Maze fet Frankie Beverly – 1980 – Joy and Pain
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Frankie Beverly and Maze’s fourth album, JOY & PAIN, was their most fully realized recording to date, with Beverly really coming into his own as a producer. While the more extensive production of third album INSPIRATION served mainly to enhance the ballads, here there’s a richer, more fleshed-out feel to every element of the Maze sound. The opening cut, “Changing Times“, is full of visceral jazz-meets-funk textures that would have made famed arranger David Axelrod envious. The instrumental “Roots” is full of churning riffs, interlocking guitars, bubbling keyboards, and flailing percussion. Throughout the album, the use of synthesizer as a lead instrument, instead of merely orchestral padding, is a notable advance. The much-sampled title cut is a tour de force that utilizes a combination of percussion and drum machine to hypnotic effect, while jazzy, dreamy guitars and keyboards float across the top. The balladic feel of INSPIRATION isn’t absent on JOY & PAIN, but like everything else, its more fully integrated than ever before.
A1 Changing Times 6:37
A2 The Look in Your Eyes 5:19
A3 Family 5:11
A4 Roots 5:08
B1 Joy and Pain 7:14
B2 Southern Girl 6:54
B3 Happiness 6:46
Beverly, who was born in Philadelphia in 1946, started out musically in his hometown with a band named the Butlers. The Butlers became Raw Soul and it was this band that, in the early seventies, switched its base to San Francisco and reformed as Maze.
Maze, who have been described as perhaps the ultimate urban contemporary group, were definitely fan favourites who received little critical acclaim, notice or adulation except from soul and R & B writers. From 1977 to 1989 they recorded for that unsung goldmine of soul music, Capitol, before moving on to the new pastures of Warner Brothers.
It was in 1980, during their Capitol hey day, that Maze recorded “Joy and Pain‘, including it on the album of the same name. From day one it became a modern day classic with an enduring cult interest from serious soul fans, an interest that has been confirmed over and over by the number of quality covers it has attracted.
Hands down this is a brilliant album! In the immediate post disco era Frankie Beverly & Maze had been swinging the musical tide in the opposite direction for five years before this album was released in 1980. The opening cut “Changing Times” swirls around with a light guitar solo, then goes into blasts of bass before going full throttle into soulful funkiness, matched only to a plaintive guitar and Beverly’s gurgling, soulful voice.
Then there is the title cut and I only have one word to say about that-ALL TIME SOUL AND POP CLASSIC! It’s up there with the finest of Stevie,Marvin,Isaac,The O’jays and EWF but sadly is little known outside the R&B community!” Southern Girl” is a fine funk romp but throughout ‘Joy And Pain‘ tempo’s are always changing, the music always evolving and the organ/vocal/ guitar interplay has a rather folksy approach to soul that few of the period’s urban contemporary artists could replicate. Not that Maze with their hard driving sound were ever an urban band at all. And that’s what gives this album it’s charm-it’s unlike anything else in R&B at that point and hasn’t aged one day! The entire neo soul movement of today stems directly from albums like this one so fans of ‘Innervisions‘, ‘What’s Going On‘, ‘Hot Buttered Soul‘ or even ‘A Quiet Storm‘ should go right out and purchase ‘Joy And Pain’-
It’s a definitive soul classic and will transport you to another musical world!