Ronnie Laws - Big Stars (1983)
Album: Ronnie Laws - Mr. Nice Guy (1983)
Song: Big Stars
Ronnie Laws was a very early former member of Earth, Wind & Fire. He was original the saxophone player for them, before eventually moving on to his own solo projects and collaborations. He's a bit of a Renaissance Man though, as he handled playing synths, piano, saxophone and his own vocals on this album.
Right from the get go, this song is saturated with one of the most lush and fat synth bass leads. This synth is so fat that is is just feels juicy, squishy and warm. Turn it up and let it wash over you. I can hardly think of a synth bass I have enjoyed more than this one, and it is just ripping it up for the entire track. If I had to wager, I would guess it is a Roland Juno 60, which had just come out earlier that year, and was quite well regarded for this type of chorus laden sound. I specifically bought the TAL-U-NO-X Juno 60 emulation VST with the intent of recreating this bass patch, and I have come surprisingly close.
Gorgeous synth bass aside, this track is slick. The entire track is played in the "pocket". What I mean by that is, if you are snapping your finger to it, you can wait just a little bit off the beat to snap your finger and somehow sound like you are on even better time with the track.
When I hear these vocals, I just can't help but look at this album cover, and that ultra prominent mustache. It just feels like the 80s to me. There is a gental confidence to the delivery, and I just don't sense any malice or bad intentions. Mr. Nice Guy is absolutely right.
The synths throughout the rest of the song are subtle, but extremely effective. From little synth key cascades, to another rich resonant patch during the instrumental interlude half way through.
Finally, Ronnie Laws lays down some practically orgasmic soprano sax lines. I mean, most people would probably say they sound corny, but in the context of this track, that mustache, and this synth bass you just have to bow down to something bigger than you.
I love every second of this song, and I hope it becomes a favourite for all of you as well.