Robin Clark, lifelong friend and collaborator of Luther Vandross, is one of those singers who flies just below the radar of popular recognition. In the late 60s, Clark started out singing in a group called Listen My Brother with Vandross, Fonzi Thornton and her future husband, guitarist Carlos Alomar. In the 70s, Alomar played with David Bowie and was part of the sessions that resulted in Bowie's 1975 classic Young Americans. As the legend goes, Clark and Vandross visited Alomar in the studio during the Young Americans sessions and he played a demo of the title track for the pair. Clark and Vandross were impressed but felt something was missing. On the spot, they improvised the famous background vocal chorus that culminates with a high-octane "allllllright!". Unbeknownst to the pair, Bowie was at the console listening and went insane when he heard their soulful harmonies. In fact, he revamped the whole project to take advantage of the gospel-ish vocal sound Clark and Vandross created. Clark participated in the remainder of the Young Americans sessions and joined Bowie on tour. Surrender came in 1984 and featured some top-notch NYC musicians including Alomar and Omar Hakim. The ballads make the best impression although I'm not sure any one track here adequately showcases Clark's dynamic vocal range. "Let It Rain, Let It Pour" and "Come Back Tonight" are both soulfully rendered and have nice background vocal arrangements. Of course, good friend Vandross could always be relied on to provide a dramatic ballad and the lovely "Love, It Ain't Easy" does not disappoint. The uptempo tracks are all heavily synthesized. The title track is typical 80's pop-soul. "Girls Get The Latest Kicks" is probably the funkiest and weirdest track here, featuring baby-voiced vocalising at the chorus. Clark's remake of the Marveletttes "Too Many Fish In Sea" is unremarkable. The Chic-esque "Breakin' Out", co-written by Clark, is my favorite uptempo. Surrender didn't make any noise commercially and the following year Clark joined the rock group Simple Minds. She is prominently featured on 1985's Once Upon A Time, the group's biggest-selling US release. She has since provided vocal support to a number of artists on record and in concert. About a year ago I was grooving to a jazzy house track titled "One Day" featuring the voice of Lea-Lorien. I only recently discovered that Lea-Lorien is the daughter of Robin Clark and Carlos Alomar, so Clark's musical legacy continues.
Side One Surrender Girls Get The Latest Kicks Let It Rain, Let It Pour Come Back Tonight
Side Two Everytime Too Many Fish In The Sea Love, It Ain't Easy Breakin' Out