This is....

Colonel Abrams

Colonel Abrams

Colonel Abrams
May 25, 1949 - November 24, 2016


In memory of The Voice of House...
Colonel Abrams passed away in November 24, 2016, at the age of 67.
The former House music star was suffering from diabetes and had ended up homeless living in the streets of New York.
I had the pleasure to interview the man and legend already way back in the previous millennium, and you can read the interview below...
Prior to the interview I mentioned to him that I had bought this bootleg 12" single in NYC which only said "Runnin'" on it and I needed to know if it really was Colonel, he confirmed that it was "You Got Me Running". And at that time he didn't even have a recording of it himself, so I actually sent him a DAT tape with the track.
So, it's a sad loss as Colonel was really one of the top male voices of the House music scene,
but even if he's not around - let's keep his memory alive through his fantastic music.
In memory and R.I.P.
COLONEL ABRAMS !



Colonel Abrams

THE Voice of HOUSE.


Colonel Abrams took his first dance steps at the age of 3, that soon led him into singing and by the age of 10 he was performing with a group of his at an amateur contest at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem - New York.
He later played was in the same band as this other famous guy we used to know as Prince.
But it was as a solo artist everything started with the ballad "Leave the message behind the door" and that led the way for many other hits like;
"Music is the answer", "Trapped" and "I'm not gonna let".
Here's my interview Colonel Abrams...

Colonel Abrams was born in Detroit, Michigan... Colonel Abrams is actually his real name, actually the 4'th. He got his name after his father for 4 generations now.
I don't know what year and date his born, 'cause he just laughed and said it was a couple of years ago... He really wanted to just keep it with that.

Colonel's interest for music started in a very early age and he soon knew that working with music was something he really wanted to do. Colonel tells me; "I was dancing before I started singing. I was dancing when I was very very young, like 3-4 years old. Trying to tap dance and pick up little steps from my relatives and stuff, listening to the music. So, from dancing I wanted to go into singing and when I was able to learn how to sing and write songs, then I immediately just jumped on it. I always sang in school too."
Discoguy: So, when did you start singing?
"I started singing actually phuu... when I was around 10 years old and I was listening to a lot of the Motown stuff."
Apollo Theatre Another thing from about the same age... I've heard you were in an Apollo Theatre amateur contest at the age of around 10.
"You're right again... Hehehe... Yes I did. I had my own little group, a singing group, it was one of the first singing groups I had. It was myself, 2 guys and a girl. We were kind of like the Glady's Knight & the Pips, with that kind of look even though we was young. I took the group to the Apollo and we tried out for amateur night and we made it. And that particular night they asked us what song we were going to do and I told them we had an original song called "Hey lovers" and that we were going to do that song I had written. It was my own song, 'cause I was writing original songs then. We performed the song and we came in second place. We came in second place with our original song and that was fascinating for us since it was the first time you know!"
Did that also encourage you to get into the music business?
"Yes it did, but I had already made up my mind way before..." Hahaha! [both laughing] "But that was a kick, when that happened I just said to myself "Well, you know, that's like giving me a touch of what it's gonna be like to get into the business". Giging on stage for the first time."
Starting out that early... Do you come from a musical family or have you got any other musicians in the family?
"Yeah, I have some... I have my brother, who co-writes with me, Morris Freeman. He co-writes with me, he's one of my younger brothers and he plays bass and guitar. And then I have a brother that plays drums and then I've got some uncles and aunts who are into choirs, into do vocals in choirs and sing. So I've got a basically pretty good musical family. I also have a cousin named Tyrone Summers, he was on a compilation - seven shades, that came out on MCA. It came out like in the early 80's when I was on MCA and Tyrone Summers is my cousin he was on that particular album."

I know your brother Morris was playing with you in a group called Conservative Manor in the late 60's...
"Where did you get that information from? Hahaha...
I picked it up somewhere.
"Yeah, that's absolutely correct, he was playing the bass. You got all the update information on me I see..."
At least I try...
"You're trying really good. Hahaha..."
Thanks! So, When did you start WORKING with music - professionally?
"Well, semi-professionally I started doing showcasing in New York. I started showcasing in different clubs with the band we had - Conservative Manor. We used to play clubs around in New York and we actually opened up Benlie's in New York. When Benlie's first opened up in New York. I don't know if you have heard of Belie's, but it's a famous club in New York City and it has been around for a long time and we actually opened the club up, before the club became hip hop and rap and stuff like that. It started out as being a place that had people like Phyllis Hyman and a lots of celebrities used to hang there too. And we knew, I knew actually, the DJ who was working on the original KTU in New York. He was the one who started being the host there and I met him and I told him I had a group and he gave me a shot."

