Jazz Dispensary has announced the latest release in its acclaimed Top Shelf series, Pleasure’s long out-of-print classic Joyous.
Produced by Wayne Henderson (The Jazz Crusaders), the 1977 album delivers instant party vibes, thanks to a lively blend of soul, funk, disco, and jazz. As with every title in the album-centric Top Shelf series—which reissues the highest-quality, hand-picked rarities (all culled from Craft Recordings’ vaults)—Joyous has been cut from the original analog tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed on audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl at RTI.
The LP is housed in a tip-on jacket, featuring faithfully reproduced original designs. Returning to vinyl for the first time since its original release, Joyous is out January 6 and available to pre-order now.
Hailing from Portland, OR, Pleasure formed in 1972, blending the talents of two local acts: The Franchise (featuring drummer Bruce Carter, guitarist Marlon “The Magician” McClain, and bassist Nathaniel Phillips) and The Soul Masters (featuring keyboardists and brothers Donald and Michael Hepburn, saxophonist Dennis Springer, trombonist/guitarist Dan Brewster, vocalist Sherman Davis, and percussionist Bruce Smith).
Soon, the nonet’s electric fusion of soul, jazz, and funk caught the ears of Jazz Crusaders co-founder and trombonist Wayne Henderson. Under Henderson’s wing, Pleasure signed to Fantasy Records (home to the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Vince Guaraldi), where the soul jazz star would produce four of the band’s albums, including their 1975 debut, Dust Yourself Off, 1976’s Accept No Substitutes, and 1977’s Joyous.
Since its release, Joyous has only grown in its popularity and has become a sought-after favorite of DJs. Reflecting on the album, AllMusic called it “a classic that underscores Pleasure’s risk-taking nature.” The UK-based Soul and Jazz and Funk hailed it as “a must-own for jazz-funk enthusiasts,” while Soulstrut praised Joyous as “the apex of [Pleasure’s] sophisticated, matured sound.”
Over the decades, several of the songs on Joyous have found new lives through samples—particularly the title track, which has appeared in releases by Janet Jackson, LL Cool J, Eric B. & Rakim, Sugarhill Gang, and Daft Punk, among many others. “Let Me Be the One,” meanwhile, was also sampled in tracks by the likes of Public Enemy and Ultramagnetic MCs.