More Musical Massage

Leon Ware has been writing and recording soul and funk since the late 1960s.  Among his various credits, he is responsible for writing Michael Jackson’s “I Want To Be Where You Are,” as well as almost all of one of Marvin Gaye’s best albums, 1976’s I Want You.  The story behind I Want You illustrates the depth of Ware’s talent.  Supposedly, Ware was originally planning to use the material for himself, but head of Motown (and Gaye’s brother-in-law) Berry Gordy heard the demos and somehow persuaded, cajoled, or forced him to give Gaye the material.  So Ware helped Gaye with I Want You, and also went and wrote another entire album of similarly sexual, smoothly-orchestrated funk that he released just six months later, entitled Musical Massage.


Ware continues to record, write, and produce to this day, and he has recently released two new tracks, at least one of which is a collaboration with the Danish duo Quadron, for the Quieres Chicle label – which describes itself as “a boutique record label” with an ambitious mission: “releasing honest soul music that defies trends and endures the test of time.”   “Orchids For The Sun” layers strings, horns, and a thick drum beat on top of a basic keyboard.  Quadron sing “ooohs” in the background and singer Coco Karshøj harmonizes with Ware during the chorus.  Ware’s voice is still pleasant, if not quite as steamy, but the harmony comes off as discordant.  Ware and Quadron pump the track full of bells and whistles, but it only adds dead weight.


The other song, “Hold Tight,” pulses with darting strings and pumping bass.



Ware’s opening line, “Could it be too much to ask,” has more force behind it; moments later he hits a high note while singing “oooh!” that evokes his best work.  This may not “stand the test of time” for Quieres Chicle the way Ware’s 70s stuff (video below) did, but it’ll do for now.


(This was originally recorded by Quincy Jones in 1974, but I think Ware’s solo version is more powerful and funkier).

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