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Graham Central Station

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Click below for a Graham Central Station sample:




One of many Bay Area funk bands, Graham Central Station picked up the mantle from Sly and the Family Stone as the region's most successful r&b act.  The group was initially known as Hot Chocolate and consisted of Willie Sparks (drums), Robert Sam (keyboards), David Vega (guitar), Hershell Kennedy (keyboards), and Patrice Banks (percussion).  After establishing themselves on the local circuit, they were approached by former Family Stone bassist Larry Graham to serve as their producer.   However, after one performance with the group, Graham inserted himself into the lineup and thus Graham Central Station was born. 

With Graham's established reputation as leverage, GCS signed with Warner Brothers in 1973, where they remained for the duration of their career.  Their initial offering, Graham Central Station, contained the hit single "Can You Handle It," a pleasant if unspectacular tune that was overshadowed by the more aggressive album tracks "Hair" and "We Be's Getting Down."

"Your Love" from Release Yourself topped the charts, but their signature song was 1975's "The Jam," home to one of Graham's most awesome bass lines.  The song essentially updated the formula established by Sly's "Dance To The Music" as each member introduced themself before playing a solo.   A similar level of  intensity was achieved a few years later on the little-known "Earthquake," a song buried on Now Do You Wanna Dance.   

Throughout their career they showed their versatility by expanding their range to include gospel-funk hybrids and the occasional ballad as Graham increasingly viewed the band as his personal platform.  Graham took top billing during the latter part of the 1970s and relegated the band to support status.  By the time Star Walk was released, Graham Central Station as a unit had dissolved and Graham was free to indulge his ballad sensibilities starting with "One In A Million You," a major hit in 1980.  He managed a brief run of solo success before settling into session work.  He received an unexpected revival courtesy of Prince, who signed him to his NPG label for a reformed Graham Central Station 2000.  

Graham Central Station's Deepest Grooves

Graham Central Station (Warner Brothers, 1973)

Release Yourself (Warner Brothers, 1974)

Ain't No Bout A Doubt It (Warner Brothers, 1975)

Mirror (Warner Brothers, 1976)

Now Do U Wanta Dance (Warner Brothers, 1977)

My Radio Sure Sounds Good to Me (Warner Brothers, 1978)

Star Walk (Warner Brothers, 1979)

GCS 2000 (NPG, 1998)

The Jam (Rhino, 2001)
Double disc anthology gives proper tribute to a funk legend.   Includes a number of Graham's solo material, but I guess you have to take the bad with the good.

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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