|Howard Hewett, Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel Blues and Soul 1982|
Shalamar's leap to super-stardom is one of the great success stories of 1982. Howard Hewett raps with B&S and explains how the Shalamar explosion happened, and reveals their immediate and long term plans...
The thing about Shalamar is that you get the distinct feeling that they would hang out together even if the Shalamar bubble burst tomorrow - not that there's a whole lot of chance of that happening, you understand! And not wishing to abuse any clichés but Jeffrey, Howard and Jody do genuinely appear to like each other.
I recall the first interview personally I had with Shalamar earlier this year, they seemed to possess a "oneness", a sort of three into one will go type of aura which was difficult to pinpoint but very easy to see and feel.
A flicker of the Daniel eye, a twitch of the Watley lip, a raising of the Hewett eyebrow - everything, which would normally be perfectly in order seemed to convey a secret message which only they understood.
I recall feeling slightly disoriented at the time but manfully struggled on and completed the interview--which appeared in B&S Issue 353.
Glancing through that interview, I note with interest that their "Friends" album had just been unleashed on an unsuspecting public, and my comment, although hardly a lone voice in the wilderness was pretty accurate and prophetic.
The album "Friends" is without a doubt, outrageously commercial and looks set to endorse the group's faith in it's own belief. The fact that it was also their debut Solar album under the WEA banner was also noted.
Shortly thereafter the whole Shalamar "thing" went into orbit: their recordings, which hitherto had attained pleasing results, suddenly became essential buys for what appeared to be the majority of the British record market whilst their live appearances became sell-out situations everywhere. Shalamar had become a very hot property indeed.
The answer to this, and other questions was answered by Shalamar's Howard Hewett when I met up with him recently at the WEA offices in Soho.
"I don't think there is just one simple explanation for the success we have had this year.: smiles a relaxed, if tired looking Howard. "I believe one of the major factors was the switch from RCA to WEA Records which to be a viable and comfortable move for everyone, certainly as far as we're concerned!" "Naturally, the 'Friends' album didn't do us any harm either! We put a lot of effort into making that albumm just right - or what we hoped was just right -- and I guess without appearing too smug, we managed a reasonable job!" "These two factors plus that indefinable something ... maybe it's the timing or the ability to catch the spirit or mood of the people...really made the difference this year."
Shalamar, of course, have always been an entertaining trio; their appeal is basic and uncluttered and effective. Howard's lead vocals, Jeffrey's dancing and Jody's...eh, well, Jody's all around talents have collectively proved to be the smash of the year..82's formula for success which shows little sign of easing up for 1983.