[Review] Stanley Clarke: I Wanna Play For You (1979)

Stanley Clarke gets out of his contract with Nemperor. You get two elpees for the price of one.

Kronomyth 6.0: Let be be finale of seem.

This live/studio hybrid  has all the earmarks of a contractual obligation. Stanley Clarke apparently owed Nemperor two more albums on his contract and decided to kick in an album’s worth of live material to hit the magic number of albums owed, which would apparently be six. Anyway, that’s just speculation on my part, and of no particular interest.

The music on I Wanna Play For You, now that’s interesting. I find it amazing that a bass guitarist could build a robust live repertoire around their instrument. Clarke is an extraordinary musician, of course; the sounds he coaxes out of those four strings would make a Stratavarius blush. The live performances are excellent; I sort of wish they had preserved the concerts intact, since I would have loved to hear songs like “Silly Putty,” “Yesterday Princess” or “Dayride” in a live setting. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a six-minute sampler called “My Greatest Hits.”

The studio material has a live energy to it and features a few funk/pop/disco numbers that point forward to the Clarke/Duke Project. “The Streets of Philadelphia” is the best of these; in fact, I’ve always regarded it as the heart of the album. I Wanna Play For You feels instantly familiar, not just in the sense that you’ve heard “School Days” and “Quiet Afternoon” before. Even the new songs (e.g., “Together Again,” “Jamaican Boy”) arrive like old friends. In that sense, the record wraps around your mind like a favorite shirt; it feels good whenever you put it on. (I know, I must be getting paid by the semicolon, right?) The Epic adventures that followed were too populist; the last emperor is this Nemperor of nice dreams.

Original 2LP Version

A1. Rock ‘N’ Roll Jelly (2:35)
A2. All About (5:15)
A3. Jamaican Boy (3:27)
A4. Christopher Ivanhoe (3:22)
A5. My Greatest Hits (6:28)
B1. Strange Weather (1:45)
B2. I Wanna Play For You (6:20)
B3. Just A Feeling (6:02)
B4. The Streets of Philadelphia (5:55)
C1. School Days (10:43)
C2. Quiet Afternoon (9:00)
D1. Together Again (Mike Garson) (5:40)
D2. Blues For Mingus (2:18)
D3. Off The Planet (3:10)
D4. Hot Fun-Closing (7:50)

All songs written by Stanley Clarke unless noted.

The Players

Stanley Clarke (electric bass, vocals, piccolo bass, acoustic bass, organ, piano, Oberheim synthesizer, talkbox), Darryl Brown (drums, cymbal), Bayeté Todd Cochran (Oberheim synthesizer, Arp 2600 synthesizer, Arp string ensemble, acoustic piano, organ) with Jeff Beck (electric guitar on A3), Dee Dee Bridgewater (backing vocals on B2), Gerry Brown (drums on C1), Cathy Carson (vocals on B3/B4), Juanita Curiel (vocals on B3/B4), David DeLeon (electric bass on C2), George Duke (Yamaha electric grand piano on B3), Ronnie Foster (acoustic piano on B4), Steve Gadd (drums on A3), Michael Garson (Oberheim synthesizer on A1/C2, Fender Rhodes, Arp string ensemble on C2/D4, acoustic piano on D2, Yamaha electric grand piano on D3), Stan Getz (baritone saxophone on B4), Raymond Gomez (electric guitar on A1/C1/C2/D4), Al Harrison (B flat trumpet on A1/C1/C2/D4, piccolo trumpet on D4), Freddie Hubbard (flugelhorn on D1), Phil Jost (organ on A1), Bob Malach (tenor saxophone on A1/C1/C2/D4), Harvey Mason (drums on B2/B3/B4), Airto Moreira (percussion on A2), Gwen Owens (vocals on B3/B4), Lee Ritenour (electric guitar on B4), Peter Robinson (Arp string ensemble on C1), Tom Scott (alto saxophone on A4, lyricon on B3), James Tinsley (B flat trumpet on A1/C1/C2, piccolo trumpet on D4), Al Williams (baritone saxophone on A1/D4, soprano saxophone on C1/C2/D4). Produced by Stanley Clarke; engineered by David Leonard, Ed. E Thacker, Tom Arrison; mixed by David Leonard.

The Pictures

Cover photography by Bob Seidemann. Design by Bill Collins, Tony Lane.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP in 1979 in the US (Nemperor, KZ2-35680), the UK (Epic, S EPC 83315) and Japan (Nemperor, 40AP-1198/9) with gatefold cover and innersleeves. Reached #62 on the US charts and #5 on the US Jazz charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in May 10, 1994 in the US (Epic, EK 64295).
  2. Re-packaged with Modern Man on remastered 2-for-1 compact disc on October 5, 2010 in the UK (Beat Goes On, BGOCD-923).

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