(By Sam Armstrong for UDiscoverMusic) Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly were one of the most popular R&B acts in America when they played a two-night stand at New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre in November 1980. The resulting concert recording, released in January 1981, not only encapsulated the energy of the San Francisco group’s live performances but became one of their best-selling records – and forever tied them to New Orleans. Now, 40 years later, a deluxe reissue will celebrate this enduring title.
In stores February 19 – just in time for the Mardi Gras – Live in New Orleans features newly-remastered audio from the original analog tapes. The 2LP set comes pressed on 180-gram black vinyl, while a limited edition will be available on standard-weight white vinyl – paying homage to frontman Frankie Beverly’s signature white stage outfits, as well as to the audience members who followed suit, donning all-white at Maze shows.
Upon its release, Live in New Orleans reached No.3 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart and No.34 on the Billboard 200. Highlights include extended live sets of Maze’s top 10 R&B hits – “Feel That You’re Feelin’” and “Southern Girl” – plus the definitive live versions of album cuts like “Look At California” and the massively-popular “Joy and Pain,” which is transformed into a thrilling audience sing-along.
Side Four of the album offers four studio recordings (captured at San Francisco’s Automatt Recording Studio), including the top 10 R&B hit “Running Away,” and the Maze anthem, “Before I Let Go” – the latter of which was covered by Beyonce for her 2019 Homecoming: The Live Album.
Maze was founded by Frankie Beverly in 1970 under the moniker Raw Soul. In the middle of the decade, after relocating to San Francisco, the band caught the ear of Marvin Gaye. Under Gaye’s wing, the band changed their name to Maze, and joined the soul star on the road as his opening act. Read more here.