Back in 1983, Cashmere released their debut album Let the Music Turn You On, on Philly Groove Records. The album went on to become a boogie classic, featuring the singles Do It Anyway You Wanna and Try Your Lovin.’ Featuring lead vocalist Dwight Dukes whose voice has an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson, Cashmere fused a mixture of sizzling funk, boogie and soul. Having left Chicago based group Heaven and Earth, the next step in Dwight’s career was Cashmere, who between 1982 and 1985, Cashmere would record a trio of albums. Together with producer Nick Martinelli, this new group Cashmere, would enter the studio for the first time, with their resulting album Let the Music Turn You On becoming a timeless boogie classic. Before I tell you about Let the Music Turn You On, which will be rereleased on BBR Records on 26 March 2012, I’ll tell you about the story of Cashmere and the making of their debut album.

Having left Heaven and Earth, Dwight Dukes was at a crossroads in his career. Heaven and Earth had been a group founded by Dwight and brother James, whilst the pair were still at South Shore High School in Chicago. They landed a record contract with local label GEC Records, and the group would release three albums between for various labels between 1976 and 1981. These included 1978s and 1979s Fantasy, both on Mercury, before That’s Love was released in 1981 on WMOT Records. It was at Philadelphia based WMOT Records that Dwight met producer Nick Martinelli. After Dean Williams who shared the lead vocals with Dwight had left the group, a suitable replacement couldn’t be found. Eventually, Dwight decided he’d leave the band too. However, as so often happens in music, fate intervened.

Nick Martinelli was then A&R Director at WMOT Records, but would then work at Philadelphia’s Alpha Studios, owned by Pete Pelullo, who’d just founded Philly Groove Records. Then like Heaven and Earth had, WMOT Records collapsed in 1982. Not long afterwards, Nick was on the look out for a top funk group for Philly World, one that would give the nascent label some hits. It was then that fate intervened in the shape of drummer Daryl Burgee, a man with a plan. 

Daryl had played on many of Nick’s sessions, came up the idea for the group that would become Cashmere. Originally, it was Daryl, Dwight Dukes and Bryan Loren. With this new group Cashmere, recording started on their debut album. However, Bryan’s role in Cashmere was short-lived, just recording one track Do It Anyway You Wanna. On its release in December 1982, Do It Anyway You Wanna reached number thirty-five in the US R&B Charts, number twenty-one in the US Disco Charts and number eighty-seven in the UK. It seemed Nick had the group he needed for Philly World, until a member left.

After recording Do It Anyway You Wanna, Bryan Loren left to pursue what would become a highly successful solo and songwriting career. Obviously this slowed down the momentum Cashmere had built up. His replacement was James McKinley Horton, a keyboard player who cowrote the second single Try Your Lovin.’ It was released in August 1983, reaching number seventy-five in the US R&B Charts and number ninety-nine in the UK. This was just a month before the release of Cashmere’s debut album Let the Music Turn You On.

Having released two successful singles, Let the Music Turn You On was eventually completed. With a variety of songwriters and musicians collaborating on Cashmere’s debut album, the group had seven tracks recorded. These tracks would the two singles that had been released, plus a cover of the Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ classic Tracks of My Tears. Little did the members of Cashmere realize that their debut album Let the Music Turn You On would become a boogie classic.

Let the Music Turn You On was released by Philly World in September 1983, reaching number sixty-nine in the US R&B Charts. Considering they were a brand new band, releasing their debut on a newly founded label, this was a good result. One further single would be released from the album in October 1983, the title track Let the Music Turn You On. Sadly, it failed to chart. However, Cashmere never realized that Let the Music Turn You On would go on to become a boogie classic, which I’ll now tell you about.

Opening Let the Music Turn You On is the title track and third single Let the Music Turn You On. Opening with a synth pop sound accompanied by drums, bass and horns, you’re immediately caught up in the song’s charms. Then you do a double take. Is it? No, it can’t be. That’s what you think when you hear Dwight’s vocal, given its similarity to Michael Jackson. Then when you concentrate and compare the pair, Dwight’s vocal has a lighter sound. However, it has a similar quality, as delivers the lyrics against an eighties sounding arrangement that’s delicious. With the synths, drums and blazing horns accompanying Dwight’s lilting soulful vocal, it’s an irresistible combination of eighties dance pop, with a real soulful twist.

