Ricky McCarthy made a suggestion a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued, because making compilations are much more involved than compiling a mixture of songs. With a person or group, it’s pulling out the best and the most popular. In my case, however, I try to include some of the lesser known and obscure ones as well, which is why it took me more than a little time to pull together a mere sampling of one particular writer, producer, and keyboard synth genius. He was born under the name of Michael Jones, but you and I know him under his actual name today:
Old School Wednesday: Kashif
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01 – Howard Johnson – So Fine
02 – Melba Moore – Take My Love
03 – Tavares – Love Line
04 – Kashif – I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On)
05 – Evelyn Champagne King – Love Come Down
06 – Whitney Houston & Kashif – Thinking About You
07 – Stacy Lattisaw – Jump Into My Life
08 – Kashif – The Mood
09 – Kashif – Ooh Love
10 – Kashif – Baby Don’t Break Your Baby’s Heart
11 – Kashif – Stone Love
12 – Kashif – Help Yourself To My Love
13 – Kashif – Love Letter Out Loud
14 – Kashif & Meli’isa Morgan – Love Changes
Kashif (born Michael Jones in 1959) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and record producer. Kashif became well-known from playing keyboards in the renowned funk band B.T. Express. He played synthesizer bass using the miniMoog while touring with the group. After leaving the band in the early 1980s, Kashif recorded demos with the band Stepping Stone, which led to his eventual solo signing with Arista Records.
Introduced to Arista by Gerry Griffith it’s A&R Director in 1983, his self-tilted debut Kashif (1983) spawned the hits "I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On)," "Stone Love," "Help Yourself to My Love," and "Say Something Love." With this release, Kashif was well received as an innovator in music, as R&B artists were only beginning to experiment with synthesizers and other electronic instruments. He is said to have been Arista Records‘ attempt to respond to Warner Bros. Records‘ Prince.
Although I was fairly familiar with some of Kashif’s earlier tracks, it’s Howard Johnson’s jam So Fine that really piqued my interest in Kashif while in high school, perfect for an intro track. As always, as I kept discovering Kashif’s musical portfolio, I found out that this cat was producing Melba Moore back before So Fine was being dropped. For this reason it was logical to continue the flow with Take My Love, released in 1981. Digging in a little further, I found Tavares’ track LoveLine also from 1981.
Starting with the line ‘E! E!’ and with an absolute killer bass synth line, I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On) is not only a fave of mine but also a fave of a close friend of mine, my homie Theresa. Evelyn King and Lillo Thomas dropped background vocals for the track. Speaking of Evelyn, thanks to three other musical-savvy internet people (Barry, Kaia, and A.), her track Love Come Down gained the place after Lover Turn Me On and before a track which I still consider one of my absolute favorite jams from Whitney, Thinking About You, with additional vocals by Kashif himself. Stacy Lattisaw’s Jump Into My Life, a solid cut from 1986 that hit #13 on the R&B charts continues the vibe.
Kashif’s The Mood is a fantastic track – just ask the one and only music maestros Fresh! and Macedonia. I practiced playing percussion with this track back in high school. 1984’s Ooh Love follows this mix, keeping the groove right into Baby Don’t Break Your Baby’s Heart, from the album Send Me Your Love. The flow continues into Stone Love, with Evelyn, Lillo, and BJ Nelson providing background vocals. Help Yourself To My Love, with a fantastic vocal lineup of BJ, Lillo, Evelyn, Brenda White, Phillip Balou, and two other heavy hitters you may be familiar with, Fonzi Thorton (think Luther Vandross), and Tawatha Agee (from Mtume).
I pulled out the CD Personality and revisited my love for the forgotten slow jam Love Letter Out Loud which was a perfect segue to the hit song, the duet between Kashif and Mel’isa Morgan, Love Changes. Staying true to my old-school rules (the tracks shouldn’t be used within a 4 month period, and the mix needs to fit on a CD), this was more than a little difficult, as you can see. I’m already envisioning a part II coming up in the near future. Special thanks to everyone who was involved with this wonderful ‘cast. Feedback like this keeps it flowin’ every week.
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