As a new decade dawned for Tavares, they set about recording what would prove to be their ninth and penultimate album for Capitol Records Love Uprising. This was Tavares’ second album of 1980, the followup to Supercharged. Love Uprising, which will be released on 20th August 2012 by SoulMusic Records, would be produced by Benjamin Wright, who’d produced Supercharged. Over the past two years, Tavares’ music had changed. Starting with the Bobby Martin produced Madam Butterfly, released in 1979, Tavares’ music had moved their music away from their previous disco sound. With Bobby Martin’s help, Tavares’ music moved in a more R&B and soulful direction. Madame Butterfly saw Tavares’ return to the sound that features on albums like Check It Out, Hardcore Poetry and In the City. The result was Tavares’ most successful US R&B album since 1975s In the City, reaching number ninety-two in the US Billboard 200 and number thirteen in the US R&B Charts. For the followup, Supercharged, producer Benjamin Wright continued this change of style. Supercharged reached number seventy-five in the US Billboard 200 and number twenty in the US R&B Charts. This was Tavares’ most success album in the US Billboard 200 Charts since 1977s Love Storm. Now that their was an upturn in Tavares’ fortunes, would this continue on their ninth album Love Uprising?
For Tavares’ ninth album Love Uprising eleven tracks were chosen. Of these tracks, Break Down For Love and Hot Love were written by Feliciano Tavares with Kathy Wakefield and producer Benjamin Wright. They also cowrote Do You Believe In Love with Perry Tavares, while producer Benjamin Wright wrote Loneliness with Louis Price. Jerry G. Taylor and Geoffrey Leib both wrote two tracks apiece and Steve Kipner wrote Knock the Wall Down. These tracks would be recorded at Conway Studios, with Benjamin Wright producing Love Uprising.
Joining Tavares for the recording of Love Uprising were a rhythm section of drummer Nate Bebellett, bassist James Jamerson and guitarists David Williams and Paul Jackson Jr. They were joined by Paul Smith Jr. on synths, percussionist Paulinho Da Costa and The Benjamin Wright Orchestra. This included The Phoenix Horns, who were best known for their work with Earth, Wind and Fire and trombonist George Bohanon. With Love Uprising recorded at Conway Studios, the album would be released just before Christmas, hopefully to catch the lucrative market. However, would Love Uprising be a favorite of record buyers before Christmas 1980?
Love Uprising was released in December 1980, just before Christmas, reached number 205 in the US Billboards 200. This was Tavares’ only album not to charge in either the US Billboard 200 or US R&B Charts. Although Love Uprising failed to chart, the two singles charted. The title-track Love Uprising reached number seventeen in the US R&B Charts, while Loneliness, the second single reached number sixty-four in the US R&B Charts. After two albums that had seen an upturn in Tavares’ fortunes, this must have been a huge blow to everyone involved in the project, especially when music was changing and changing fast. However, why was Love Uprising the least successful album of Tavares’ career? That’s what I’ll tell you, after I’ve told you about the music on Love Uprising.
Opening Tavares’s second album of 1980, Love Uprising, was the first of two Jerry G. Taylor penned tracks The One I Need To Love. It’s an uptempo track, where bursts of woodwind, drums and guitars combine before the track reveals its secrets. Subtle, tender harmonies give way to swathes of lush strings and rasping horns from the Phoenix Horns. They give the track a sound that’s reminiscent of their former charges Earth, Wind and Fire. The lead vocal is a mixture of power and passion, augmented by punchy, soulful harmonies, while James Jamerson Jr.’s bass helps anchor the track. Strings cascade throughout the track, while the horns and rhythm section drive the track along, providing the perfect accompaniment to Tavares’ soulfulness. It’s like Tavares have picked up from where Madam Butterfly left of, and is a track that leaves you wanting to hear much more of this side of Tavares.
Break Down For Love was the B-side of Loneliness, the second single released from Love Uprising. Straight away, you can hear similarities with Earth, Wind and Fire in the horn sound. They combine with Paulinho Da Costa’s percussion and the rhythm section, while strings sweep and swirl joyously. The heartfelt and fervent vocal is accompanied by sweeping harmonies, percussion, punchy horns and flourishes of keyboards. While, the horns and strings are key to Benjamin Wright’s arrangement, Tavares don’t let the side down. Their harmonies are tight, the lead vocal heartfelt and in some ways, turning the clock back to their mid-seventies heyday. Like the opening track, Tavares and their band are at the top of their game, but sadly, unlike the mid-seventies, music was changing and their music was no longer as popular.
Blazing horns open the title-track Love Uprising, written by Angela Winbush and Rene Moore of Rene and Angela, who were recording their debut album. Again, there are similarities with Earth, Wind and Fire, especially the way the horns, percussion and soaring harmonies combine. This is another uptempo track, one that’s really catchy and deserved to fare better than it did when it was released as a single. Tavares’ vocal interplay in peerless, some of the best on Love Uprising, with their band providing a backdrop where funk and soul unite. Key to the track’s sound and success were Phoenix Horns, Paulinho Da Costa’s percussion and a rhythm section that provides the track’s glorious funky heartbeat.
Loneliness, was the second single from Love Uprising and is very different to Love Uprising. Whereas it was an uptempo track, this is a much slower ballad. Here, the strings play an important part in what’s a quite beautiful, emotive arrangement, while Tavares prove that even after nine albums, they’ve lost none of their vocal prowess. The lead vocal is heartfelt, but tinged with sadness, while the tender harmonies and strings reflect this. Horns add to the track’s wistful sound, while the drums add drama to the emotion and sadness of this quite beautiful ballad.
