In 1979, disco was breathing its last breath. The last rites were being read to a musical genre that provided the soundtrack to the seventies. What had started off as an underground musical scene, had become of the most popular musical genres of the past twenty years. Artists jumped onboard the disco bandwagon, trying to revive flagging careers. That was part of the problem. When artists like Rod Stewart and The Rolling Stones jumped onboard the disco bandwagon, disco was fast becoming a parody of itself. Soon, disco sucked. On 12th July 1979, on Derby Demolition Night, at Comiskey Park, Chicago, disco nearly died. The fallout saw record companies fold, disco artists dropped and disco records as popular as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip. For disco’s premier label Salsoul, this presented a problem.
Since 1975, when The Salsoul Orchestra released its debut single the Salsoul Hustle, Salsoul Records established a reputation as disco’s most innovative and influential label. Unlike other labels, the music Salsoul released evolved. When Euro Disco became popular, Salsoul incorporated it into their music. First Choice’s Hold Your Horses, released in 1979, was one of Salsoul’s first releases to fuse Euro Disco, Philly Soul, funk and disco. This wasn’t the last time the “Salsoul sound” would have to change. However, the next time, it was a matter of necessity.
After disco, Euro Disco and boogie filled the void left by disco. Salsoul had foreseen the change and had established a roster of artists capable of creating innovative and influential music. One of Salsoul’s new signings was Logg, the latest studio project from Leroy Burgess. Logg only released one album, 1981s Logg, which will be released by BBR Records on 29th July 2013.
By the time Leroy Burgess he was already a veteran of many musical projects. His career had started back in 1969, when he joined Black Ivory. That was just the start of a long, illustrious and successful career. During the seventies, Leroy Burgess moved from singing to songwriting, arranging and production. Along with various collaborators, he was involved in some innovative projects, that helped influence music.
Among the other projects Leroy Burgess was involved in, were Aleem, Dazzle, Venus Dobson, The Fantastic Aleems and Patrick Adams Presents Phreek. Whilst working on these projects, Leroy came across Greg Carmichael. Greg and Leroy collaborated on several successful projects, including Convention and Logg. Apart from his own projects and collaborations,, Leroy wrote and produced other artists.
Leroy wrote and produced Rick James, Ben E. King, Rick James, Herbie Mann, Peter Jacques Band and The B.B.Q. Band. These were just a few of the artists Leroy produced. He was versatile, capable of producing a wide range of artists. Whether it was soul, funk, jazz or disco, Leroy had produced it. This would influence his collaborations with Greg Carmichael.
Before forming Logg, Greg and Leroy had collaborated on Convertion. Their only release was 1981s Let’s Do It, which was released on SAM Records. The follow up to Let’s Do It, I Know You Will was meant to be released on SAM Records. However, Sam Weiss, owner of SAM Records decided to copyright the name Convertion without telling the group. He then offered Convertion an album deal which had unfavorable terms. Convertion described the offer as an: “absolutely ridiculous album deal,” one which they turned down. Luckily, Salsoul were interested in signing the now unnamed band. Salsoul’s offer was a single-to-album deal. When they heard the single Let’s Do It, Salsoul opted for an album. This left SAM Records with the band’s name, but no band.
Having signed to Salsoul Records, the musicians who played on Let’s Do It, formed the basis of what became Logg. This included the rhythm section of bassist and percussionist James Calloway, drummer Sonny T. Davenport and guitarist Sonny De Graffenried, who along with Renee J.J. Burgess and Dorothy Terrell sang backing vocals. Leroy sang lead and backing vocals, plus played keyboards and percussion on what became Logg.
Logg featured six songs, which were written by the members of Logg. The songwriting partnership of Leroy Burgess, James Calloway and Sonny T. Davenport cowrote Lay It On The Line, Sweet To Me, Dancing Into The Stars and Something Else. They cowrote Let’s Do It and (You’ve Got) That Something with Aaron Powell. These six songs became Logg, which was recorded at Eras Recording Studio, New York.
When recording of Logg got underway at Boris Midney’s Eras Recording Studio, Logg’s lineup featured a rhythm section of bassist and percussionist James Calloway, drummers Douglas J. Barry and Sonny T. Davenport plus guitarists Stanley Lucas, William Doc Powell and Sonny De Graffenried. He added backing vocals alongside J.J. Burgess, Dorothy Terrell, Carla Bartee, Donald Hamilton, Lynne Clifton-Allen and Russell Patterson. Willis Long added percussion and Fred McFarlane Oberheim Polyphonic synth. Leroy sang lead and backing vocals, while playing keyboards and percussion. Once Logg was completed, it was released in September 1981.
