Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. These are not reviews, they’re stories. Up next, Brainstorm‘s high-energy disco slammer Lovin’ Is Really My Game.
Label: Rated “X” Records (original on Tabu) | Year: Unknown (original 1977) | Discogs: Brainstorm / Deodato / Shalamar – Lovin’ Is Really My Game / Are You For Real / This Is For The Lover In You
Not that I’ve been to all that many, but Barcelona’s Discos Paradiso is probably one of my favourite record shops in the world. It’s just a nice place to be.
After a few hours’ browsing (I could’ve easily spent a few more), I came across a bright yellow label, (mis)printed with Love is Really My Game and with no mention of any artist. Already running late, I took my chances. One week and one cramped Ryanair flight home later (the least fun kind of knees-up), I found out I was right, and I’d struck gold with this New York bootleg pressing.
Brainstorm formed in 1976 in Detroit of an all-start cast of musicians. Lead vocalist Belita Woods also performed with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, alongside Bootsy Collins (recently the host of GTA V’s Space FM – I made my love for the franchise’s disco stations clear in my Mates’ Crates on Fat Larry’s Band). Trumpeter Jeryl Bright went on to play with Cameo (of “Candy” fame) and also played on Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson”. Bassist Deon Estus played for Wham! and later George Michael, including on “Faith”. Pianist Bob Ross (much to my disappointment, though not to my surprise, not the happy little clouds Bob Ross) went on to play for Huey Lewis and Tupac. As ever, I’m fascinated by the web of talent that goes into each and every record I buy.
Woods wrote “Lovin’ Is Really My Game” in 1977 together with Trenita Womack (of no relation to Cecil and Linda ‘Womack & Womack’ of “Teardrops” and “M.P.B.” fame; or (obviously) to Cecil’s brother, legendary singer/songwriter/producer Bobby Womack). As ever, these aren’t reviews, so I’m not going to try and break down the track or the instrumentation, I’ll just say that I think it is spectacular.
Of course, covers followed. Sylvester and the legendary Patrick Cowley (who I’ve written a Disco Reflections about here) put out a commendable Hi-NRG version. Betty Wright released an ever-so-slightly jazz-leaning version in 1978. Zino and Ann Nesby released two quite laboured 4/4 club versions. In this case, as in many others, nothing begins to compare to the original.
I recently came across more Brainstorm when I fell down my usual sample-hunting rabbit hole with “Home” by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard. The rest of “Home“ grew on me with time, but the opening sample had me immediately hooked. As it turns out, it was Brainstorm’s “We’re On Our Way Home”, another huge disco-funk track off their second album, Journey to the Light, in 1978. I played it a couple of weeks ago, when I stepped into Toby Taylor’s shoes to cover November’s Good For The Soul show here on Melodic Distraction Radio.
Brainstorm released just one more LP, Funky Entertainment, in 1979, but the legacy of the 24-track discography has outlasted the group’s two years.