On this day in music history: September 15, 19…

On this day in music history: September 15, 1978 – “Chanson”, the debut album by Chanson is released. Produced by David Williams and James Jamerson, Jr., it is recorded at Kendun Recorders in Burbank, CA from Early – Mid 1978. Originally members of The Temptations touring band during the mid-70’s, the R&B/Funk duo consists of bassist James Jamerson, Jr. and guitarist David Williams. Jamerson is the son of Funk Brother James Jamerson, the main bassist of Motown’s legendary studio band. The pair decide to depart from the road to form their own band. Taking their name from the French word for “song”, Chanson signs with Ariola America Records, the US branch of the German based record label. Both top notch players in their own right, Jamerson and Williams enlist some heavyweight support to play along side them. Those musicians include The Phenix Horns from Earth, Wind & Fire (Rahmlee Michael Davis, Michael Harris, Louis Satterfield and Don Myrick) and EW&F guitarist Al McKay, Toto members David Paich (keyboards), Jeff Porcaro (drums) and Steve Porcaro (synthesizers and programming), Funk Brother Eddie “Bongo” Brown (percussion), George Bohannon, Oscar Brashear, Fred Jackson, Jr. and William Green (horns), Julia Tillman, Laura Willard and Marti McCall (backing vocals). The first single is the infectious “Don’t Hold Back” (#8 R&B, #21 Pop, #11 Club Play), released in late August of 1978. An instant club classic, it becomes a solid R&B hit and crosses over to the pop chart. The follow up single “I Can Tell” (#72 R&B, #21 Club Play) also grazes the R&B chart in the Spring of 1979. Unfortunately, the talented duo are lumped in with the anti-Disco backlash that is reaching its peak by the time their second album “Together We Stand” reaches record stores in the Fall of 1979. It spins off two singles with “Rock Don’t Stop” (#67 R&B) and “Jack Be Nimble”, neither of which make much of an impression. To complicate matters, Ariola America is on the verge of financial collapse, and goes out of business by the turn of the decade. However, James Jamerson, Jr. and David Williams both prosper after Chanson. Jamerson remains busy as a studio musician and touring bassist for numerous artists including Chaka Khan, The Pointer Sisters, B.B. King and Bob Dylan to name a few. David Williams becomes one of the most in demand studio guitarists in the music industry making a name for himself through his work recording and touring with Michael Jackson and The Jacksons, also other superstar artists including Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Boz Scaggs and Bryan Ferry among them. “Don’t Hold Back” has had a lasting legacy, having been sampled numerous times in dance music. Out of print in any form since the early 80’s, Chanson’s debut album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2014 by Funky Town Grooves Records, with four additional bonus tracks. “Chanson” peaks at number twenty three on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number forty one on the Top 200.