Colonel Abrams singing

After Conservative Manor, during the mid 70's, I know you played in a band called 94 East with no less than - Prince or the Artist formerly known as Prince.
"Yeah, the group 94 East was on Polydor Records and the way I got the audition to audition for the group that Prince was part of, was when I met Henry A Cosby who worked with Motown. He wrote "My Cherie Amour" with Stevie Wonder... I went to the record company with my demo tape and I played it to him, and it was with a group that I had, another group out of New Jersey, and he liked my voice but he wasn't really too interested in signing a group so he said - "You know, this is perfect timing 'cause I'm looking for a lead singer to go with this group I've got called 94 East." They got some really good musicians and he said that Prince was the most outstanding one, but not a singer. That's specifically what he told me, so he said; "I'm looking for a lead vocalist 'cause they're signed to the label and I wanna know if you would be interested? 'Cause I'm really not interested in a group." So I said; "OK!". He said; "Well you have to come down tomorrow, I have the lyrics to the song. 'Cause the song is already recorded - they've done the music, I just need you to do a lead and practice and see if you get the part."
I came down the next day and they showed me the song and then I practiced, 15 minutes I had to practice... Hehe... and then I learned a little bit of it and then he heard me and he said; "You're perfect! You got the job!" So, they made me a part of the group and I met Prince and Peppy Wolley who was the backbone of the whole group. He was the leader of the group and I met him and everybody was pleased to have me in the group. The next thing I knew, there was a confliction - I don't know what did happen - a confliction came up with the management and the label and a lot of other politics... and they dropped the group before the record came out and I just got in to do it."

Have you still got any contact with Prince? Or maybe you never got a chance to get to know him?
"Never really... Well, I've met him and talked to him, but never really got a chance to know him. And recently, since he has made it big now, I haven't spoken to him..."
He's quite shy I've heard.
"Well he was very shy then when I met him, back when he was with 94 East. But not as shy now... Hahaha. Shy then, but not any more."
Since he seems to have many names [Roger Nelson, Prince, the Symbol...] - what did you guys call him back then?
"We called him Prince, 'cause he had not got famous and changed his name to where it is now - to you know, just "the Symbol". But we called him Prince. That's basically the extent of it, but he was shy, very shy. T-shirt and jeans, you know, that style he dressed. Very plain, afro, but nothing like now. Hehehe... He's a different guy now, he's talented though. He's very talented, very - extremely!"

Colonel, You later joined a band called Surprise Package...
"That was a group... You've got that information also!!! Hahaha..."
When was that and what kind of music did you play?
"It was basically R'n'B kind of music, you know, it had like a R'n'B feel but with a Pop appeal. But very nice R'N'B was it. It was two girls, myself and a guy and the most interesting thing about that is that that was the group who recorded "Leave the message behind the door". [Colonel's first single under his own name] When you hear the track of the background music of "Music is the answer" and "Leave the message behind the door" - that's actually Surprise Package."
Oh, I see! So when was it you was in that group?
"That was back in the seventies and what did happen was that I took the single, same thing happened similar to the Prince situation with 94 East but this was after the Prince situation of course, I took the single to Streetwise with Surprise Package and me. Me and Morris, my brother, we wrote the song "Leave the message behind the door" and I told the group "You know, I'm gonna see if I can take this around and see if I can get this group a deal myself." Because we had somebody shopping, but nothing happened. So I physically took it around and I went to Streetwise and they sure heard it. Streetwise had Loleatta Holloway, New Edition, they had a lot of dance music over there at that time and they wasn't interested in any ballads - not at all. Hehe... But I didn't know, I was just shopping for a deal.
Colonel Abrams So I went over there with the single and then I played it and nobody was interested. Except for one guy, a spanish guy... Patchie Ramos, who was one of the main guys working with New Edition during the years. He was a real nice guy. He was the guy I had to see, 'cause nobody wanted to get me an appointment before they even heard it. So Patchie said; "Come next week." and then I came the next week. He said "Come two weeks from today" and I came again and he said "Come next month" and it kept going on and on and on. So finally he made up his mind and he said "Come after the New Years in January and I will definitely listen to your track 'cause we are very busy in here".
I came after the new years sure enough he gave me time and day and sat down and listened to it. He said; "That's a good track. I like this track." He said; "We're not doing this kind of music but I like you voice and it's a good track. Let me play it to the rest of the staff to see what they say, the other bigshots." He played it to them and they heard it and I call him back and I said "What do they think?". He said; "They don't really think that much of it, they don't really like it. They said they're not interested in ballads and you know - That's that! But you know, I like it! I'm gonna play it myself while I'm here and see what happens - just keep playing it and see what happens." So, he kept playing it in the office like every day and they fell in love with it. Hehehe... 'Cause he kept playing it every day.
So to end this story... They didn't know that I was doing house music at the same time. 'Cause I had just left Surprise Package and I was working with Boyd Jarvis and Timmy Regisford. So I had the track, you know, the bootleg track you told me you bought in New York - "You got me running". I had just recorded that and then we did "Release the tension". So when Streetwise found out, that it was this guy doing some kind of house music kind of vibe as in the track you bought, one guy heard the track in a club and said "Oh I got to have that, what's that?". Just like you did... "It's Colonel Abrams!" Then he came back to the company and said there is this guy named Colonel Abrams... And the spanish guy said; "You know who that is? That's the same guy that did this ballad." The other guys said "No it can't be..." "Yes, it's the same guy". Then Man, he wanted to sign me up and that's how I got the deal."

