Tuesday, March 20, 2012

LINER NOTES: Retrospective: Tim Ballard's Singing Positive to the People (2012)

I don't envy the job of people that sit down and choose to write a memoir. The task is daunting and full objectivity is impossible. How does one objectively recall facts about what happened during his or her life, as though that person were an innocent bystander, and still put the subjective heart, soul, memory, and feeling of what it was like to have personally experienced the events in the memoir? That's exactly where I find myself in writing these liner notes, as not only the surviving press agent for Tim Ballard, but also as his daughter, in introducing you to Tim's timeless soul album, Singing Positive to the People.

In late 1978, I turned six years old and remember my father giving me the vinyl 33 1/3 LP album to play on my Soundesign turntable. I listened to the nine tracks again and again in my room, not quite understanding that it was a “covers” album - that the tunes I was hearing had already been made very famous by legendary groups such as Lou Rawls, The Commodores, Full Moon with Buzz Feiten, The Stylistics, Hall and Oates, the Brothers Johnson, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. My friends and I happily roller skated to it in the basement, oblivious to its deep and musical excellence. To me, it was my dad's band doing the killer job as they always did – so killer, that when I finally heard the original artists' versions many years later, I marveled at how truly talented and tight the entire Oklahoma City-based ensemble really was.

In fact, I felt a little guilty in admitting that I was slightly disappointed with the original versions in some cases. For example, when I later heard Buzz Feiten and Full Moon's easy groove on “Need Your Love”, I missed arranger David Powell's amazing Tower-of-Power-like original horn interludes and relentless, driving funk on the Singing Positive version. And when I heard “The Love I Lost” -- as excellent as Teddy Pendergrass is – and one of my all-time favorite vocalists -- I had to admit that regardless of if my father sang it or not, as a professional, master musician, Tim had given Ted a great run for his money. It was only as an adult that I realized that I had owned a gem of a recording for years, but most of the world had never heard it, and wouldn't for many, many more years. In fact, I could not have known then that the only way that the world would hear it, would sadly be after Tim passed away, through my actions alone, and thanks to the endless reach of the Internet.

Almost thirty-five years later, Singing Positive has the opportunity to experience a rebirth in the digital age and a chance to gain a new following. The master tapes have long since been lost (… given away, gambled in a poker game, traded for something else, who knows? It's all typical musicians' lore …), but I didn't let that stop me. I enlisted the incredible studio talents of Mr. Colin Chapman of Satori Systems and his connections in Boulder, Colorado to perform the cleanest digitization of vinyl that I've ever heard, and the talented Ms. Lynne Menefee of Menefee Creative in Baltimore, MD to refresh the cover art work. And if there is an occasional pop of the vinyl, it's the perfect way to send us nostalgic listeners right back to our Soundesign (or Marantz!) turntables of 1978, bulky black headphones on, lying on the floor, eyes closed, volume cranked.

The saying goes that what is old is new again, and I hope that you will feel the same way when you hear Singing Positive to the People for yourself. A great mix of Quiet Storm, driving Funk, heartfelt Soul, and the best of 1970's R&B, this album puts Tim's unique touch on the tunes that inspired him to thrill audiences during his days at Oklahoma City venues such as the Onyx and the Razz-Ma-Tazz. It's a testament that truly good music never goes out of style, and all of the tunes on the album deliver on that promise, including such rarely-heard classics as Hall and Oates' “Las Vegas Turnaround”, Paul Williams' “Sunday”, Bell and Creed's “Stop, Look, and Listen (To Your Heart)”, and Buddy Johnson's “Since I Fell For You”, all styled as I've never heard anyone else do.

Singing Positive is on CDBABY in digital format (June 2012) and CDs will be available after June 12, 2012. (http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/timballard).  It will also appear later in 2012 on all major media download sites, such as iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and a new service – Amazon CD On Demand -- where customers can still order a physical compact discs to play anywhere they choose. (Regrettably, the album will no longer be available on vinyl, cassette, or 8-Track tape. That's the downside to the Internet Age!)

For more information about Tim Ballard and TIMKAT Entertainment, write us at timkatent@gmail.com, 'Like' us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/timkatent) and follow us on Twitter @timkatent.   May you enjoy this treasure every bit as much I have for the past 35 years.

Sincerely yours,
Kathryn Ballard Shut /shoot/
President, pianist, musical legacy
TIMKAT Entertainment, Inc.
Denver, CO, USA
Web Portal: http://about.me/timkatent

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