Sunday, November 05, 2006
The "ALL I WANT IS YOU" story
Around 1978, Cleveland based Dunn Pearson wrote a song titled “ All I Want Is You”. It is just one of hundreds of songs that Dunn has written but apart from it being a classy composition, it also acts as a classic example of the good and bad events that can overtake soul recordings and the tunes involved.
Dunn Pearson had started out in the music business in Cleveland backing groups such as the Ponderosa Twins + One and the Imperial Wonders. From there he progressed to leading his own group, 9th Street Exit and also writing for, arranging and producing other recording artists. He joined the O’Jays backing band, all the time expanding his musical knowledge and increasing his experience. His compositional skills were also becoming more widely recognised and soon his songs were being recorded by a number of other artists.
Although still associated with the O’Jays, Dunn secured himself a recording deal with Almeria Records in New York and they issued his track “Groove On Down” in 1978. Just prior to this, Tony Richburg, the O’Jays tour manager had taken an interest in a group made up of four guys from Chicago, the Four Flights. The group were fetched to Cleveland and placed under Dunn’s supervision. He had written a song that he thought would suit the group and so “All I Want Is You” was cut on them. Today, Dunn can’t recall any names of the group’s members (their association being a one off affair), however his cousin John Wilson remembers meeting up with the group. He had met them at the Shaker Records (an O’Jays label) building in Miles Avenue in Cleveland and remembers one of the Four Flight members well. The member in question, an extremely stout guy had gone by the name of "ROUND POUND" due to his weight and stature. Dunn really liked the resulting cut and decided to offer it to the people at Almeria Records. They were also impressed with Four Flights and Dunn’s efforts, so licensed the track for release. To everyone's relative surprise, the record was really well received and garnered some good radio exposure. Although the groups release had created some interest, the O’Jays and Dunn had careers of their own to sustain. So with no one really masterminding any future for them, the group gave up and returned home to Chicago .
Just like Dunn, his relative John Wilson was also actively engaged in the music business. In the early 70’s he had formed the group Sly, Slick and Wicked and they had gone on to enjoy releases on the Paramount, People, Shaker and Ju-Par labels. The line up of his trio had changed with the passage of time but John had soldiered on. In 1978 he recruited two new members in order to keep the group going. Scott Pitman became ‘Slick’ and Jerome Pratt ‘Wicked’ (John obviously being ‘Sly’). At the same time that Dunn was working with the Four Flights, Carl Maduri, a veteran of the Cleveland recording scene (he had produced Lou Ragland’s 1973 WB 45 “Since You said You’d Be Mine”) was just setting up a new label, Sweet City. Carl obtained national distribution for his label via Epic Records and as John knew him well, he arranged a meeting with Carl with a view to securing his outfit a recording deal. At this meeting John played Carl the song Dunn had written and Carl liked the song as well. As he had also always liked John’s group, he signed Sly, Slick & Wicked’s new line-up to Sweet City Records. John called Dunn and asked him if he still had the master tape from the Four Flights session. Dunn confirmed he did and so a short while later, Sly, Slick & Wicked added their vocals (at the Painsville Studios) to the original musical track. John had developed an opening dialogue to precede the music track and he also handled lead vocals duties on the cut. Everyone involved liked the results of the session and the track was subsequently released on a Epic / Sweet City single (Epic 9-50758). Unfortunately once again, little or no promotion was put behind the release of the song on 45 and so it didn’t make any major commercial impact.
Dunn’s links with Almeria lapsed and he struck up a new musical partnership with Philadelphian, Bruce Gray. The duo signed with Devaki Records as Dunn & Bruce Street and subsequently went on to enjoy both single and album releases on the label (some of these even gaining UK releases at the time). His old song had gained a few influential admirers along the way though and hadn’t been completely forgotten. Recording industry stalwart Greg Carmichael had also had connections with Almeria Records at about the same time as Dunn was placing product with them. His New York based Red Gregg Enterprises had signed their artist Ben Wiggins with the label in 1978. Almeria had subsequently released Ben’s cuts "Its All Over / I Love You Too Much" as a single (Almeria 4003). In 1980 another version of “All I Want Is You” was released, this time on Sam Records. The group who had cut this third version going by the name of Conversion. A familiar figure was associated with their effort, it’s producer being none other than Greg Carmichael. Matters with regard to this release were not altogether straightforward though. The song had now been assigned to a publishing company that Dunn had no knowledge of and it had also acquired an extra writer along the way (a certain J Carter). In fact Dunn had only been made aware of the new version by accident. His attorney (at that time) was representing the composers of the song on the other side of the Conversion single and in passing had happened to notice Dunn’s name on the label of the record. As a result, he got in touch with Dunn and needless to say, legal action seemed appropriate.
So this one song had, in a short space of time, managed to attract enough interest to gain three different released versions. All three of these recordings have stood the test of time well and are still much sought after today by soul music collectors from around the globe. Thus good things were achieved by the song, however the murkier side of the business had also been demonstrated by the third version of it that had been cut.
J R Smith
jason at leroyburgess.com