Wow, what a fantastic band this is! Right from the start in
81 B. B. & Q. band showed what real music is about. With
a smooth and irresistible pop funk sound with highly addective
and catchy melodies they were a perfect blend of European producing
skills and American vocalists that made this band to a classic!
Jacques Fred Petrus, the man behind Change and Peter Jacques
band and others,
was also the force behind B. B. & Q. band. Being the tycoon
of Milan (Italy) based Goody Music Productions (GMP) since the
second half of the 70s together with his co-founder, song writer,
arranger and producer wizard Mauro Malavasi, he had plans ready
for a hot new project. After a certain amount of success with
his first productions in the late 70s Petrus wanted more of
the US market. Change became a real breakthrough in 1980, but
Petrus didn't stop there.
1980 Petrus went to the studios in Bologna in Italy with his
Italian musicians Mauro Malavasi (piano and synthesizer), Davide
Romani (bass guitar), Paolo Gianolio (guitar) and Rudy Trevisi
basic melodies that were written by the first three and Marco
Tansini were later on to be found on the albums of Change and
B. B. & Q. band in 1981. When these instrumental melodies
were finished Petrus flew in a couple of American musicians
to create a small rhythm section for the final recording including
Terry Silverlight (drums), Doc Powell (guitar) and Onage Allen
Gumbs (Synthesizer). Gumbs was fired and sent home after a few
sessions probably because Malavasi could play those repetitive
parts himself and didn't need anyone else's input as far as
creating them and by that save Fred the money at the same time.
Even though the melodies already existed they
were kept away from the Americans at this stage. Drummer Silverlight
recalls that he never heard the melodies while recording, just
himself, bass guitar and a pre-existing synthesizer part on
six months later back in NYC a vocal auditions was being held
at Media Sound Studios where every great singer in New York
and elsewhere were showing up. Petrus finally hired singers
like Ike Floyd, Gordon Grody, Fonzi Thornton and Diva Gray to
name a few. All more or less renowed but all great singers.
perfect start in 1981
debut album (#72 spot on Billboards black albums chart and #109
spot on Billboards pop albums chart) on Capitol that was released
in September 81 was produced by Petrus and Malavasi.
In reality the music was fully Malavasi's piece of art. Petrus
partly took the credits of the productions more than he should,
something he did when it came to the other projects he was running
as well. All songs except Tansini's ballad "Don't say goodbye"
were composed, arranged and conducted by
the mastermind Malavasi (see picture beneath). He was riding
on the waves of the magical flow of never ending success at
this time and the album made him reach the highest wave!
Once again, as so many times during the late 70s, Italy and
Bologna was the playground for the recording of the music of
this self titled album. And as before Petrus split up the recordings
by letting the vocal parts take place in New York instead of
Bologna. Why he didn't let all of the recording take place at
one single spot is both due to economical and chauvinistic reasons.
To completely leave Europe and the beloved Italy for US was
simply out of the question and to do the whole thing in Bologna
was simply to expensive.
music of B. B. & Q. band can be described as discofunk,
soulfunk or popfunk as former Change member Jeff Bova once said.
Compared with the only other Petrus/Malavasi production that
year, "Miracles " by Change, B. B. & Q band had
a slightly more funky sound but were still it was as accessible
and appealing as the album of Change. The similarities with
Change weren't a coincident however. The way Petrus ran his
empire was by letting Malavasi and and a few others create,
arrange, conduct and produce the music (under guidelines given
by Petrus). Then he decided where the put the music. Only Petrus
did know that, the musicians were always oblivious about that.
That procedure was a trademark of Petrus and was performed continuously
all the way from the start to the end. That's why all tracks
written that year could easily been used either on the albums
by Change or B. B & Q. band.
left to right: Frankie Crocker, noted NY radio personality
on WBLS, interviews Peewee Ford (Paris Ford), Abdul Wali Mohammed,
Ike Floyd from the B. B. & Q. band and Capitol Records promotions
manager Bill Reid in 1981.
