Energy MC2 - If You Break it - New Soul Junction 45
Press Release: Energy MC2 “If You Break It/Other Side Of The Mirror” SJ536
Release Date: Monday December 12th 2016
‘Energy MC2 began as an energetic bunch of 10 and 11 year 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 Ufuomo and Eric Wallace, with the later addition of Fred Gordon. Within months of their 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 name change 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 to 13 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. (See the Magic City concert ticket below although the group are advertised as ‘The Soulful Hounds’).
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”. The group line up on “If You Break It” included Vincent Bonham, Ufuoma Akil-Wallace, Arnell Carmichael, Ernestro Wilson, Opelton Parker, Gordon Carlton, Eric Walace, Leon Lopez, Marvin Carlton and Marlene Rice. While an earlier session had too yielded two further unissued tracks firstly the flipside of the featured 45 single “Other Side Of The Mirror” which featured the same line up of musicians as “If You Break It” but with the addition of a second female vocalist Gwen Laster. While the second song “Juliane” a beautiful mellifluous ballad featured Arnell Carmichael, Vincent Bonham, Ufuomo Akill- Wallace, Eric Wallace and Gordon and Marvin Carlton on it’s recording. (“Juliane” can be found on the recently released “We Got A Sweet Thing Going On” Volume 2 SJCD 5011 compilation album).
Following a later move to Atlanta GA, Energy MC2 signed on with The Greer Agency which 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 South states, from Arkansas to the Carolinas. The band later took a road trip to LA to be produced by Ray Parker, Jr. This collaboration would later lead to Vince Bonham and Arnell Carmichael leaving Energy MC2 to join Ray Parker Jr in forming the band ‘Raydio’. With Arnell’s brother Darren London Carmichael too later joining ‘Raydio’. Ray Parker had learn’t his trade as a session guitarist featuring on several of HDH’s Invictus and Hotwax sessions. Later as a part of Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra, before hitting pay dirt as Ray Parker & Raydio and his solo hit “Ghostbusters” the theme song from the movie of the same name.
Ufouma Wallace went on to play with artists such as The 4 Tops, The Temptations and Michael Henderson. Eric Wallace and Ernestro Andre' Wilson also played with Michael Henderson's touring band. Eric Wallace played and recorded with Stevie Wonder. Ernestro also played with the Franklin sisters Areatha and Carolyn, as well as Cheryl Lynn and Betty LaVette, amongst others. Members Gordon Carlton, twin brothers Jimmy and Jerome Ali, cousin Kenny Colton and Ernestro Wilson became the band for ‘Parlet’ (part of the P-Funk family) helping George Clinton land the Mothership!
Words by: David Welding & Vincent Bonham.
Photograph courtesy of: Ufuoma Akil-Walace
Acknowledgements to: Vincent Bonham, Ufuoma Akil-Wallace, Arnell Carmichael, Dwayne “Loc” Lomax and ye olde soul detective Dave Thorley.