And so begins the Saga of Steve Arrington, as he may be the link I need to dive deep into the legacy of Dayton street-funk – the roots, the drama, the excess, the post-boom when everyone was snatching up samples. Arrington is a preacher now in Springfield, Ohio, but was one of the founders of Slave, who, besides Zapp, may be the biggest band of the era. And just as I start peeling off the layers of Slave, I discover the Young Mystics and Black Satin Soul (if there are recordings please let me know), the offshoots from the crumbling Ohio Players, etc.
Arrington went on to have a modicum of success with his Hall of Fame band, and then as a solo artist in the early ‘80s before finding Jesus and giving up the ghosts for his savior. He’ll argue against this claim, but because of this his career (at least in the mainstream and the funk circles, suffered). That’s what brings us to this little oddity known as “No Reason,” Arrington’s one-off single released in 1991 for RCA. Again, thanks to scouring the Elliott Museum I dug this up. This was always one of my favorites and in recent years remained lost until a month or two ago. Believe me, I’ve tried from the beginning of Napster till now to find this digitally to no avail. There’s barely any mention of it anywhere on the nets. So if you find one on vinyl, I’ve got ten dollars right here I’ll gladly give you.
Back to the matter at hand. “No Reason” was a local hit in Dayton, especially on U92 FM, my default go-to station at the time. My only theory is that Arrington was set on resurrecting his career by cashing in on the New Jack Swing movement that Teddy Riley just began. And “No Reason” is a bumping little track, full of New Jack hallmarks – like whistles and screech beats, female back-ups, and sex talk with a voice that was made for lovin’. One of the greatest gifts of Arrington was his sultry mid-range (think Johnny Gill for reference, just heard “My, My, My” the other night) and here he’s still got it. So what became of this shoulda-been-a-hit? It don’t think it even charted outside of Montgomery County, but I’m intrigued to know if this was just the tip of Arrington’s New Jack comeback. Are there tapes lying around somewhere with more of this gold? Someone let me know. I’m waiting.