The Dude was the right album at the right time.
Daryl Easlea 2009
Released in 1981, The Dude was the right album at the right time. The 48-year old Quincy Jones, was then hotter than he’d ever been in his lengthy career for his production of Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking Off The Wall. And that had been some career. He’d worked with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald; played the trumpet with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker; composed the score for 35 movies – including In The Heat Of The Night, In Cold Blood and the TV series Roots
The Dude was a fantastic collaborative effort, which finally gave him the solo artist breakthrough that he’d craved for many years. He moved out from being the respected name on the back of album sleeves to fully standing centre stage. With it came this platinum seller that earned him no less than five Grammys.
The lead single was a cover of Ai No Corrida, already released by A&M’s then- new golden boy, Chaz Jankel. Jankel, known to UK audiences as Ian Dury’s right-hand man in the Blockheads, served up a lusty tale based around the Japanese sensual movie of the same name. It was a perfect choice, crashing into the US Top 30.
The Dude launched the singing careers of Patti Austin (Jones’ goddaughter) and James Ingram. Rod Temperton’s Razzamatazz, a UK hit, showed the Austin’s sweetness. The album’s standout however was the cool grove of the Stevie Wonder-penned Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me, arranged by Jones and Wonder and based around the aching throb of Stevie’s Yamaha CS 80 synthesiser.
Jones’ next production was the best selling album of all-time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was as if the collaborative work on The Dude had sharpened even further his innate sense of commercialism.