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Interview with Alan Weekes (Prodcuer of Clarity)

Alan Weekes was the producer of the ever indemand record by Clarity on the little british Bpop label. Really great funk in the likes of Universe and The UK Players. 'The Way U Make Me Feel' from 1985 is a bright song that has fantastic vocals and musically very well arranged too. On the b-side there's the title 'Turning Over' which is the instrumental version of 'The Way U Make Me Feel'. Read all about the record in the interview I had with Alan Weekes.

'Clarity - The Way U Make Me Feel'. Not many people may know this great production, but those funkateers who do hear it for the first time are, without exception, stunned by it. And that's because it has everyhing that makes a tune stand out from the rest; great bassline, melody, and excellent vocals. Today I talk with the producer of Clarity, mister Alan Weekes.
Hello Alan, how are you?

Alan Weekes:

Hi Ed, I am well thanks.

So you are the guy that produced one of my favorite records, i'm happy to be able to ask you about the band and the music. But first tell me, where are you from and what is your musical background?

Alan Weekes:

I am from London, my parents are from Barbados and I was born in 1958. I play guitar, Jazz, Reggae, R&B, Pop, Rock. I appeared on TV with Sugar Minott's 'Good Thing Going' with the legendary Jackie Mittoo from Jamaica. I went on to write and produce many of the Lovers Rock artist in Britain and R&B.

What i understand from your website is that you are in essence a SKA/Reggae producer right? Were you more into soul and funk back in the days or were you just experimenting?

Alan Weekes:

I was experimenting, I like a lot of different styles, including Hip Hop.

Who were the other members of Clarity and where did you get to know eachother from?

Alan Weekes:

Clarity were a gospel group and the song was eventually meant to be a gospel song. My cousin Ralph Weekes (R.I.P.) was instrumental in setting up a label and asked me to produce them. So Bpop Records was my cousin's label with him as executive producer and me as music producer. The Clarity band used to attend the same church as us so that's where we met eachother. The main band members were: Simon Wallace (lead vocalist), Paul Powell (bass guitar), and me on lead and rhythm. There were other musicians as well but I can't recall everybody in the band, not everyone played on the
recording of 'The Way U Make Me Feel'.

Can you tell me how you came about to record 'The Way U Make Me Feel'? Did you write the words and music?

Alan Weekes:

The song was written by Simon Wallace, but I played a heavy part in the arrangements.

What equipment did you use for the music?

Alan Weekes:
We used the Soundcraft desk, Linn drum machine and probably a Yamaha DX 7 keyboard. And for extra vocals I brought in background vocalist Esta Benjamin.

Was this the only song you recorded with Clarity?

Alan Weekes:

Yes. We did some other stuff on the Bpop label like La Famille which was a band I created. We released a track called 'Lost in Paradise' featuring Cleveland Wakiss. I also produced two other singles for La Famille, but not on the Bpop label. The tracks are called 'Dancer' featuring Caron Wheeler and 'All Night Long' also with Caron Wheeler. She later went on to sing with the hitgroup Soul To Soul.

Was 'The Way U Make Me Feel' only intended for the local market or was it also exported outside the UK?

Alan Weekes:

Both I presume, we would have wanted to go world wide.

How was the response upon your record, was it picked up quickly by the radio DJ's?

Alan Weekes:

I don't remember it being picked up quickly by DJ's or radio. It was very difficult at the time for British R&B or black music from England.

Did you perform live with Clarity or was it solely a studioproject?

Alan Weekes:

It was solely a studio project for me. But the band Clarity performed in church as they were basically a gospel group.

What do you feel about the record and to know that it's so indemand? People pay up to 250 GBP for it. You must be proud of it.

Alan Weekes:

I am surprised at the response. I am proud and pleased that it still has interest after all this time. And I didnt know it was a sought after record, it is really amazing!

Do you still see the other members of Clarity? If you do, send them my best wishes for 2011. I want to thank you for this interview. You gave Funk lovers something that will be appreciated for many years to come.
Thank you Alan..

Alan Weekes:

I haven't seen them since the 80's, mainly because I am not a church goer anymore and most of them have left the bussines. I have heard that Simon the lead vocalist is a pastor now. Paul the bass player still plays i think. He was a great player and collaborated with me on the production and wanted to make sure I was the right producer for his band. Thank you very much for the interview too and all the best for you in 2011. Cheers.

Alan Weekes.

December, 2010

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