[Review] The Clarke/Duke Project II (1983)

The funky duo of Clarke and Duke return! Now, if they could only get their audience to come back…

Kronomyth 10.0: In 1983, you’d rather be a Prince than a Duke.

Given the success they had the first time around, it was pretty much a fait accompli that Stanley Clarke and George Duke would make another album together. The Clarke/Duke Project II is that album. It’s not as funky as the first project, which was already once removed from the funk of George Duke’s solo records (e.g., Follow The Rainbow). Instead, the album is just as likely to trot out synth rock (“Put It On The Line”) or an R&B ballad (“Try Me Baby”) as funk.

I notice that the Clarke/Duke albums seem to have a cleaner image than Duke’s solo music, like the positive “Every Reason To Smile” or “The Good Times.” That said, I’m not sure there’s much of a market for clean-cut funk. I can totally see someone putting an old George Duke record on the turntable and rediscovering their booty, but I can’t imagine listeners playing air bass guitar to “Great Danes.” Then again, it’s not like I’m looking into your home with a telescope, so maybe that’s exactly the sort of thing you do.

If these projects do nothing more than turn fusion fans onto funk or vice versa, then they’ve already served a purpose. You’ll find more basscrobatics on Stanley Clarke’s albums, though, and better funk on Duke’s. I do enjoy the production value on this record; songs like “You’re Gonna Love It” just ooze quality. Prog fans can stay out of the Projects altogether and scrounge around for a clean copy of The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience if they prefer, but there’s no denying that Duke’s participation elevates Clarke’s funk aspirations.

Read more George Duke reviews

Original LP Version

A1. Put It On The Line (Stanley Clarke) (4:22)
A2. Heroes (George Duke) (4:52)
A3. Try Me Baby (George Duke) (3:40)
A4. Every Reason To Smile (George Duke/Stanley Clarke) (4:20)
B1. Great Danes (George Duke/Stanley Clarke) (3:48)
B2. The Good Times (George Duke/Stanley Clarke) (4:38)
B3. You’re Gonna Love It (George Duke/Stanley Clarke) (5:01)
B4. Trip You In Love (Kenneth Ann Parker/Timothy M. Kenelick) (3:26)
B5. Atlanta (Stanley Clarke) (4:06)

The Players

Stanley Clarke, George Duke with William Criss (oboe on A3), Billy Cobham (drums on B5), Paulinho Da Costa (percussion on B4), Lynn Davis (vocals on A4, backing vocals on B4), Portia Griffin (backing vocals on B4), Howard Hewett (vocals on A4), Clydene Jackson (backing vocals on B4), Jeffrey Osborne (vocals on A4), Sylvia St. James (backing vocals on B4), Cruz Sembello (backing vocals on B4), Debra Starr (backing vocals on B4), Deborah Thomas (backing vocals on B4), Julia Tillman (backing vocals on B4), Narada Michael Walden (drums on B4), Maxine Waters (backing vocals on B4). Produced by Stanley Clarke & George Duke; recording engineered by Tommy Vicari & Erik Zobler.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in 1983 in the US (Epic, FE 38934) and the Netherlands (Epic, EPC 25688); reached #146 on the US charts and #19 on the US Jazz charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc on November 26, 2008 in Japan (Sony, SICP-2116).

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