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The Blackbyrds - City Life/Unfinished Business

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City Life/Unfinished Business

The Blackbyrds

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This reissue combines two of the Blackbyrds' classic albums, City Life from 1975 and Unfinished Business from 1976, on a single 74-minute CD. To be sure, "classic" isn't a word that many jazz purists have used to describe the albums -- when Donald Byrd produced them, bop's hard-liners were denouncing the Clifford Brown-influenced trumpeter as a shameless sellout and insisting that he should have stuck to straight-ahead acoustic jazz. But then, the Blackbyrds weren't going after jazz purists -- their music was soul, funk, and disco with jazz overtones, and the people who bought their albums were more likely to be into Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power than Sonny Stitt or Art Blakey. Unlike Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott-Heron, Marvin Gaye, the O'Jays, and Curtis Mayfield, the Blackbyrds didn't get into a lot of heavy sociopolitical messages; their forte was party music, and it is that escapist, feel-good mindset that defines the infectious hits "Happy Music" and "Rock Creek Park" (both from City Life) as well as memorable album tracks such as the mellow "Love So Fine" from City Life and the insistently funky "Party Land" from Unfinished Business. Calling this music escapist isn't saying that it's faceless or mechanical -- far from it. The Blackbyrds' party-time lyrics may not have been challenging, but musically, the band was creative, risk-taking, and distinctive. Even though they were primarily a soul/funk/disco outfit, the Blackbyrds came from jazz backgrounds -- and that jazz influence often works to their creative advantage on this excellent reissue.
© Alex Henderson /TiVo

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City Life/Unfinished Business

The Blackbyrds

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1
Rock Creek Park (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:04:34

Stephen Johnson, ComposerLyricist - Orville Saunders, ComposerLyricist - Keith Killgo, ComposerLyricist - Joe Hall, ComposerLyricist - Donald Byrd, Producer - Kevin Toney, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

2
Thankful 'Bout Yourself (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:05:09

Orville Saunders, ComposerLyricist - Donald Byrd, Producer - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

3
City Life (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:05:21

Donald Byrd, Producer - Kevin Toney, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

4
All I Ask (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:03:51

Donald Byrd, Producer - Kevin Toney, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

5
Happy Music (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:04:54

Donald Byrd, Producer, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

6
Love So Fine (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:04:59

Joe Hall, ComposerLyricist - Donald Byrd, Producer - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

7
Flying High (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:03:30

Keith Killgo, ComposerLyricist - Donald Byrd, Producer - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

8
Hash And Eggs
Blackbyrds
00:05:06

Fonce Mizell, ComposerLyricist - Larry Mizell, ComposerLyricist - Donald Byrd, Producer - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1975 Fantasy, Inc.

9
Time Is Movin' (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:04:41

Keith Killgo, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1976 Fantasy, Inc.

10
In Life (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:05:13

Orville Saunders, ComposerLyricist - Keith Killgo, ComposerLyricist - Joe Hall, ComposerLyricist - Kevin Toney, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1976 Fantasy, Inc.

11
Enter In (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:04:37

Joe Hall, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1976 Fantasy, Inc.

12
You've Got That Something (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:04:15

Donald Byrd, ComposerLyricist - Kevin Toney, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1976 Fantasy, Inc.

13
Party Land (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:05:14

Orville Saunders, ComposerLyricist - Donald Byrd, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1976 Fantasy, Inc.

14
Lady (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:06:30

Joe Hall, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1976 Fantasy, Inc.

15
Unfinished Business (Album Version)
Blackbyrds
00:05:52

Kevin Toney, ComposerLyricist - The Blackbyrds, MainArtist

℗ 1976 Fantasy, Inc.

Album Description

This reissue combines two of the Blackbyrds' classic albums, City Life from 1975 and Unfinished Business from 1976, on a single 74-minute CD. To be sure, "classic" isn't a word that many jazz purists have used to describe the albums -- when Donald Byrd produced them, bop's hard-liners were denouncing the Clifford Brown-influenced trumpeter as a shameless sellout and insisting that he should have stuck to straight-ahead acoustic jazz. But then, the Blackbyrds weren't going after jazz purists -- their music was soul, funk, and disco with jazz overtones, and the people who bought their albums were more likely to be into Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power than Sonny Stitt or Art Blakey. Unlike Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott-Heron, Marvin Gaye, the O'Jays, and Curtis Mayfield, the Blackbyrds didn't get into a lot of heavy sociopolitical messages; their forte was party music, and it is that escapist, feel-good mindset that defines the infectious hits "Happy Music" and "Rock Creek Park" (both from City Life) as well as memorable album tracks such as the mellow "Love So Fine" from City Life and the insistently funky "Party Land" from Unfinished Business. Calling this music escapist isn't saying that it's faceless or mechanical -- far from it. The Blackbyrds' party-time lyrics may not have been challenging, but musically, the band was creative, risk-taking, and distinctive. Even though they were primarily a soul/funk/disco outfit, the Blackbyrds came from jazz backgrounds -- and that jazz influence often works to their creative advantage on this excellent reissue.
© Alex Henderson /TiVo

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