James Carmichael sang lead vocals on Instant Funk's 1979 million-selling single "I Got My Mind Made Up." Carmichael -- not to be confused with James Anthony Carmichael, the arranger/producer best known for hits by the Commodores and the group's former lead singer Lionel Richie -- also sang lead on the group's other favorites: "No Stoppin' That Rockin'," "Everybody," "What Can I Do for You," and "It's Cool."
Instant Funk released a single on the PIR's TSOP imprint, "Float Like a Butterfly," and an album, Get Down on the Philly Jump," issued in November 1976, whose title track and "It Aint Reggae (But It Sho Is Funky)" were popular in disco clubs. In early 1978, Sigler amicably parted ways with Philadelphia International Records, bringing along Instant Funk.
Around mid-1977, the trio began looking for a lead singer for the band. After auditioning quite a number of singers, Sigler brought them James Carmichael, who was the type of singer that they were looking for. In between tours backing Sigler, the Manhattans, and others, Earl and the Miller brothers recorded several tracks with Carmichael at Sigma Sound and Alpha International. MFSB guitarist Norman Harris had decided to leave PIR to start his own label, Goldmind Records. He secured a distribution deal with New York-based Salsoul Records. Sigler, seeking more success as a recording artist, signed with Harris' label and backed by Instant Funk scored his first Top Ten R&B single with "Let Me Party With You (Party, Party, Party)" -- co-written by the Miller Brothers, Earl, and Sigler, it went to number eight R&B in January 1978. The album, Let Me Party With You, was issued January 1978, peaked at number 18 R&B in early 1978. One track that prominently featured Carmichael, "Your Love Is So Good," was a huge disco hit.
Sigler also got a deal with Goldmind for Instant Funk, by now a ten-piece band with horns. By this time, the TNJs had disbanded. Sigler decided to augment the band. Before any product could be released by the band, Goldmind folded and all of its acts were transferred to Salsoul. Instant Funk's first Salsoul release was the 1978 single "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)." A year after its release date, the record was remixed by Garage club DJ Larry Levan, and that's when "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)" went on to be Instant Funk's million-selling breakthrough hit parking at number one R&B for three weeks in March 1979. The single sold an astounding 400,000 copies in the New York area alone, leading Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein to proclaim May 22, 1979, as "Instant Funk Day." The track was co-written by Earl, Kim, and Scott Miller with input from Sigler. The inspiration for the song primarily was the music of Donald Byrd's protégés the Blackbyrds ("Rock Creek Park"), another popular funk band of the '70s.
An album, Instant Funk, issued January 1979, went gold and hit number one R&B, number 12 pop in spring 1979. Other Instant Funk albums on Salsoul were: Witch Doctor (1979), originally released as a DJ-only double record set; The Funk Is On (1980); Looks So Fine (spring 1982); Instant Funk V (1983); and Kinky (September 1983).
Carmichael did background vocals on Sigler's Salsoul albums I've Always Wanted to Sing...Not Just Write Songs (March 1979) and Let It Snow (summer 1980), which included "How Can I Tell Her (That It's Over)," "Girl You're Drivin' Me Crazy," and "Let It Snow," rediscovered in the '90s as a steppers track. Carmichael left the group in 1982. He recorded a single on an independent label produced by fellow former Instant Funk bandmate Larry Davis in the mid-'80s.
"I Got My Mind Made Up" can also be found in the movie and on the soundtrack for the Disney/Miramax movie 54. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi
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