- Release Date 2012-05-08
- Label Cultures Of Soul Records
- Catalog COS004DIG
Eventually life on the road beckoned when Arlester Christian of Dyke and the Blazers asked Andre to join the backing band on drums. The group went to Phoenix to record an LP, which was later re-cut in Los Angeles at the Original Sound Recording Studio. The legendary album, Funky Broadway, was created when Andre was only 14-and-a-half years old! After the band started having internal problems, however, Andre left and joined the Delfonics for a short while in Philadelphia.?
Soon thereafter Andre met legendary arranger and record producer H.B. Barnum, who offered him a job working in the studio. Andre would go on to make music with a hired band called the Psych Company - which would later rename itself as The Tribe - and record the Ethnic Stew album. During this time, Psych Company recorded the backing music for tracks by Lou Rawls and O.C. Smith.
It was a short while later that Andre returned to New York and ran into Kenny Seymour from Little Anthony and the Imperials. Kenny offered him a gig playing with Little Anthony after seeing him master the drums with the Delfonics and Issac Hayes. Andre took to the stage in a string of shows with the group in Las Vegas.?
While on a break from performing, Andre's travels soon landed him in Boston, where he met up with Gunther Weil of Intermedia Sound and started writing music in the studio with a band called Green Machine. Unfortunately, the leader of the group, Charles Green, didn't like the fact that so many sons written by Andre were being recorded for the album. The group was on the verge of signing with Atlantic when the deal fell through.
You could say this incident marked a turning point in Andre's career. Making the official decision to go out on his own, Andre would later produce, write and play almost all of his own music. It was this idea that brought the name "Evans Pyramid" to life, in addition to his fascination with ancient Egyptian history and UFOs.
The first tracks written by Andre under Evan's Pyramid were "Rubber Band" and "Dance-A-Thon," both of which were released on the John Penny-owned, Massachusetts-based country label Belmont Records. The tracks were heavily influenced by the grooves heard in Kool and the Gang's music at that time and featured vocals by singers named Kathy and Lynn (who would later work with Andre in the group Sashay) and keyboards by Phil Jelatis, who worked his magic on a Fender Rhodes electric piano.
It turns out that Phil would also play a crucial role in many of Evan's Pyramid recordings by helping put horn parts as well as the complex and unique chord structures in Andre's head onto sheet music. Phil's work was especially important considering the fact that at the time, Andre was immensely influenced by the simple-yet-big horn arrangements of the group Chicago. In fact, the tracks also featured the layering of a tenor saxophone and the keyboard-created sounds of an electronic horn, a technique Andre would go on to utilize on future recordings.
In 1978 a difficult breakup led to the creation of one of the most monumental songs in Andre's career. Soon after splitting with his long-term girlfriend, while listening to Marvin Gaye music and drinking a few too many glasses of wine, Andre sat down and wrote "Never Gonna Leave You." Returning to the studio a short while later, the instrumentation turned out to be a masterpiece.
After recording the rhythm section with drums, bass and keyboards and laying down the melodic guitar lines, Andre was able to achieve an undeniably unique sound by overdubbing rhythmic guitar parts using the technique of muting guitar strings.
Soon thereafter Andre penned the song "Dip Drop," which was reportedly named after the dip you do when "you're dancing with a lady." Using a duck whistle to add some color to the track, he achieved unique guitar instrumentation by using a phaser pedal in order to modulate the sound while Phil filled the sound with a sustain pedal on the Hammond organ. The song, which was heavily influenced by the call-outs made so famous by the likes of Bootsy Collins, features repeated background vocals shouting "Do it mama!"
The two aforementioned tracks were later released as a 12" on the label Funk Records and designed to be played solely in disco clubs.?In fact, many of Andre's tracks were written for the dance floor with very few drum fills, which Andre admits is "like taking a commercial break."
The next single Andre wrote, "No I Won't," was recorded on his own label, Smokah Records. The track was recorded at Boston's Century III Recording Studios, with Berklee College of Music students on the violin and a young dynamic singer named Latrice on vocals. The song, which features a unique bass sound, was developed after Andre received tips from legendary bassist Stanley Clarke.
