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American band Maze, led by singer Frankie Beverly, set a standard for R&B bands during the 1970s; their smooth soulful sound capturing the ears and hearts of fans all over the world. Originally performing under the name Raw Soul, they made the transition to Maze in the mid 70s, in part propelled by their time spent as the backing band for Marvin Gaye. He put his utmost faith in them, allowing the band to perform some of their own material as a warm up on his tour. This marked the beginning of a consistently fruitful career that, since 1977, has seen them release around 30 hit singles and have eight albums go gold.
Will LV, producer and part of the Worldwide FM family, has taken learnings from Maze when approaching his own productions; a sparseness and a room for each element to breathe. His tribute mix to the band and Frankie Beverly showcases the different facets of Maze’s sound, from silky ballads to tight funk.
Why does Maze mean so much to you?
Maze remind me of the friend of mine who first introduced me to their music. He had worked on a show they played in London in the 80s and said they were one of the best live acts he’d seen.
What makes a Maze record so unique?
Their best records come from a period when recording technology and studios were at a peak. As a band they play together so well too so I guess it’s a combination of those factors, topped off by Frankie Beverly’s delivery.
When did you first hear Maze’s music and what impact did it have on you?
When my friend first played me Joy and Pain I was immediately hooked; such a tight rhythm section and arrangement. I think they have taught me a lot about sparseness in musical production – not everybody in a band has to be playing all the time.
What’s your most sacred Maze record and why?
I think maybe the 12″ of Joy and Pain live since it was the first record of theirs I bought. I guess I probably play their first album a lot too.
How has Maze impacted you as a producer?
Like I said, I think it’s an economical approach to building a groove. Sometimes a little bit of playing goes a long way, a bit like Luther Vandross’ Aretha Franklin productions. They sound super lush but there’s also space for every element to breathe.
How did you approach this mix? What did you want it to say about Maze and his music?
I just wanted to play the bits I was in the mood for and to showcase their different vibes: sometimes kind of silky ballads and sometimes tight funk. I just think they are a great band and I wanted to demonstrate that.
What would you say is Maze’s biggest legacy?
I reckon they have a bit of a reputation for playing baby making music so there are probably a few people who owe their existence to Maze.
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Time Is On Our Side (from the album Maze)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Too Many Games (from the album Can’t Stop The Love)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Southern Girl (from the album Joy And Pain)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Welcome Home (from the album Inspiration)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – You’re Not The Same (from the album Golden Time Of Day)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Color Blind (from the album Maze)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Right On Time (from the album We Are One)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Travellin’ Man (from the album Golden Time Of Day)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – A Place In My Heart (from the album Can’t Stop The Love)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Happy Feelings (from the album Maze)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Family (from the album Joy And Pain)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Lovely Inspiration Instrumental (from the album Inspiration)
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – Look At California (from the album Maze)