Producer/songwriter/arranger/keyboardist Randy Muller was the leader of '70s disco/funk/pop band Brass Construction, whose "Movin'," which was produced by Jeff Lane, became a number one R&B single in 1976. Muller also produced hits on Salsoul Records acts Skyy and Cameron. He arranged B.T. Express' million-selling 1975 number one R&B/number four pop hit "Express" and Shirley Caesar's gospel classic "No Charge." Though they are most known for the driving "Movin'," the band could get melodic and mellow (ex. "The Message (Inspiration)"). Brass Construction, Earth, Wind & Fire, and other '70s-era funk/soul/pop bands were the inspiration for the acid jazz genre of the '90s.
Guyana-born Muller began writing songs at age seven. In 1963, his family sent him to live with his grandmother in Brooklyn, NY. While a student at George Gershwin Junior High School, he became friends with bassist Wade Williamson and drummer Larry Payton. Adding sax player Jesse Ward, guitarist Joseph Arthur Wong, trumpet players Morris Price and Wayne Price, saxman Mickey Grudge, and percussionist Sandy Billups, they became the Dynamic Souls.
The band met producer Jeff Lane after winning a battle of the bands contest. Lane's Dock Records released a single on the band now called Brass Construction, "Two Timin' Woman." They also released a mid-'70s single as Wood Block and Steel that later became popular with house music fans in the '80s.
After the band became Brass Construction, they got a deal with United Artists Records. Their first LP, Brass Construction, was produced by Lane and issued in February 1976. One driving track called "Movin'," which was initially created from an impromptu jam session, began to become popular in disco clubs and started gaining airplay on R&B and disco-oriented radio stations. Released as a single, "Movin'" b/w "Talkin'" hit number one R&B in spring 1976. Brass Construction went platinum, peaking at number ten pop in spring 1976. The LP introduced the Irving Spice string section that was a key ingredient in the band's sound.
The band's next album, Brass Construction II, issued December 1976, was their best album. The first single, "Ha Cha Cha (Funktion)," went number to number R&B in early 1977. The singles were huge disco hits. Just about every track on ...II got radio and club play. Brass Construction II went gold, making it to number 26 Pop in late 1976. "What's on Your Mind (Expression)" has been sampled by numerous hip-hop and rap acts.
When United Artists Records was absorbed into EMI, the band's next three singles carried the Liberty Records logo: "How Do You Do (What You Do to Me)," "Can You See The Light," "Attitude," "Walkin' the Line" b/w "Forever Love," "Never Had a Girl" b/w "Breakdown," and "Partyline" b/w "I Do Love You." Though "Give and Take" was Brass Construction's last charting single (at number 76 R&B in summer 1985), the non-charting "Zig Zag" b/w Instrumental or "Conquest" became a post-release collectible.
The band's other albums were Brass Construction III (November 1977), ...IV (November 1978), 5 (December 1979), Six (September 1980), Attitudes (April 1982), Conversations (May 1983), Renegades (July 1984), and Conquest (September 1995). Muller knew Skyy leader Solomon Roberts Jr. because they were from the same Brooklyn neighborhood. Together they formed Alligator Bit Him Productions and co-produced the band's hits: "Call Me" (number one R&B for two weeks), "Let's Celebrate" (number 16 R&B), and "Movin' Violation" (number 26 R&B), among others.
Muller met singer Raphael Cameron when both were participants in the vibrant Big Apple music scene of the '70s. A few years later, he shopped the young singer to Salsoul. Cameron was the name of his gold Salsoul 1980 debut LP that yielded several hits: the squishy, funky "Magic of You (Like the Way)," "Funkdown," and "Feelin'." Cameron continued having hits, including "Funtown U.S.A." and "Boogie's Gonna Get Ya'" from the album Cameron's in Love and "Desires" and "Shake It Down" from Cameron All the Way. "Let's Get It Off" was a disco hit from Cameron; it sports the most Brass Construction influence and can be found on the flip side of "Magic of You (Like the Way)" and its own 12" single with a short version on one side and an extended, slightly faster Larry Levan remix on the other.
In 1983, Salsoul became dormant when the Cayre Brothers decided to concentrate on their newly created First Choice Home Video division. Muller produced the 1987 EMI LP Boy's Night Out from vocal group First Circle, whose "Workin' Up a Sweat" charted at number 49 R&B in spring 1987. For Virgin dance imprint Cardiac, he produced a 1992 album on singer Robin Springer, Makin' Moves, which yielded the dance hits "Forever & Ever" and "Makin' Moves."
Muller-related releases are the 1993 CD The Best of Brass Construction: Movin' & Changin', the 1997 Capitol CD Get Up to Get Down: Brass Construction's Funky Feeling, and the two Collectables CDs: 1998's Live, which gives you an idea of how tight BC was in concert, and 1991's Brass Construction Golden Classics, which sports the cover of their first LP. There are numerous Salsoul issued and licensed reissues of the music he produced on Cameron and Skyy. ~ Ed Hogan
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