Tony Benton & Teleclere - Fantasy Love EP
Tony Benton was the driving force behind the Seattle sound during the late 70s & 80s and formed his group Teleclere, who went on to release their first single in 1982, Fantasy Love / Ultra Groove. Through the success of their independant release, Teleclere followed up a year later with their Affection/Defection album. The group disbanded shortly after and now, 36 years later we have the pleasure to announce the Tony Benton & Teleclere - Fantasy Love EP.
The tracks have been sitting on DAT tapes until early 2018 and this release is the first step to reviving their iconic sound via an initial 5 track steppers EP. 4 tracks are previously unreleased and haven't been heard since they were recorded back in the early 80s.
A few words from Tony Benton...
My earliest memories are of being fascinated by music coming out of the radio. 'Parliaments Mothership Connection'. I remember very clearly hearing "Do not attempt to adjust your radio" come out of the combination TV, radio and record player. It was different than the other music. I thought, "I wanna do that". Then sitting at a piano for the first time at 10 years old, cautiously pressing one of the keys and hearing that note. I remember thinking "whoa, I made music". Then finally getting to take a music class in the 7th grade and having access to an electric piano. I fell in love with the thought that I could make music.
The first version of Teleclere came about when I was 16. I had formed a group with friends at the age of 14 called 'Crystal Clear'. We would make up songs in my basement. The iteration of Teleclere that made our first record was at 19 years old. Me and a group of four friends, five total that i'd been playing with occassionally. We went into the studio and recorded original songs. The owner of the studio wanted to sign us to his record label. We stayed together about a year. (Thats a longer story). The next iteration of Teleclere was when I was twenty. It was just three guys. Primarily just myself and the drummer TC Wilson. Thats when I really started playing all of the other instruments. The goal was to create original music. Less focus on performing live so I didnt have to deal with the personalities and conflict. Plus the pool of musicians who wanted to play originals was not a deep pool. Mostly fringe artists or people who had no experience playing in a band. That was ok, i thought the challenge was exciting. Eventually I added Kyle McKinney on guitar and vocals to complete the Affection/Defection album. I continued to record and perform under the name 'Teleclere' with various players and vocalists. Sometimes I would record and play all of the instruments, sometimes I would work with different musicians. TC, Kyle and Bernard Thomas were a foundation I enjoyed performing and writing with. It was more difficult to find musicians who were interested in creating original music because 'cover bands' got all the work and noteriety. I always wanted a band that played original music. Thats why I started writing. I enjoyed writing with others who wanted to create. I would end up arranging their ideas into songs, refining and producing tracks and still writing, producing, arranging, engineering and performing my own music in the studio. For about seven years Teleclere performed and created original music. A handful of the tracks were released. But I was still recording music with a variety of musicians and vocalists. Whenever I performed as Teleclere the band members would have to learn to play the original music, just like they would do in cover bands.
It was pretty cool to have creative musicians gravitate towards me at that time because they knew I was about creating and performing original music. There was no music scene in Seattle at that time for a black artist or group who played original music. Rap was also emerging and clubs were switching to deejays from live performance.
It was more about playing original music than it was about forming a set band to play clubs. There just werent the venues or opportunities and hiring a deejay was less expensive and the deejays played all of the popular music. Dealing with the various personalities and drama of a band was also complex. It always felt like the odds were against me. I found it easier to write and record music and then vocalists and musicians would ask to play and perform with me. I recorded way more material than I released.
Our first big show opening for national artist Peabo Bryson. It was just him and us performing for 3,000 in Seattle our hometown. The Affection/Defection album had recently been released. There was a lot of hype and it was one of the first times a local group had heen asked to open for a national act concert at the historic Paramount Theater in Seattle. Normally another national act would open the bill. Afterwards Peobo came into our dressing room and told us he liked our music and we did a great job. We had a blast on stage, no fear. We were young and felt like we were bringing something new and fresh to the Seattle music scene. We were playing our original music with a well know national headliner. We killed it! Even if people were unfamiliar with our music (which they were not familiar) we still got great feedback about our performance, uniqueness, originality and music. Sadly, radio would not play our music so folks never really had the chance to hear it unless they saw us live...But, if given the chance we always won the crowd over. We were confident, naive and just happy to be playing because gigs were few and far between. Venues wanted to hear cover bands playing top 40 music.
We opened concerts for national artists regularly in concert halls and clubs. We played at nightclubs, bars, festivals and private parties. We did mini tours in Washington State cities and in British Columbia, Canada..mostly Vancouver BC, which was more accepting to live music and original music.
The Fantasy Love EP documents music from the early stages of my career that I recored when I 19-24 years old. 1979- 1984. My goal was to try and create music. Hopefully people would listen and like it. If not, I still enjoyed creating, playing multiple instuments and expressing, writing, arranging and producing. After not having major success. In particular black radio never seemed to dig my music. Interestingly, white audiences did. At the time that was dissapointing. I stopped writing. I didnt touch an instrument for 30 years. I didnt even mention being a musician as part of my history. I became a radio personality, among other things. It's pretty incredible that there is interest in music that I created 30-35 years ago. Not surprising that its happening in Europe where there is more acceptance of music broadly and less expectation about how you should sound as a black artist. The whole music career was a past I had left behind...never did I think it would be resurrected!