“Not Forgotten” – a new feature on NeoSoulCypher.com dedicated to Classic and Legacy Artists We Haven’t Heard From in a While Due to Breakup, Scandal or Other Reasons.
In our first Not Forgotten feature, we showcase the impact of one my favorite groups of all time. Coming of age in the 1980’s, there were quite a few music movements and superstar talents that blossomed – think genres like Hip-Hop, Punk Rock, Rock, Pop, and stars like Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and Run-DMC. R&B also had its moment, with artists and groups like Ready for the World, the Time, Guy, Bobby Brown, Sade, and Sheila E, among many others.
They Planted Neo Soul Seeds
Loose Ends was a part of this R&B moment, and they also helped initiate two tremendous currents in American music. They helped lead the Black Brit invasion of American R&B and they also planted the seeds for the Neo Soul movement of the 1990’s. (i.e., Sade, Five Star, Incognito, Brand New Heavies, Soul II Soul, Caron Wheeler).
Loose Ends had a string of smooth and bangin hits starting with “Choose Me (Rescue Me),” from the 1984 A Little Spice album and “Hangin on a String (Contemplating)” in 1985, which reached No. 13 on the UK chart and also reached No. 1 on the US Billboard R&B chart (a first for a Black UK act), from the So Where Are You album, an album that included 2 other super dope tracks – “The Sweetest Pain” and ‘You Can’t Stop the Rain.” Not to be outdone, the 1986 Zagora album gave us, “Stay A Little While Child,” “Slow Down,” “Gonna Make You Mine,” and “Nights of Pleasure” – all straight hits with the jazzy sophistication and danceable beats we had come to love. The string continued in 1987 with The Real Chuckeboo, which gave us the super dope “Watching You” and “Hungry.”
Where things went wrong
After The Real Chuckeboo, that’s when the drama began. The group was initially composed of three very talented artists – Jane Eugene (vocalist, songwriter), Steve Nichol (keyboardist) and Carl McIntosh (vocalist, producer). According to reports, (interviews of Carl McIntosh), the group frayed after The Real Chuckeboo for a number of reasons. It appears that tension developed between Eugene and Nichol, to the point there was physical aggression by Eugene against Nichol (she punched him in the face). It also appears that another person, Nic Martinelli – a producer type from Virgin music, who had helped guide the group with its hits throughout the years, and Eugene and Nichol, wanted to continue to produce their jazzy sophisticated melodies over 808’s, while McIntosh wanted to expand their approach to incorporate elements of Hip Hop into their music.
McIntosh actually went on to produce tracks ready for their next album Look How Long that incorporated those elements. When his bandmates heard the tracks, McIntosh believes they may have felt left out, “and like Carl did all of this without us, does he even need us?” Carl, on the other hand, felt he was just trying to keep “current” with the music and make it easier on his bandmates by completing a lot of the elements they historically played a role in.
Look How Long became Carl McIntosh as Loose Ends, as both Eugene and Nichol left the group. Needless to say Look How Long is a departure from the Loose Ends sound up until then, but the thread of the smooth jazzy sophistication is still there. I call it one of the first “smooth beat” records that I so came to love in the 90’s and 00’s. It is also clear that the prior Loose Ends formula combined with the Look How Long formula helped inform a lot what came from – Soul II Soul, Incognito in the U.K. to Zhane, Mantronix, D’Angelo in the U.S. Hits on the album included – ok let me stop here. In my estimation, the entire album is a hit. Each single is simply dope! Carl really did his thing. My actual favorite is Time is Ticking – an inspiration to keep on movin, and don’t stop (see what I did there), until you do your thing!
McIntosh has gone on the record to highlight additional influences he sees in the Neo Soul movement of the 90’s as well as its prime examples of today. McIntosh actually remixed “Cruisin” and “Brown Sugar” for D’Angelo and said, Syd the Kid from the Internet must have been listening to her parents’ Loose Ends records, comparing her vocals to that of Jane Eugene and the Internet sound to that of Loose Ends.
So what’s next?
As you can tell, I am a big Loose Ends fan, but as you can also see, there’s every reason to be a big Loose Ends fan. They set the stage for so much that has come to be – the Black Brit R&B invasion, to the Neo Soul movement of 90’s-00’s, to the Smooth R&B movement, to the new Neo Soul movement. Let’s pay them their homage, let’s give them their flowers. Let’s see if we can get another album!!