JOHN SIMMONS: I Wanna Be Closer (SoulMusic Records/Warner X)

John Simmons

In 1978, SoulMusic.com founder David Nathan - then US editor for Britain's "Blues & Soul" - began expanding his creative horizons by working with stellar keyboardist and vocalist John Simmons, a former member of soul group The Reflections (of "Three Steps From True Love" fame) on a number of original compositions.  With the addition of Phillip Ballou of another New York-based quartet, Revelation, the trio penned songs intended for Phillip's first solo venture including "Ain't Nothing Like The Love," "Are You For Real" and "We'll Be Together." 

Additional material including "Safe" (written by John and his brother Butch Simmons, also a member of The Reflections) and "I Wanna Be Closer" (written by Nathan, Ballou and Simmons) was recorded by John, who began working with Stephanie Mills - fresh from her triumphant stint on Broadway in 'The Wiz' - as her musical director in the wake of her success with her first 20th Century LP, "Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin'."  

In 1981, John recorded his own version of "Ain't Nothing Like The Love" for a small independent Detroit label; at the time, it received no attention, years later becoming a much-sought after track by UK rare groove connoisseurs.  John became emergent-hitmaker Whitney Houston's musical director in 1984, a role he fulfilled until his passing in 1988.  

Never released at the time of recording, "I Wanna Be Closer" was issued as the 'B' side to an authorized vinyl single in the UK on Nefer Records through SuperDiscoEdits.  Cut with top New York musicians of the day, it's a melodic slice of sexy soul music from the late '70s that is finally being heard digitally worldwide on David Nathan's SoulMusic Records, distributed by Warner X.

Credits: "I Wanna Be Closer," written and produced by John Simmons, Phillip Ballou and David Nathan

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