Having spent several years aboard George Clinton’s Mothership Connection, as vocalist and guitarist for Funkadelic and Parliament, Glenn Goins started getting restless being just a side-man for George. He watched other members leave the bands, forming their own successful bands. Soon he too, was considering his future, having played important roles on mid-seventies Funkadelic and Parliament albums. Among these albums were Parliament’s 1975s Mothership Connection, 1976s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein and Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome, plus Funkadelic’s Let’s Take It To the Stage, released in 1975, 1976s Hardcore Jollies and 1977s Tales of Kidd Funkadelic. By 1978, Glenn Goins was also frustrated at George Clinton’s management of the bands, so started thinking about heading out on his own. Luckily, there was the perfect solution to his predicament. His brother Kevin already had a band, so Glenn decided to join Kevin’s band. He brought along with a number of musicians, including Greg Fitz, Richard Banks, Darryl Dixon, trumpeter Monica Peters, percussionist Darry Deliberto plus Lena Eure, a talented vocalist. Everything was in place for this new band, Quazar. Before long, songs were written and Quazar headed to Detroit the record their debut album Quazar, which was rereleased by BBR Records on 25th June 2012. However, that’s when things started to get complicated and before the Quazar would be released tragedy would strike.
Having written the nine songs on Quazar, the group flew to Detroit, their destination the Pac-3 Studios. Once there, Quazar would record their eponymous album. Glenn Goins would arrange and produce the album, as well as co-writing four tracks and writing one himself. The rest of the band had collaborated, each pitching in with songs. Jerome Brailey, another alumni of Parliament and Funkadelic cowrote two tracks and play drums, providing the group’s funky heartbeat. Soon the album was finished and the group were set to head back to New York. That’s when things got complicated and messy.
Before the group had headed to Detroit, Clive Davis of Arista Records had expressed an interest in signing Quazar. While Clive Davis thought Quazar were his band, so did Armen Boladian of Westbound. Both labels thought they had first option on the band. So when Glen headed to Detroit to pickup the master-tapes, a major problem arose. He’d picked up the master-tapes, gotten to Detroit’s airport and then was stopped by the police. The tapes were seized and a bitter two-month court battle ensued. Sadly, although he never knew it, this would prove to be two months Glenn couldn’t afford to waste.
Armen Boladian of Westbound claimed he was over $85,000. Without this sort of money, Glen decided to abandon the tapes and rerecord the album. He also decided that the group would change its name to Quazar. With a new name and now signed to Arista, a new album had to be recorded. At the same time, Glenn was working on a solo album and an album for Bobby Womack. Sadly, he’d never finish either his solo album, or Quazar’s album.
On 29th July 1978, Glenn Goins died, aged twenty-four, from Hogkins Disease. The rest of Quazar found out about this after a concert in Philadelphia. Soon, they were heading back to their friend and band mate’s funeral. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they had to finish the album. It was scheduled for release in August 1978. So, after the funeral, the rest of Quazar had ten days to complete the album. They were at the production stage, with Glenn having completed much of the album. To help Quazar complete the rest of Quazar, another former member of Parliament and Funkadelic was drafted in. Jerome Brailey wasn’t just a drummer, but also a close friend of Glenn’s. Somehow, Jerome and the rest of Quazar managed to complete their debut album Quazar within the ten day deadline. It was under these sombre circumstances that Quazar released their debut album Quazar. How would it fare upon its release?
Two months before the release of the album Quazar in October 1978, the first single was released from the album. It was Funk ‘N’ Roll (Dancing In the Sunshine), which reached number eleven in the US R&B Charts. Then in October 1978, Quazar was released, reaching number 121 in the US Billboard 200 and number twenty-one in the US R&B Charts. A second single was released to coincide with the album’s release, Funk With A Big Foot, but failed to chart. With both the first single Funk ‘N’ Roll (Dancing In the Sunshine) and the album Quazar commercially successful, it seemed music lovers shared Glenn’s passion and vision for the music he played such a crucial role in creating. However, what does the music on Quazar sound like?
Opening Quazar is the second single released from the album, Funk With A Big Foot. With its combination of funky rhythm section, sizzling guitars and punchy vocals, the P-Funk influence is obvious straight away. The sound is loose and funky, as Quazar explore the track’s nuances. Quickly, they tighten-up, the rhythm section providing the track’s heartbeat. Key to this are the pounding drums, while chiming guitars and waves of keyboards accompany punchy, soaring and joyful vocals. The result is a track that’s not just funky, but P-Funky.
Funk With A Capital G has similarities with the opening track, but is quicker, with the rhythm section driving the track along. Jagged guitars, percussion and washes of synths and keyboards are augmented by brief bursts of horns. The vocal is delivered powerfully, soaring and roaring, while the rest of the group add frenzied backing vocals and handclaps. Later, the addition of the rasping, blazing horns really lifts the track, adding the finishing touch to a driving slice of funky music.
