Mates' Crates: Dennis Edwards - Don't Look Any Further

Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. This time, perhaps more musical connections than ever before. 

Label: Gordy | Year: 1984 | Discogs: Dennis Edwards Featuring Siedah Garrett - Don't Look Any Further

With my last few columns focusing on my personal connection to a couple of records, I’ve missed nerding out samples and family ties. That opportunity presented itself after picking up a copy of Dennis Edwards’ “Don’t Look Any Further” while in Liverpool for the first Melt My Heart show last week.

Born near Birmingham, Alabama, he began singing as a toddler in his father’s church, rising to become its choir director by the time the family moved to Detroit. The musical connections begin when Edwards joined gospel group The Mighty Clouds of Joy as a teenager. Despite his family’s disapproval  of his interest in secular music, he successfully auditioned for Motown and was assigned to The Contours, a band which regularly opened for The Temptations. 

At this time, Temptations members Otis Williams and Eddie Kendricks (genuinely Kendrick Lemar’s namesake) were considering replacing lead singer David Ruffin. A couple of months of firing, hiring, stage-crashing, and no-showing later, Edwards joined the band. He led the group through its psychedelic, funk and disco period, with Grammy-winning hits including “Cloud Nine” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”. 

Edwards himself was fired from The Temptations in 1977, by which point Kendrick had been pursuing a solo career for some years. In 1984, Edwards launched his own with “Don’t Look Any Further”, a solid nineties jam released on Motown founder Berry Gordy's side-label six years before anyone knew what those sounded like yet. The song is a collaboration with singer Siedah Garrett, who toured with Madonna, worked extensively with Quincy Jones and co-wrote a soundtrack with Sergio Mendes.

In the decade that followed, Edwards re-joined the Temptations, toured with Ruffin and Kendricks, and was later barred from using the band’s name by its original founder. 

As well as a relationship with Aretha Franklin (who cites him as the inspiration behind her 1972 track “Day Dreaming”), Edwards was briefly married to Ruth Pointer. Their daughter Issa later joined her mother in The Pointer Sisters. Connections for days, but I’m just getting started.

Whilst the music video for “Don’t Look Any Further” was once described as “the worst ever”, the track itself has been sampled over a hundred times. The list feels almost endless: Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid In Full”, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Mary J. Blige, TLC, even Yorkshire deep house producer Hot Since 82 and a SoundCloud rapper called Yung Gravy.

I think that's all the musical connections I can handle. If you were after lots, don't look any further.