Monday, December 9, 2013

Rufus - Stompin' at the Savoy

On August 10th of this year, Stompin’ at the Savoy celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. This double-album from Rufus, their final release as a group, went to number 64 in the UK, number 50 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 4 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

The first three sides are live, recorded at the Savoy Theatre in New York City in February of 1982; these feature a reunion with Chaka Khan who had left the band to pursue a solo career. The fourth side is all new studio material.

Side one opens the show with “You Got the Love”, followed by “Once You Get Started”, “Dance wit’ Me” and then “Sweet Thing”.

Side two has “Tell Me Something Good”, “You’re Welcome, Stop on By” (with a sax solo by Ernie Watts), “Pack’d My Bags”, “I’m a Woman (I’m a Backbone)” and “At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)”.

Side three includes “Ain’t That Peculiar”, “Stay”, “What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me” (from Khan's 1981 solo album of the same title) and finally the encore number “Do You Love What You Feel”.

I am going to pause here in my listening to throw up some comments. The live performances on these first three sides sound amazing. Khan is on the mark vocally, and the rest of the band is very tight. Even though the show was video taped for a documentary, the label (Warner Brothers) never ended up releasing it (to date).

Side four starts off with “Ain’t Nobody”. Released as a single, it went to number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 8 in the UK, number 6 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard R&B chart. It won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group in 1984, which was a very nice way for the band to go out on top of their game. I like how this ode to the perfect lover starts with a single keyboard riff before the rest of the band joins in.

“One Million Kisses”, the final single, stalled at number 102 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 86 in the UK, number 67 on the US Billboard Dance chart and number 37 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

The mid-tempo “Try a Little Understanding” is next. Again, we are treated to Watts’ smooth saxophone.

“Don’t Go to Strangers”, the closing track, is a soft piano ballad that works as a bittersweet goodbye.

Stompin’ at the Savoy is available for download at both and on iTunes for under $10, which is cheaper than the original vinyl sold for back in 1983! If you dig around, you can likely find a copy on CD too for a pretty fair price. I am definitely planning to download this one in the future as it gives a good career review of the group (via the live show) and their final studio releases too.

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