Change, the distinctive features of B. B. & Q. band were
to a large extent emphasized on the role of the guitars. One
can even say that, like their great opponent Chic, the guitars
were the trademark of all the Little Macho productions. They
were played distinctively that made the strings glow and stretch
to the limit and perfectly spiced up with intelligently used
funk influences. Both the guitar and bass guitar players of
Gianolio, Abdul Wali Mohammed and Romani and Ford really showed
their great potential and sometimes even Gianolio's classic
acoustic guitar skills shined through more than just on a subtle
level; the results was just fantastic! But the guitars were
never taken over Malavasi's arrangements. They were instead
perfectly matched, and incorporated in a balanced way with that
polished, well-produced and transparent airy sound that the
rest of the instruments delivered. The final result was a highly
danceable, seductive and delicate production thanks to the amazing
genius of Malavasi.
first track on the album was something that no one was going
to forget in a hurry, whether you talk past or present. If you
haven't heard "On the beat", that reached the #8 spot on the
Billboard black singles charts, you certainly got something
to do! This
is truly one of the best tracks ever in its genre and with its
fast and catchy melody, lovely song by Ike Floyd, intensive
guitars and deep bass lines. It includs an indescribable hypnotic
intro performed by a synth gone crazy. This puts you on the
floor, whether you want it or not! And
the story didn't end there as the album included three more
outstanding eternal hits. The strongest among them were the
masterfully and sensitively singed "Time for love" (#72 spot
on Billboards black singles chart), an absolutely perfectly
balanced track with a short but intense dreamy break after three
and a half minutes with punchy guitars, sexy strings and demanding
trumpet calls. Also more disco like "Mistakes"
and dreamy "Starlette" (that was originally intended for
the debut album of Change) were competent songs
that got much in common with the tracks on Change's album that
same year. Although B. B & Q. band emphasized heavily on
speedy tracks the album also included the sad, but yet irresistible
ballad of "Don't say goodbye" and a somewhat misplaced mid tempo
reggae imitation that many artist did add at the time of strange
amazing and classic album is perhaps Malavasi's most brilliant
and genius one.
it a band or just a studioconcept?
Even though Ford and his gang were asked to be the band and
a picture of them were shown (above) on the album, no separate
presentation of them were made on the cover. They main reason
to the picture must simply have been that Petrus needed to show
a touring band, a commercially very important face, and not
to show a real group. Whether Ford or anybody else performed
as the band were of no interest to Petrus, only musical success.
The "group" was more of an informal, temporarily nature
in the nonstop Petrus music machine and could change in any
minute, a fact that Ford and his musicians soon were to experience.
Also Petrus specific way of working with small parts or bits
instead of bigger selfgoing group identities didn't allow group
thinking as the working procedure was way to open, virtually
chaos like and mobile for that. That's why the concept of B.
B. & Q. band wasn't stone hard, from-now-and-forever group
in the common use of the word. Petrus didn't want it to be that
way. He just used the parts, like bits in a puzzle trying to
create as good music as possible that commercially could break
and he was damn good at it. This was Petrus way of working,
and a sign of his need for total control over the overall production.
Petrus may have looked after a real group, but only if he was
sure it would fit his planes. It was first on the B. B. &
Q. band's album in 82 as a more stable group identity occurred.
The next album was released on Capitol once again in 1982 titled
"All night long" (#32 spot on Billboards black albums chart).
With a view of their beloved New York shining up at night they
continued to point out their origin. The front cover showed
the two twin towers of World trade center. The first album was
a studio project with Paris Ford and his cats giving it a face
on the fron cover. In 1982 all of them plus the rest of the
bands touring staff was gone except Kevin Nance and Kevin Robinson
that Petrus appointed as band leader.
B. B. & Q band in 1982 featured Kevin Nance on keyboards,
Kevin Robinson, that not only played guitar but also became
the lead singer after Ike Floyd, Chieli Minucci (a first generation
Italian-American) on guitar and Tony Bridges on bass guitar.
Kinky foxx contributed with just another former member, the
later successful solo artist Johnny Kemp as background singer.
again the release was
produced by Petrus, but only on paper. The highly regarded Luther
Vandross was no longer a background singer like he was in 81
but others, both new and old names were stepping in. The background
singers included the superb and sensual vocalist Tawatha Agee
(Mtume), Timmy Allen (Change) and Alyson Williams (High fashion)
to name a few.
when everything was set the audience were exited to know if
the new lineup were up to something good, and yes they were!
The earlier more or less monopoly among the Italians of Malavasi
and Romani when it came to writing and producing was now much
more mixed up with American skill and influences. Even so, the
mighty Malavasi wrote three of the tracks including the hit
"Children of the night". The rest of the written material
was shared between Kevin Robinson, with two tracks, and ex Breakwater
member Kae Williams. Finally Tony Bridges and Timmy Allen wrote
one each. The album got some infectious tracks that are almost
on the same level as the debut. Together with Robinson's voice
working passionate true the songs the result was over average.