Colonel Abrams - Logo So, that was when you got contracted to Streetwise then!
"Yeah, right! That was when I got the contract with Streetwise and... they released "Leave the message behind the door" and it was the first 12" ballad single on a independent label to ever hit R'n'B top 100 chart."
Colonel continues; "And they had a nice review in the R'n'B Magazine, it had my picture and everything and it was really nice. And after that they [Streetwise] know I was known for that new sound - House music. So I told them; "The best thing for us to do is to come out with a track in that kind of vain. Come out with a House kind of thing." And they said; "Yeah, well we got this track but we wanna know if you can put some vocals to it and then we can do it." That's when I came out with "Music is the answer" and that was it! Everybody was waiting for me to come with some uptempo anyway. Those tracks you know of, "You got me running" and "Release the tension", was never recorded on... Well, the one you got ["You got me running"], was recorded on MCA in another version. But "Release the tension" was never recorded by me on vinyl - never. 'Til this day - everybody wants it. Hahahaha. You know, You always have to keep greater card in you pocket. Hehehe..."

Yeah, OK. You mentioned Timmy Regisford before, that fits with what I heard somewhere - that your solo career started with you singing the vocals to a DJ's instrumental tracks!? Is that correct?
"Yeah, that's what it was when we first started... That track that you bought, I keep referring back to the track "You got me running", that track - that was a DJ who was part of putting that together and the other guy, Boyd Jarvis was the guy who was behind the group Visual and Timmy Regisford was the DJ. During that time he was wellknown. At least back here in the states."
Yeah, I know of him.
"Yeah, you know, so... That's why probably they telling you that I first started out singing on tracks with DJ's. Because Timmy Regisford was the DJ. The other guy wasn't, but Timmy was."

Colonel Abrams - Music is the answer 12-inch Well - OK! When talking about DJ's... I know "Music is the answer" was one of the late Larry Levan's favorite tunes.
"Oh yeah!"
And it really got lots of play at the Paradise Garage...
"At one time it was the national anthem there."
Yeah, I've heard Larry played it for one whole hour sometime...
"Oh yeah, He did... Hehehe... And I loved it! Hehehe..."
Did you ever perform there or did you know Larry or have you got any comments on him or the Paradise Garage?
"I knew Larry. Larry was... he was a very talented young man. He was very talented and had a good ear for music. He was also a very smart guy, you know what I'm saying, when it comes to music. He knew how to work a crowd, because in the Paradise Garage you had to know how to work a crowd 'cause there were all different kinds of people. You know, there was black, white, latinos - you name it, everybody you know! And that what made him so special. Larry knew how to take a record and work a floor. You know, he could take a bad record and make a bad record sound like a good record, 'cause he would know how to mix it with other records. Larry was just that kind of person like that was HIS house. Larry owned that house!
But to the DJ's nowadays he was totally different, Larry wasn't like lots of these - no disrespect to the DJ's now, but back then - Larry was a DJ who you could really get into his music, you knew what you were listening to. You know, he was into what was going on, he didn't get up there play just only his music, you know what I'm saying - that would make it boring. You know, he played different music from different artists. If Larry would mix something he didn't just play a mix or something that he did on somebody, he would play me and everybody else. That's what I liked about Larry. Larry was real! What you saw, was what you got. And the night went on and on and on with his music because you didn't want to leave once you got there. He held your attention.
But nowadays you don't know what you hear and you don't know what the DJ is playing. You don't know when he plays - he's playing most of his stuff and then you don't know why. But not all... Then there's lots of DJ's that has no name, are not known, that are really good but they're not getting work, they're not getting attention..."

Yeah, you really got to have a name before you get a chance to play...
"Right - you got to have a name... Some of them sound just as good, back then when Larry was around and if Larry was alive today, Larry would take some of these guy that don't have a name - you know, that are really good and give them a chance at the Garage."

Paradise Garage logo Did you ever perform at the Paradise Garage?
"Many times. Many, many, many, MANY times! When Larry Levan broke "Music is the answer" and made it big, and blew it up at the Paradise Garage, which made it big on radio too - because Frankie Crocket and a lot of other people from radio was going there. They wanted to know what was the hottest thing in the Paradise Garage and the radio would plug it. That's how it worked back then, not like now. Now it's the reverse. But, when Larry broke the record there, he had me to perform at his party. 'Cause me and Larry was born around the same time... to the month, and he had his party and he had me come down to perform at his party - and it was awesome! It was wall to wall with people and I could barely get in there.
They had no, what do you call it, like a host... To bring you on, there was none there. Once the music started and the DJ introduced you from the booth, you were on your own. Hehe... So I had to go on the stage with these black curtains on the Paradise Garage stage and once the curtains opened I was on my own and in between each song I had to talk and everything. I had to do hosting. When you performed there you had to talk as a host and perform at the same time. But I was kind of smart, because what I did - I sat down with my brother Morris and I said "You know something Morris, what we got to do is; We should break the barrier in there, we should do some different - have you as my MC to bring me on. Like James Brown do." He said "Yeah, it's a good idea!". I said; "Do you think you can handle it?" and he said; "Yeah, I can handle it!". I said; "You know, it's a whole lot of children out there so you have to behave yourself". Hahahaha... We started it and every time after that when I was performing at the Garage - Morris would bring me on as the MC and after that everybody kept looking, that's kind of nice you know... You got your brother as MC and bring you on and that took some weight off of me too."

