In The Basement
Across three CDs, here we have one album per year released on Rose Royce by Whitfield Records between 1978 and 1981.
Looking at the pairing of ‘Strikes Again’ and ‘Rainbow Connection’ first, both of which feature the original line-up, there’s no denying the group’s material spans a broad range, from a delectable Gwen Dickey-led ballad like ‘Angel In The Sky’ to the funk of ‘Get Up Off Your Fat’. (What is this nasal whine that seems to be essential to adopt in order to sing funk authentically?) In between , we have the mellow, Kenny Copeland-led ‘I’m In Love (And I Love The Feeling)’, a dramatic ‘Help’, a Robert Daniels composition fronted by Kenji Brown and, of course, the classic ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’, a #5 r&b success in the US and a #2 UK pop hit.
‘Rainbow Connection’ also shines the light on Gwen Dickey in respect of ‘I Wonder Where You Are Tonight’ and ‘Ooh Boy’ – a bonus track doubtless because it hit the UK listing in 1980, three years after its US release. (The other ‘bonus’ is the non-album ‘Pop Your Fingers’.) We also get ‘Is It Love You’re After’, my favourite of any of the group’s up-tempo material, which amazingly missed the US ‘Hot 100’, stalled at #31 r&b ‘Billboard’ (#42 ‘Cashbox’) but did make it to #13 pop over here.
By ‘Golden Touch’ the line-up had changed and vocal contributors Dickey and Brown had gone, female leads being taken by Ricci Benson, her sound being slightly deeper and breathier – at time reminiscent of Randy Crawford – but resonating nicely on the title track (their last Whitfield label chart entry) and ‘And You Wish For Yesterday’, which makes for a gentle start to the set. Kenny Copeland’s falsetto remains to grace the mid-tempo ‘Love Is In The Air’ and ‘Would You Be Mine’ but, by ‘Jump Street’ the band seemed to have lost its way. Certainly the material was less impactful and only the Copeland-fronted balled ‘Tell Me That I’m Dreaming’ made any personal impact.
These CD packages bring together four album releases: LA nine-piece soul/funk outfit Rose Royce. Strikes Again, originally out in 1978, includes the worldwide smash hit Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, (subsequently covered: Madonna and Jimmy Nail). The album reached No.7 on the UK charts, whilst Love Don’t...was only kept off the No.1 spot: The Commodore’s Three Times A Lady.
Rainbow Connection followed in 1979 and brought another big hit, Is It Love You’re After. Both of these albums feature the vocal talents of Gwen Dickey, who still tours in Britain.
Golden Touch and Jump Street, released in 1980 and 1981 and recorded at Fort Knox Studios in LA, have Richie Benson taking over lead vocal duties. Tracks include I Wanna Make It With You , Love Is In The Air and R R Express.