The most appealing tracks are sing-a-long "All night long (she's
got the moves I like)", electrofunkish "Imagination" (#21 spot
on Billboards black singles chart) and the already mentioned
Malavasi penned smooth and slender "Children of the night".
All of them really great dancebeats with catchy melodies that
very well could match the most distinguished tracks from the
album in 81. Also the listener finds some nice ballades on the
directions - close to a flop
B. & Q. band was still on top in 82-83, so what to do? Well,
why not produce a bad album, with less glow and enthusiasm.
That was exactly what happened in 1983 when "Six million times"
was released on Capitol records for the last time. Although
the foxy lady on the front cover looked all right the inside
was not as seductive and interesting as the outside and the
band had lost the sparkle from the two earlier albums. In addition
the skills of the main song writer Malavasi were used on the
albums of High fashion and Change instead, something that had
great impact on the final musical result of "Six million
times". As a significant result of that both Change and
High fashion launched albums considerably stronger including
several great tracks penned by Malavasi like "Tell my way"
by Change and "Stay" by High fashion.
crucial explanation to why Petrus' decided to not use Malavasi
on B. B . & Q. band's third album except for one mediocre
track might also be explained by his grooving financial problems
that affected the relationship with the golden calf's of Malavasi
and Romani. That also made Petrus invite new hungry America
songwriters at the expense of the old Italians and B. B. &
Q. band got most affected by these changes. One of these Americans
that stepped forward from the album in 82 and received that
writing freedom was Kevin Robinson. He wrote almost all tracks
on "Six million times". Robinson was, and is, absolutely
a good musician and a rather competent singer but not as near
as good songwriter. He simply couldn't compete with the master
Malavasi. This move of Petrus was the main reason to the dramatic
drop in quality and commercial success of B. B. & Q. band
B. & Q. band in 83. From left to right: Kevin Robinson,
lead vocals & lead guitar,
Bernard Davis, drums, Chieli Minucci, guitar and Tony Bridges
on bass guitar.
The lineup from the last album continued over the 1983 season
as well with the exception of Kevin Nance that left in favor
of Bernard Davies
on drums. Davies like Robinson and Minucci was yet another ex-member
brought in from the former hip NYC band Kinky foxx. Although
Robinson still was the lead vocalist and wrote much of the material
together with his work as a co-producer, it didn't help as said
earlier. There are a couple of decent tracks on this record
however including the ordinary "Keep it hot" the electrofunkish
"Stay" that was the perhaps most enjoyable one. One got the
feeling that these tracks must have been a rest product from
the "All night long" album. "Six million times"
is the most memorable track on side two with
a rather tasty modern beat.
On a whole the tracks under Robinson's pen was harder, more
modern. An obvious resemblance with the ultra hip sound of The
Time/Prince and their more rock oriented funk is also present.
Especially on "She's a passionate lover" and "Six
million times" that is obvious. Even though Robinson, that
with out a doubt
was influenced by their sound, he couldn't quite manage to reach
the same plateau as Prince. One year later after Robinson's
departure he tried again as a co-producer with a slighly better
result on the short lived band Network's rare and only album
"I need you" in 84. The realatively musical success
the managed to reach was in reality much due to the brilliant
talents of the ex-Mtume member Howard King that wrote most tracks.
Despite the loss of the earlier on-the-floor feeling and the
genuine spirit and sparkle B. B. & Q band hadn't played
their last tune yet!
B. & Q. band searching for inspiration
82 Petrus and Malavasi didn't work together
as well as before and finally their companionship broke apart
in 83 due to econimical problems and the collapse of their Goody
music production company. Petrus continued as a producer and
executive producer, but Malavasis exellent talent of writing
the music was lost. If that was not bad enough, Petrus had also
lost the highly used Romani, Gianolioi and Trevesi due to the
same economical problems. B.
B. & Q. band now stood in
front of some heavy economical and musical problems, and the
future was uncertain, especially after the flop in 83 that made
the situation even tougher. Petrus
however didn't gave up. Change
album "Change of heart" in 84 had
of Malavasi and the other main Italians used upcoming producers/writers
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis with great success. He understood
that their new and characteristic sound was something not to
forget, a notion that later was implemented on BB's album in
85 with its clear influences from Jam and Lewis. He couldn't
use Jam and Lewis themselves once again however, because they
didn't get paid either and soon left Petrus like the Italians.
