Len Coley and Roddy Harris formed DELEGATION in Birmingham, during the
mid 70’s; later adding Jamaican born Ricky Bailey whose voice was to give
them added flair on lead, helping them to compete in the competitive UK
The Group worked with one of the UK’s most prolific hit makers of the 70’s
and 80’s, Ken Gold, responsible for masterminding The Real Thing as well as
writing and producing for artists such as The Nolans, Liquid Gold and Billy
Ocean who secured a deal with State Records after which the group released
a few UK singles with moderate success.
However, when Oh Honey hit the US charts in 1979 it scored an incredibly
impressive top 50 US Pop chart position and smoothly grooved all the way to
#6 in the US R&B charts helping the album enter the top 100 on the
Billboard Hot 200 and came to rest easily at #8 on the US R&B album chart.
DELEGATION later moved to Ariola Records while changing their line-up with
Len Coley being replaced with Bruce Dunbar, a Broadway Musical singer who
starred in the musical "Hair" before joining the band, bringing with him his
captivating falsetto, so well suited to DELEGATION’s smooth funky sound.
Once they had drafted in the arranging talents of keyboard virtuoso, Lynton
Naismith, DELEGATION went to work on 'Eau De Vie' which would go on to
become their highest selling album achieving a Gold Record status in 1980.
1981 would see the release of DELEGATION II, which created such hits as the
single I WANTCHA BACK, a low tempo, funky bass line driven Disco single. IN
THE NIGHT stepped up the heat, again driven by the incredible talents of
Jon Plotel on bass and the Lynton Naiff arranged string section. SINGING
closed out the single releases, a big production number with some great
performances by Jon Plotel, Lynton Naiff, Robert J. Ahwai on guitar and Kofi
Aivor on percussion and of course the incredible horn section that feature
throughout the album.
BBR is very proud to bring you DELEGATION II, completely re-mastered and
repackaged complete with liner notes and extended bonus content.
Released in deluxe Super Jewel cases, DELEGATION II is a must have or all
Soul and Funk and Jazz fans out there!
1. Feels So Good (Loving You So Bad) 3:58
2. Dance, Prance, Boogie 4:20
3. In Love's Time 4:03
4. Singing 4:16
5. 12th House 4:42
6. In the Night 3:38
7. Turn On To City Life 3:42
8. Free To Be Me 4:55
9. I Wantcha Back 3:14
10. Gonna Keep My Eyes On You
11. Singing [12" Special Disco Mix] - (remix) 7:04
12. 12th House [Special Radio Version]3:44
13. Singing [Special Radio Version] 4:03
Label: Big Break Records
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Also on Big Break Records :
Review By Derek Anderson.
Visit also his Musicblog : http://dereksmusicblog.wordpress.com/
Although Delegation calling their third album Delegation II, might seem somewhat confusing, but in many ways it made sense. Delegation II the second album to feature the new lineup of Ricky Bailey, Ray Patterson and Bruce Dunbar, who’d replaced founding member Len Coley. So essentially, Eau De Vie, Delegation’s sophomore album and now Delegation II marked the second chapter in the story of Delegation’s career. It was also Delegation’s second album for their new label Ariola. In many ways, the new lineup of Delegation was almost like a new band. On Eau De Vie, new member Bruce Dunbar seem like an inspired choice to replace Len Coley, who left Delegation after their debut album The Promise of Love.
While Eau De Vie failed to replicate the success of Delegation’s debut album The Promise of Love, this was almost understandable. Here was a group who’d lost a founding member, added a replacement, and in the process, recorded an album for a new record label. This couldn’t have been easy. Although Eau De Vie was an album long on quality soulful, funky music, it didn’t enjoy the success it deserved. In the UK, Eau De Vie failed to chart, while in the US it reached number sixty-nine in the US R&B Charts. Heartache No. 9 and Welcome To My World may only have given Delegation minor hits in the US, but lit up dance-floors, not just in America, but much further afield. This must have provided some small crumb of comfort to Delegation. What they really needed was to replicate the success of The Promise of Love. Both Delegation and their new label Ariola, they must have hoped that Delegation’s third album, Delegation II which will be rereleased by BBR Records on 26th November 2012, would prove more successful than its predecessor. Would that be the case?
