Patrick Adams: the ‘underground disco’ super-producer whom DJs still adore

The cult favorite, who is being celebrated in his native New York this month, attained gritty disco music that had a lasting force on dance music

If you have listened to the radio at all in the last 40 years, probabilities are youve heard one of Patrick Adamss ballads. He has worked in almost every facet of service industries songwriting, developing, arranging, engineering, and having an indelible force on artists across genres. While Adamss name is spoken with respect within the music industry, hes barely known outside of it. A retrospective at the Red Bull Music Academy is hoping to change that. On 11 May, an all-star stripe will play The Music of Patrick Adams in a ballroom in New York, celebrating his employment and introduce a brand-new audience to the maestro behind the music that has soundtracked their lives, whether they knew it or not.

Adams got his start in music up in Harlem where he grew up four blocks from the Apollo, playing with a stripe called The Sparks. He then started managing the working group called Black Ivory that featured Leroy Burgess, helping to get them signed to the jazz and R& B label Perception Records, and then developing their first account, Dont Turn Around. It became a slam, he announces, frankly, and he parlayed that success into a task at Perception/ Today. That gave me access to recording studios and musicians and the like, Adams announces. For three years, I was in a studio almost every day inducing records.

Adams had a real knack for product and he started working with artists like JJ Barnes, Debbie Taylor, Astrud Gilberto, becoming known as the prince of R& B. By the time he left Perception in the early 70 s, Adams was in demand for his studio abilities. Between 1974 and 1977 I was one of the mainstays of the New York registering incident. I was doing arrangements for everybody, he announces of the period which insured him work with everyone from Sister Sledge to Candi Staton. I was doing all these arrangements for people, but not get the product employment and I guess I was so thwarted I chose I had to do, like, the greatest album ever done.

He got his chance thanks to a chance encounter with Marv Slaughter from Prelude Records, who needed a disco album attained, fast. He asked me how much would it cost and how long would it take and I announced I could do it in three weeks. I presented him world prices. He gave me a check and announced, Bring me an album, announces Adams. The result of that quick-witted transaction was the 1978 Musique disco track In the Bush. That album became a huge album, he announces. Adams built on that success with albums like Inner Lifes Im Caught Up( In A One Night Love Affair) and Fonda Raes Touch Me( All Night Long ), which have been sampled by dozens of periods and Cathy Denniss remake of Touch Me went to number two on the popping charts in 1991. Between 1977 and 1982 I worked on like 22 album jobs and a lot of them is a success, he announces. Its simply an amazing series of events.

It was in disco that Adams actually detected his voice, while Prelude went on to be a favorite generator for the rare groove DJs, Adamss musical aesthetic actually shined in the releases he made for P& P, the label beginning in 1975 by account promoter Peter Brown. Adams had started playing around with MiniMoog synthesizers, creating a proto-house music that he dubbed underground disco determining a residence for trails like Cloud Ones Atmosphere Strut on P& P. I did the Cloud One album, and Dance and Shake Your Tambourine by the Universal Robot Band and the latter are disco registers, but of a different nature. They were like more spontaneous, earthy registers. They were not in the mainstream, announces Adams. Somewhere between that and the Musique album becoming successful, it gave me credibility in the disco sell.

Disco both the commercial and the deeply underground were continuing Adams very busy and largely happy. Adams was putting in long hours at the studio, which he acknowledges took a toll on his personal life. My constant employment was not conducive to long long-lasting relationships, he announces with a sigh.( Adams does have a daughter with Musiques Christine Wiltshire .) At the time, though, it was just about his employment and he had a lot of it. Then on 12 July 1979 in Chicago the Disco Demolition, a stunt-turned-riot, more-or-less marked the end of the age of disco. Within a year or so of that Disco Demolition, disco was entirely mopped off the American consciousness. Radio wouldnt play disco and the music changed, Adams announces. I was doing very well and I went to zero income overnight.

Disco was gone, but Adams was determined to keep working. In the past I couldnt get hired for disco, because I was the prince of R& B music, and then when the rap game started happening I was being told, Well youre a disco producer, “youre supposed to” cant do rap, he announces. For Adams, though, there was no difference between R& B, disco, or rap. I ever look at music as music , not inevitably having a genre, he announces. I was not trying to make a disco account. I was trying to establish simply a great account. Eager to work, though, he started engineering part-time at Power Play Studio in Queens, working behind-the-scenes with the rising stars of New Yorks nascent hip-hop incident, lending acts like Eric B and Rakim, KRS-One, Nas, and Salt-N-Pepa his preternatural ear for what was coming next in music.

Power Play was sort of like training workshops where young people were coming in with these thoughts, and we tried to figure out how to do those things, he explains. There were no sampling machines at the time. There werent really personal computers or software, so at Power Play between 1985 and 1988, we figured out how to loop things. We figured out how to establish rap registers efficiently. His use of tests and loops-the-loops helped characterize a generation of rap music, but at the time, Adams wouldnt take credit for it. As I look back, that may have been a mistake. I mean I would have been Dr Dre before Dr Dre, he announces. He is being credited now, though, as his work is sampled by artists like Kanye West, Raekwon and J Dilla.

Similarly, Adamss gritty underground disco music was rediscovered by box excavating DJs in the late 90 s and early 00 s. The products often had a lo-fi persona, explains electronic music producer Todd Terje. There were no deep thunderous kicking drums and glittering EQs of vying rich studios, but if they lacked in the hi-fi department, they made up for it with brilliant thoughts.

Tracks like Four Below Zeros effervescent My Babys Got ESP and Cloud Ones 1977 single Disco Juice, may have not been played at Studio 54, but they have had a long-lasting force on dance music and their force can be heard in the thrash of the Moog-driven cosmic disco employment of Lindstrm and Prins Thomas and, of course, Terje. Marta Acunas Dance Dance Dance is one of my top five disco records of all time, announces Terje, who cites Adams as one of his greatest influences and has even covered a Cloud One trail. Musically, the path riffs and topics were recurred and focused on seems a bit similar to dance music as we know it today. A lot of disco from the 70 s was cheesy, had too much music and lacked focus, but fortunately there used to be people like Walter Gibbons, Tom Moulton and Patrick Adams who knew what elements to focus on.

Adams is more than willing to take credit for their own lives work now, though. He has a long index of musical credits to his identify, a slough of honors, and very little repents. When I look back and I look at the number of credits I have. I am kind of dismayed, he announces. I feel like Ive lived three lifetimes already.

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