“He was always my number one choice.” (David Axelrod)
Errisson was not only David Axelrod’s first call for the percussion chair, but he was the first choice for most discerning West Coast producers. King Errisson’s own website lists around 20 albums which feature his percussive skills; these demonstrate his versatility, but are in fact a rather small snapshot of his true workload. He made dates for both Axelrod and the Mizell brothers, the very top of great fusion production, and also appeared on the experimental rock of Tim Buckley’s “Sefronia” and the bubblegum pop of David Cassidy’s big hits. The demand for his talents as a session player limited the time available to pursue a recording career under his own name; this two LPs on one CD project charts his late-70s emergence as a leading man.
In 1976 King Errisson signed with the Detroit independent label Westbound, who had been having success with Funkadelic, the Ohio Players and the Detroit Emeralds and who had just employed Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey as producers with an eye to the new disco sound that was emerging from the clubs. This was a distinct attempt by Errisson to forge a career as a name artist. Both his Westbound albums were hooked around a concept. They were recorded in both Los Angeles and Detroit. The Los Angeles sessions saw the producers and King Errisson take advantage of their full address books, as some of the biggest names in the industry, including Paul Humphrey, James Gadson and Patrice Rushen, appear on the album.
The first album, “The Magic Man”, has a striking cover with Errisson cast as some sort of Lord of the voodoo, reflecting the musical concept. On the back of the LP cover Errisson is so magical that he has made himself disappear! The disco grooves of this album are built around a very funky back beat augmented by his congas and dense musical arrangements. The cover of the Ohio Players’ ‘Sleep Talk’ is an absolute monster, while ‘Back From The Dead’ appears to be summoning monsters. “L. A. Bound”, from 1977, offers a different perspective; it is lighter and more upbeat. In many ways it shows how far the general sound of disco had evolved in the year between his first and second Westbound album. The concept this time is of Errisson’s journey from the Bahamas to Los Angeles. It featured a sizeable club hit in ‘Manhattan Love Song’. Nowadays the album is remembered for the track ‘Well, Have A Nice Day’ which provided the main sample behind Roxanne Shante’s hip hop classic ‘Have A Nice Day’.
After his period with Westbound, Errisson formed his own label Errisong. He has continued to release his own Caribbean-flavoured jazz records and has just released his newest album “Smile” on the Acklins label. Now well into his 60s he still performs live dates as a leader. He remains an in-demand percussionist, and continues to play with Neil Diamond, whose band he joined in 1976. It’s a pleasure to be able to get these two wonderful albums out on CD.
Dean Rudland, 2006