Milton Wright – 1975 – Friends & Buddies

One of the most unique albums to ever come out of the Miami soul scene of the 70s – a sublime set of work that we’d easily rank right up there with the best material of the time from Donny Hathaway or Stevie WonderMilton Wright has a really jazzy groove to his music – and he mixes his own acoustic guitar lines with warm keyboards and unusual rhythms that often have a bit of synth or moog – never too much, and almost more of a Mizell-like touch, but a bit more understated overall!

The cuts are wonderfully written – quite righteous, almost with a Terry Callier sort of sensitivity – and Milton‘s vocals more than have the chops to live up to the heady batch of artists we’re comparing him to in these notes. The sound is amazing throughout – one of those soul records that feels like nothing else you’ve ever heard, but which you can’t live without once you’ve heard it! 

Tracks
A1 Friends and Buddies 3:25
A2 Brothers & Sisters 4:15
A3 Get No Lovin’ Tonight 4:05
A4 Po’ Man 6:47
B1 Keep It Up 4:15
B2 My Ol’ Lady 3:10
B3 Black Man 4:10
B4 The Silence That You Keep 3:22

Milton Wright recorded two fascinating synth-dusted funk albums for Henry Stone and Steve Alaimo’s Alston imprint in the mid-’70s. Neither record could be reckoned a commercial success, but both 1975’s Friends and Buddies and 1977’s Spaced were unusual, highly personal affairs notable for their lush arrangements, futuristic aesthetics, and inventive use of synthesizers. Friends and Buddies boasted a minor hit with the slinky, synth-drenched dance floor workout “Keep It Up”. The remainder of the album is equally accomplished. Listeners fond of Marvin Gaye’s experiments with synthetic textures on 1978’s acrimonious masterpiece Here My Dear will find much to appreciate here.

Though the rank and file of Alston’s ace session musicians—including Latimore, Timmy Thomas, and Milton’s more famous sister Betty Wright—all make appearances on Friends and Buddies, the album remains thoroughly idiosyncratic. It’s a few degrees more eccentric than the streamlined disco funk that Alston was becoming famous for during this period.

If you’re feelin Friends And Buddies, make sure to also cop Spaced. It’s Wright’s 1977 ultra-rare LP that was reissued by Jazzman Records. It’s an amazing album and almost impossible to find as an original because Alston Records dumped the album at the time since KC & The Sunshine Band (also recording for Alston) were getting so popular.

To make things even more tragic, almost all the unsold copies of Spaced were destroyed in a fire.