Mates’ Crates: Locksmith – Far Beyond

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. This time, “Far Beyond” by one-album funk band Locksmith.

Label: Arista | Year: 1980 | Discogs: Locksmith – Unlock The Funk

As I’ve often written in these columns, you’ve already heard Lockmith’s Unlock The Funk, even if you don’t know it. “Red Alert” by iconic British big-beat duo Basement Jaxx has remained inescapable in the 20+ years since its release. And having sampled the intro of “Far Beyond”, I think at least a bit of that success owes to Locksmith.

The story begins with saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., best known for “Mister Magic“, “Just The Two Of Us“, and his covers of “Inner City Blues“, “Take Five” and “Soul Strut“. Grover Washington Sr. was also a saxophonist and collector of jazz records who encouraged his son to play from the age of eight. After being drafted into the US Army, Jr. met drummer Billy Cobham, who introduced him to many New York jazz musicians, where he eventually found his way into the mainstream.

Locksmith formed in the late seventies from a group of musicians who had previously played with Grover Washington Jr, and released only one album before disbanding in 1980. Few of the musicians had much solo success outside the band, though percussionist Leonard William Gibbs Jr. later toured with the likes of Whitney Houston, Erykah Badu and Wyclef Jean.

The album was produced by drummer Harvey Mason (best known for “Groovin’ You” and “On and On“. To mention yet another “Jr.” in this piece Mason’s son Harvey Mason Jr. is an accomplished producer in his own right, with credits on releases by Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross. Perhaps most surprisingly, Mason Jr. stepped out from behind the mixing desk to provide backing vocals on the soundtrack of the 2016 film Sing.

So, just as they intended, sit back, hit play, and “Unlock The Funk” with Locksmith.