Dexter Wansel

Time Is Slipping Away (Philadelphia International) 1979

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Time Is Slipping Away

A year after joining Philadelphia International in 1975 as a songwriter, arranger, and keyboardist, Dexter Wansel followed in the footsteps of fellow P.I. staffer Bunny Sigler in releasing a solo album with his debut Life on Mars. The title track is considered a Paradise Garage disco classic, while the first twelve seconds of “Theme from the Planets” contains a ubiquitous hip-hop breakbeat utilized by everyone from Boogie Down Productions to the Chemical Brothers.

Three years later, Wansel released his fourth and final solo album for Philadelphia International entitled Time Is Slipping Away. While his dexterous keyboard chops and knack for arranging imbued his previous efforts with a jazz-fusion sensibility, Wansel serves up hearty portions of funk and disco throughout the course of these eight tracks. With background vocals by his newly signed labelmates the Jones Girls and penmanship from his longtime writing partner Cynthia Biggs, Wansel sojourns through globe-trotting odes to posh discotheques (“I’ll Never Forget [My Favorite Disco]”), mellow quiet-storm groovers (“The Sweetest Pain,” featuring lead vocals by Brandi Wells—credited as Terri Wells), and the bass-poppin’ roller-skating jams (“Let Me Rock You”). The centerpiece here is arguably the beautifully crafted mid-tempo cut “New Beginning,” featuring robust vocals by songwriter and popular session guitarist James “Herb” Smith.

Though the album was the lowest charting of his career, Wansel’s musical prowess would spur on other successes. Wells’s solo career was launched on the strength of her Wansel-arranged underground classic, “Watch Out,” released on WMOT Records in 1981. The Jones Girls would receive a Wansel-crafted R&B hit in the form of “Nights Over Egypt” a year later. In 1986, U.K. R&B trio Loose Ends included a cover of “The Sweetest Pain” on their high- ly successful Zagora album. Parisian trip-hop pioneer DJ Cam sampled the song on his 1994 cut “Dieu Reconnaitra Les Siens.” Most notably, “New Beginning” was the basis for former Bad Boy hip-hop trio the LOX’s 1998 Top 40 hit, “Money, Power & Respect.”

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