Manchild – 1977 – Power And Love

A self-contained septet that included Kenneth Edmonds, before he was crowned with the nickname Babyface, and his close friend and collaborator Daryl Simmons. The group’s sound touched on several formats. The uptempo numbers, like “Red Hot Daddy,” “Power and Love,” and “Funky Situation,” are heavily rock-oriented. The latter has a jazzy improvisational sax solo, and is the only number that features Babyface on lead vocals. The socially conscious “We Need We” falls more in line with R&B with its appealing arrangement. The group comes full circle with its R&B sound on “Especially for You.” The serene composition features an undeviating guitar solo, and was Manchild’s only single to crack the Billboard R&B charts; it peaked at 70 inside of eight weeks, and features the lead vocals of Chuckie Bush. One other notable is the ’70s classic “Takin’ It to the Streets,” originally recorded by the Doobie Brothers a year earlier. Flash Ferrell gives an ardent delivery supported by cohesive background vocals and a spirited sax solo by Reggie Griffin.

Tracks
A1 Red Hot Daddy 3:25
A2 (I Want To Feel Your) Power And Love 3:46
A3 Especially For You 6:06
A4 Takin’ It To The Streets 4:04
B1 You Get What You Give 2:31
B2 We Need We 4:06
B3 These Are The Things That Are Special To Me 3:37
B4 Funky Situation 5:46

This is a solid funk record in the vein of mid-70s Kool and The Gang or EWF, with a couple of well-crafted slow-jam ballads, one of which has a strong Commodores flavor to it. What the material lacks in originality, it makes up for in execution. These guys are tight and the record stays entertaining throughout. If they can make me actually enjoy the song “Takin’ It To The Streets”, then they’ve got something good going on. The socially-conscious lyrics sound more convincing when not coming from Michael McDonald’s beardy-face full of yacht sea-foam, too.  I know it is still tempting to skip right over it after those first few measures, but trust me that there’s a funky breakdown at the end that makes it worth hanging around at least once.

From the looks of it, I believe they got their name because these guys were all teenagers when they started. This Midwestern group featured a young Kenny Edmonds, later known as Babyface. Well he really earns his nickname here (see photo below). After two records with these guys, he would go on to be a member of The Deele in the 80s, and then obviously on to super-stardom in the 90s on his own, when he continued to collaborate with Daryl Simmons from this group. Babyface only sings on one tune here, the closer “Funky Situation”, which also happens to be the most complex funk-fusion jam on the album.  Most of the lead vocals are handled by one Chuckie Bush. The smokey, Moog-enchancing slow-burner “Especially For You” was a minor hit for these guys.  They probably would have had more success if the record had come out a few years earlier, as this sounds a lot more like a hard funk album from 1974 than 1977 in a lot of ways. It was reissued once on CD but for some reason the song “We Need We” was dropped from it. This is odd not only because it is one of the best tunes here, but also because its omission from this short album brings its running time down to slightly under 30 minutes.  It was written by multi-instrumentalist Reggie Griffiths, who also has a crapton of album credits with all kinds of artists, as well as being responsible for a monster electro jam called “Mirda Rock” in 1982.