Like Eau De Vie, Ken Gold would produce Delegation II, and cowrite many of the songs. Ken cowrote five tracks his songwriting partner Micky Denne. They also cowrote Turn On To City Life with Lynton Naiff played keyboards and arranged the strings and horns. Delegation’s members contributed just two tracks. Ricky Bailey and Bruce Dunbar cowrote Dance, Prance, Boogie with Ray Patterson, who penned Free To Be Me, and with Ricky Bailey cowrote Gonna Keep My Eyes On Me. Tony Mansfield contributed 12th House, one of Delegation II’s singles. These tracks were recorded at London’s Roundhouse Studios.
Joining Delegation were a band containing a rhythm section of drummer Nigel Martinez, bassists John Plotel and rhythm and lead guitarist Robert J. Ahwai. They were joined by the familiar faces of keyboardist Lynton Naiff, percussionist Ken Gold. New members of the band included Trevor Spencer who played syndrums, Kofi Ayivor on cabassa and congas, plus a full string and horn section. The string and horn sections were arranged and conducted by Lynton Naiff, while Ken Gold produced Delegation II. Together, they gave Delegation II a much more polished sound. Would this new sound on Delegation II see Delegation rediscover the success they enjoyed on their debut The Promise of Love, or would commercial success continue to elude them?
Delegation II was released in the UK in December 1980 as Delegation. Like Eau De Vie, Delegation II failed to chart. When Singing was released as a single in January 1981, it too, failed to chart. The only hope was that like Eau De Vie, Delegation II would prove more successful in the US?
On the release of Delegation in the US in February 1981, it was given a makeover. With a new cover and new title, Delegation II as Delegation was released as, it was hoped that the album would prove more popular in the US. Sadly that wasn’t to be. Delegation II failed to chart. Unlike Eau De Vie, it failed to even enter the US R&B Chart. The only crumb of comfort was that In Love’s Time, released in February 1981, to coincide with Delegation II, reached number fifty-four in the US R&B Charts. For Delegation and Ariola, this was a crushing blow and resulted in another change in personnel. Before I tell you about what happened, I’ll tell you about the music on Delegation II.
Opening Delegation II is Feels So Good (Loving You So Bad), the first of the Ken Gold and Micky Denne compositions. It’s as if Delegation are determined to grab your attention. There’s a real funky sound as the track bursts into life. Chiming guitars are joined by hollers, blazing horns, cascading strings and the funky rhythm section. Ricky’s vocal is joyous, delivered with a swing, as horns and harmonies accompany him. Strings are key to sound, swirling and sweeping furiously. Like so many of the tracks on Eau De Vie, this track has a proliferation of hooks, is dance-floor friendly and benefits from an uplifting, joyful sound. Now Delegation have your attention, can they hold it?
Dance, Prance, Boogie with its good-time, party sound reminds me of many a seventies funk track. It seems Ricky, Bruce and Ray Patterson have looked to the past for inspiration. Growling horns and the funkiest of rhythm section join with Chic-esque guitars before Delegation add tight harmonies. Then when Ricky’s vocal enters, it’s feisty and sassy. Behind him, the band go into funk overdrive, referencing classic funk and disco. It’s a potent, dance-floor friendly combination, with Delegation’s soulful harmonies just the finishing touch.
In Love’s Time has a very different sound, much more reflective, pensive and soulful sound. That’s the case from the moody, dramatic opening bars. Keyboards, washes of synths and a funky rhythm section combine with wistful horns. Soon, there’s an Earth, Wind and Fire to the track, even more so when the harmonies enter. Bruce takes charge of the vocal, his vocal tender and heartfelt, his vocal reminiscent of Maurice Bailey. Although this influence is undeniable, it results in a very beautiful, deeply soulful track, that’s one of the highlights of Delegation II. Maybe if Delegation had recorded more tracks like this, then their music might have found a wider audience?
Singing opens to a backdrop of a party atmosphere, before revealing its funky secrets at breakneck speed. There’s a healthy sprinkling of percussion added, with Ghanian musician Kofi Ayivor on cabassa and congas giving a percussive masterclass. He’s joined by rasping horns, keyboards and the rhythm section, who collectively, create an uber funky backdrop for Ricky’s impassioned, joyful vocal. Soulful harmonies accompany him, as this track reveals its rhythmic delights. Keeping still isn’t possible. It’s irresistibly and infectiously catchy. The music is like a call to dance, with Delegation providing the soundtrack.
