MAZE featuring FRANKIE BEVERLY / “Maze Mixtape”
This is a short story for a whole dump truck full to tipping over with great rhythm & blues. New Orleans is one of—if not “the”—dancing-est city in the USA. We’ll dance, literally for miles, in the August noonday sunlight to send a friend off in style, high noon, brother, when the only things moving is mad dogs and Englishmen, and us second-lining down the street. We can and will dance with a brick wall. Dance on our hands upside down with our toes on the side of a truck. Dance on a telephone pole without a safety belt. Dance, day, night. Any damn time. Cause we roll like that. You may not know it but, by far and away—ain’t nobody else even close—the favorite dance band in New Orleans is Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. (In fact the last number on the Maze Mixtape is from that great Maze Live In New Orleans album.) When Essence started the Essence festival over the 4th of July weekend, Maze was selected to close out the festival and it became a ritual. Why? Well, because Maze’s music focuses on mid-tempo hip shakers, with tasteful, multiple percussion and melodic songs full of hooks just made for call and response. Again, I refer you to the New Orleans version of “Joy And Pain” when the audience goes to hollering and chanting before the song even starts good and by the end has Frankie declaiming “Yeah. I didn’t know yall could sing, too, nah!” Well, that’s the news down in New Orleans. Everybody can sing a lit bit, dance a whole lot and don’t go to asking for audience participation if you ain’t ready to go all the way live. Maze is a working class band. In fact, they are the last of those seventies brick mason bands. No glam, no glitter, no freaky costumes, no (half or wholly) naked, gyrating women, no magic shows, laser lights and special effects. Just ordinary looking brothers from around the way singing about the joys and pains of everyday life. Frankie Beverly is generally grossly underrated both as a composer and as a vocalist. He’s not quite in Smokey’s league as a composer or Al Green's league as a lead vocalist but there are not many other bandleader/vocalists who can match him song for song. It’s easy to take Frankie's talent and goodness for granted. Maze's music seems so joyful, so effortless, so easy, so “have a good time”—let’s dance, let’s shout, let’s turn this… But you know, music this good doesn’t happen by accident. So, big ups to my man Frankie Beverly, one of the unsung, too often overlooked, heroes of R&B. Frankie Beverly may not be on the pen tips of the music critics, but believe me the people know. Let somebody announce Maze featuring Frankie Beverly is coming to town and see if it don’t sell out. For people who daily struggle through the trials and tribulations, toil and trouble on the regular, people who be searching for some relief and just a spoonful of joy to match all the barrels of pain they have to tote, for them, Maze and Frankie Beverly is the kind of music they can relate to. And speaking of “Joy And Pain,” at the end of the Mixtape I bunch together five versions that range from Avant’s reverent remake, to the Bacci Bros house version preceded by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock’s hip hop, followed up by trumpeter Tom Browne’s funky take and closed out by Frankie Beverly and a couple of thousand New Orleanians crowded up in the Saenger Theatre on Canal Street singing their collective hearts out. I don’t have to tell you about most of the songs. You’ve heard them before and if you haven’t all I can say is: you must be one culturally deprived soul. Well, to you who don’t know, get ready for some musical edification and ed-ju-ma-cation of the funkiest order. Oh, yeah, this music is made for line dancing. Slide, dip, turn, hop, back it up and do it again! Oh, yeah. Maze. Frankie Beverly. The last of the real working class R&B bands from the seventies. BTW, just a little trivia note to close out. Frankie Beverly is indeed from Philly and Maze was founded in San Francisco and although “Southern Girl” was one of their hits, they are not a southern band. OK, everybody: JOY! AND PAIN! —Kalamu ya Salaam Maze Mixtape Playlist Word to the wise, there a number of Maze greatest hits albums out there but some of them have shortened versions of some of the songs and are therefore suspect as far as dancing music goes. Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly 01 “Happy Feelin's” Anthology 02 “Reason” 03 “Golden Time Of Day” Live In New Orleans 04 “Running Away” Greatest Hits 05 “The Morning After” Anthology 06 “When I’m Alone” 07 “Feel That You’re Feelin' ” Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly 08 “You” 09 “Look At California” Anthology 10 “Before I Let Go” 11 “Southern Girl” 12 “I Wanna Thank You” 13 “Never Let You Down” 14 “Love Is The Key” 15 “Back In Stride” Silky Soul Music... An All-Star Tribute 16 “Joy and Pain (feat. Avant)” Monster TV Rap Hits 17 “Joy And Pain (World To World Remix)” - Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock Just Hits 18 “Joy and Pain (Bacci Bros. Remix)” - Bacci Bros Freewheelin' 19 “Joy and Pain (Radio Edit)” - Tom Browne Live In New Orleans 20 “Joy and Pain”
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