Dexter Wansel – 1979 – Time Is Slipping Away

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When the producer/composer/keyboardist/vocalist recorded four albums for Philadelphia International in the late ’70s, he made certain that all of them were diverse and unpredictable.

True to form, Wansel keeps listeners guessing on 1979’s Time Is Slipping Away, which was the last of the four. The LP gets off to a Chic-influenced start with the lush, glossy disco number “I’ll Never Forget (My Favorite Disco),” but most of the other material isn’t disco. Time Is Slipping Away also contains everything from Parliament-minded P-funk (“Funk Attack“) to sophisticated quiet storm music (“The Sweetest Pain“) to instrumental jazz-funk (“One for the Road“).

Occasionally, this album is excellent  “The Sweetest Pain“, which features female vocalist Terry Wells, is a caressing gem that quickly became a favorite on quiet storm formats. But for the most part, Time Is Slipping Away is merely decent. Nonetheless, his Philadelphia International output was generally likable, and this LP is no exception.

Becoming a part of the staff creative collective, Wansel began arranging, playing keyboards, and writing songs for the label’s acts including The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle, Jean Carn and The Intruders, amongst others.

Tracks
A1 I’ll Never Forget (My Favourite Disco) 4:31
A2 The Sweetest Pain 5:42
A3 Funk Attack 3:58
A4 Time Is Slipping Away 3:14
B1 It’s Been Cool 5:00
B2 Let Me Rock You 4:32
B3 New Beginning 4:37
B4 One for the Road 4:39

 

Review by Derek Anderson

Mention the name Dexter Wansel, and many people think of the music herwrote, arranged and produced for artists on Philadelphia International Records. The artists that Dexter worked with during his time at Philadelphia International Records reads like a who’s who of Philly Soul. Teddy Pendergrass, The Jacksons, Lou Rawls, The O’Jays, The Jones Girls, Jean Carn and Archile Bell and The Drells all benefited from either Dexter’s songwriting, arranging or production skills. However, what people forget is that Dexter is also a hugely talented keyboard player, who released four groundbreaking albums for Philadelphia International Records between 1976 and 1979. His debut album was 1976s Life On Mars, which wasn’t just a truly innovative album, but one that inspired and influenced a new generation of producers. It reached number forty-four in the US R&B Charts. A year later, in 1977, came the release of What the World Is Coming To, which reached number 168 in the US Billboard 200 and number forty-five in the US R&B Charts. Next was Dexter’s most ambition and successful album Voyager, released in 1978. Voyager reached number 137 in the US Billboard 200 and number thirty-seven in the US R&B Charts. On Voyager, Dexter fused jazz-rock, soul and funk, resulting in a quite un-Philly sounding album. For his final album for Philadelphia International, 1979s Time Is Slipping Away, Dexter returned to the fold, with an album that had much more of a Philly Sound. 

For Time Is Slipping Away, Dexter made a number of changes. Instead of using the Planets who accompanied him on Voyager, Dexter decided to use M.F.S.B. Mk II, Philadelphia International’s house band. After the original M.F.S.B. left the label to become the Salsoul Orchestra, a second incarnation of M.F.S.B. became the label’s house band. It would be them that accompanied Dexter when he recorded it at Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios.

Dexter and his longtime songwriting partner Cynthia Biggs came up with three tracks, while Dexter wrote three tracks and one with Steve Green. The other track New Beginning was written by Herb Smith, M.F.S.B. guitarist who played guitar and sang the vocal on the track. Terry Wells who was still an up and coming singer, would sing lead vocal on The Sweetest Pain. Adding backing vocals were The Jones Girls, who were very much Dexter and Cynthia’s proteges. 

 M.F.S.B. Mk II were joined by the unmistakable sound of Don Renaldo’s strings and horns and The Sweethearts of Sigma, a.k.a Barbara Ingram, Evette Benton and Carla Benson on three tracks. Along with The Jones Girls and Terry Wells the eight tracks were recorded. Dexter produced Time Is Slipping Away and arranged two tracks, while Jack Faith arranged the other six.

Although Dexter Wansel’s Time Is Slipping Away didn’t match the success of his previous album Voyager, the music was much more like you’d expect from an album baring the Philadelphia International Records’ label. Gone was the rock-funk of Voyager to be replaced by an album that contained Philly Soul, disco, jazz, funk and a defiant diversion back into jazz-funk with One For The Road, which closes the album. The best tracks on the album either feature Terri Wells or The Jones Girls.

