American jazz band The Crusaders. It was a top 20 album on three Billboard charts and represents the peak of the band's commercial popularity. The title track, featuring singer Randy Crawford, was a Top 40 pop single (#36) and became the group's most successful entry on the soul chart (#17). It was #5 on the UK charts.. "Street Life" also hit the disco chart, peaking at #75, and was re-recorded by Doc Severinsen with Crawford reprising her vocal for the opening sequence of the noir crime drama Sharky's Machine, directed by Burt Reynolds in 1981. This faster paced and more powerful version was also featured in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, released in 1997. The song is also featured in Grand Theft Auto V.
Although the Crusaders could not have known it at the time, their recording of "Street Life" (which features a memorable vocal by Randy Crawford)
was a last hurrah for the 20-year old group. Their recordings of the
next few years would decline in interest until the band gradually faded
away in the '80s. However this particular set is well worth picking up
for the 11-minute title cut and there is good playing by the three
original members (Wilton Felder on tenor, soprano and electric bass, keyboardist Joe Sample and drummer Stix Hooper) along with guitarist Barry Finnerty; horn and string sections, plus additional guitarists are utilized on Sample's commercial but listenable arrangements..
I bought this album when it first came out in '79. This is the
album that introduced the Crusaders to a much wider audience and did the
same for MISS RANDY CRAWFORD. This is a musical match made in HEAVEN.
The only drawback is that Randy and the group didn't work together more
often after this project.
This album is one of the classic jazz/funk
exercises of the era. A time when the fusion of jazz and funk was at
perfection. To me, jazz/funk has evolved into "acid jazz" more so than
"smooth jazz" and with the Crusaders, and this album, you're listening
to the innovators of both genres.
The jam "Street Life," starts the
album off with a bang. This tune paints a picture of "street life" at
its classiest, thanks to Randy's vocal performance. You are given a
picture of how you can "play your life away," but because Randy's vocal
is so seductive, you want to take your chances and play anyway.
there, you move to the funky/smooth "My Lady" and Wilton Felder's
melodic sax. Then it's back to groovin' with "Rodeo Drive." The
Crusaders keep it funky with "Carnival of the Night" and "The Hustler."
Then they smooth it out with "Night Faces."
Adding to the seductive
nature of the album is Wilton Felder's horn work. It is his playing
along with the standout title track that sets the mood for your musical
experience. You listen to this and you can picture yourself living the
"street life." A masterpiece.
Of all the great albums the Crusader's have issued, Street Life is tops.
Its kind of ironic that I didn't really like the title cut when it was
released,(preferring instrumentals instead) but now it is one of my two
favorite cuts on the album. Its not just the tremendous voice of Randy
Crawford, its the awful plain truth of the lyrics. People in the fast
lane living the street life would do well to heed the song's powerful
message. The instrumentals are great too, but the real stand-out is the
sax-powered Rodeo Drive (High Steppin'). I can listen to that over and
over again. I've owned Street Life since its release more than 20
years ago and I never get tired of hearing it as it is positively
The Crusaders' 1979 album 'Street Life' would have to be one of the
greatest albums ever made to date. The reason for that would have to be
the classic disco-jazz-funk song of the same name in which the great
soul singer Randy Crawford helped make into a huge hit.
(saxophones/bass), Joe Sample (keyboards) and Stix Hooper (drums) show
why they know how to keep things together on the whole album musically
and universally, even with the help of other sessions musicians like
bassist Robert 'Pops' Popwell and guitarist Larry Carlton and the use of
some peachy string, horn or other instrumental arrangements here and
A Must-Buy and Must-Hear Experince for any Crusaders fans wherever you might be in the world.
"Street Life" (Will Jennings, Joe Sample) – 11:18
"My Lady" (Wilton Felder) – 6:43
"Rodeo Drive (High Steppin')" (Sample) – 4:28
"Carnival of the Night" (Felder) – 6:24
"The Hustler" (Stix Hooper) – 5:18
"Night Faces" (Sample) – 5:10
Arthur Adams - guitar
Roland Bautista - guitar
Oscar Brashear - trumpet
Garnett Brown - trombone
Randy Crawford - vocals
Paulinho Da Costa - percussion
Wilton Felder - saxophone, bass guitar, producer
Barry Finnerty - guitar
William Green - saxophone
Stix Hooper - drums, producer
Paul Jackson Jr. - guitar
James Jamerson - bass guitar
Alphonso Johnson - bass guitar
Robert O'Bryan - trumpet
Jerome Richardson - saxophone
Billy Rogers - guitar