Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Love Is the Key" by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

Song#:  1478
Date:  06/04/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Soul, R&B

Pop Bits:  This California soul outfit, founded by lead singer Frankie Beverly, began as Raw Soul in the early 70s. The band recorded some singles at the time, but nothing panned out. Meanwhile, their reputation as a live act grew and eventually caught the attention of superstar Marvin Gaye. He took the band on the road with him and also suggested they make a name change to Maze. The newly christened group signed with Capitol Records and issued their debut album in 1977. It was a gold-level success and they were on their way. Although they continually scored gold albums and Top 10 R&B singles, they were never very successful at crossing over to the Pop chart. Their biggest success would be 1979's "Feel That You're Feelin'," which would reach #67. Their fifth studio album, "We Are One," would be their best charting Pop album hitting #25 (#5 R&B) thanks in part to this single that spent a few weeks on the Pop chart. It would be their fifth R&B Top 10 and their biggest hit to-date getting to #5.

ReduxReview:  The party noises seem to be a nod to Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" (#1, 1977), but it's not nearly as classic or fun as that single. However, it is another quality entry from the band who, although highly successful, never got the crossover recognition that other R&B bands of the time did (i.e., The Gap Band, The Commodores, etc.). They may have been a little bit too soul-heavy for pop and that didn't necessarily fit well with the pop/new wave of the time. I read somewhere that they were once called "the best kept secret in R&B" and I can believe that. They stealthily grabbed hits and gold albums for more than a decade without really reaching superstar status (outside of the R&B market).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Between 1977 and 1993, Maze released eight studio album. All made it into the R&B Top 10 with two of them hitting #1. All of the albums reached gold level. Since they did not record any further studio album past 1993, that means all of their studio output sold at gold level. They also had a live album and a compilation hit gold as well.


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