Most people rightfully put Prince (and Stevie Wonder, of course),at the head of the class when it comes to making synthesizers commonplace in R&B music, but it’s also worth noting that there was a cool little salt-and-pepper duo called The System that were one of the first heavily electronic R&B groups to hit big in the Eighties. The average person remembers the duo (comprised of singer Mic Murphy and keyboardist David Frank) for their 1987 smash “Don’t Disturb This Groove”. What the average person doesn’t know is that “Disturb” was the title track to their FOURTH album (of six overall). The duo had already been scoring hits on the R&B chart for a half decade prior to mining crossover gold, including the original version of “You Are in My System” (which later became a hit for Robert Palmer), and “This is for You”, a tender almost-ballad that hit the Top 10 on the R&B charts in 1985.
Thanks in part to my friend Paul, I own five of the six System albums, and they all have pretty good moments on them. David Frank was definitely ahead of his time musically, and Mic Murphy is a hell of a singer. David was the first person I ever saw using a keytar (on “Soul Train”), and I can distinctly remember being at a family house party as a kid (I was 6 or 7) and being possessed by the dance demon while their song “It’s Passion” played. It was like the part in “Blame it on the Boogie” where Michael sings “I just can’t control my feet”. Although Michael doesn’t say anything about exposing himself, which I think I might have done. Memories.
The System last surfaced a decade or so ago, and I’m really not sure what they’ve been up to. Murphy seemed to be a prime candidate for a solo career, but the only non-System peepings I’ve heard from him were on a Tom Jones album back in the mid-nineties (on a song called “Something for Your Head”-which was produced by Teddy Riley and also featured background vocals by Andre Cymone…talk about your R&B all-star team). Meanwhile, Frank has made a decent living as a songwriter/producer, with his most famous song being a little ditty called “Genie in a Bottle”, which wound up being a hit for some Christina chick.
Whaddya say, Mic and David? Another reunion album? Real music (and yes, real music can be synthesized) is always appreciated!