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Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.
Featured in TIR Episode 59 (Part 1 of 3 segments): Fred Alexander Jr., the barefoot drummer and composer who has kept the beat right on time for four decades with one of the mightiest funk-R&B bands of the late 1970s and 80s — Lakeside!
With roots in what became the funk hotbed of Dayton, Ohio, the group’s beginnings trace back to founder Stephen Shockley in 1969, when the Nomads and Monterreys joined forces to become the Young Underground, which then became the Ohio Lakeside Express in 1971 and eventually simply Lakeside. After false starts with Curtom and Motown Records, the group, which had attracted Dick Griffey as an advisor, released its self-titled debut album on ABC Dunhill in 1976. It failed to draw much attention, but in 1977 Alexander joined Lakeside just as the group was about to hit its stride. Coincidence? Maybe, but the funk all starts with the drummer and he clearly had the feel for it. After being pursued by Norman Whitfield’s label, Lonnie Simmons’ Total Experience and Solar Records, the band chose the latter as their recording home, largely due to their strong relationship with owner Dick Griffey — who agreed to let Lakeside write and co-produce their own material.
Released in 1978, the Shot of Love album included the 1979 funk smash “It’s All the Way Live,” and began a run of six successful albums and a gang of dance hits, jams and ballads. Those albums were Rough Riders in 1979, Fantastic Voyage in 1980, Keep on Moving Straight Ahead and Your Wish Is My Command in 1981, Untouchables in 1983, and Outrageous in 1984. A pair of subsequent albums, Power in 1987 and Party Patrol in 1990, represented the group in its decline. They scored three top 10 R&B albums with four others reaching 35 or higher, and had 13 top 40 songs.
Notable tracks from the Lakeside catalog include “Pull My Strings,” “From 9 Until,” the No. 1 sensation that later also became a chart-topper for rapper Coolio, “Fantastic Voyage,” “Your Love Is on the One,” the slowed-down Beatles remake “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Something About That Woman,” “Raid,” “Turn the Music Up,” “Real Love,” “Outrageous,” and several others. No question some of those are the baddest funk cuts of the period. Aside from that, Lakeside’s sound and style was unique. They began as a singing group and a band, and that uncompromising approach to fully represent both sides of that equation helped them distinguish themselves.
With conceptual gatefold album covers featuring elaborately illustrated themes of group members dressed as pirates, cowboys, genies and other fun motifs Lakeside stood out in record stores similar to acts like Funkadelic and the Ohio Players. Although the group’s only release in nearly 30 years was a live album more than 20 years ago, Lakeside has steadily kept the fire alive on stage, and continues to maintain busy concert schedule.
In this in-depth interview, Alexander, who also serves as the band’s general manager, not only recounts Lakeside’s entire history, but gets into the weeds with lots of fascinating stories and details. As forthcoming and down-to-earth as they come, he conveys a great passion for not only the music but especially connecting with people. With that, it is most definitely time to get all the way live with Mr. Fred Alexander Jr.!
Recorded June 2018