SKYE’S “AIN’T NO NEED”: A REVISIT

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Skye: Ain’t No Need (Unity Edit) (Anada, 1976)

This is a revisit of sorts though I haven’t written about the Skye single since 2008. It’s a disco 45 where I’m continually surprised that dancers don’t seem to adore it as much as I do. In my more active DJing days, I was convinced it would be a floor-filler and while it wasn’t quite a floor-killer, it just never produced the kind of reaction I assumed/hoped for. People just treated it like…whatever and it made me want to grab a mic and shout “you fools, this is amazing! What’s wrong with the lot of you?!”

But c’est la vie. Maybe I’ve had the wrong crowds. Or maybe I’m just alone on this hill (I don’t think so though).

Skye traces its beginning back to JFK High School in Richmond CA where members of the school jazz band, including Johnnie “Sargent” Tucker, Kevin Burton, Carl Lockett, Kevin Lockett, Michael Jeffries, Michael Griggs and Marciel Garner, formed into Two Things in One. They drew the interest of Ray Dobard’s prolific Bay Area label, Music City, who released their first single “Silly Song/Snag Nasty” as the Music City Two In One in 1971 but later, the group’s name was changed to The Two Things In One by 1973. Officially, they only released two more singles on Music City but the bulk of all their recordings were compiled back in 2011 for the Together Forever anthology..

In 2011, I interviewed Alec Palao, who compiled that anthology, for my Sidebar podcast and he was the first person from whom I learned about the connection between Two Things In One and Skye; totally blew my mind since I knew of both groups but not how they were linked. Skye was formed by most of the former members of The Two Things In One after a relocation to L.A. to continue pursuing recording opportunities. This included lead singer Michael Jeffries, drummer Marcel Garner, bassist Sargent Tucker, guitarists Carl Lockett and Michael Griggs, plus newcomer Greg Levias on keys.

Skye was signed to Anada, a subsidiary of A&M. The imprint only released two singles in the ’70s, both collectible disco jams: the aforementioned “Ain’t No Need” and a self-titled release from Family Tree. (Anada also placed the “disco versions” of both songs on a very sought-after 12”.

Back in 2008, writing about about songs, I had this to say about “Ain’t No Need”:

“Ain’t No Need” is the kind of song I want to wrap around me like a sleeping bag – everything about this is sublime to me. It’s practically all chorus in essence but the chord progressions and instrumentation combine so beautifully that you can lose yourself inside the groove forever.

Let me add (13 years later): the main groove powering the song feels like the platonic ideal of what great disco should sound like: driving and energetic but very importantly, also uplifting. If Jeffries’s lyrics are to be taken at face value, this is a breakup song but it doesn’t feel like one, quite the opposite. It feels euphoric, even perhaps spiritual in how the groove and Jeffries’s vocals keep cycling over and over. It becomes a literally repetitive song yet it’s anything but static in its kineticism. This is precisely why I don’t understand it doesn’t light up the dance floor; I find it completely irresistable in making me want to move something.

In any case, a few year ago, Jeffries and Garner sold off dead stock copies of “Ain’t No Need” and in doing so, helped fill in some of the history behind its recording, namely that it was taped during a 10 hour session in the spring of 1976 and released a few months later in the summer.

The outstanding questions I’d still have: what studio was it taped at? Why did A&M create Anada and why did it have so few releases? How was the single initially received? Etc. More I think about this, the song would make a great candidate for a future Single Servings episode.

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