Colonel has lots of fond memories from the Paradise Garage and he explained to me why he thought Larry and the owners kept booking him over and over again; "'Cause when you performed there you couldn't just do one night... There was Fridays and Saturdays. You couldn't just be an artist to do, say Fridays, but you can't do Saturdays. Well, you can do Saturdays but you can't work the Friday crowd. You had to be able to do the Friday crowd AND the Saturday crowd. Friday crowd was a straight crowd, Saturday crowd was a gay crowd. You had to be able to do them both and I was... I was able to work both crowds, that's why they kept booking me there."
We were just leaving the Paradise Garage subject when Colonel remembered one more thing he wanted to share.
"One last thing with the Paradise Garage... I was very fortunate and felt very privileged 'cause at the same time I was on MCA Records, after I got there, they finally told me Thelma Houston was on MCA Records and she came out with the song "You used to hold me so tight". I think that was the title of the song, it was a big record - especially in the Paradise Garage. And they wanted somebody to introduce her on stage at her record release party and they choose me and I got to introduce Thelma Houston on stage at the Paradise Garage."

So... When talking about MCA Records. How and when did you get signed to MCA? And why did you leave Streetwise?
"Ahh... Well first, why did I leave Streetwise! I... I had to leave Streetwise because Streetwise closed their doors unexpectedly. No one know - we didn't know they were closing. Well, I actually just came there one day and then we found out they were closing. I mean, nobody knew... Loleatta Holloway, New Edition - nobody knew. After they closed their doors then I had to find out where was I gonna go next, so I was very fortunate however to connect with MCA Records. And... Get a record deal with them, because "Music is the answer" they already knew about."
Yeah, I sure understand that...
"Hahaha, so it was very easy, I mean - for me to shop around."
Colonel Abrams - album

On MCA Colonel released many hits, such as "Trapped", "Over & over", "the Truth" and "I'm not gonna let" - followed by songs like "Speculation", "How soon we forget", "Soon you'll be gone", "So confused" and "Nameless".
In the 90's he joined Scotti Brothers and recorded an album called About Romance, including the two single cuts - "You don't know" and "Never be another one".

Which was your first song put on record? And what label?
"The first song was "Leave the message behind the door" and that was Streetwise. That was the first record I ever recorded."
OK - This was also your first record under your own name obviously! Have you worked on any other records before that?
"No! There was rumors, but they were not true. A lot of people thought, there was rumors that people thought I had sung on "the Music had me" by Visual. And I never did, I never sang with the group Visual. I guess that it was the same guy who produced Visual, that I ended up working with on that record that you got - "You got me runnin'".
Have you got a copy of every record you've been involved in?
"Well, You know the answer to that... Hehehehehehehe! I don't have a copy of that one you bought. Hahaha!"
No, but all the others?
"Well, most of the records I've been involved with. Well, Yes! Most of the records, yeah I do have copies of. I was only thinking in terms of records that I found out were bootlegs - I don't have a copy of those. Which is impossible. But records that I've done - Yes! I've got like the record I did with Larry Blackman, when I was managed by Larry Blackman from Cameo. I don't know if you have heard that record. I did one record with Betty Wright on Larry's independent label and I've got a copy of that. Then when I did a album for Scotti Bros. and I've got a copy of that album."

How many songs/records approximately have you been involved in?
"Ahh... So many... So many I can't even..."
Are we talking Hundreds or???
"Ehh... Close to, close to hundred. 'Cause you know, I've done so many that I can't and I don't remember until I hear them. And there are probably just as many bootlegs records out there on me as there's records that I've done. Hahaha! Like I'm telling you hundreds and it's probably hundreds of bootlegs, you know what I'm saying. 'Cause I mean, it's sad... I can do a song like "Trapped". Somebody has taken three words from "Trapped" and made a record out of it. Like if somebody took another two words and then somebody took one word, you know what I'm saying. So out of one song... I mean there are so many many many records that have me on them. There are a lot of female artists who used to be prime people for bootlegging. They used to be the ones they used to bootleg all the time."
Yes, all the Disco divas - Loleatta Holloway, Jocelyn Brown and others...
"Yeah, you know the ones I'm talking about - the Disco divas - right! But now it's turning into me now. When they look around for male vocals they don't really sample nobody basically but me. They're sampling Byron Stingley off and on, very little from Ten City but they're sampling me more, that's male vocals, more than anybody. Because the name I guess - is all they want."