This includes the Chic-inspired I’ll Never Forget (My Favorite Disco), the Dexter and Cynthia Biggs’ penned The Sweetest Pain, which features an impassioned vocal from Terri Wells. Time Is Slipping Away which was also written by Dexter and Cynthia, sees Dexter deliver the lead vocal, and delivering his best vocal, one that’s melancholy and pensive. Then there’s Let Me Rock You, which features The Jones Girls and is blessed with one of Jack Faith’s best arrangements on the album. Herb Smith wrote, sang and played the guitar on New Beginning, demonstrating his talents as a songwriter, singer and guitarist. The only track on Time Is Slipping Away I don’t like is Funk Attack with its pseudo good-time sound, full of false bonhomie. Having said that, it’s not a bad song, just one I don’t like.

Overall, it is an album where many of Philadelphia International’s artists, musicians, arrangers and songwriters play their part in what’s a fitting farewell to Philadelphia International Records. After Time Is Slipping Away didn’t build on the relative success of Voyager, Dexter Wansel became disheartened, deciding that for the time being, he stick to writing, arranging and producing other artist’s music. After that, Dexter Wansel released just two albums, 1986s Captured and 2004s Digital Groove.

However, throughout his career, Dexter was an innovator, pushing the musical boundaries as alums like Life On Mars, Voyager and Time Is Slipping Away demonstrate. Standout Tracks: I’ll Never Forget (My Favorite Disco), The Sweetest Pain, Let Me Rock You and New Beginning.

 

Don’t miss his brilliant debut “Life on Mars here

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Conversation for album: Dexter Wansel – 1979 – Time Is Slipping Away

17 Comments
  • Christopher Soulos
    Posted at 12:23h, 25 June 2019 Reply

    Hi Nikos,

    Excellent artist, great body of work.

    Do you have the 1976 Yellow Sunshine album with Dexter on keys?

    I think they recorded just one self-titled album.

    Philadelphia International Records ‎– EICP-1378

    Regards and Yiasou

    CJS

  • Nikos
    Posted at 12:47h, 25 June 2019 Reply

    CHRISTOPHER, great idea. I will post it very soon. it is from 1973. EICP-1378 is the jap reissue.
    https://www.discogs.com/Yellow-Sunshine-Yellow-Sunshine/master/114826. Thanks.

  • Bobby
    Posted at 18:26h, 25 June 2019 Reply

    I love Dexter Wansel,thank you for this!Sweatest pain is one gorgeous song:)

  • Verde Blue
    Posted at 08:42h, 26 June 2019 Reply

    Simplemente Maravilloso!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Primus
    Posted at 11:50h, 27 June 2019 Reply

    Simple, laid-back, cool, easy-going = masterful 👏

  • Jack
    Posted at 12:13h, 27 June 2019 Reply

    This came out the year I was born..Excellent.

  • Anabella
    Posted at 00:06h, 28 June 2019 Reply

    Good times never seemed so good

  • LAB
    Posted at 00:04h, 29 June 2019 Reply

    muy bueno!!!

  • samuel
    Posted at 00:27h, 29 June 2019 Reply

    40 year old classic!!

  • Fabinho D
    Posted at 10:04h, 29 June 2019 Reply

    The old days never stop giving me great music

  • Marsha
    Posted at 10:11h, 29 June 2019 Reply

    One of those songs that you don’t want to end.

  • oliver
    Posted at 21:01h, 29 June 2019 Reply

    Oh man, I am so thankful for this upload..! I used to listen to my vinyl disc, but these days are long gone…! Thanks so much!

  • Solomon
    Posted at 11:16h, 30 June 2019 Reply

    I wonder if people realize how fortunate they are to listen to such quality music.

  • Thomas Medel
    Posted at 21:20h, 30 June 2019 Reply

    Damn, I miss the 70’s were so cool…

  • William
    Posted at 09:20h, 01 July 2019 Reply

    Unreplaceable music and artist

  • Manel C.
    Posted at 14:44h, 01 July 2019 Reply

    I’m aged 57 years old and I remember when at 14 years old I read the name “D. Wansel” for the first time in the credits of my copy of Billy Paul’s “Billy’s Back Home” (1975) and MFSB’s diverse tracks on “Philadelphia Freedom” LP from the same year. When I found the spanish PIR-CBS “Life On Mars” set by this genius, I purchased it immediately… waaahhh! this is the definitive definition of jazz – fusion… and when I found the Gamble Records Yellow Sunshine album in a second-hand store I was immediately impressed by “All along The Seashore”… this band musically advanced some things many years before. PIR was a great label, think in, for example, Wansel or Jean Claude T and “The Biccentenial Poet” 1977 album: here we can hear the SAME that years later made Freddie Hubbard & Mimaröglu or US3 tagged as “jazz-hip-hop-poetry”!

    A great salute from Tarragona, soul brothers & sisters!

  • Rafael
    Posted at 22:39h, 11 July 2019 Reply

    SIMPLESMENTE MARAVILHOSO!!!

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