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Another in the long line of talented funk acts to come out of Dayton, Ohio, Lakeside was formed around 1970 by members of two local groups, the Nomads and the Young Undergrounds. The group, consisting of members Otis Stokes, Thomas Shelby, Steve Shockley, Mark Wood, Tierneyer McCain, Norman Beavers, Marvin Craig and Fred Lewis won a contest that sent them to Chicago to record an ill-fated session for Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label. While the recording never materialized, the group had named itself Lakeside Express after a local newspaper.
Smarting from the failed Curtom contract, the group went to California, picking up new member, drummer Fred Alexander, and signing with Motown for a brief relationship that resulted in no releases. A Lakeside Express debut album for the floundering ABC Records followed, but it failed to chart under the weight of the label's problems. However, other California record companies had taken notice, resulting in new opportunities, the best of which was with the former Soul Train Records - by then renamed by Dick Griffey as SOLAR Records - the LA-based label that would become the hottest of the early 80s.
With their name shortened to Lakeside, the group's 1978 party song "It's All the Way Live" shot to the top 5 on the R&B Charts and paved the way for their SOLAR album Shot of Love. This began a string of successful albums for the group and a basketful of great singles that have continued to receive airplay two decades later. Lakeside's gritty funk songs and hand-drawn album covers, portraying group members as pirates, G-Men, Arabian Knights, etc., gave them a unique position among the numerous soul/funk groups of that time.
During the early 80s, Lakeside's members proved themselves to be fine songwriters, penning such funk gems as "Your Wish Is My Command," "Raid" and their biggest hit, "Fantastic Voyage" (later remade by Coolio). But Lakeside also showed itself to be a legitimate soul group, most notably on a wonderfully gritty remake of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," a cut that bore almost no resemblance to the pop classic original but which became one of the great soul songs of 1982.
By the mid-80s, Lakeside began to run out of steam as a recording group, hitting the lower levels on the R&B charts. And after 1987's "Bullseye," and the accompanying album, Power, the group's run had ended and Lakeside broke up.
A form of the group has come together from time to time since then, often playing in multi-artist funk shows.
By Chris Rizik
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