Colonel Abrams

Now we have been talking about bootlegging and sampling, but what do you think of sampling? Because everybody seems to be sampling these days... I can't tell exactly which of your songs I have heard sampled...
"Well, My whole vocal period, has been sampled. You know, they take my acapella of my voice and sample it... Like there was this big record came out, it was a bootleg on me, "Do you know what I mean". I don't know if you have heard the record but it was big in the UK. It came out like about 4 years ago and it was out of Amsterdam, Holland and Strictly Rhythm picked it up. They didn't know it was a bootleg and when Strictly Rhythm picked it up it was #1 in L.A. at that time, on one of the hottest stations in Los Angeles. And I found out about it, somebody had told me about it in a record store and played it to me there. He said; "Isn't this you?" and I said "Yeah, That's me!". He said; "It's out of Amsterdam, Holland and it's a group name called Fresh Fruit."
I called Strictly Rhythm and told them it was me and they said "Oh, we didn't know. We were getting ready to put this out on our label. So, we wanna give you credit still and put your name down on the record." So they put down featuring Colonel Abrams."

That's great, but what do you really think about sampling?
"I don't like it at all! No, I don't like it. I don't like it because it's disrespectful and it's not giving props and credits, royalties and payment deserving to the artist. Because a lot of artists, you know, that has a big name - big name artists being sampled for dance music and they don't get paid for it."
Yes, that's sad. I actually thought there were better routines for that these days.
"No it isn't... Like you bought that record, like you bought "You got me running". I don't get paid for that. You know what I'm saying. Hehehe... I don't get a nickel for that. That's disrespectful! You know what I mean."
Yeah, I totally agree with that.
"And then they put them on these labels - white labels, so you don't know who it is. You don't know how to investigate and find out who it is and that's why it is on a while label. You know, so it's sad because there are a lot of artists who have big names who came out when I came out and who came out before I came out. And they're back to 9 to 5 works, they have no money. Some of them are practically starving and people are sampling them all over the place. That is so bad, so I mean that part... That's the reason I say I don't like it at all. It would be a different story if they sampled people and then they made sure they paid these people. Then it's a different story. But when they just sample... Some of those samples turn out to be big records you know. Sometimes a sample record can turn out to be HUGE record. So, I mean... Like you said you heard "You got me running" and you said you was wondering if that was me. And somebody told you it was me. But how you gonna know if it's just a white label?!"
Yeah, you really can't!
"Then, I have had DJ's who have called me and said "You know, I have heard this record and it sounds like you and it's a white label." And then they play it and say "Is that you?" and I say "Yeah, that's me". They say; "Then I'm not going to touch it. I'm not going to play it." You see - That's loyalty! Because they know that that's illegal, that's not right. I would be the same way, I couldn't see myself not giving credit to people and they are part of something you've done. I just can't see it you know! That's why I'm like that. I like to stay in control of what I do. 'Cause if you don't stay in control of what you're doing - you pass it on to somebody - you do a track for them and the next thing you know they turn around and bootlegging you all over the place. And they probably don't know - what do they know - they don't know! They're not to blame you know. They're not to blame... Like yourself - or somebody else coming in and buying the record that you bought - I can't blame them because they don't know. And then when you tell them the story they just get shocked. They can't believe it. Hahaha. 'Cause they say because it's in a record store - how can it be illegal if it's in a record store? You know, but we're living in a real cold world..."
Yeah, we sure do...
"Hehehe..."

Discoguy: Now to one, probably, more pleasant subject - You are considered one of the true original/classic House artists. How does this make you feel?
Colonel Abrams "GREAT! That makes me feel real good because I deserve it, and I don't want to pet myself on the back, but I was the first original vocalist to start house music. Then Chicago and all the other guys came - like; Michael Proctor, Michael Walfrid, Jay Williams - all those guys and they came way after me... I was the first one."
Also by your song "Music is the answer" one can guess that music is your life?!
"Yes! Music is my life. Has always been..."
Have you ever done something else?
"Oh - you mean, what happened after that [Music is the answer]?"
No, I mean - Have you ever been a plumber or something else?
"Oh, you mean other works. I have done so many other jobs. I used to work 9 to 5 - working in banks, you know, doing all kind of different jobs. I worked in the garment district for the company ISAT. I worked there and I worked in many many different jobs before that, but nothing really interesting."



CLICK to hear some Colonel Abrams songs...

99 1/2

As Quiet As Its Kept

Bad Timing

Caught In The Middle

Don't Give Me A Love That I Can't Use

Get With You

Good Things

Heartbreaker

How Soon We Forget

I'm Caught Up

I'm Not Gonna Let

In The Groove

Just Live Mathematics

Leave The Message Behind The Door

Life Full Of Music

Love On A Cutting Edge

Music Is My Life

Music Is The Answer

Nameless

Never Be Another One

Never Changes

Only A Few

Over & Over

Over & Over (Club Mix)

People Of The Nightlife

Picture Me In Love With You

Release The Tension

Relive A Memory

So Confused

So Proud

Soon You'll Be Gone

Speculation

Sweet Love

Table For Two

Trapped

Trapped (TOTP Live)

