robbie Shakespeare
Drums – Sly Dunbar
Engineer [Assistant] – Benji Armbrister, Michael Christopher
Engineer [Lead Vocals] – Steven Stanley (tracks: A2, A3, B4)
Engineer [Recording] – Michael Brauer (tracks: A1 to A3, B1 to B4)
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer – Billy "Spaceman" Patterson, Darryl Thompson
Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – Gwen Guthrie
Mixed By – Michael Brauer, Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare
Percussion – Jimmy Maeulin
Piano [Acoustic], Electric Piano – Harry Whitaker
Producer – Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare
Producer [Associate] – Michael H. Brauer
Synthesizer – Wally Badarou

Recorded at Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas.
Format:Vinyl, LP, Album

Gwen Guthrie – Portrait - back


Sly and Robbie again, and the same basic formula: mindless dance tracks Guthrie didn't write, some with good hooks ("Seventh Heaven"), some without ("Hopscotch"), and a couple of fine Guthrie slow numbers ("Younger Than Me," "Oh What A Life"). The most embarrassing moment is a bubble-gum funk cover of Sly Stone's "Family Affair," which loses all the original's power. Guests include Bernie Worrell and Jimmy Maeulin.

Early work from Gwen Guthrie – produced by Sly & Robbie, but with a sweet modern soul sound that's got a lot less of their influence than you'd guess! The sound is much more New York than Jamaica – and that's probably due to some great instrumental backing on keyboards by the likes of Harry Whitaker, Bernie Worrell, and Wally Badarou – all massive talents that bring a nice sweet jazzy sound to the best cuts on the record. There's a definite 80s sing-song groove going on – in that not-yet-top-of-the-charts soul sound that you'd hear on the better small urban stations at the time – moving back and forth nicely, in a strong link between the mainstream and the underground clubs! Tracks include "Hopscotch", "Seventh Heaven", "Oh What A Life", "Younger Than Me", and a nice cover of Sly Stone's "Family Affair".
© 1996-2013, Dusty Groove America, Inc.

Gwen Guthrie – Portrait - label

''Seventh Heaven''

Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma and raised in Newark, New Jersey. In school, she studied classical music, and her father began teaching her piano when she was eight years old. By the early 1970s, she had joined vocal groups such as the Ebonettes and the Matchmakers, meanwhile working as an elementary school teacher. When a backup singer scheduled to sing on Aretha Franklin's 1974 single "I'm in Love" fell ill, Guthrie took the vocalist's place beside Cissy Houston; thus Guthrie would happily state that her career on record began "at the top".
Guthrie soon began moonlighting as a singer of commercial jingles, sometimes with her friend Valerie Simpson (of the Ashford & Simpson fame). A songwriting partnership with her then boyfriend, trombonist/bassist Haras Fyre (professionally known as "Patrick Grant") resulted in Ben E. King's comeback single, "Supernatural Thing", and "This Time I'll Be Sweeter", covered by numerous artists. Together they wrote seven tracks on the Sister Sledge's 1975 album Circle of Love: "Cross My Heart", "Protect Our Love", "Love Don't You Go Through No Changes on Me", "Don't You Miss Him Now", "Pain Reliever", "You're Much Better Off Loving Me", and "Fireman". She was also the writer of Roberta Flack's "God Don't Like Ugly".
As Guthrie's solo career developed, she worked extensively with Sly and Robbie on dub-influenced club cuts, and began racking up dance hits. She was dubbed "The First Lady of the Paradise Garage" as several of her songs became anthems at the venue, helped by the frequent and dynamic performances she gave there. She soon teamed musically with famed Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan, and recorded her first major landmark hit, "Padlock" in 1983 with the Compass Point All Stars in Nassau, Bahamas which became a club and radio hit two years later.
Guthrie is probably best known for her 1986 dance anthem "Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent", a self-written and -produced track which garnered some controversy for its misandric and materialistic lyrics such as: "You've got to have a j-o-b if you want to be with me/No romance without finance". A literal reading suggests a man only require the finances to make a relationship work. However, Guthrie's lyrics intend to motivate her partner into being responsible for maintaining equality and financial stability.
"Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent" was later sampled by numerous dance and hip hop artists, notably by Foxy Brown in her 1998 song "JOB" featuring Mýa and by Utah Saints for the original version of their hit "What Can You Do for Me". The song is referenced in the Eddie Murphy monologue "No Romance Without Finance", in his Eddie Murphy Raw concert and film (also available on DVD). Guthrie also had a hit in 1986 with a cover of "(They Long to Be) Close to You", which reached number twenty-five on the UK Singles Chart the same year.
Her single "Can't Love You Tonight" boldly addressed AIDS at a time when the disease was a taboo subject. Guthrie was an ally to the gay community, and to people with AIDS long before the masses caught up. Proceeds from the single went to the AIDS Coalition.
Other club hits of hers include the Compass Point All Stars-produced "Seventh Heaven", "Peanut Butter", and "Peek-a-Boo". "Padlock" was later covered by M People, who included it on their 1995 album Bizarre Fruit, featuring vocalist Heather Small.
Guthrie died of uterine cancer on February 3, 1999, at the age of 48, and was interred in Fairmount Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.
From Wikipedia

Ms. Gwen Guthrie
(The First Lady of the Paradise Garage)

Ms. Guthrie Main Discography:
1973: East Coast (Encounter)
1982: Gwen Guthrie (Island) - R&B #28
1983: Portrait (Island)
1983: Padlock (Garage Records/Island) - R&B #47
1985: Just for You (4th & Broadway/Island) - R&B #55
1986: Good to Go Lover (Polydor) - US #89, R&B #20, UK #42[3]
1987: Ticket to Ride (4th & Broadway/Island)
1988: Lifeline (Warner Brothers)
1990: Hot Times (Reprise/Warner Brothers)
1999: Ultimate Collection (Hip-O)


1979: "Never (Gonna Let You Go)" (Charme featuring Gwen Guthrie)
1981: "Nothing But Love" (with Peter Tosh) - R&B #43
1982: "It Should Have Been You" - R&B #27
1982: "Peek-a-Boo"
1982: "For You (With a Melody Too)"
1983: "Peanut Butter" - R&B #83
1983: "Hopscotch"
1984: "Love in Moderation" - US #110, R&B #17
1985: "Say Yeah" (with The Limit)
1985: "Just for You" - R&B #53
1985: "Padlock" (Larry Levan Remix) - US #102, R&B #25
1985: "Peanut Butter" (Larry Levan Remix) - R&B #75
1986: "Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent" - US #42, R&B #1, UK #5
1986: "Seventh Heaven" - UK #85
1986: "Outside in the Rain" - R&B #51
1986: "(They Long to Be) Close to You" - R&B #69, UK #25
1986: "You Touched My Life" - BR #10
1987: "Good to Go Lover" / "Outside in the Rain" - UK #37
1987: "Family Affair" (Larry Levan Remix)
1987: "Ticket to Ride"
1987: "Friends and Lovers" (with Boris Gardiner) - UK #97
1988: "Can't Love You Tonight" - UK #79, R&B #83
1988: "Rockin' Chair"
1990: "Miss My Love"
1990: "Say It Isn't So"
1991: "Sweet Bitter Love" - R&B #74
1992: "Eyes (You Never Really Cared)" - UK #95
1993: "Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent" (Remix) - UK #42
1993: "This Christmas Eve"
1994: "What a Life" (Joey Negro featuring Gwen Guthrie)

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