12th House sees Delegation return to their soulful sound, on a track written by Tony Mansfield. There’s a thoughtful, somewhat melancholy sound to the arrangement. Just keyboards open the track, before the rhythm section and guitars join. Bruce takes charge of the vocal, his voice perfect for lyrics, which are intelligent and pensive. He’s accompanied by some of the best harmonies on Delegation, on a track that’s soulful, funky, spacious and wonderfully wistful.
From the opening bars of In the Night, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re listening to Chic. Not only do Delegation sound like Chic, but replicate their sound accurately. Strings sweep and swirl, guitars chime and a pounding, funky bass drives the rhythm section along. Then when a flourish of keyboards signal the arrival of Ricky’s vocal, the comparisons with Chic end there. His vocal is soulful and heartfelt, with sweeping, equally soulful harmonies accompanying him. While the arrangement has the funky, dance-floor friendly Chic sound, Delegation add their own soulful stylings. This results in delicious fusion of influences and styles, which thirty-one years later, still sounds as hook-laden and catchy as the day it was recorded.
Turn On To City Life sees Ken Gold, Mickey Denne and Lynton Niaff return to Earth, Wind and Fire for inspiration. It’s not as obvious as on In Love’s Time, but still shines through. As the horns rasp and growl and the rhythm section add a funky backdrop, the lushest of strings sweep in. They’re joined by the tight, heartfelt and hugely soulful harmonies. Ricky’s vocal has a similar soulfulness, while chiming guitars lush strings play important parts. So too, do bursts of dramatic drums. Later, Lynton adds a peerless synth solo. It sets up Ricky’s vocal perfectly, as drama and soulfulness combine seamlessly.
Ray Patterson contributed Free To Be Me, one of the slowest and most beautiful tracks on Delegation II. It has an understated, spacious sound, with just guitars, keyboards and lush strings combining with Ray Patterson’s vocal. The harmonies that accompany Ray’s vocal, are tight and heartfelt, among the most soulful on Delegation II. Ironically, this track proved to be Ray’s only lead vocal. He was seen as more of a guitar player than vocalist, but this track disproves that theory.
I Wantcha Back was the last Ken Gold and Mickey Denne penned track on Delegation II. Again, there’s a Chic influence in the arrangement. Primarily it’s the chiming guitars and sweeping, swirling guitars. They’re joined by a tight, funky rhythm section and sweeping, punchy harmonies that accompany Ricky’s impassioned, pleading vocal. Delegation really lift their game, delivering a harmonic masterclass on what is, the best of the Ken Gold and Mickey Denne compositions. Not only is the track gloriously catchy, but laden with memorable hooks,
Closing Delegation II is Gonna Keep My Eyes On You, written by Ray Patterson and Ricky Bailey. It’s as if Delegation are determined to close Delegation on a high. Pounding, dramatic drums, swathes of swirling strings and chiming guitars combine with keyboards before Ricky’s emotive vocal enters. The arrangement bounds along, revealing a jaunty, dance-floor friendly sound. Tight harmonies sweep in, while keyboards, drums and quivering, shivering strings add drama and reflect the emotion in Ricky’s vocal. Soon Delegation hit their soulful stride, closing Delegation with what’s quite simply a hidden gem of a track, that’s both dance-floor friendly, deeply soulful and dramatic.
Listening back to Delegation II, it certainly wasn’t the quality of music that caused the album to fail commercially. Indeed, the music was soulful, funky and dance-floor friendly. Like Eau De Vie, Delegation II has a plentiful supply of memorable hooks. Key to this were six tracks penned by Ken Gold and Mickey Denne. They’d already gained a reputation for penning commercially successful tracks for a variety of artists. Similarly, Ken Gold had gained a reputation as a producer with the Midas touch. Sadly, Ken luck ran out with Delegation II. Even by drawing inspiration from Chic, Earth, Wind and Fire and seventies funk, Delegation II failed to match the success of either Eau De Vie and The Promise of Love. With Delegation II failing commercially, one of Delegation decided to leave the group
Bruce Dunbar, the newest member of Delegation, decided that Delegation II would be his swan-song. This meant that briefly, Delegation became a duo. Although Delegation became a trio again, they never enjoyed the commercial success of The Promise of Love and Eau De Vie. While Delegation II which will be rereleased by BBR Records on 26th November 2012, may not have matched the commercial success of either of these albums, it certainly replicates their quality. Standout Tracks: Feels So Good (Loving You So Bad), In Love’s Time, 12th House and In the Night.