Light of Love sees the style change, with Cashmere producing a funk laden sound, which is accompanied by a heartfelt vocal from Dwight. Synths, drums, a funky bass and cascading strings provide the backdrop for Dwight’s impassioned vocal. Later, bells chime and backing vocalists join the arrangement, combining perfectly with Dwight’s lead vocal. The arrangement is a slice of good times funk, while the strings provide a contrast. They’re arranged by Jack Faith, who arranged so many Philadelphia International classics. These strings contribute a lush sound, while the rhythm section and synths contribute some good time funk. Meanwhile, Dwight contributes an impassioned vocal, one of his best on the album.

From funk to soul and a cover of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles Tracks of My Tears. Written by Smokey and Marv Taplin, Cashmere give this an eighties makeover, while Jack Faith arranges the grand strings. Straight away, you realize that Dwight is as comfortable singing soul, as funk or pop. The arrangement is sympathetic to the track, with grand strings, guitars, keyboards and backing vocalists adding to the drama of the song. Synths are used, but work well, as do the backing vocalists who sing harmonies. Later a stunning guitar solo from Norman Harris adds just the finishing touch to the arrangement. However, it’s Dwight’s beautiful vocal that steals the show, with his style perfect for a gorgeous version Smokey’s classic track.

Do It Any Way You Wanna Cashmere’s debut single,was co-written by drummer Daryl Burgee, producer Nick Martinelli and Bryan Hudson. Squelchy synths which remind me of many an Italo disco track combine with the funkiest of bass and drums. When Dwight’s vocal enters, a boogie classic reveals its infectious charms. With punchy, backing vocals the combination of synths and rhythm section drive the track along. A searing guitar solo then adds an element of drama, as Dwight’s vocal is powerful and impassioned. By the end of the track, you can’t help but succumb to charms of Cashmere’s seminal boogie classic.

Try Your Lovin’ was co-written by keyboard player James McKinley Horton, who replaced Bryan Loren in Cashmere. Along with Daryl Burgee and Dwight, the trio cowrote the catchiest track on Let the Music Turn You On. If you think the previous track was catchy, think again. If you imagine an arrangement that sprinkles bouncy, eighties synths, add in funk drenched percussion and combine punchy drums that float around the arrangement, then you get the idea. Add to this Dwight’s Michael Jackson tinged vocal, combine this with catchy lyrics and plenty of hooks and you’re getting there. It’s totally boogie-tastic, catchy and hook laden. The result is boogie classic number two on Let the Music Turn You On

From two consecutive boogie classics we get to Inner Feelings, which opens with pounding drums before stabs of dark dramatic synths enter. A flourish of keyboards signals the entrance of Dwight’s vocal. It’s enveloped in echo, as the Michael Jackson influence is noticeable again. The track is like something MJ would record in his prime, that’s how good this track is. Throughout the track, stabs of synths, drums and flourishes of keyboards combine masterfully with Dwight’s vocal. Even the echo added to Dwight’s vocal adds to the track. With tracks this good on Let the Music Turn You On, you wonder just why the album wasn’t a huge success?

Closing Let the Music Turn You On is Contemplation a track that fuses disco with funk in the manner of group’s like Maurice White’s Earth, Wind and Fire. Punchy, blazing horns arranged by Sam Peake, dramatic keyboards, a driving rhythm section and a plentiful supply of synths provide a backdrop for Dwight’s vocal. The tempo is quick, 123 beats per minute, with Dwight’s vocal sitting atop the magic carpet that’s the arrangement,  as  the song just flies gloriously along. This magical fusion of disco and funk is glorious and totally irresistible.

For a debut album Cashmere’s Let the Music Turn You On is a highly accomplished album, full of some wonderful music. With its combination bogie, funk, soul and even pop, the track reveals just one great track after another. Although Do It Anyway You Wanna and Try Your Lovin’ were the two successful singles released from the album, there’s much more to the album than this. Cashmere’s cover of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ Tracks of My Tears sees Cashmere give the track an eighties makeover, with Dwight revealing himself as a talented vocalist. Light of Love is one of the funkiest on the album, with one of Dwight’s best vocals, while Inner Feelings and Contemplation are two hidden gems, where Dwight’s vocal is Michael Jackson tinged. Overall, Let the Music Turn You On is a boogie classic from the eighties, which nearly thirty years later, sounds just as good as when it was released. Thankfully, it’ll be remastered and rereleased by BBR Records on 26 March 2012, along with five bonus tracks. These bonus tracks are original and twelve inch versions of the three singles released from Let the Music Turn You On. Along with in-depth and informative sleeve-notes from J Matthew Cobb, BBR Records rerelease of Let the Music Turn You On is an opportunity to either rediscover or discover a brilliant boogie classic from the eighties. Standout Tracks: Do It Anyway You Wanna, Tracks of My Tears Try Your Lovin’ and Inner Feelings.


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