The 1970s proved to be a fertile time for Midwestern funk bands, as long struggling R&B and soul musicians traded in their Motown fixations and harmonies for something new, exciting, and groove oriented. Lakeside is a typical story of the era; the group came together in 1968 in Dayton, Ohio, after frustrated members of numerous local bands decided to start a project that blended vocal harmonies with the sensibility of rock bands. After a few hardscrabble years Lakeside would sign a deal with ABC, who released their self-titled debut album in 1976. Unfortunately, ABC faced a financial crisis, leaving their debut album unsupported and the group once again without a label.
Lakeside soon bounced back, signing to Solar Records, and in 1978 released their second album, Shot Of Love, the first album offered in this two disc set. The first single issued from the album, “It’s All The Way Live,” would be warmly received and would help propel Shot Of Love onto the charts. In an era where disco and R&B cohabitated, the music of Lakeside felt quite refreshing, as the group borrowed from both genres, but never dwelled long enough in either style to become too derivative. If anything, the record showed a band that could easily switch between funk groove (“Shot Of Love, “One Minute After Midnight,” “It’s All The Way Live”) and sensuous R&B (“Given Into Love,” “Visions In My Mind”), both styles adeptly handled without sounding incongruous. Rough Riders, their third album, appeared months later in 1979, and built upon the fantastic sound that preceded it. If anything, the album sounds quite prophetic, as the funky synth-driven groove practically predicts what R&B would become in the next decade. It’s hard not to hear the future direction of music in such songs as “From 9:00 Until,” “Pull My Strings,” and the title track.
Success came to Lakeside with their 1980 album, Fantastic Voyage. The title track was the album’s first single, and became a pop hit, thanks to its catchy rhythm and sing-along melody, a delightful and positive anthem for the forthcoming decade. The song would be their most successful single, would become a standard on R&B radio for decades to come, and would have a second life in 1994 when pop rapper Coolio would reconstitute it for a hit single with the same name. Iit wasn’t the album’s only hit, though, as the perky “Your Love Is On The One” and smooth and seductive “Say Yes” would also make chart appearances.
Fantastic Voyage marked the beginning of a very busy era for Lakeside, as the band saw continued chart success for the next decade, and they continue recording and releasing music to this day. Robinsongs will be reissuing the next three albums in their discography this month, and both sets offer you some of the best R&B and funk you’ll ever hear.