By 1982, when Inner Life released their their second album for Salsoul Records, Inner Life 2 not only was the changing of the guard complete, but Salsoul as a record label had been transformed. Nearly all of Salsoul’s founding father’s were gone and the legendary Salsoul Orchestra was a shadow of its former self. Gone were the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, gone was The Salsoul Orchesra’s founder and former leader Vince Montana Jr and gone were many of its most talented personnel, including Bobby “Electronic” Eli, T.J. Tindall, Larry Washington and Don Renaldo. Similarly, many of artists that had transformed Salsoul into disco’s premier label had moved on. No longer were groups like First Choice, Double Exposure and Instant Funk. Many producers, arrangers and songwriters had left Salsoul for a variety of reasons. One group of people who hadn’t left the building, were the Cayres beloved DJs who would remix singles and sometimes, whole albums. These DJs needed music to remix, and it with so many changed at Salsoul, it was up to a new wave of artists to provide this music, including Inner Life, whose third album Inner Life 2  was rereleased by Salsoul/Octave Lab Japan on 7th May 2013.

With most the old guard who’d established Salsoul as disco’s greatest label having moved on, it was up the new breed of musicians, songwriters and producers to secure Salsoul’s future. Inner Life were one of the new groups tasked with securing Salsoul’s future in the post-disco musical landscape. Their career at Salsoul had got off to a promising start, when they released their debut album Inner Life I. On Inner Life I, two songs gave Inner Life hit singles. These were Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Make It Last Forever. Both singles would go on to become timeless Salsoul classics, from the post-disco period. Key to the success of Inner Life I’s success, were two musical visionaries and a disco diva.

Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael had formed Inner Life as a studio project and before signing to Salsoul, had released one album for another of disco’s biggest label’s Prelude Records. This was I’m Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair), whose title-track gave Inner Life their first hit single. I’m Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair) featured the vocal talents of Jocelyn Brown, who’d go onto become a disco diva. After leaving Prelude, Inner Life signed to Salsoul and were joined by another musical innovator Leroy Burgess. For Inner Life II, Patrick Adams, Greg Carmichael and Jocelyn Brown would be joined by Leroy Burgess and a cast of creative and innovative musicians, arrangers and producers in whose hands, Salsoul’s future lay.

For Inner Life II Stan Lucas wrote, arranged and produced two tracks and co-produced another three tracks with Greg Carmichael. The two tracks Stan Lucas produced were I Picked A Winner and I Like It Like That. With Greg Carmichael, Stan produced Feel What I’m Feeling, If You’re Gonna Love Me and Find Somebody. The other track was Moment of My Life which James Calloway, Sonny T. Davenport and Leroy Burgess cowrote. It was arranged and produced by Leroy Burgess and Greg Carmichael. As was the fashion at Salsoul, several of the tracks on Inner Life II were remixed by DJs, to give them a dance-floor friendly sound. Shep Pettibone mixed Moment of My Life, Tom Moulton mixed I Like It Like That and John Morales mixed If You’re Gonna Love Me and Find Somebody. Recording of Inner Life II tok place at Blank Tape Recording Studios, New York.

At Blank Tape Recording Studios, Inner Life were accompanied by a rhythm section of bassist James Calloway, drummer James Cooksey and guitarist Stan Lucas. Leroy Burgess played keyboards, while Connie Harvey, Dennis Collins, LaRita Gaskin, Margo Williams and Wendell Morrison added backing vocals. So did Jocelyn Brown, who is one of the lead vocalists on Inner Life II. Once Inner Life II was recorded, it was released in 1982.

Two singles were released from Inner Life II. It was something of a no-brainer that Moment of My Life was chosen as the lead single, reaching number fifteen in the US Dance Music/Club Play Charts. I Like It Like That then reached number forty in the US Dance Music/Club Play Charts and number ninety-three in the US R&B Charts in 1983. Like many other disco or dance music albums, the singles fared better than the album. Inner Life II failed to chart on its release in October 1982. However, like Inner Life I, Inner Life II featured a Salsoul classic..Moment of My Life. However, there’s more to Inner Life II than one track, as you’ll realize when I tell you about the  music on Inner Life II.

Opening Inner Life II is the Stan Lucas penned and produced I Picked A Winner, which features Jocelyn Brown’s vocal. A pounding rhythm section complete with slapped bass from James Calloway joins Leroy Burgess keyboards. They create the backdrop for a powerful, feisty vocal from Jocelyn, complete with dramatic backing vocals. While the rhythm section and Leroy’s keyboards create the track’s hypnotic backdrop, Jocelyn picks up where she left off on Inner Life I. She doesn’t disappoint, delivering a divaesque performance, combining controlled power, sass and passion to get Inner Life II of to an irresistible opening.

