Monthly Archives: August 2012

Black Heat

No Time to Burn – Black Heat

Black Heat started as a backup band for another Washington group, the Day-Tons, with a core lineup comprised of percussionist King Raymond Green, guitarist Bradley Owens, drummer Esco Croner, keyboardist Johnnell Gray (pictured left to right), and bassist John Byrd.

The band separated from the Day-Tons, retitled as Black Heat, and flourished with the replacement of Byrd with Naamon “Chip” Jones on bass and lead vocals. Black Heat recorded their self-titled debut album in 1972 on Atlantic Records with legendary producer Joel Dorn and soon became one of the earliest go-go bands to receive attention outside of DC.

Black Heat added Raymond Thompson (right) on saxophone and Rodney Edwards (second from right) on trumpet and recorded three more albums on Atlantic with Dorn— “No Time to Burn” (1974), “Keep On Runnin’ (1975), and “Fired Up” (1976). They played in Europe, the Philippines, at Carnegie Hall and on the PBS program “Soul!” and also toured with Earth Wind & Fire, the Ohio Players, the Commodores, New Birth, and Funkadelic. The latter group stole Black Heat’s song “Get Off Your Ass And Jam” for their 1975 album “Let’s Take It to the Stage.” Despite Black Heat’s success members of the group stayed humble.

“Everybody’s not cut out to be a musician. It’s either feast or famine,” says Green. “There were a lot of groups that were probably better than us that never had that opportunity. We were fortunate to be at the right place at the right time and be able to maintain a great sound.”

Black Heat broke up shortly after recording “Fired Up” but their impact has endured as samples in songs by N.W.A., Casual, The Notorious B.I.G., the Wu-Tang Clan, Fat Joe, Biz Markie, DJ Shadow, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, and on the 2011 international hit by Jessie J featuring B.o.B., “Price Tag.”

You can purchase Black Heat‘s music here.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Mark Greene

Not On the Outside – The Moments

Growing up in a musical family in Anacostia, Mark Greene first began to train his falsetto voice by mimicking birds. He joined his first group, The Congressionals, as a teenager, recording a single, “I’m Going to Leave This Town,” which was never released. When Greene was in his early 20s the original formation of Washington, DC based group The Moments—Eric Olfus, John Morgan, and Richard Gross—and producers the Mizell Brothers and Freddie Perren, met with Greene at a recording studio on Vermont Avenue NW and recruited him as their new lead vocalist. Together they traveled to New Jersey to record with Sylvia and Joe Robinson on All Platinum Records (which later became Sugar Hill Records) and recorded the single “Not On The Outside” with lead vocals by Greene. The 45 reached #13 on the Billboard US R&B charts in 1968 and #58 on US pop charts. That same year The Moments also performed at the Apollo Theater, sharing the stage with Michael and Marlon Jackson, Sam & Dave, Clarence Carter, The Unifics, and Margie Hendricks.

Sylvia Robinson shuffled The Moments before the release of their debut LP. Gross, Olfus, and Greene left, though Green stayed on the label as a solo artist, and New Jersey natives William Brown and Al Goodman came in as replacements to sing with John Morgan. Greene released two singles, “My Confession of Love” and “I’m So Lost,” as a solo artist on All Platinum but eventually cut ties with the recording company over a contract dispute. Greene, Gross, and Olfus received credit on The Moment’s 1968 Stang Records LP, “Not on the Outside, But on the Inside, Strong!” which went gold. The latter incarnation of The Moments ultimately changed their name to Ray, Goodman, and Brown when they moved to Polydor Records.

In 1971 Greene and the other former original members of The Moments, Gross and Olfus, recorded three singles together—“Which Way” “How Do You Move a Mountain,” and “Anyone Can”—on the Memphis, Tennessee Stax-Volt label as The Leaders. A majority of the records were stolen off of the shipping truck and the singles ultimately fizzled.

Greene continued to perform as a solo artist and as a featured vocalist with the Washington area group The Exceptions and also also briefly joined Ray, Goodman, and Brown after Harry Ray passed away in 1992. Greene, a multi-instrumentalist, began writing his own material and released a slew of solo jazz, pop, R&B, and reggae material on his own record label, Fajr Records. He was also solicited by the Temptations, The Four Tops, and The Platters.

Greene retrieved the trademark for The Moments name at the top of the millennium and released the CDs “Unspoken Moments” and “Revealing Moments” under the group’s moniker with members of The Exceptions and “Urban Legacy” as The Moments featuring Mark Greene. In 2009 The Moments’ 1968 song “Love on a Two Way Street” was sampled on the #1 hit “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys.

“My purpose is to utilize the talent I have,” says Greene. “My writing abilities and my skills as a singer to maybe enhance society and help…those who have an ear and eye for moral and message music. That’s where I’m at now.”

You can purchase Mark Greene’s work as a solo artist and with The Moments here and here.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.
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