Here is the final album in Pleasure’s five year stay at Fantasy Records. Hailing from Portland, Oregon the group had their lucky break when jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr – playing their hometown’s Paramount Theatre – was handed one of their promo tapes which he thought good enough to pass to his friend Wayne Henderson of the Crusaders who was busy forming his At Home Productions. Henderson had already signed Ronnie Laws and Side Effect and was looking for a third act.
Pleasure were formed by the amalgamation of twoPortlandgroups: the Soul Masters and Franchise. Their new sound gave a jazzy interpretation to funk. Pleasure’s first album “Dust Yourself Off” featured a great version of ‘Midnight At The Oasis” and the future hip hop block party staple ‘Bouncy Lady’. It was followed by “Accept No Substitutes” with the down-tempo ‘Ghettos Of The Mind’ and then “Joyous” whose title track is a primary text of club culture 35 years later.
This success suggested a big breakthrough was close, so when their fourth album “Get To The Feeling” failed to make the splash they hoped for, the band parted company withHenderson. Following the split they scored their biggest hit with ‘Glide’ from their “Future Now” album. The album had a new sound, one as informed by synthesisers as it was horns, and on the back of this LP Pleasure seemed set for the 1980s.
Certainly the success of “Future Now” allowed them to go for the lavishly embossed cover for “Special Things”, which attempted to develop them further. The music succeeded, full of classic cuts such as ‘Yearnin Burnin’’, ‘You Are My Star’, ‘Law Of The Raw’ and ‘Living Without You’. Unfortunately the record failed to sell as well as it should, with neither record being taken up by radio programmers.
A certain amount of discontent within the band’s ranks didn’t help. Looking at the production credits, it appears that Marlon McClain was moving away from the band. Sure enough, within a year the band had left Fantasy to sign with RCA while McClain remained at Fantasy to make a superb solo album.
By Dean Rudland