Maxayn – 1972 – Maxayn
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It is extremely rare to find this masterpiece, especially with the lp’s covers. So get it at once. You won’t find it anywhere!
Maxayn (featuring Maxayn Lewis) . This was w-a-a-a-a-a-y ahead of its time, even in 1972 the year of its release. How to describe Maxayn: Hmmm… Think Sly and the Family, merged into Patti Labelle, with a touch of Chaka Khan and you’d have a slight clue. This funky heady spiritual, mean rocking stuff.
a1. Trying For Days 3:32
a2. Song 3:52
a3. You Can’t Always Get What You Want 5:32
a4. Jam For Jack 4:32
b1. Gimme Shelter 4:00
b2. Let Me Be Your Friend 4:50
b3. Doing Nothing, Nothing Doing 6:24
b4. Beloved 4:28
The songs each and every one of them are so well written, so soulfully sung, so electronically advanced, so very different and so what if no one ever heard it! Some albums are like hidden treasures. Those of us who own them, selfishly keep them to ourselves. When we’re alone, we pull turn to them like secret friends the oddly special kind that only we can possibly love, understand, or appreciate their rare and wonderful beauty.
I’ll keep my Maxayn and all the deliciousness she and her band have to offer to my damn self. Just know it is one of my all time favorite orphans.
Maxayn by Maxayn, Capricorn, 1972
Mindful by Maxayn, Capricorn, 1973
Bail Out for Fun by Maxayn, Capricorn, 1974
Mandre by Mandre, Motown, 1977
Maxayn is a group. Maxayn Lewis was a member of that group. I want to make clear that Ms. Maxayn Lewis was just one part of a strong collective including Andre Lewis aka Mandre, Emilio Thomas, and fellow super-session musician Marlo Henderson (later, Hank Redd). But, as you see, the band was named after her, featured her as a leader, and plastered her face on all album covers. So any confusion between whether Maxayn was a group or a solo act is completely warranted.Maxayn (the band) was a brilliant showcase for the songs and voice of this sister, who also doubled as a talented pianist and French horn player. The group did not have much commercial success, though their music is respected by fans of rare groove and is remembered fondly by those who had hip musical tastes in the early 70s. Their music was part funk, part gospel, part Roberta Flack-ish introspective soothers. And Maxayn’s voice played the part at all times, whether it was to belt out the grittier soulful tunes with toughness or use a more subdued, relaxed style for the slower numbers.
Their/her music reminds me of what Lauryn Hill does today with her work. By combining spiritual grooves, an assertive attitude, updated urban sounds, and plenty ‘o soul and funk, whatever Maxayn and her comrades did worked, and we’ve got 3 (out-of-print) albums to show for it. However, when the Maxayn band called it quits in 1974, the group did not die. Rather, it morphed into one of the strangest projects that the Motown label has ever recorded. This new group, born in 1977, was called Mandre and kept the core of the Maxayn group intact. This time the concept was futuristic space funk/disco complete with tons of synthesizers and blipping electronics. Maxayn’s hubby Andre was at the helm, and album covers featured illustrations of his face covered by a mask, apparently (according to an insider) because Motown thought Andre was too ugly to show a picture of. Ms. Lewis was no longer singing lead in this group, but doing backup vocals, as well as songwriting and playing. And the Motown promotions machine tried to hype Mandre as being “funkier than Parliament.” No one else seemed to think so, and after three albums, Mandre finally funked itself out in 1979.
By the early 1980s, Maxayn (the woman) was singing on albums by the Gap Band. Today, I have no idea what she is doing. But I hope she is still around somewhere to enjoy the respect that she has earned in the burgeoning rare groove collectors’ community.
You can also get Mandre debut album in our back pages here