I love ‘You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine’.
So do I. It’s a good song as it spans the gambit of young and old. Young kids love the song and it conjures up memories for the old. It has all the ingredients. It was even a No.l disco song in Canada and America and yet I didn’t even think it was disco.
You have done a fair amount of charity work.
Yes, there was ‘Clean Up The Ghetto’, which was a collective effort with myself, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Paul and Phyllis Hyman. We got a big corporation to supply us with equipment and we went to the cities and got the youth involved. I do a TV show once a year for helping colleges and it makes me feel good as I am giving something back to the community.
You also had the idea of introducing football to America.
When Pele came to the States to promote soccer, we met and he asked me to go around with him, but there wasn’t much follow-up on it. Everything is so instant in America: there has to be an instant return. I could see the advantages in it. You let a kid run around for 90 minutes and the last thing he will want to do is some mischief because he will be too tired. In America, we have basketball – well, if you are not six foot tall, forget it. American football – if you don’t weigh 200 pounds, forget it. That is why I like soccer, but American football and baseball are so ingrained into the system and the top players are making more than God. Soccer is a new thing in the States, but once television picks it off, we should be all right. And then what? I’m still trying to figure out rugby. (Laughs)
This is a promotional visit to the UK but wouldn’t you like to be doing more concerts?
I did the Dominion last year and I would like to spend more time here. This is hard work and I am passing a lot of places that I would like to see. We do one concert here and then some more in Belgium, Rotterdam and The Hague. I’ll be in Australia for a month in June and hitting five places then, but really I go to places all around the world and never see them properly. I’ve been going to New York City for years and I never went to the Statue of Liberty until two years ago. We did a show cruising around Manhattan Island and the boat stopped there. I was born and raised in Chicago, but I’ve never been to the Field Museum. I’m always too busy, but I do know a lot about airports. (Laughs).
You are now on Blue Note which is a jazz label.
Blue Note had a problem when they issued the album in the States as people might think it was a jazz record. The label wants to get away from being a strict jazz label as there is no strict anything now: there used to be jazz, blues, rock’n’roll, pop and now there is jazz fusion with lots of crossover. I have used a lot of jazz artists on this new album but how I could resist Stanley Turrentine, Ray Charles, George Benson and Fathead Newman? I want to work with them. There’s a version of ‘You Can’t Go Home’ with George Benson with a lot more talking, but they thought it was too much for the record.
You also do a great version of ‘At Last’ with Dianne Reeves?
Thank you. Etta James had the definitive version on ‘At Last’ and it felt good to do the song – I felt that at last, I was back where it started for me. Dianne Reeves is a great, new talent and she is a cross between Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan in her stylings.
My favourite track is ‘If I Were A Magician’?
Billy Vera who produced the album thought I could it well, and people enjoy listening to it. There is a song on my first album called ‘Lost And Looking’ and that is in the same style, so I’m going back again.