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  Maze featuring Frankie Beverly





Click below for a Maze sample:

Color Blind (as Raw Soul)

Running Away  




With their tasteful musicianship and soulful lyrics, Maze set the template for the modern soul band that was subsequently followed by the likes of Mint Condition and Tony Toni Tone. Owners of seven gold albums and innumerable hits on the soul charts, Maze stands as one of most distinctive and popular bands of the 70s and 80s, despite a noticeable lack of crossover success.  The group is led by its founder and vocalist, Frankie Beverly, who also writes and produces their material.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Beverly was previously a member of several groups in the 1950s and 60s, including the Butlers, whose records are highly valued by Northern Soul enthusiasts.  After toiling in obscurity with these acts, Beverly formed the band Raw Soul with Joe Provost (drums), Robin Duhe (bass), Sam Porter (keys), Wayne Thomas (guitar), and percussionists  Roame Lowry and McKinley Williams in 1970.  They released several records, including the underground funk classic "Color Blind," but these too failed to chart. Frustrated with their lack of success and feeling that their music was not compatible with the Philly sound that was typified by the productions of Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff, Raw Soul relocated to California in 1971.

While playing the local circuit in San Francisco, Raw Soul got the break it had been searching for.  Marvin Gaye was introduced to the band after a concert and immediately took an interest in Beverly's talents. With Gaye's help (which included changing their name to Maze), the group was signed to Capitol in 1976, with their first album released the next year.  The self-titled disc yielded the hits "While I'm Alone," "Lady of Magic," and the perennial favorite "Happy Feelins," and was certified gold.

1978 saw the release of Golden Time of Day, another gold record.  At this time, the first of many personnel changes occurred, with Ahaguna Sun coming in on drums; eventually Sun was replaced by Billy Johnson, Ron Smith became the guitarist, and Phillip Woo, veteran of Roy Ayers' band, joined as keyboardist. Nonetheless, behind Beverly's leadership, Maze continued to build a devoted following and racked up more hits in 1979-80 with "Feel That You're Feelin'," "Southern Girl," and their anthem, "Joy and Pain." 

In 1981, Maze's legendary live act was documented on Live In New Orleans, which is their biggest seller.  A second concert album, this time from Los Angeles, was issued in 1986. Other classics of this period are "Love Is the Key," "Too Many Games," and their first number one single, "Back In Stride." 

Despite all the gold albums, Maze remained strictly a soul phenomenon while their contemporaries the Commodores were promoted to pop radio, a fact that Beverly complained about several times.  The group eventually signed with Warner Brothers in 1989 and scored with another chart-topper in "Can't Get Over You" as well as Beverly's tribute to Marvin Gaye, "Silky Soul." Beverly also got into a legal dispute with rapper Rob Base over his use of the chorus of "Joy and Pain" on his record of the same name. 

1993's Back To Basics was their last album and featured "The Morning After" and "Laid Back Girl."  Despite the extended absence from the studio, Maze continues to perform around the world to their rabid fan base. 

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly's Deepest Grooves

Maze (Capitol, 1977)

Golden Time of Day (Capitol, 1978) G Track Picks Workin' Together, Golden Time of Day

Inspiration (Capitol, 1979)

Joy and Pain (Capitol, 1980)

Live in New Orleans (Capitol, 1981)  
Perhaps the most essential album in the Maze catalog, New Orleans stands alongside James Brown's Live at the Apollo as one of the most popular live albums in soul music. One listen reveals the depth of love flowing between the band and its audience, particularly on "Joy and Pain." Includes a side of studio recordings including the hits "Running Away" and "Before I Let Go," which was the foundation of the Funky Four Plus One's "Do You Wanna Rock."  

We Are One (Capitol, 1983) 

Can't Stop the Love (Capitol, 1985) 

Live in Los Angeles (Capitol, 1986)

Silky Soul (Warner Bros.,1989)
Even with the switch to a new label, Maze couldn't crack the pop charts, as the popularity of the title cut was ignored by crossover radio.

The Greatest Hits of Maze...Lifelines, Vol. 1 (Capitol, 1989)
Presumably released to counter Maze's success with Silky Soul, this is a basic package that is best suggested to the beginner, as true fans will opt for Anthology, which is only a couple of dollars more. 

Back to Basics (Warner Bros., 1993)  

Anthology (Capitol, 1996)
While all their albums are satisfying listening experiences, this collection does a more than adequate job of covering the highlights of Maze's illustrious career.

Greatest Slow Jams (Right Stuff, 1999)
While the naysayer might say all of Maze's songs are slow jams, this is a well-packaged grouping of their most endearing ballads. 

Copyright 2007  All rights reserved.

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