So with all his experience and knowledge, what did Petrus decide
for B. B. & Q. band's future? First of all Petrus waited
two years for the release of B. B. & Q. band's fourth album
featuring a completely new band including none of the earlier
band/touring members. Lead singer Kevin Robinson was involved
in the group Network in 84 that might has been a reason to his
departure. But the over all reasons were that Petrus didn't
pay the members or the musicians and even the engineers for
that matter anymore and that there were no gigs going on with
BB, so they simply left him
for other projects. Petrus
now almost completely deserted by everyone. He was in this precarious
situation forced to catch other musicians and singers and invited
the marvelous singer Curtis Hairston to be lead vocalist and
used the old fox Kay Williams to write all songs as well as
playing keyboards and piano. Williams had earlier participated
on B. B. & Q. bands second album as songwriter and bassist.
The new B. B. & Q. band also included Ullanda McCullough
as background vocalist (she was background vocalist on Change's
81 album), Timmy Allen on bass and Michael Campbell on Guitar,
both from Change. Petrus decided to use Allen and Campell from
Change instead of taking anybody from outside. Both had played
bass and guitar respectively on BB's second release. Once again
Petrus took advantage of what was left of the in-house talents
and used them in the band.
on top, but just for a year
85 it was time to release "Genie". Petrus had now left
Capitol and released the set on Elekta instead, probably because
of the bad selling figures that their last album stood for.
When you're down, you can lie down or rise, B. B. & Q. band
did the latter after their poor release in 83. I better say
it right away, this was a great comeback! The sound was new,
modern and tough and the beautiful and funky cover corresponded
perfectly with the music! A critical mind might say the release
included way too much programmed drummachines without the warm
feeling of instrumental joy. To a certain degree that might
be the case especially on tracks like "On the shelf"
and "Main attraction" but they did not exclude a nice
melody and the warmth was to be found there as well like the
you be with me tonight" clearly shows. The latter could
more easily be found on the rest of the album that is more soft
and dreamlike. All songs, whether hard or soft, were performed
with a masters touch by the wonder kid Curtis Hairston's sensitive
voice that really helped to create a perfect feeling drawn to
the very limit of pleasure. To use the old man Kay Williams
and letting him do all the work was brilliant as well. The lovely
long version of the title track is a great laid back, smooth
soul piece that makes you sing along.
two most prominent tracks were "Genie" (no
40 on Billboards top 40 in 85) and
35 on Billboards top 40 in 86) that
got some great values with a smoth and spell bounded dreamy
sound! Two similar harder
tracks are also representative in the sing-a-long "Main attraction"
and the electro-funk like "On the shelf" (#72 spot on Billboards
Hot R&B/Hip-hop singles & tracks chart) that included a blues/rock
break of the highest musical standard, although nothing sensational,
well worth a closer attention nonetheless. Also the good ballad
descent "Minutes away" and the fast and scratchy "Riccochet"
were included. All together, although not a classical album,
this is a good example of mid 80 Jam/Lewis influenced music
well worth buying.
end and beginning of other projects
B. & Q. band didn't release any more albums after "Genie"
mainly because of the tragic death of Petrus in 86 and the great
group split up. What happened to the different groupmembers
after the split are not known except for a few. Curtis Hairston
released the dreamlike "The morning after" on his one an only
album in 86. Many of the tracks from the album were very similar
to the ones on "Genie" and could very well have been on that
record. In 92 he appeared as background singer on former High
fashion member Alyson Williams self titled album. The bussy
Chieli Minucci, a scholar in classic guitar, became famous and
stepped out from the studio to wrote songs to artists like Chaka
Kahn and Roberta Flack but did also worke as a producer. His
very special way of performing jazz was introduced on his debut
solo album in 95. The great Mauro Malavasi continued his work
as a producer and songwriter for Change, High fashion until
83. He then left his work with Petrus and continued on his own
with world famous artists like Andrea Bocceli and the beautiful
Dalida. Paris Ford continued his work and as a musician. He
released his first single ”Be My Girl” (# 69 on Billboard's
Top 100 R&B/Dance chart) on Streetwise records (Arthur Baker's
label) and has been playing and/or on tour with such great acts
like Rick James, New Edition, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Lenny
White, Invisible man Band and Planet patrol to mention just
a few. Today he is still busy working with new hot projects
after his biggest selling single "2 Far" featuring ex Change
member James Robinson that was released in 1989. Paolo Gianolio
continued playing guitar for several artists like Eros Ramazzotti,
Anna Oxa and Fiorella Manoia. Timmy Allen became an even more
successful songwriter and producer to singers like Lillo Thomas
and Milie Jackson. Today
Allen still works in the music business with acts like Britney
Spears and Backstreet boys.
