TIR 72: Dynamic Duo Frank & Murphy Reveal The System’s Inner Workings

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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 72 (2 Parts): Singer-guitarist-composer-producer Mic Murphy and keyboardist-composer-producer David Frank, collectively are known as The System — one of the most successful electronic pop-funk acts of the 1980s. Having met each other in the early 1980s while working for the disco/funk band Kleeer, Frank and Murphy first collaborated on a track called “It’s Passion,” which took off on radio and in clubs within weeks of its 1982 release. The subsequent 1983 debut album called Sweat included the title hit, “I Won’t Let Go” and the R&B smash “You Are in My System.” Robert Palmer’s cover of the song became a mainstream rock hit. The duo’s sparse, hypnotic sound was quite innovative at the time, blending soul, funk, New Wave, pop and electronic music sensibilities.

The System would go on to release a total of five albums in the 1980s, collecting seven top 25 R&B hits between 1983 and 1989. Among those cuts were “Pleasure Seekers,” “This Is for You,” “Nighttime Lover,” “Midnight Special,” the theme song to Eddie Murphy’s hit comedy “Coming to America” and the No. 1 R&B and top 5 pop sensation “Don’t Disturb This Groove.” Throughout that decade the duo also composed, produced and performed on an all-star roster of other artists’ works, including those of Mtume, Phil Collins, Chaka Khan, Scritti Politti, Angela Bofill, Billy Idol, Billy Squier, Steve Winwood, Michael McDonald and Nona Hendryx. After a hiatus during the 1990s, The System returned in 2000 with arguably their funkiest album yet in ESP. After another protracted absence, Frank and Murphy delivered their most recent album in 2013, System Overload, which found them returning more to their original sound.

In this deep dive interview, the guys spill the beans on The System’s entire story, including the albums, tracks, performances, challenges, successes, creativity, fun, fulfillment and new music. Like many, theirs is a tale of years of groundwork and hard work being laid before they became what appeared to be an overnight sensation. They join TRUTH IN RHYTHM from their respective home studios on the left and right coasts. No need to break a sweat, just sit back and enjoy — and stick around for a little keyboard noodling before it’s all said and done. Turn on to The System!

RECORDED DECEMBER 2018

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Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.