Energy MC2

Side A - You And Only You

Side B - Love To Make Love To You

Catalogue # SJ549

Posted in: Release Listings

Energy MC2 - You And Only You

Release Date: Monday February 6th 2023

Energy MC2 began as an energetic bunch of 10 and 11year old neighborhood kids, who initially formed a band under the name of ‘Congressional Funk’ while still attending elementary school. The founding members were Vincent Bonham, Opelton Parker (the brother of Ray Parker Jr), brothers Ufuoma and Eric Wallace, with the later addition of Fred Gordon. Within months of the group’s formation, they began entering and winning local talent shows in between performances at local churches and backyard parties. A little over a year later, they initially became the backing band for local recording artists Mad Dog & The Pups going on to feature on their earliest Magic City releases “Hep Squeeze” (MC-007) (which they provided the horn section on) and the follow up release “Funky Monkey” (MC-009). A change of name to ‘The Soulful Hounds’ followed which they are credited as on the instrumental flipside of Mad Dog & The Pups vocal version of “Why Did You Leave Me Girl” Magic City (MC-012). The age of band members now ranged from 11 to13 year old, and featured the four founding members with the addition of Leslie Bass, (Fred Gordon by then having left the group). Between recording sessions they continued playing their own stage shows mainly covering hit songs of the day. During one particular performance, Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield made an approach to Mad Dog & The Pups and The Soulful Hounds with an invitation to join Motown. Unfortunately, the kids were already under contract to Magic City and label owners Ernest and Barbara Burt was not about to let one of their acts go to a rival label.

After leaving Magic City, the band went through a several changes in both name and personnel and became one of the biggest bands on the local Detroit music scene. At this point the band hired a bass player Ben "Rat Bass" Adkins, who brought with him the name of his former band, ‘Energy’. Then by borrowing Albert Einstein’s formula for special relativity (E=MC2) which they added to their inherited name ‘Energy’ in doing so they were able distinguish themselves from Adkins former band. Energy MC2 also from time to time featured three female members Marlene Rice, Gwen Laster and Patricia King who played violin, viola, xylophone and bells. These girls would often provide background vocals when required. They were primarily recruited to add a string section to the band and became affectionately known as the MC3 Orchestra.

Ben Adkins later left the band, going on to play with Creative Source, Lonnie Smith and The Jackson’s (he, being Jermaine Jackson's replacement). ENERGY MC2 soon after began to seriously record original material which included the previously unissued 70’s dance track “If You Break It” which gained a belated 45 release on Soul Junction Records in 2016 to great acclaim. The group line up on “If You Break It” included Vincent Bonham, Ufuoma Akil-Wallace, Arnell Carmichael, Ernestro Wilson, Opelton Parker, Gordon Carlton, Eric Wallace, Leon Lopez, Marvin Carlton and Marlene Rice. While an earlier session had yielded two further unissued tracks firstly “Other Side Of The Mirror” featuring the same line up of musicians as “If You Break It” but with the addition of a second female vocalist Gwen Laster, this too also gained a belated release as the flipside of the SJ536 45 release. While the second song “Juliane” a beautiful mellifluous soulful ballad which featured Arnell Carmichael, Vincent Bonham, Ufuomo Akill- Wallace, Eric Wallace Gordon and Marvin Carlton on it’s recording. (“Juliane” was to also gain a belated release on the now long deleted Soul Junction compilation album “We Got A Sweet Thing Going On” Volume 2 SJCD 5011).