The Truth

Turn Me Loose

Victim Of Loving You

When Somebody Loves Somebody

You Got Me Running

Could It Be
Paul Simpson feat. Colonel Abrams

Hurt My Feelings
Trouble Men feat. Colonel Abrams

Saturdaynite
LCB feat. Colonel Abrams

Say It Again
Jestofunk feat. Colonel Abrams

Who Do You Love
Mental Instrum feat. Colonel Abrams

Who Wrote The Rules Of Love
Omar S pres. Colonel Abrams

You're The One For Me
Central Hill feat. Colonel Abrams

You're The One For Me
Chapter 9 feat. Colonel Abrams

You're The One For Me
House of Correction feat. Colonel Abrams





When talking 'bout works - Which of your [musical] works (I don't mean songs) do you prefer? Produce, Write, Sing...
"I like all. A combination of all. I like to write, I like to sing, I like to produce - I like to do them all. Not just for myself, 'cause I've written all my big hits, but also for other artists. I have written for Jackie Silvers. I don't know if you've heard of Jackie Silvers. The record did pretty nicely over in the UK - "If by chance" was the name of the record, which was also in that compilation I told you about - "Seven shades" on MCA records. So I wrote for Jackie Silvers, I wrote a song just about three years ago for Rochelle Flemming of First Choice. Yeah, it was supposed to come out on Cutting Records, 'cause she was signed to Cutting and she recorded it and we worked in the studio on it and she did it, but they never released the record."
Oh, that's sad.
"Right now I've got my own label so I'm doing a lot of writing."
Do you have to have different skills in each of them [producer, writer, singer]?
"Do I think that... I have or should have?"
Both!
"Both... Hehehe... Yes, I think as a writer and a producer and a vocalist you should have versatility in your skills. You should be very creative in production and writing to write for anybody and I can. Because I know all areas of music. I know the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties - I have the knowledge. And that gives me a wide broad spectrum of how to write. Because if I... If somebody would to come to me, if it was a country and western artist and said; "We need a c'n'w song, can you write this for Dolly Parton or something like that" I could do it. 'Cause I know all those faces of music. So, and everybody don't have that skill. And if I had to sing a song and they wanted me to sing Pop, Rock, R'n'B, Jazz - I could do it. Because I have been through all the faces and I have learned. Then it's good to me and it's important to know all different faces, you know. It's important to know the song writers like Al Davis and Burt Beckwick who work for Dionne Warwick. It's important to know the Motown sound, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokie Robinson writing. And it's important to know the songs, the lyrics, the way they're put together with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. You have to really know all of that."
Yeah, I really think so too.
"And you really did - 'cause if you just know one spectrum, like if I was just a dance artist, you wouldn't have appreciate me. Because then when you hear the dance that's all you hear it, but lots of the dance songs that I do, when you hear them you say - "Hmm, that reminds me of something that the Temptations would have did, or that person would have did". There's very few people like that Claes [Discoguy], and that's today."
Yes, but I really appreciate that.
"Yeah, absolutely and I do too, you know. That's why... I hear a lot of people say "Oh yeah, you know, there's a lot of guys who sound like you and they do this... And what do you think of them?" I say; "They're fine - They're OK. But they have to grow, you just can't keep doing the same thing over and over and over" That's not gonna work."
No, it really doesn't. You see those guys disappear in no time.
Colonel Abrams "Hehehe... That's true! As you look around, they're not around any more. And if they're on a gimmick kind of a thing, that's just one type of singing the music. When their music dies they don't know what to do, they look around, but they don't really know what to do. You know what I'm saying. So it's important to be open... I'm getting ready to go over to Amsterdam. I'm going to be performing and working on some projects over there. So I got have my ears and eyes open. When I come to you, you know, hopefully in the future, I have to be like "over there". You know what I'm saying?! I have to adapt to what's happening over there. I can't bring New York over there and push New York on what is happening over there because that's not what it's about."
Exactly!
"Everything that works over in New York may not work over there. So you have to be open you know. So that's why I don't think I could ever be a DJ. Hehehe. 'Cause to be a DJ you know, they're trying to lock you in with one thing and that's not going to happen."
Colonel loves to play for his fans and he is frequently flying over to Europe to perform.

Out of your songs, which one are your personal favorite song?
"You know, I like them all. I really really do. I like all my songs, from before I got into the business 'til now."
No one special?
"Ehh, not really! I can't really say one special because each one has it's own specialty - so I can't really say which one in particular."
Can you mention some song or songs by another singer you would have loved to sing yourself?
"Hmm, I was approached so many times when I was with MCA Records to do remakes and stuff like that. And I'm not too into remakes, 'cause I'm one that with my philosophy I wanna believe when a artist captures a song and it becomes their trademark and specialty - Forget about it! Hehehe - I really believe that. And with the songs that I like or the songs that have become classics, so it's those particular songs I'm talking about. But I have done a remake of Jocelyn Brown's [Inner Life's] Patrick Adams' classic "I'm caught up (in a one night love affair)" and I changed the lyric basically. Not that I really wanted to do it, you know what I'm saying, but I was approached by the guy at the record company [MicMac] and he said "I think it would be a good idea if you did it - being a male singer since Jocelyn is a female singer - and you can make it a male song.". "Yeah, I said" and then I attempted and it did make a lot of noise and I attempted one D-Train song, but even I have forgot which one that was. But that only turned into a bootleg situation and I don't want to go into that...
And one last thing with remakes is that the only song that captures my appeal the most is one of the Four Tops songs. And I'm not gonna say which one that is. Hahahaha! I just going to leave it with that, 'cause I'm a big Motown fan anyway. But one of the Four Tops songs that I really like and if I ever sat down and did an orchestration with the right people and did something the right way, you know what I'm saying - It has to be done the right way, then I would probably add that on to my repetoir."

