Funk R&B fans may not remember Marlon McClain’s name until they hear Pleasure.
Pleasure is the legendary funk R & B group that put McClain on the map.
McClain is coming to the Dakota for two shows Nov. 30, where he’ll share the stage with Jeff Lorber and Minnesota born-talents Shaun LaBelle and Stokley Williams.
“As a 15-year-old kid in Golden Valley I grew up jamming in the basement to records by Lorber and Pleasure,” said LaBelle. “Not many years later when they came to perform here I forged production relationships and friendships that have lasted three decades.”
My friend Shaun provided me with McClain’s contact information for this Q&A via e-mail.
Q: What made Pleasure, with its cult following, so unique?
A: The band had a special blend of funk, R&B, jazz and rock that fans and music lovers gravitated to.
Q: How was the band’s name selected?
A: We were fans of the Ohio Players. One of their albums was called “Pleasure,” so we used it.
Q: One of the most famous bass lines in R&B drives “Glide.” What was the inspiration for that bass line?
A: It was a song and concept that Nathaniel Phillips brought to the band; he had a really unique way of incorporating chords, as well as popping the bass, that has stood the test of time. It is one of the songs that most all players learn to play since it is funky, yet challenging.
Q: In what other songs have you heard that bass line or somebody coming dangerously close to it?
A: Not sure, lots of great bassists, though (Larry Graham, Louis Johnson, Jaco Pastorius, Anthony Jackson, Willie Weeks, Bootsy Collins, Bernard Edwards, Robert Wilson, etc.)
Q: What is Lorber’s connection with Pleasure?
A: Nathaniel Phillips introduced me to Jeff in 1976 and I started working with him in 1978, co-producing the Jeff Lorber Fusion/Soft Space album on Inner City Records. Jeff lived in Vancouver and was a part of the Portland/Northwest scene. Since I was working on his albums I asked him to play additional keyboards on the Future Now album on Fantasy Records. Jeff was always a step ahead of everyone else when it came to synthesizers, new sounds and understanding how to apply them.
Q: How did you meet Shaun LaBelle?
A: Jeff introduced me to Shaun back in the day. I’ve always liked his personality and musicianship.
Q: You’ve worked with a lot of people, but who stands out?
A: I learned a lot from Wayne Henderson and Maurice White. Both of them taught me to be patient and listen in the studio to look for the feel.
Q: Who among those people would you not look forward to working with again?
A: Shaun LaBelle!! (Ha-ha, just kidding) I learn something new every time I go in the studio. … I feel blessed that I wake up every day and think about music in some shape or form.
Q: One harmless crazy encounter fan story, please?
A: Once a fan drove down from Vancouver, B.C., and came to my office in Portland to meet me. It was kinda surreal.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show” and “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.