Pioneering synth duo the System rode the '80s wave of emerging synth/MIDI music technology to help lay the foundation for contemporary electronic popular music with their upfront, unapologetic use of synths and intelligent songwriting.
In the early '80s, singer Mic Murphy and keyboardist David Frank met in New York. Collecting on studio time that he had bartered for in exchange for playing on sessions, Frank asked Murphy to join him in the studio to work on some ideas. After their overnight session, Murphy took the master tape to an engineer friend that transferred the tape onto a 12" lacquer record. The duo took the record to Atlantic's Mirage Records and were signed right away.
Their 1982 single "You Are in My System" quickly became the rage on both the dancefloor and on urban-formatted radio, leading to the release of Sweat on Mirage/Atlantic. Other tracks from the album got dancefloor attention, such as "Sweat" and "I Can't Let Go." Their next album, X-periment, included the infectious "I Just Want to Make You Feel Good," the sweet ballad "Promises" b/w "X-periment," and the stunningly passionate "I Can't Take Losing You." In 1986, the duo performed the title album track/hit single "The Pleasure Seekers" on Miami Vice. The LP contained "Groove" precursor "This Is for You," which was the second single. 1987 was a great year for the System, giving them their biggest hit. The title track of their album Don't Disturb This Groove went to number one R&B and number three pop. The tune was also used as the basis of one of the last tracks released by Tupac Shakur. The next release, Midnight Lover, cracked the pop Top 20.
Their fresh approach put the System in high demand as producers, songwriters, and musicians. They can be heard on Chaka Khan's cover of Prince's "I Feel for You" and Mtume's "Juicy Fruit" (both million-sellers). The latter record was later used by the Notorious B.I.G. for his gold record "Juicy." The list continues with Phil Collins' "Sussudio," Angela Bofill's "Can't Slow Down," Pauli Carmen's "Dial My Number," Ashford & Simpson, and Jeff Lorber's "Step by Step." They contributed to the movie soundtracks for two Eddie Murphy blockbusters, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America (the title track went Top Ten pop). Even though it seemed that everyone wanted to work with the System, the pair decided not to spread themselves too thin and turned down a lot of offers. They opened their own recording studio called Science Lab Music.
1989's Rhythm & Romance ("Midnight Special," "Have Mercy," "Soul to Soul") was the duo's last album. During early 1991, Mic Murphy released a solo album on East West called Touch ("Fit to Be Tied"), which had a lot of System overtones. Frank did concert dates backing Annie Lennox during the recording of her Live in Central Park CD and video (Arista). He's also active in production, working with Omar, Dionne Farris, female pop vocal trio Wild Orchid, and Rebbie Jackson. ~ Ed Hogan