Sunday, April 14, 2013

INCOGNITO the History

The albums that followed Tribes cemented Incognito's stature as a global phenomenon. 1993's 'Positivity' was among their best, crammed full of slick productions and universal hits like Still A Friend Of Mine and Givin' It Up. Positivity sold almost a million worldwide. Bluey remembers. It really struck a chord with America. People identified with the songs and that album sealed it. '100 Degrees & Rising' super-sealed it. For that one, I brought in Joy Malcolm and Pam Anderson for some edge and we recorded at Abbey Road with a full string section, using Clare Fischers incredible string arrangements for Rufus as inspiration. I wanted to stretch my ability as a writer and producer and remember keeping a diary that inspired the lyrics it was all about relating experiences as I felt them, not just about finding a catchy hook. Everything we did was accompanied by incredible remixes. I Hear Your Name, and Everyday had versions done by the best in the business like Roger Sanchez and Masters At Work. Stevie Wonder added harmonica to a re-work of Change. It was such an important part of our success.
On-stage too, Incognito have retained a massive fanbase from their unmissable live shows. For Bluey, it is a chance to get close to his audience. It's not about playing the tune just to get applause. It's about communicating, making sure people get it. Its knowing that everyone shares a strong feeling of wanting to be together and experiences a little utopia, something thats not there in our daily lives. If I had to pick out some gigs, Id say Sofia in Bulgaria, feeling the power of a crowd that are hungry for music. Montreux in 2005 too. We followed Craig David and the hall was packed. It showed me how far we have come.
Post-Talkin Loud, the Incognito release schedule has been as busy as ever with a string of quality releases on UK label Dome and Blueys own label set-up, Rice. The most recent album projects have, by critical acclaim, been some of Incognitos strongest. With 'Adventures In Black Sunshine', it was our 25th Anniversary and I used Incognito tunes as the blueprint. It was about what influence I could have on myself and how the band could deliver that. Other recent projects have included the Hope Collective single Give & Let Live on Expansion, in aid of the Asian Tsunami victims and the people of Darfur in the Sudan, featuring an all-star cast including Chaka Khan, Steve Winwood and Omar. We always see bands like U2 getting political but it seems to happen rarely in soul music.
With our new album, 'Eleven', I'm recording with my touring band for the first time. I have been inspired by our live shows in 2005 its a very different band and the whole attitude has shifted. We have all discovered each others lives on the road. As a writer, thats bullets in my gun! For the future, I'm looking at acts outside of my comfort zone. I want to go into studio with Masters At Work, Morales and Sanchez ten years down the line from their last remixes for us. I want to go to Brazil and make a record with Brazilian musicians and capture the real soul of their playing.
25 years on, the Bluey and Incognito story remains a one-off and a uniquely Great British adventure. From Top Ten hits to producing and arranging for Chaka Khan, Philip Bailey and George Benson, Bluey Maunick can take his place among the greats of global soul. It's a wonderful time for music. We are teachers, healers. I certainly see myself as much more of a healer than an entertainer.

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