the rainbow seekers

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On this day in music history: May 18, 1979 - “Street Life”, the twelfth studio album by The Crusaders (thirty-first overall) is released. Produced by Wilton Felder, “Stix” Hooper and Joe Sample, it is recorded at Hollywood Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA from February - March 1979. Highly successful throughout the 70’s, The Crusaders experience a major shake up in their solid line up, with the departure of co-founding member Wayne Henderson in 1976, to launch a successful career as a record producer and arranger. Missing their “brother” and friend, the other three members, Wilton Felder, Nesbert “Stix” Hooper and Joe Sample soldier on. Their once inseparable dynamic begins to change, as all three step away to record solo projects, with Joe Sample scoring back to back successes with “Rainbow Seeker” and “Carmel”. As recording gets underway on a new Crusaders album, the band’s label Blue Thumb folds as its parent label ABC is purchased by MCA. The Crusaders are supported in the studio with a number of R&B and jazz luminaries including Paul Jackson, Jr, Arthur Adams, Barry Finnerty, Roland Bautista (guitars), James Jamerson, Alphonso Johnson (bass), Oscar Brashear (trumpet), Jerome Richardson (saxophone), Garnett Brown (trombone) and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion). Though largely instrumental, the songs follow a loose “concept” that reflects L.A.’s vibrant night life. Though the song that becomes the album’s centerpiece and title track, is at first inspired by something completely different. The initial idea for what becomes “Street Life” (#17 R&B, #36 Pop, #75 Club Play, #5 UK), comes to keyboardist Joe Sample while on a ski vacation. Learning how to ski at the Mammoth Mountain resort in California, Sample is standing on the beginner’s slope watching other skiers fall down and run into each other. He thinks to himself “It looks like a boulevard of madness. That’s what street life is”. Sample takes his idea to lyricist Will Jennings (“Higher Love”, “My Heart Will Go On”), who then paints a vivid picture of life along Hollywood Blvd. For “Street Life”, Sample asks jazz vocalist Randy Crawford, who he knows from having played on her first solo album, to sing the song. Crawford’s smoky and soulful vocals take the track to another level. It is an across the board hit, propelling the album to becoming their biggest seller. The song is later featured in the films “Sharky’s Machine” and “Jackie Brown”, also being sampled and interpolated in Hip Hop by 2 Pac, Masta Ace, and fellow Houston natives The Geto Boys. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 1996. The album is also reissued by Culture Factory Records in 2014, in a mini-LP album sleeve replicating the original vinyl LP package. “Street Life” spends twenty one weeks at number one on the Billboard Jazz album chart, peaking at number three on the R&B album chart, number eighteen on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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I think everyone needs some baby makin’ music every once in a while.