Luther was one of the main vocalists for this Disco studio group. Hot Butterfly was Luther’s first featured studio group recording in 1978. A Timeless classic and later recorded by David Lasley (Gregg Diamond asked him to take a swing at it after Luther recorded it since David was on the Hot Butterfly album as well providing background vocals and lead vocals on a song titled Paradise), The Sweet Inspirations (1979 Hot Butterfly LP a great album), and Chaka Khan. In 1979 Bionic Boogie’s last album TIGER TIGER has 2 songs co-written by Luther and Gregg Diamond with Luther singing lead vocals. Lay It On The Line and Crazy Lady Luck are worth listening too. I love Crazy Lady Luck it has fun and bouncy lyrics and I love the line: That’s her mother I’d like to have another please…I have a feeling that was a Gregg Diamond line.
Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards and other members of what was to become CHIC were in Luther’s band touring on the road after the 1976 release of LUTHER. In 1977 during one of Luther’s shows at Radio City Music Hall Nile Rodgers describes what happened. “The first song I wrote for Chic was “Everybody Dance” and I remember at the beginning of Chic I was the only composer. Bernard hadn’t written a song with me yet. So the first was “Everybody Dance”, it was (plays guitar). It’s not the typical chord changes for an r&b song ‘cause in those days they’d be like (plays guitar) and you would just groove (plays guitar). Just one chord, staying in the groove, but because I wanted to hear more harmonically, I wrote (plays guitar). Will you all pretend like I sound good, pretend like I’m in tune? So the first song was C-minor 7, B-flat 11 to C-11, A-flat-major 7. And this was the cool thing, this was the real Nile thing. You can look at this many different ways, but I like to look at it as a D-minor 11 with an A in the bass. So we’d do the passing ‘cause I wanted to have Bernard do this chromatic thing (plays guitar). I’m so traditional, whatever’s in the root, I would think of it as the chord. So I think of that as a A-minor 7 with a raised 5. Because if I hear that in the root, I want to hear an A chord, I don’t want to call it a D. The reason I think of it like that is ‘cause… Well, anyway, that’s what I call it, I’m not going to explain it. So the first song I wrote I came up to Bernard and was: “Here’s how the song goes.” (plays guitar) Then I got really into it and went (plays guitar). He was like: “OK, that shit is cool, but what am I going to play?” Then he started imitating me and we were both going (noise), then all of a sudden Bernard came up with that genius bassline and we both started chucking and I started out-chucking him and about a minute later, as the writer, I thought, ‘Maybe I should just play simple and let him play the song’. Remember, no one had played this song except for me until we got to the studio. So we get there – and by the way, we’re playing with Luther Vandross, two shows a day at Radio City, so during the intermission we ran to the recording studio, where my boy was the maintenance engineer, and he paid the elevator boy $10 to keep quiet and not tell the boss that we record after hours. So our first session cost $10 and we had Luther Vandross, David Lasley, all these great singers who were working with us at Radio City. After we wrote that first song, we didn’t have a chance to hear it back, only in the studio, ‘cause we didn’t have cassettes. The only way you could hear your music was if the engineer cut a lacquer and they’d cut it right there in the studio and you’d take that and take it home and listen on your record player. Or you could make a reel-to-reel tape but then had to have a reel-to-reel tape player. So we never heard the song again until three weeks later we were going to a disco and my man says: “Hey, come down and check this out.” “Check what out?” “You just got to see this.” And it was basically an instrumental that went (plays guitar, sings): “Everybody dance, clap your hands, clap your hands.” Then for an hour we’d play (plays guitar). Then we’d break it down, do that thing, break it down again, then get to my part where I go (plays guitar) with the clavinet playing. This is going on for eight and a half minutes. We walk into this club, and my boy is playing this. Those are the only vocals on the record and everyone is losing their minds. As soon as the opening drum hits everyone went (screams) and ran out to the dancefloor. I don’t remember what dance they were doing in those days, probably the rock or something. The people in the audience were playing air bass and stuff. This went on for an hour. I’d never seen anything like that and I realised the power of the groove, the power of the DJ to talk to the audience, and it had nothing to do with the radio. It had something to do with being in that environment and hitting you with something that moved your soul, moved your heart, moved your feet, and all of a sudden we really believed in ourselves. We thought, ‘Damn, if they like that, what if we develop more stuff?’ And after ‘Everybody Dance’ it took a long time to get record companies to believe in us. Even though we took A&R people down and showed them the reaction, this was not staged, this was real. And the DJ would play the record for an hour at a time. He took two acetates and played them back and forth. Crazy! But the A&R people didn’t quite understand it, they didn’t understand the repetitive breakdowns and basically an instrumental track. A few months later, Bernard was hired to do a record and they had to have a B-side to sell it commercially. And the B-side, a lot of the time producers would just say: “OK, here’s some money, I’ll finish the song later.” And they’d write the song and become the writers. You’d do your track and they’d finish it later ‘cause it was a filler song. There are a lot of filler songs that have become huge, like “I Will Survive”. Gloria Gaynor’s biggest song was a B-side and she hated it. So Bernard – I wasn’t on this session – cut this B-side and it was basically what would become “Dance, Dance, Dance”. Since I was the only writer with Chic at the time, the guy who produced the session called me up to write it with him.” (Nile Rodgers 2011 Red Bull Music Academy)
Luther was a background member from that point on until 1979.
This was a Christmas release featuring Cotillion Records artists. Luther contributed two songs which are classics At Christmas Time and May Christmas Bring You Happiness. At Christmas Time is timeless and I love the lyrics here : I wish that everyday of the year could have the love that we feel on Christmas Day….Merry Christmas to the world
I wish happiness and love for every boy and every girl
‘Cause the holiday
Makes me feel this way
What a joy it is to find
Happy people joined together for the love of Christmas time
Ooh, and they feel that way
Every Christmas day
Every year at Christmas time I hear the people laughing, smilling, being happy again oooh at Christmas time… this is another great line in the song.
May Christmas Bring You Happiness is an uptempo song another classic.
Luther’s first release was for the Cotillion Records label back in June 1976. This album is great although it didn’t sell very well and Luther’s layout gives you a taste of what was to come in 1981. The 2nd Time Around, I’ll Get Along Fine (Duet with Diane Sumler), and This Strange Feeling (Duet with Anthony Hinton) are the introspective songs on the album. Funky Music (Is A Part Of Me), It’s Good For The Soul (Pts. I&2), and Emotion Eyes are the uptempo/dance songs of the album. Last but not least is Everybody Rejoice the song he wrote back in 1972 and included in the 1975 musical The Wiz. Everybody Rejoice is one of Luther’s greatest songs in my opinion for the message is about hope and change. This song demonstrates Luther’s genius as a singer and songwriter. This album deserves to be digitally remastered and commercially re-released. The 2nd Time Around deals with rejected love and the wisdom for the next love will be better than the previous love. The lyrics in this song that really brings it home are: I wish there could be
The kind of love
Where there would be no wrong
So that heartache and pain
And the misery of a bad love
Would all be gone
To get over the first love
Is kinda hard, baby
But, don’t let it get you down
Don’t you know that…
Love will be better, better than ever
The second time around
The Song I’ll Get Along Fine also deals with a love breakup and these lyrics in the song say it best:
How am I gonna get along, after loving you for so long, how am I gonna find good times when you’re gone, how will I fill this emptiness that sho nuff will leave me hungry for your love.