Knock the Wall Down is very different from the previous tracks. It has a much tougher, harder and funkier sound. From the opening bars, when growling horns, a searing, rocky guitar solo and bursts of punchy harmonies, this change of sound is apparent. Similarly, the vocal is sassier, but still soulful. As the track progress, soul and funk unite, but the addition of rocky guitar solos seem out of place. However, bursts of Earth, Wind and Fire tinged horns make up for this. Meanwhile, Tavares inject soulfulness and vocal hooks as they show yet another side to their music.
Hot Love is an uptempo horn driven track, while Tavares inject some sass into the track. This they do with the help of the Phoenix Horns, Paulinho Da Costa’s percussion, swathes of shimmering, dancing strings and a driving rhythm section. The lead vocal is powerful and sassy, with punchy, dramatic harmonies answering its call. Sadly, all too quickly the track is over, it’s been just a three minute musical journey but one that’s proved infectiously catchy and truly memorable.
On Don’t Wanna Say Goodnight there a real change is sound. For the first time on Love Uprising, synths are at the heart of the track’s sound as the track opens. They’re combined with driving, searing guitars, rasping horns and the rhythm section. As waves of the arrangement unfold, the lead vocal is a mixture of power, passion and drama, with the harmonies, punchy and dramatic. Again, horns with an Earth, WInd and Fire influence are at the heart of an arrangement that’s still a fusion of funk and soul, but also rocky guitars and eighties synths. This sets the track apart from the previous six tracks, and sees Tavares following in the footsteps of their peers and contemporaries. Of the two sounds, I much prefer the Tavares of the first six tracks.
Do You Believe In Love has much more in common with the first six tracks on Love Uprising, rather than the previous track. Cascading strings, tight harmonies, a sizzling guitar solo and the rhythm section combine, before a tender, heartfelt vocal enters. It’s accompanied by growling horns, percussion and swathes of lush strings. Together they provide a dramatic and dramatic backdrop for the impassioned, beautiful vocal. This vocal, plus one of Benjamin Wright’s best arrangements make this one of the most beautiful tracks on Love Uprising.
She Can Wait Forever is the first of two tracks written by Geoffrey Leib. Here, Tavares remind me of both The Chi-Lites and Earth, Wind and Fire. The track bursts into life, with punchy horns, cascading string and harmonies you’d expect to hear on an Earth, WInd and Fire album. When the lead vocal enters, it’s a fusion of emotion, power and passion, while strings quiver and shiver, as punchy horns and cascading harmonies punctuate the arrangement. As you listen to this track, you can neither fault Tavares nor the arrangement. It’s another highly accomplished and polished fusion of funk and soul. It’s just a pity the track hadn’t been released five years previously, when this was a really popular sound.
In This Lonely World, is a ballad which Jerry G. Taylor wrote. It has a dramatic sound introduction. Just the rhythm section, braying horns and keyboards accompany the heartfelt vocal. The harmonies are equally fervent, with shimmering, strings sweeping and swirling while gentle bursts of horns and slow dramatic drums combine. Here, everything falls into place. Not only do the band reserve one of their best performances, but the one of the most fervent vocals is accompanied by some of the best harmonies on Love Uprising.
Closing Love Uprising is Lifetime of Love, which sees Tavares determined to make a lasting impression. The tempo is quick, with strings, cascading, bursts of blazing horns and a funky rhythm section combining with Tavares. A tender lead vocal is augmented by subtle, sweeping and soulful harmonies, as the band fuse funk and soul one last time. Accompanied by the swathes of strings, rasping horns and their funky rhythm section, Tavares close Love Uprising on a joyous, uplifting high.
Although Tavares’ ninth album for Capitol Records Love Uprising was their least successful album, there’s nothing wrong with the music. The problem was the music on Love Uprising was released about five or six years too late. If it had been released in 1975 or 1976, then it would’ve proved a bigger success, just like Earth, Wind and Fire’s music. Having mentioned Earth, Wind and Fire, there’s a real Earth, Wind and Fire influence throughout Love Uprising. That’s partly because of the use of the Phoenix Horns, who played on Earth, Wind and Fire album’s. In some ways, this influence is a good and bad thing. Given how successful Earth, Wind and Fire were, and how melodic, uplifting and hook-laden their music was, this is no bad thing. Other people may that argue that this is a derivative sound. I would strongly disagree, because throughout the history of music, people have been influence by other groups. After all, one of the biggest bands in popular music early success was based upon “borrowing heavily” from old blues singers.
There are two reason why Love Uprising wasn’t a commercial success. The first was that Capitol Records didn’t promote their music to pop stations that could’ve helped their music crossover to the mainstream. Tavares weren’t happy about this. They decided to give Capitol Records another chance and would release one more album, 1981s Loveline, their tenth album.
The other reason why Love Uprising was a commercial failure was that by 1980, soul groups like Tavares weren’t as popular. This style of music wasn’t selling in such huge quantities. Indeed, record companies were cutting their rosters of soul and R&B groups. Despite some artists and groups releasing quality music, the demand for it was not longer there. Sadly, this meant that groups like Tavares, who were still releasing some great music, including Love Uprising were being overlooked by record buyers. Thankfully, Love Uprising, which is a real hidden soulful gem from Tavares will be released on 20th August 2012 by SoulMusic Records. This gives discerning soul fans everywhere the opportunity to hear some soulful delights from the brothers Tavares on Love Uprising. Standout Tracks: The One I Need To Love, Love Uprising, Do You Believe In Love and Lifetime of Love.