10 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Miami keyboardist and songwriter Timmy Thomas is one of disco’s secret godfathers and one of the first soul artists to make innovative use of drum machines on record. The majority of Why Can’t We Live Together features Thomas alone at his keyboard, aided only by the ghostly mechanical accompaniment of the Maestro Rhythm Master. This minimal aesthetic gives Thomas a great deal of liberty to improvise, and his wild, oddly percussive keyboard technique provides a slippery, syncopated counterpoint to the Maestro’s rigid percussion patterns, all supported by his exceptional songwriting. Why Can’t We Live Together is full of brooding, downtempo blues numbers that Thomas uses as vehicles to explore themes of loneliness and alienation. “Cold Cold People” plays like a desolate reimagining of The O’Jays’ epochal “Backstabbers” while the slow-burning title track expresses despair at racial divides. Thomas’ debut, with its odd sound and impassioned performances, is an understated masterpiece and stands as one of the strangest and most remarkable soul records ever released.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Miami keyboardist and songwriter Timmy Thomas is one of disco’s secret godfathers and one of the first soul artists to make innovative use of drum machines on record. The majority of Why Can’t We Live Together features Thomas alone at his keyboard, aided only by the ghostly mechanical accompaniment of the Maestro Rhythm Master. This minimal aesthetic gives Thomas a great deal of liberty to improvise, and his wild, oddly percussive keyboard technique provides a slippery, syncopated counterpoint to the Maestro’s rigid percussion patterns, all supported by his exceptional songwriting. Why Can’t We Live Together is full of brooding, downtempo blues numbers that Thomas uses as vehicles to explore themes of loneliness and alienation. “Cold Cold People” plays like a desolate reimagining of The O’Jays’ epochal “Backstabbers” while the slow-burning title track expresses despair at racial divides. Thomas’ debut, with its odd sound and impassioned performances, is an understated masterpiece and stands as one of the strangest and most remarkable soul records ever released.

TITLE TIME

About Timmy Thomas

Timmy Thomas is notable for having been a major one-hit wonder with "Why Can't We Live Together?," a song distinguished by its stripped-down production -- soulful organ, played seemingly improvisationally over a rhythm from a primitive drum machine, with Thomas' impassioned vocals layered over both. The result was a 1973 hit for Thomas and for T.K. Records subsidiary Glades. While Thomas had released records before "Why Can't We Live Together?," and continued to release them afterwards, none of them garnered much in the way of sales. He continued to work on sessions for T.K. Records artists (including Gwen McCrae and Clarence Reid's alter-ego, Blowfly) and could be spotted in the '90s working as a producer for LaFace Records. ~ Steven McDonald

HOMETOWN
Evansville, IN
BORN
November 13, 1944

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