Loose Change, John & Arthur Simms and more
The ladies of Loose Change were discovered by Tom Moulton and his brother. Moulton produced the album as part of his three-album production commitment with Casablanca. Rising Cost of Love remains a first-rate collection of the R&B-influenced dance music Moulton preferred and was renowned for, especially on his mixes for the Salsoul label. “Straight From the Heart” is the best of a superior bunch. Tom Moulton on Loose Change: “Oh, I love that. I really feel bad because that’s when PolyGram wanted to get rid of all of us. I really thought that was going to be a big album. You have no idea what a great time I had recording those girls. My brother was in Chicago one time and he said, ‘Tom I got these girls’. I said, ‘What is the name?’ He said some hokey name. I go, ‘Well that sucks. I want them to have such a soulful name that I want to drag it down on the ground.” He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Trust me.’
“I wanted something that everybody has and I thought of change in the pocket but then I thought I want to keep it funky and that’s where I got the name ‘Loose Change’. I said, ‘When you stick your hand in your pocket you always got some there!’ So many people said, ‘Did you get the name from (the group) Change?’ I said, ‘No! There was no Change. Change came after Loose Change. Let’s not even go there’. I always like these gutsy, street-y names that are so common. It’s a name that everybody has but yet when they think of ‘Loose Change’, they don’t think of it as money. Isn’t that funny? They think it’s a change that you’re loose about.”
John & Arthur Simms: “Not Gonna Let You Slip Away” (John & Arthur Simms, 1980)
Curatorial Casablanca closes on a rather subdued but radiant note, courtesy of two American ex-patriots. Brothers John and Arthur Simms relocated to Paris after growing up in Baltimore, MD. Arthur Simms wrote and performed on a variety of projects, including a number of session dates with Alec R. Costandinos (see Tony Rallo above). With his brother John, Arthur recorded a full-length album produced by Costandinos. Arranged by Greg Mathieson, John & Arhur Simms is the only album the brothers recorded together for Casablanca.
The album tries to secure a sound in the aftermath of a post-disco haze. The lite-funk of “That Thang of Yours” is less representative of the Simms’ specialty – ballads that sway breezily like palm trees. The gorgeous “Not Gonna Let You Slip Away” is certainly mellow by Casablanca standards but it should not be overlooked. John Simms’ voice creamily caresses the melody and the rhythm section floats beneath like champagne bubbles. It’s the R&B equivalent of the modern day “yacht rock” sobriquet that groups together the LA-based soft rock of the early ‘80s. There’s a real song inside the guilty pleasure, however, indicative by the acoustic arrangement John Simms used when he performed the song live in latter years. Sadly, Arthur Simms passed away in 1987. John Simms appeared regularly throughout Europe and released My Acoustic Soul in 2006 before his own death a year later. The Simms’ Casablanca release is one of only a few remaining documents of the brothers’ considerable talent. Like the songs and albums listed above, and so many more, John and Arthur Simms is a forgotten gem waiting to be burnished.