How about Disco, Did you like Disco music during that era?
"Yeah, I liked Disco. Yes I did. I liked it because, you have to remember, the Disco music went right into the eighties music and I was right there of the eighties music. So it was just a take off, you know what I'm saying. It was just a take off for what's coming in. We got the Trammps, the Joneses, the O'Jays and all that Disco like Donna Summer that stomped right into the eighties. So, I liked Disco music - the only thing I think that probably killed it was being too commercialized. Once it gets too commercialized - that's it! It's the same with house music. House music has become so pop-ish and commercialized that it's gone. It's like worn out carbon copies."

When talking Disco and Funk - have you got any favorite Disco/Funk songs?
"There's so many I like... I like a lot of the Trammps stuff. I like all that Philadelphia stuff, you know - the Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff stuff. You know, the O'Jays and... a lot of the Donna Summer stuff was really good. So I like the variation of all the Disco stuff, but there's a difference between the Disco and Funk. It's not the same. Funk is more down tempo and the Funk of it - it's many many more. You had great artists like the Commodores when they first started out. You had War, you had... what's the name of that group... Chocolate... Hot Chocolate. You had, ah... Mandrill. You had a lot of Funky band/groups that were out there playing a lot of funk, stuff that was really hot, you know. Earth, Wind & Fire did some funky stuff too in the beginning. So there was a lot of funky groups that were out there and James Brown started it all. 'Cause when you talk about funk you have to talk about James Brown and you have to talk about Parliament. Hehehe... But it was totally different in Disco, Funk was not like Disco music at all, but a lot of them did really get into Disco music."

Colonel Abrams

What kind of music do you personally prefer?
"To my own leisure, well it's to my own leisure basically - when I'm at home listening to music I listening to a lot of Jazz music. I listen to Jazz music and basically house music. You know, when I'm in a "up mood" I listen to house music. So ballads I'm not that much into lately, because commercial radio has killed us with ballads. Hehehe... That's what I consider. So, I mean, I don't really care too much for ballads, I'm so turned off lately from listen to ballads. But I don't want to name any names, so you know, that's why I'm listen to jazz. When I listen to jazz I can hear like a lot of, even if it's jazz music where it's vocals, that mean sometimes it's smooth and you hear a lot of vocals that are similar to the ballads - but it's more appetizing. It's more appealing and it's not so commercialized.
So I do listen to jazz and I'm listening to house music. And when I'm listen to house music I turn on house music with vocals, I don't like listen to house music that's all tracks and it's going nowhere. That I don't listen to. But would say I'm very open-minded, you know."

I know you have contact with Taana Gardner...
"Yeah, yeah. She's a very nice young lady."
Have you got contact with any other old Disco/House acts?
"Yeah, I have spoken to some... I speak off and on to Jay Williams. Jay Williams is a real good brother, he's a really nice guy. 'Bout two years ago I touched bases off and on with Michael Walfrid. We did a track too, "the Brothers of the soul". It was myself and Michael Walfrid and Jay Williams, it came out on Strictly Rhythm. And that came out about 3 years ago. So, we were in the studio working out together. And Byron [Stingley], off and on I run into and talk to. And - Adeva. She's still around, you know, Adeva. She's a good people. I like Adeva. Adeva just got signed to a label and she's coming out with a remake. You know, a lot of them are still around. But they're not getting the respect, sad to say. They're not...
Because even over in the UK, you know, we used to get a lot of work over there and it was excitement and I still like the UK. That's why I still like travelling back and forth over there. But now it's nothing new, you know, and just to be like new to you guys - it was like "Oh Wow - It's a new thing!". Ever happy happy! But now it's no big deal. Hahaha... I've heard now when the artists come over here and I'm talking 'bout artists with names, when they come over here they rather hear a DJ than an artist. That's what we're dealing with. If they have a choice between a show with me, Jocelyn Brown, Evelyn King, Loleatta Holloway, Jay Williams, Michael Walfrid maybe and Ten City. They would pick a DJ... Hehehe... Then the DJ would get on the turntables playing our records..."

Yeah, that's really weird.
"I don't get it. Is that happening at you as well?"
Unfortunately - Yes!