Funk ‘N’ Roll (Dancing In the Sunshine) was the debut single from Quazar, reaching number eleven in the US R&B Charts. Once you’ve heard the track you’ll realize why. It’s one of the best tracks on Quazar. Key to the track’s success are the Quazar rhythm section. Chiming, driving guitars, thunderous drums and a pounding bass line are augmented by growling horns, while the combined vocals are delivered sharply, in bursts. Later, the vocal reminds me of something you’d expect to hear on a mid-seventies Funkadelic or Parliament album. Having travelled on George Clinton’s Mothership, Glenn Goins had learnt from the head funketeer, George Clinton. Here, some of George’s influence, vision and genius shines through.
Workin’ On A Buildin’ is another of the tracks where the George Clinton influence shines through. After a moaning vocal that opens the track, to the driving guitars, heavy pounding rhythm section that produce an arrangement the unfolds in waves. The bass loops powerfully, drums pound and throughout the track, George’s influence can be heard. Braying, blazing horns and vocals that are delivered loudly and powerfully. They drift above one of the funkiest arrangements on the album so far. It pounds powerfully, punishing your speakers to within an inch of their lives, with some fantastically funky music from Quazar.
When You’re Lovin’ Is Easy opens, the sound is much more understated. Just percussion and keyboards combine, before the guitars make their presence felt. The vocal is full of desire, before banks of keyboards, rhythm section and percussion combine. Still, the rhythm section unleash waves of powerful music, while soulful backing vocals contrast the lead vocal. It’s a very different sounding track and a pleasant diversion from the heavy duty P-funk that’s preceded it. Personally, this is a side to Quazar I’d have liked to hear much more of.
Lena Eure takes over the lead vocal on Love Me Baby, and straight away, you realize just how talented a vocalist she is. The rest of Quazar tone down their funky music, allowing her vocal to sit amidst a much more soulful arrangement. There’s still a funky side to the arrangement, but her emotive, impassioned vocal is accompanied by keyboards, rhythm section and braying horns. Her vocal is perfectly suited to both the song and its arrangement. Later, rolls of punchy drums reflect the drama and passion in her vocal, which is one of the best on Quazar.
Having just said about hearing the more soulful side to Quazar’s music, I’ve been rewarded by two more tracks like that. The second is Savin’ My Love For A Rainy Day. It meanders along, with funk, jazz and soul fused seamlessly. Gone is the uber-funky music, with a much slower, mellower sounding track taking its place. Bursts of punchy horns, keyboard and the rhythm section accompany the lead vocal, while it’s augmented by backing vocalists. This breaks the album up nicely, and is a welcome departure from Quazar’s previously heavier funkier sound. Here, the much slower, mellower sound which sees them break free from the shackles of P-funk is one of the real highlights of Quazar.
Starlight Circus was written about the group’s growing disillusionment with the music business. After all, all they wanted to do was make music, not be held to ransom over contractual disputes. These lyrics have a poignancy, given Glenn’s tragic and early death. Were it not for the contract dispute, he’d have lived long enough to see Quazar’s album released and enjoy its success, even just briefly. With just piano accompanying the vocal, while backing vocalists drift in and out, the lyrics are tinged with a sadness, that many a musician will relate to. There goes them, they’ll think. Just this wistful arrangement and the poignant lyrics are a powerful, beautiful and haunting combination, that shows a very different side to Quazar.
Closing Quazar is Shades of Quaze where keyboards, percussion and a growling horn combine. The drama builds, leaving you wondering the future direction of the track. What unfolds is a mixture of jazz and funk, more jazz-funk than P-Funk. Keyboards, rhythm section, blazing horns and wah-wah guitars combine, as Quazar demonstrate their talents and versatility. They’re just as happy and comfortable closing Quazar with what’s a very different sounding track to the one that opened the album. They’ve travelled a long way during the musical journey that makes up the album’s nine tracks. It seems their final destination is one of the best, bringing to an end a compelling, quality and eclectic musical adventure.
The story of Quazar’s only album Quazar is a tale of some hugely talented musicians who all they wanted, was to release their own music. Sadly, the story didn’t have a happy ending, with Glenn Goins dying from Hodgkins Disease just a month before Quazar was released. Tragically, if it hadn’t been for the contractual dispute between Westbound and Arista Records, which resulted in Quazar having to rerecord the album, then Glenn Goins would’ve seen the album released. Sadly, greed and avarice stopped this happening. This leads me to wonder what the original album sounded like? Would it have sounded the same as Quazar, or would it have been better or worse? That’s open to speculation. What I do know, is that the nine tracks that make up Quazar are a compelling combination of quality P-Funk, soul, jazz and funk. This is played by the ten members of Quazar, who collectively and individually, combined and played their part in the success and sound of Quazar. Opening with four slices of P-Funk, the album takes diversions via soul and jazz, with funk ever-present. Glenn Goins was the driving force behind the album, arranging and producing the nine tracks on Qauzar, which was rereleased by BBR Records on 25th June 2012. For anyone whose a fan of Funkadelic, Parliament or P-Funk, then this is an album that’s a must-have. However, Quazar is also an album laced with tragedy, with Glen Goins who played such an important part in Quazar dying before he could enjoy the fruits of his talent and creativity. He was only twenty-four, but musically, was hugely creative and talented, and something of a musical visionary, as you’ll realize once you’ve heard Quazar. Standout Tracks: Funk With A Big Foot, When You’re Lovin’ Is Easy, Love Me Baby and Starlight Circus.