Before the release of Logg in September 1981, Let’s Do It was released in July. It reached a disappointing number eighty in the US R&B Charts. When Logg was released, in September 1981, it failed to chart. Given the high hopes Salsoul had for Logg, this was huge body blow. Worse was to come. (You’ve Got) That Something, released in October 1981 failed to chart. With just one minor hit single, Logg hadn’t been a commercial success. Far from it. What it did do, was play a part establishing Leroy Burgess’ career as “King of Boogie”
Let’s Do It opens Logg. It’s a mid-tempo, joyous dance-track. With just piano, percussion and bounding rhythm section combining with synths, this sets the scene for Leroy’s vocal. Heartfelt, joyous and soulful, backing vocalists accompany every step of the way. They play their part in the track’s success, adding to the drama and energy. Later, Leroy mixes power and passion, as Logg spread plentiful supply of hooks on what is, an irresistible track.
Lay It On The Line has a real laid-back vibe. This was one of the features of boogie. Although boogie still has a “bouncy” sound, it’s much more mellow and laid back. The tempo is also slower. Usually, it was between 90 to 115 beats per minute. Here, it’s 115 beats per minute. Logg’s funky and underrated rhythm section get to work. The funkiest of bass lines joins keyboards and synths in providing the trademark bouncy arrangement, as funk, jazz and soul combine. While the rhythm section provide the funk, Leroy’s keyboards are jazz-tinged. As for it’s vocal, its powerful, soulful and delivered with sass and a swagger, as he delivers an ultimatum: “why don’t you Lay It On The Line.”
Sweet To Me has a much more mellow sound than the two previous tracks. This was a feature of many boogie tracks. With a tempo of 106 beats per minute, a meandering jazzy rhythm section combine with boogie keyboards and cooing harmonies. Leroy’s vocal is impassioned and dramatic, as percussion, synths, chiming guitar and bass accompany him. Later, harmonies sweep in, adding to the soulfulness. What is apparent in the jazz influence. The chord changes are jazz-tinged, not unlike what Chic were doing a few years earlier. My only reservation are the squelchy synths. They jar and detract from this laid-back fusion of jazz and soul
(You’ve Got) That Something is best described as a Chic-inspired track with an uptempo, summery vibe. Logg’s rhythm section join with percussion and synths while Leroy vamps. Harmonies answer Leroy’s call, adding to the catchy, uplifting sound. James Calloway gives a masterclass in how to play a funky bass. He slaps and plucks his bass, while bubbling synths and percussion lock into the tightest and funkiest of grooves. Hypnotic harmonies provide a hypnotic backdrop for Leroy, powerful, dramatic and vampish vocal.
Dancing Into The Stars is the fastest song on Logg. Nearly 119 beats per minute, it bursts into life, with an infectious fusion of percussion, wah-wah synths and funky rhythm section joining deliberate keyboards. Sassy describes Leroy’s vocal as he struts and swaggers his way through the track. Harmonies, stabs of piano and chiming guitars accompany Leroy, as Logg create what became a became a boogie classic.
Something Else closes Logg. Undeniably funky, thanks to James Calloway’s bass, the rest of Logg create a hypnotic backdrop. Gradually, the arrangement unfolds. Playing an important roll is Leroy. His keyboards and vampish vocal are joined by cooing, sweeping harmonies. Percussion is sprinkled across the arrangement, while synths help drive the arrangement along as Leroy’s vocal delivers his most soulful vocal on Logg.
Logg is yet another album that people only really appreciated after its release. Back in 1981, it was a commercial failure. So too, were the two singles Let’s Do It and (You’ve Got) That Something. The two singles, plus Lay It On the Line quickly became dance-floor favorites. DJs including John Morales and Larry Levan played these tracks. They also remixed these tracks. Soon word was spreading about Logg, which will be released by BBR Records on 29th July 2013..
As boogie’s popularity grew, so did Logg’s. However, Logg was the only album Logg released. Leroy Burgess and Greg Carmichael, who produced Logg, moved onto their next project. While Logg hadn’t been a commercial success, it proved a favorite among dancers and DJs. Logg also furthered Leroy Burgess’ career and reputation as an innovative and influential producer. Since the release of Logg, Leroy Burgess, who was responsible for some of the most innovative and important boogie, has been crowned “King of Boogie.”
While many people focus on Leroy Burgess as a producer, they forget he was a musician and vocalist. Part of the success of the Logg was the standard of musicians. They were underrated, especially the rhythm section of Burgess, Calloway and Davenport. Good as they were, Matt Bauer, who penned the sleeve-notes is over-egging the pudding somewhat when he compares Logg’s rhythm section to the legendary Baker, Harris, Young. Very few come close to Baker, Harris, Young. Certainly not the Funk Brothers, another famous rhythm section Burgess, Calloway and Davenport are compared to. Logg’s rhythm section were good, great even, but no match for Baker, Harris, Young. One thing they all have in common, is that Baker, Harris, Young, the Funk Brothers and then Burgess, Calloway and Davenport provided the heartbeat for innovative, inventive and influential music. In Logg’s case, their rhythm section played an important role in boogie. Logg’s talented rhythm section certainly played their part in one of the most important albums in the history of boogie, Logg. Standout Tracks: Let’s Do It, Lay It On The Line and Something Else.