What's you best memory during your years in the business?
Colonel Abrams "That is probably the gold record in the UK with "Trapped"! That's one of my biggest memories - Best memories! When I got it, when I was presented the gold record, 'cause "Trapped" sold over a million copies in the UK. That was good feeling and that was a special moment. That and Top of the Pops. I did Top of the Pops 4 times. You know, it's not easy to get on Top of the Pops and all these little dance artists, you know who we are talking about, they don't even know what's going on at Top of the Pops... Hahahaha... Just to be able to dance on top of the pops, back in the eighties, you had to wait a whole year just to get on there to dance. You had to get on a waiting list. So you can imagine if they had to pick these dance artists, some of today's dance artists, no way! You couldn't get on there, you know what I'm saying, you had to be a big pop artist you couldn't just be a little house/dance artist, no way! But that was a special moment and the Paradise Garage. The days at the Paradise Garage and Club Zanzibar, you know, those were special moments.
Here recently there hasn't been too many special moments, the only special moment I did have originally was filling in for Roger Troutman on Kiss FM. I filled in for Roger Troutman on Kiss just weeks before he died and I was able to DJ on Kiss from nine to twelve midnight Saturday night and play music. That was special moment for me. But that's the only special moment recently."

You told me when we set up this interview about your own label you're running now. When did you start it and what is the name of the label?
"I started the label like two and a half years ago and the label is called Colonel Records - "Where the music legacy continues!" - Which is a good slogan to me because I wanted to use that slogan to make a statement that you've heard house music in the early eighties when we first started it and now we're going to continue on into the new millennium."
So is it still House music? Or what kind of music will you release?
"Oh yeah, Well - It's House, but basically it's going to turn into just not House music that I'm going to put out on the label, but also a flavor of Jazz music. A little flavor of Acid-Jazz also... There'll be other - maybe R'n'B kind of music. I wanna get into a new version of maybe Motown kind of appeal, you know, which I think I can do with the structure of the backing vocals and, you know, get a the Supremes kind of feel.
So, I'm heading in that direction, so it's going to be a whole variety of things now. I've got three records I'm finishing up and the acts are; the Divalettes feat. Gwen Michaels, she's out of New Jersey and the track is called... "Don't you ever feel my love". The other record I'm coming out with is Tyrone Summers, my cousin, and the track is called "Only sunlight" and the group is called the House of Heat feat. Tyrone Summers. And the third record is a group called Tangerine and the song is called "Exposed" which is a really good record - Female vocal and it's called "Expose" and it's a real... you know... one of those Diva records talking 'bout a guy who has been exposed by not doing the right thing. She caught him and now he is exposed. It's a real underground kind of record - it's a good record. Oh - one other last thing... There's a guy who is a guitarist that I'm going to feature and bring out and he's going to be my first House guitarist."

Oh - a House guitarist, that's something new.
"Yeah, He's going to do House music and also he's going to do Jazz music for my label. His name is Glengrove Gibson."
What records have you released so far on your label?
"I did "Mama's children" which was my first track with featuring Lee Truthdale - that was the first track that came out on Colonel Records. This track was called "Let us all be friends" and that made some pretty good noise over in the States and a little of noise in the UK also. The second record was "Heartbreaker" that I came out with, which made a little bit of noise over here in some parts of the States. And the third and upcoming records is Gwen Michaels "Don't you ever feel my love"."

OK - Finally, because I'm running out of tape soon. Hahahaha [both laughing]. Is there anything else you can come to think of that you wanna tell me about? Some special thing, some fun happenings or something like that?
"Well, one special thing... Or one of the last things that's upcoming that I want to let my fans all over know, is that I'm getting ready to do a "Best of Colonel Abrams". With all my biggest hits I've done in the past and we're re-recording them and I'm working on them right now. It's coming out on Colonel Records. You know, all the hits people know me from the MCA days and Streetwise days.
I also wanna let them know too, that I wanna say thanks to all the support they have been giving me throughout all the years and I send my love out to them and I hope to see them soon and thank them for their support and we will continue to make good music in the year 2000!"

There was a Best of Colonel Abrams released by Universal Records in the first half of 2000, BUT this is not the compilation Colonel himself has been working on. So, look out for his own "Best of..." release.
The "Best of..." CD will be out during 2001, 'till it's released you can enjoy Colonel's single "Love on a cutting edge" - out in early 2001 on Nardi Records. Great House as always when Colonel have been working in the studio.

He is very nice guy - Colonel Abrams. We had a great time talking and I guess we could have talked for many more hours, we already did speak for over one full hour for this interview.
Now he's back on the scene again with his own label - Colonel Records. So there's no doubt we'll hear more from him in the future. Still "Music is the answer" for this guy who IS -

the Voice of HOUSE !




© Discoguy (discoguy@disco-disco.com) 1999-2016.
All rights reserved.
No part of these pages may be reproduced or published without the prior written permission of the author.



Colonel Abrams

BIG THANKS
to Colonel for participating and making this page possible !!!

COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS or QUESTIONS ?
Feel free to...

Mail ME !

Follow Disco-Disco.com on:

Follow disco-disco.com on Twitter Become a friend of disco-disco.com on Facebook Become a friend of disco-disco.com on MySpace