On the flipside of this single was "Soul Petrol," a tune that was unique from the get-go. In fact, Maurice Starr later remarked that it was the first song to contain rap characteristics. Featuring a hand clapper that Andre created himself with two metal handles attached to two 2 x 4s, the track also includes the sound of electronic tom-tom drums, which Andre would use to bend the sound. The song was popular for a brief minute in Roxbury, Massachusetts, as well as some of the boroughs in New York.
It was during this time that Andre's untitled LP, which today remains highly sought-after and infamous in record collector pools, was pressed up. Featuring the above four tracks plus two others, only five test copies were created, each featuring hand-drawn cover artwork by Andre. The copies were given to the singers on the recordings in lieu of payment.
Andre also wrote and recorded many other songs during this period, including "Ghetto Star" and "Love Undercover." Unfortunately, most of the tracks were stolen when he left a drum case full of master tapes with a friend of his at the time in North Carolina. Andre went on to put together a group to play shows featuring two singers named Maria and Latrice, Binney Stone on guitar, a bassist nicknamed "Superfly" and Jelatis once again on the keyboards. The band played gigs around the Route 128 and 495 beltway and in venues in Roxbury. The group played originals as well as loose covers of Evelyn Champagne King and Stevie Wonder.
Around the same time Andre was also writing and producing music under another name, Royale, while being managed by Evelyn Champagne King's husband Erick King. Royale put out one single with the track "I Want Your Body," a stripped-down disco track with lyrics about sexual desires, on the A-side. The tune "Simply Say I Love You" was chosen for the B-side and the 7-inch was recorded in the NYC branch of the famous Sigma Sounds Studio. Unfortunately, many of the gatekeepers and tastemakers of the time felt the first track sounded too much like Prince and decided there wasn't a market for a similar artist.
Fast forward to the mid-80s and Andre put together another group called Sashay, which featured a trio of singers named Kathy, Lynn and Susan. Some unreleased tracks culled from the sessions include "Sugar Stop" and the Prince-esque tune "I Got A Rush For You." The group was on the verge of signing with Arista Records but the deal fell through at the last minute due to unfair terms.
The tracks "There Love Lives" and "Party Like It's 2001," which is about partying for the future, were both written in the late 80s but the versions on this album were recorded in 1994. Both tracks feature lead vocals by Deleasha O'Neal.
It wasn't until years later in 2003 that rare disco record collectors discovered the Evans Pyramid 12". Since then the records and the man himself have been highly sought after. Andre is still living in Boston and making music in the studio on a regular basis.
Discography of Evans Pyramid Singles
Rubber Band and Dance-A-Thon released in 1978 on Belmont Records
Never Gonna Love You and Dip Drop released in 1979 on FUNK Records
No I Won't and Soul Petrol released in 1979 on Smokah Records
Royale - I Want Your Body and Simply Say I Love You released in 1980 on SMS Records
All song written, recorded, and produced by Andre Evans
All songs published by Cultures of Soul Entertainment Group
Andre Evans would like to thank god, my wife, all the fans new and old, and everyone who has supported me in the past.
Deano Sounds would like to thank my beautiful wife, my family, friends, Josh Goldman, PJ Gray, DJ Kon, Reed from In Your Ear Records, and all the good record people around the world.
Special thanks to Andre Evans, Phil Jelatis, and Binney Stone!
Produced for reissue by Deano Sounds
Researched by Deano Sounds
Liner Notes by Deano Sounds
Re-mastered for reissue by Jonathan Wyner at M-Works
Artwork by Zachariah O'Hora
All photos by James Hicks
Tracks licensed courtesy of Andre Evans
Distribution and Manufacturing by Traffic Entertainment
For more information, DJ bookings, sync licensing, etc:
Cultures of Soul Records
PO Box 961334
Boston, MA 02196
(P) & (C) 2012 Cultures of Soul Records
Cat# COSCD 004
All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
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