Kevin Robinson played guitar on Mtume's albums in 83 and 84.
Robinson was also the force behind the hard-to-find group Network
that released their one and only album "I need you" in 84 on
Salsoul (maybe just on Rams horn when a rumor has it that
Salsoul never released it but Rams horn did, with or without
their permission) that he produced and played guitar on.
Network's sound is similar to B. B. & Q. band in 82 and
83 but with a more funkier groove. Johnny Kemp that sung as
background singer on BB's second album was also a member of
Network where he was lead vocalist on the hit "Cover girl" [Sample].
Also Raymond Jackson from Mtume played bass on Network's album.
That same year when the Network album was released he also joined
Mtume as bassist on their excellent 1984 album. Read more about
Network on Patriks
soul funk music
covers in 85
The album was released on several labels (Elektra, Mega, Cooltempo,
ZXY etc) both in 85 and 86 and with different album covers.
The first release in 85 was recorded at the Morning studios
in Milan and featured in Europe a red cover
on some issues and a blue cover on other issues (type 1 and
2). UK got their own cover that was released on the Cooltempo
label (type 3) and the
US another version released on Elektra that same year.
all the EU releases in 85 Petrus was mentioned both as as producer
(with Kay Williams) and as an executive producer. According
to the second US release in 86 on the Pretty pearl label former
basket pro Earl Monroe (founder of the Pretty pear label) was
instead the executive producer in favor of Petrus and Kay Williams
the producer. The album in 86 was also strangely enough recorded
in the Castle studios in Milan instead of Morning studios in
Milan and featured a 5:20 minutes long version of "Minutes
away" instead of the 3:15 long version on the EU versions.
Genie was recorded and/or edited at two very different studios
and with the absence of Petrus as the producer/executive producer
85 EU (Type 1)
EU (Type 2)
EU (Type 3)
US (Type 4)
B. B. & Q. band reissues
1988 the "The best of B. B. & Q. band" hit the
CD(!) emanating from the tiny Italian label Streetheat. But
it was no success mainly due to lack of copies. The track choice
missed out many of the more memorable tunes too giving the impression
that the release was a hasty work impossible to present the
true value of the band. Many years later I came up with an idea
how the best of B. B. & Q. band really should look like
check it out),
and almost entirely was adopted by Fonte records on their Final
collection of The B.
B. & Q. band that was released in 2008 (read more about
that CD beneath). Despite the compilation
in 1988 no CD reissues of the original albums were done until
August 2004, almost 20 years after the final album in 1985 saw
the light. The release included the first
three albums all conducted by the Italian
label Fonte records. You can order
them at the distributors
on the 23th of August 2004 EMI Holland launched a completely
new series called "Masters Of Funk & Soul" that includes B.
B. & Q. band's first album from 1981. The superbly sounded
24bit/96kHz remastered CD features the original record sleeves
and credits, with addition of new text written by funk aficionados,
rare photos and a complete album discography. You can find the
CD on Amazon
US , Amazon
Germany (best price) and Amazon
France. PS. remember to write the complete name of
the band when searching on Amazon!
second release by Fonte records was made on the 15th of November
2005 featuring a box of five CD's including the first three
albums together with the two albums of High fashion.
info about this box and the additional four exclusive boxes
in the series can be found here
the 7th of August 2006 the
Duth label PTG records finally
on CD as well. You can find that album at
the 6th of February 2008 Fonte
records released the "Final collection" of B. B. &
Q. band featuring tracks from all four albums.
B. & Q. Band "re-united"
2011 four members from the original 1981 band line-up (as shown
on the cover above), Paris Ford, Dwayne Perdue, Kevin Nance
and Ike Floyd re-united the band to play live. A show is Scheduled
for December 2011 as well.
of The B. B. & Q. band
Please click on the covers below to see a complete list of songs
from each record.