Ike White – 1976 – Changin’ Times
This rather excellent and widely undiscovered album has been a permanent feature on my player over the last couple of years. Since hearing the title track on the Sean P guest mix over at sixmillionsteps, I was well and truly hooked by the haunting and addictive vibey echoes prominent in both the intro and outro as well as the laidback but genuinely retrospective lyrics and tone that seemed to eminate so naturally from Ike.
‘Changin’ times‘ which was released on L.A International, was the one and only album he released. Considering that it was written at Tehachapi State Prison where Ike was an inmate at the time, the level of sincerity is clear. It was actually Stevie Wonder who wrote the sleeve notes:
“There are many Ike Whites’ in this world, let’s give these men a fair chance making not the colour of his skin final fate for being behind bars“
The album is probably best known for the more famous ‘Love and Affection‘ which has made the tracklistings of many a rare groove compilation, a real dancefloor burner that will hopefully rock the basement of the gramaphone club in the not too distant future 😉
Anyway, if you see this LP anywhere, do buy and cherish it, it’s definitely one of those albums for life.
This is some private press, beyond-rare funkiness.
Any fan of the Bay Area funk sound of acts like Sly Stone, Tower Of Power, early Pointer Sisters, Graham Central Station, the Headhunters, Betty Davis, etc. will want to investigate this. This was recorded while Ike was an inmate at Tehachapi State Prison, believe it or not, and how anyone managed to get such a clean, full sound in that setting is beyond me. I mean, was there a fully stocked, pro-grade recording studio in this prison or what? Production was done by War’s Jerry Goldstein and former Sly & The Family Stone drummer Greg Errico, and that’s about all the liner notes give the listener, other than a quoted endorsement of Ike White by Stevie Wonder (…?). There are no musician credits, which leads me to wonder what Ike was playing, ‘cause these songs are amazing…I know he’s on vocals, and I’m guessing he might be on guitar as well.
Some of the songs have such a unified coherence that they almost suggest Ike may have been a self-contained writer/performer-of-all-instruments in the mode of Shuggie Otis or Junie, but alas, such theories are mere conjecture, and aside from trying to track down Ike himself, I don’t exactly know how one might find answers to these questions. This is all a sidebar, however, to the exceptional grooves found here, from the spaced-out synth/guitar jams “Antoinette” and “I Remember George” to the breakbeat favorite “Love And Affection”, which features Ike rappin’ about his sexual frustration stemming from his prison stay, with plenty of criminal-justice-system puns for good measure.
I’ve never heard anything like this record…it has its influences, sure, but it is truly in its own head-space…behind bars but freer than the clear blue sky itself.