Of the six tracks on Inner Life II, Moment Of My Life quite simply is the highlight. Nothing else comes close and no other track even comes close. Jocelyn’s vocal soars powerfully and dramatically above the arrangement. She delivers a punchy, powerful and soulful vocal against a backdrop of the rhythm section, percussion and Leroy’s keyboards. Equally punchy backing vocalists accompany her, as she delivers one of the best vocals of her time with Inner Life. The sprinkling of percussion adds to the effectiveness of an arrangement where boogie, funk and soulfulness unite. With the combined talents of Leroy Burgess, Greg Carmichael and Jocelyn Brown at the top of their game, it’s no wonder that thirty years later, this track is regarded as a Salsoul classic.

I Like It Like That is a track that you can almost date to 1982. It’s the combination of instruments that are deployed to accompany Jocelyn’s vocal. The synths have an unmistakable early eighties sound, as do the drums. They’re joined by Jocelyn’s joyous vamp, while the rhythm section and eighties keyboards drive the track along. Having said that, the track still has an infectiously catchy eighties sound, made all the better by Jocelyn Brown at the height of her powers. While this track doesn’t match the quality of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Make It Last Forever or Moment Of My Life, it’s still infectiously catchy and benefits from a joyous vocal from Jocelyn.

Following three dance tracks, when you flip over Inner Life II, Feel What I’m Feeling sees a welcome drop in tempo. It allows you to catch your breath and hear another side to Inner Life. A piano combines with thoughtful drums and a jazzy guitar. Then with a flourish of piano, Jocelyn’s vocal displays a tender, soulful side. Her vocal grows in power, with tender, understated backing vocals accompanying her. Jocelyn’s vocal veers between tender and heartfelt, to a more powerful, impassioned style. Throughout the song, her vocal is deeply soulful. Only one thing lets the track down slightly, and that’s the dated sound of the keyboards midway through the track. Later, the pounding bass that accompanies Jocelyn’s vocal matches reinforces the impact of her vocal. In doing so, it almost makes up for the dated keyboards. Apart from that, this is a quite beautiful, deeply soulful song, where you hear a very different side to Inner Life, proving that there was more to their music than boogie.

Percussion, crashing drums and a pounding bass combines before Jocelyn delivers the familiar lyrics to If You’re Gonna Love Me. Straight away, you’re hooked. It’s impossible not to succumb to the track’s charms. Jocelyn’s vocal is a mixture of sass and power. It’s as if this song was written with her in mind. For company, she has that unmistakable combination of the rhythm section, keyboards and percussion accompanying her. As Jocelyn’s vocal drops out, the guitar takes charge. It almost tees up Jocelyn’s vocal when it returns. She takes charge, delivering what is, a Magnus Opus of a vocal.

Closing Inner Life II is Find Somebody, which has a very different sound to previous tracks. It’s a track ahead of its time. Thunderous, pounding drums combine with synths that reverberate. They’re joined by bongos and the rhythm section. Gradually the track is revealing its secrets. Funk is supplied by the rhythm section and percussion, while the synths provide a dated sound that almost grates. Thankfully, when Jocelyn’s vocal enters, it takes your mind of the recurring synth sound. Her vocal is delivered with power and passion, accompanied by equally dramatic backing vocals. The rest of the arrangement has a joyous, catchy sound, except of course that synth sound. It’s a akin a giant wart on a supermodel’s face, spoiling an otherwise irresistibly catchy sound. It’s a case of so near, but so far.

Inner Life II was the final album from Inner Life. Their career had only lasted just three albums, but left behind a quartet of classics. Starting with I’m Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Make It Last Forever and from Inner Life II, Moment Of My Life. Good as some of the other tracks on Inner Life were, Moment Of My Life was the absolute standout track. If You’re Gonna Love Me comes close, but not close enough. So too does Feel What I’m Feeling, which is a delicious slice of sheer soulfulness, that shows another side to Inner Life’s music. Indeed, most of the six tracks on Inner Life II have stood the test of time, apart from a couple of times the music sounds dated.

On a couple of tracks, you hear a real eighties sound shine through. Thirty years haven’t helped this sound to mature. Quite the opposite. I Like It Like That has an eighties sound, but this isn’t as prevalent as on Find Somebody. Its eighties sound has aged like an aging film star after one too many facelift. Having said that, other people might enjoy revisiting this eighties sound. Not me. For much of the eighties, this was the decade music lost its way and its taste buds. Not on Inner Life II though. 

Indeed, most of the music on Inner Life II, which was rereleased by Salsoul/Octave Lab Japan on 7th May, has stood the test of time and aged gracefully. After Inner Life II, Inner Life didn’t release any further albums for Salsoul. Given Inner Life were part of the new wave of artists at Salsoul, it seemed that things were in a constant state of flux. Artists were coming and going and Salsoul wasn’t able to recapture its glory years between 1975 and 1978. Two years after Inner Life II was released, Salsoul closed its doors. Disco’s premier label was no more. All that was left was the memories and the music, which includes Inner Life II, which proved to be Inner Life’s Salsoul swan-song. At least Inner Life left Salsoul on a high, with Inner Life II, which was one of the highlights of post-disco Salsoul. Standout Tracks: I Picked A Winner, Moment of My Life, Feel What I’m Feeling and If You’re Gonna Love Me. 


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