Billy Paul, real name Paul Williams, was an American singer who started his artistic career at the age of 11 by appearing on a local Philadelphia radio station called WPEN. Strongly influenced by jazzy singers, he will quickly find his way into this musical movement and start moving to local clubs at the age of 16.
He quickly changed his name to Billy Paul to avoid confusion with composer Paul Williams and the saxophonist of the same name. New stage name under which he released his first single "Why am I", we are in 1952 and he was only 18 years old. Title that will go completely unnoticed.
We find him a few years later in 1957 in the American army, more precisely on the German side. He will meet there in particular a certain… Elvis Presley who is also there. He also meets the son of Bing Crosby with whom he will create a music group, with the ulterior motive above all to use this musical group to escape chores. Group that will grow and tour throughout Germany.
Back in the United States, in 1959, he created a jazzy trio with 2 other musicians. But the adventure ends. Then he made a short appearance in the Blue Notes and other Flamingos. It was during this time that he struck up a friendship, an almost unbreakable friendship, with a certain Marvin Gaye.
It took him eight years and 1968 to see his debut album "Fellin' good at the Cadillac club" released, an album that met with only modest success. It’s the influence of The Beatles that will be a game changer. The singer suddenly realizes that he can bridge the gap between jazzy influences and more pop influences in his upcoming releases.
This is how the album "Ebony woman" was released in 1970, an album which this time met with great success. Just like the next one, "Going east", released a year later in 1971.
Then everything changed in 1972 with the release of the album "360 degrees of Billy Paul". The album made a real worldwide hit and will produce one of the most emblematic titles of this decade, and of the end of the twentieth century, namely the prodigious "Me and Mrs. Jones". By itself exploding the notoriety of the artist.
Success confirmed but of lesser scope the following year in 1973 with the release of the album "War of the gods", album which mainly produced the top hit "Am I black enough for you", against a background of controversy linked to the message one little too Black Power of the song's lyrics.
The next two albums were to be limited success after all. Whether it's "Got my head on straight" and "When love is new", both released in 1975.
The artist will have a last notorious success with the album "Let‘ Em in" in 1976. But anything that will come out thereafter will know nothing of the success of the opuses released at the beginning of the decade. And the 80s will only amplify the decline of an artist who will still have signed one of the most beautiful Intimist titles of all time. Artist who will leave us in 2016 at the age of 81.
To discover or rediscover.
Discography (among others ...) :
Why am I 1952
Ebony woman 1959
There's a small hotel 1960
Me and Mrs.Jones 1972
Am I black enoug for you ? 1973
Thanks for saving my life 1973
Let’s make a baby 1976
People power 1976
Let 'em in 1977
Word sure gets around 1977
Your song 1977
Only the strong survive 1977
Don’t give up on us 1978
Bring the family back 1979
You're my sweetness 1980
Sexual therapy 1985
We could have been 1988
I love you so much 1988
1959 ... the first steps which show an absolutely extraordinary predisposition for the Intimist domain. And the rest will prove it in a big way !
1960 ... an obvious predisposition that he confirms with this title. But the hour of the Masterpiece has not yet arrived. But we are getting closer ...
1972 ... the rise to power took time, a tremendous amount of time. It took him more than 10 years to produce THIS title. But what a title ! A real WONDER that will undoubtedly remain as one of the most beautiful Ultimate Slows of all time. The title of a life that makes One Shot fit the artist into the musical legend of the twentieth century. At this stage, we are simply talking about a MASTERPIECE !
1973 ... here he suddenly arrived in the Dance register and my faith, in this area, he is far from being ridiculous. The future will prove it too ...
1973 ... a truly unique voice and style that allows the artist to become one of the strongest values of the moment. A recognition at the height of a talent more than certain !
1976 ... a career that unrolls quietly, between pieces of anthology and pieces of certain quality like this one. Good job !
1976 ... a BIG year 1976 with several big caliber titles. A dynamic that does not weaken and which allows the artist to easily maintain himself in the leading pack
1977 ... a title that will remain among his most emblematic. Not necessarily his biggest commercial success but a title that works perfectly and is so revealing of what was being done at the time. HU-GE !
1977 ... in an ocean of Dance titles, the singer returns to his first love with this absolutely sumptuous Intimist song. A title that will unfortunately go almost unnoticed. Go figure ...
1977 ... he will have signed 2 major titles in the same decade. And unbelievably, at the time, this title will only experience a low ranking in the Charts. It was the 80s that brought it up to date and made it an anthology title. Like what, everything happens to who knows how to wait ...
1977 ... after an essentially Intimist start to the decade, the 2nd part will be exclusively Dance. The artist has formidably efficient versatility and uses it to the best of its ability
1978 ... an inspiration which does not weaken and which allows to produce pieces of constant quality. A know-how among the most effective of the moment !
1979 ... the end of the decade which rhymes once again with rhythmic Dance. Nothing exceptional at this level but a good job. Like always !
1980 ... conversely, the beginning of the 1980s will be very smooth. As the 1970s began. A timely return to fundamentals
1985 ... then a big 5 years air hole. The singer totally disappears from the radar and reappears fresh as a roach in this year 1985. A comeback but on a track full of finesse. Magnificent paradox !
1985 ... the last hit. Last hit in an absolutely sumptuous career that made him one of the major artists of his generation
1988 ... a last year of activity which allows him to show that he still has some under his feet. Admittedly, he has not been on top of the Charts for some time, but what he is offering us is far from being 'has been'. What a career !
1988 ... this time, it's definitely the end. The end of an incredible adventure during which he proved himself to be one of the best. And that is a certainty !
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