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2005 Record Producer Of The Year

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Charles "Rich" Cason

If you don't recognize his face or even his name I guarantee you've heard the man's work! Let's find out: Have you heard Johnnie Taylor's "Good Love" or "Soul Heaven"? "I Wanna Do Ya" by Marvin Sease? "Rock That Man In The Boat" by Chuck Strong? "Two Lumps Of Sugar" by Carl Sims? "Clean House" by Vick Allen? I could go on. Charles "Rich" Cason wrote and produced all of them in addition to either writing or producing records by Z.Z. Hill, Shirley Brown, Latimore, Stan Mosley, Denise LaSalle & many more good 'uns. So the bottom line is... Cason has been as hot as Beyonce dipped in a volcano the last decade.

In 2005 he was the man behind this year's Best Southern Soul Song "Baby I've Changed" by Floyd Taylor and turned the knobs on projects by Billy Ray Charles & Vick Allen. It was enough for voters to name him BEST RECORD PRODUCER in Blues Critic's Southern Soul Awards.

Cason's writing credits began in the 70ís with legends, The Temptations, The Dramatics, The 5th Dimensions, Jermaine Jackson, Sam & Dave, Leon Haywood, Freda Payne, Al Wilson and Formula Five but his career actually stretches back some 4 1/2 decades to when he was 15 and played organ with Dyke & The Blazer's. That's Rich's organ on their hit "Funky Broadway" (before Wilson Pickett grabbed a hold of it). Blues Critic took the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with Mr. Cason following his being crowned as the year's best record producer.
 
The Interview

BC = Blues Critic

CRC = Charles "Rich" Cason

BC: Some say "Funky Broadway" was the first song to use "Funky" in the title. How'd you guys hit upon that?

CRC: We started out doing Jazz and what is called Be-Bop at local clubs but when we'd play some funky stuff like "Funky Broadway" they'd go crazy for it. I'm happy that Dyke & The Blazers got inducted into the Hall Of Fame in Arizona.

(editor's note: Singer Dyke Christian was shot to death in 1971 as the group was still going strong)

BC: From there you were involved with an outfit called Formula 5?

CRC: I wrote and performed with Formula Five starting in 1977 and in the 80s I started a label with Jimmy Lewis called Write On. We were longtime best friends and we called it Write On 'cuz we were both writers.

(In 1983 Cason wrote and produced the monster club hit "Killer Groove" for Leon Kittrel & Formula 5 released on Write On. Cason has been called the "Godfather of West Coast Electro")

BC: I understand you are actually one of the pioneers of West Coast rap music or "electronic hip hop" as it's called?

CRC: They called it "street music" before it became "Hip Hop". In the 80s we began producing 12 inches. I produced Galactic Orchestra, Year 2001 Boogie, Space Connection, Bootie Whip and many more.

BC: How did you get involved with Malaco Records?

CRC: 1984 I did this song called "I Get Off On You" for the Rose Brothers and it really took off. I think it sold 40,000 in one week. Malaco ended up releasing it.

(Editor's note: Rose Brother Gregg Rose recorded a new version in 2002 with Jimmy Lewis on Lewis' Miss Butch label)

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BC: You were then writing for Malaco but when did you start producing records for them?

CRC: I think I really got their attention with "Still Crazy", which I wrote for Johnnie Taylor. I didn't produce it yet but it paved the way and they wanted me to start producing him.

BC: I read somewhere that he (Johnnie) didn't want to do "Good Love" when it was presented!

CRC: (laughs) He had heard another song of mine he liked ("Sending You A Kiss") but he was afraid to do "Good Love". It was too different than what he'd been doing. He wasn't giving me no love at first and he's the premier artist. He actually said to me, "I don't like that song that's for Prince".

BC: How did you convince him?

CRC: He's from the Sam Cooke era so I started doing some Sam Cooke runs with it and that caught his interest. Johnnie hated every hit he had at first. Same thing with "Disco Lady" so he decided he'll just sing it afterall. When we recorded it he said, and I quote: "Rich we got a m-f- here!". Tommy Couch (Malaco president) believed in it and it just took off.

BC: I imagine Johnnie had a different outlook from that point on.

CRC: (laughs) Yeah but he was scared to hurt his credibility at first. Tyrone (Davis) really scared him when he told Johnnie "You just threw your career out the window with that". Later I was going to do something with Tyrone I really wish I had.

BC: Your style is R & B/Southern Soul with a Hip Hop flavoring, wouldn't you say?

CRC: Yeah, see, that way you get prime radio stations on the list as well as the secondary and I'm really happy about that.

("Good Love" was a Top 20 smash on Billboard's mainstream R & B chart in 1996)

BC: Were you surprised how much Floyd (Taylor) sounded like JT when you first heard him?

CRC: I was. When he sings traditional JT he REALLY sounds like him and good too! i'm really proud of the work Floyd and I did together too just like I was with JT.

BC: What are you working on now?

CRC: Right now, the next Chuck Strong project and Zuri. She sang on Johnnie Taylor's "Soul Heaven" and is the second voice on "Baby I've Changed". I'm sending you her CD for review.

BC: If you produced it I'm looking forward to it.

A message from Charles "Rich" Cason:

"I'm very humbled and appreciative to receive your Producer of the Year award and have my song "Baby I've changed" as well as Floyd acknowledged and winning in their categories. I'm moved that people gave us that much love. Southern Rap is # 1 and I believe that as long as we have organizations like Blues Critic and yourself ,Southern Soul will become a major force in mainstream music...."


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(C) 2018. All written material found on this website is the property of Blues Critic and may only be used with permission and full accreditation (either "Blues Critic" or "Dylann DeAnna of Blues Critic") and link to this website.