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Michael Henderson - "Treat Me Like a Man" (Buddha 1976)
Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio - "Until the Morning Comes" (Arista 1980)

Michael Henderson was all over the R&B chart throughout late 1975 and 1976 -- you just had to squint to see his name. "Valentine Love" (a duet with Jean Carne), "We Both Need Each Other" (a duet with Phyllis Hyman), and "You Are My Starship" (an ambient-soul ballad with much interstellar brilliance) are all crucial contributions Henderson made to Norman Connors' Saturday Night Special and You Are My Starship. He wrote these songs, he sang on them and, just like that, transformed from a dynamite touring and session bassist -- for Stevie, Aretha, and Jack Johnson-through-Agharta/Pangaea Miles -- to a master balladeer. His dominant presence on the Connors albums led to his own deal with Buddah. Solid, his solo debut, isn't as tight as the albums that would follow, like Goin' Places or In the Night-Time, but its "Be My Girl" started a succession of solo singles that charted through 1983.

One of Solid's best cuts remains the non-single "Treat Me Like a Man" [right click/save as], one of the songs he leant to the Dramatics. The Dramatics' version is brighter, with more of a lilt; Henderson's version would've been central on a steamy loverman album in the vein of I Want You, albeit one with darker undercurrents. The song plays out like a movement (or moodment), unwinding in a fashion that seems both improvised and scrupulously mapped-out. Henderson's hurt, a little more than upset, and that's about all that can be put together from the fragmented lyrics. The lines that spring immediately to mind are "Don't hurt me, don't hurt me," "I put a hold on your check," and "Let me turn you every way but loose." Henderson's voice, versatile enough to switch suddenly between a sickly-sweet falsetto and a primal growl, remains in a vaguely wounded crooning mode. There's no flash in his bass -- the steady piano, the shadowy streaks of organ, and the nearly-piercing guitar are more prominent.

Ray Parker Jr., who is just below Minnie Riperton on the top-ten list of R&B artists whose careers have been overshadowed by one misrepresentative song, was also a touring and session pro before going solo. "The guy who did 'Ghostbusters' – haha," you say. Well, the guy who did "Ghostbusters" also did some guitar on Stevie's Talking Book, Marvin's I Want You, and another one of my all-time hero's Musical Massage. (Parker can also be heard on Goin' Places; he and Henderson go back to the early '60s Detroit scene.) The four albums as/with Raydio are either good or great, especially if your soul and funk don't always have to be gritty and hard.

"Until the Morning Comes" [right click/save as] is somewhere between the simple pop-soul of "Jack and Jill" and "You Can’t Change That" -- or "Mr. Telephone Man," which Parker really should've recorded and released officially before giving it to New Edition -- and the loose funk of "Is This a Love Thing" and "It's Time to Party Now." It's upbeat sophisti-funk, with Parker and company doing their best to flatter a woman, "the main attraction of the night." The many layers, up to and including all the percussion accoutrements, are liquid. The song is placed between Billy Ocean's "Nights" and George Benson's "Love X Love" (Rod Temperton again) on this old 84mb thing that Sam accurately termed "hot flash."

Availability: Henderson's first several albums were reissued through The Right Stuff in the mid '90s. They've since gone out of print. "Treat Me Like a Man" is not on any of the irritatingly inadequate MH anthologies I've seen. The four Raydio albums came out in Japan in the early-to-mid '90s. They're out of print as well. (The first couple Raydio albums on CD routinely hit $100-200 on eBay, while the last two tend to go for $20-$30.) I don’t believe "Until the Morning Comes" has been included on any of numerous RPJ comps (including at least two that have "Ghostbusters" in the title), all of which contain "Ghostbusters."