BYRON STINGILY with FRANKIE FELICIANO , PETER & TYRONE , NICK HOLDER , ANGEL & CULLEN and JOHN KUMAHARA at Roxy Blu (12 Brant), Friday (January 23). $10 before 11 pm, more after. email@example.com Rating: NNNNN
From a fan's perspective, it always seems like Atlantic Records could have done more with Ten City, the legendary Chicago house music band fronted by vocalist Byron Stingily and produced by Marshall Jefferson. Some of Ten City's songs, like Devotion and That's The Way Love Is, will be familiar even to those with only a passing interest in dance music while ranking among the biggest anthems of all time for those immersed in the culture. In the years since Ten City broke up in the early 90s, Stingily has gone on to record two solo albums and numerous singles but never really topped the success of his early work. It's still pretty common to hear at least one Ten City track at the average deep house event, and the tunes are ubiquitous at any classic house party.
A few years back, Jerome Sydenham had the bright idea of licensing their back catalogue and re-releasing it through his Ibadan label. This also opened up the possibility of new remixes and helped kick-start the upstart label with reworkings by New York talents like Joe Claussell and Kerri Chandler.
Stingily may appreciate what they added, but he doesn't sound pleased with how the catalogue was handled.
"I don't know if the term -bought up' is really appropriate," Stingily says on the phone from his Chicago home. "Atlantic still owns it, but they worked something out with the Ibadan label so they could put it out.
"To tell the truth, I haven't really given it that much thought - it's a bit of a touchy subject for me. I don't really know how it was handled business-wise. They didn't really involve me."
Surprisingly, given that Ten City's soulful, song-based club hits didn't translate often onto the pop charts, Stingily has few complaints about his experiences with major labels.
"Ten City had a lot of success with Atlantic," he says. "We had two number-one Billboard dance singles, one top-10 pop record in Europe and four or five top-40 pop records in Europe. We would have liked to have done better - everyone who's making music would - but we were still one of the most successful dance groups of all time, so they did a pretty good job.
"A lot of people who started out and had mega-hits since I've been around have come and gone, and I'm still able to put out records, and people still want to hear me perform. I'm really thankful that I have my own space in music. I could wish for more, but I'm still very happy with all that's gone on and that's going on in my career."
These days he's excited about collaborations with DJ Pierre (who pioneered the acid sound in the late 80s) and Lenny Fontana as well as his plans to start his own label. He still has no plans to re-form Ten City, but he is entertaining the idea of putting together and managing a boy band to make another attempt at bringing song-based dance music to a wider audience.
Stranger things have happened.