Following a later move to Atlanta GA, Energy MC2 signed on with The Greer Agency who also represented, The Commodores, Brass Construction, Mother's Finest, New Birth, Brick, Little Richard etc. This association led the band to perform it's own brand of Pop, R&B, Funk and Jazz throughout the Southern states, from Arkansas to the Carolinas. Sometime during 1974 several members of Energy MC2 boarded a Greyhound bus and took a road trip to Los Angeles. During their week-long stay in L.A. Vincent Bonham, Ufuoma Akil-Wallace, Arnell Carmichael, Ernestro Wilson, Opelton Parker, Eric Wallace, Gordon and Marvin Carlton joined lead guitarist Ray Parker Jr in a recording session that produced amongst others the following two songs the mellifluous “You And Only You” and “Love To Make Love To You” featuring Arnell Carmichael on lead vocals. A session that was to remain unissued in the can that was until a chance meeting many years later between UK Record Dealer and DJ Dave Thorley. Ufuoma Wallace allowed Dave to hear this unissued session and it was Dave who brought this session to the UK Soul Junction label’s attention. Later on Vince Bonham and Arnell Carmichael parted company with their fellow Energy MC2 members to join Ray Parker Jr and Jerry Knight in forming the band ‘Raydio’, they were also later joined by Arnell’s brother Darren London Carmichael. A teenage Ray Parker had learnt his trade as a member of Hamilton Bohannon’s House Band at Detroit famous 20 Grand Theatre during the late 60’s. Into the 1970’s he featured as a session guitarist on many of Holland, Dozier and Holland’s Invictus and Hotwax sessions with his noticeable “Choppy” guitar style being very prominent on Honey Cone’s number one single “Wants Ad’s”. Ray’s work also featured on Lamont Dozier’s first two ABC albums. Further session work with Stevie Wonder was to follow, an association that was to prompt Ray to permanently relocate to L.A. Once there he also became a part of Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra. In addition to the previously mentioned artists Ray’s work and writing credits can be found on a plethora of other recording artists sessions, for example The Temptations, Michael Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Rufus & Chaka Khan. Ray’s first bona fide song writing hit came in 1974 with a song he co-wrote with Chaka Khan “You Got The Love”. Raydio scored a #8 billboard hit with “Jack & Jill” from the Arista album of the same name during 1978 while a second single from the album “Is This A Love Thing” reached # 20 in the same year. Their 1979 Album ‘Rock On’ spawned the hit single “You Can’t Change That” reaching #9 on billboard. By 1980 Jerry Knight had left to persue a solo career and the group became Ray Parker Jr & Raydio. Three more top 40 hits followed, “Two Places At The Same Time” again from the album of the same name #8 on Billboard (1980) and from the groups final studio album two singles “The old Song” reaching #21 on billboard and their biggest hit and title track from the album “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like I Do)” reaching #4 on Billboard both in 1981 at which point the group broke up with Ray Parker wanting to go solo.

Ray Parkers solo career would see him score six top 40 hits including “The Other Woman” reaching #4 in the pop charts and the song that he will be forever associated with “Ghostbusters” the title track of the box office hit film of the same name a#1 Billboard hit for 3 weeks in 1984. Given only 2 days to write the title song Ray duly obliged but he never actually sings the word “Ghostbusters” following his question “Who you Gonna Call” it’s the crowd on the set that reply “Ghostbusters”! Ray also became involved in small screen and video acting roles.

In 2014 original members Arnell Carmichael and Vincent Bonham joined by James Carmichael and a up and coming young singer Giovanni Rogers revived “Raydio” featuring as a support act on several major tours. As for the other members of Energy MC2, Ufouma Wallace went on to play with artists such as The Four Tops, The Temptations and Michael Henderson. Eric Wallace and Ernestro Andre' Wilson both played with Michael Henderson's touring band. Eric Wallace played and recorded with Stevie Wonder. Ernestro Wilson also played with the Franklyn Sisters Areatha and Carolyn, as well as Cheryl Lynn and Bettye LaVette amongst others. Other group members, Gordon Carlton, twin brothers Jimmy and Jerome Ali, cousin Kenny Colton and Ernestro Wilson again became the band for ‘Parlet’ (part of the P-Funk family) that helped George Clinton land the Mothership!

Energy MC2 first 45 “If You Break It/Other Side Of The Mirror” first saw the light of day during 2016 and a follow up 45 of two further songs was never far from my thoughts but I was always told that those were Ray Parker Jr’s arrangements and that I would need to deal with him. Over the ensuing years of involvement in securing licensing deals I finally got a contact number for Ray, and duly called him up (and yes he does have the Ghostbusters theme tune as his ringtone!). The Energy MC2 lost session was just a vague and distant memory to Ray but after sending him a copy of the tape transfer to listen to the memories soon came flooding back. Ray was only too pleased to agree to my proposal exclaiming let’s do it Dave it sounds like fun! and so the Energy MC2 stories circle is now complete.

Words by: David Welding & Vincent Bonham

Energy MC2 - Love To Make Love To You
Energy MC2

Photograph courtesy of: Ufuoma Akil-Walace