For most musical acts, their careers span just a few fleeting years with one or two, maybe three or four – at best – albums to their credit. But Mint Condition has been going strong for more than 20 years and earlier this month the group released its eighth studio album, "Music @ the Speed of Life." Add the fact that Mint Condition is a band with all of its members trained musicians, and it makes the group even more of a rarity – especially in R&B/soul music. And there are certainly very few – if any – acts that can say its eighth release in a 20-plus year career debuted number one on iTunes.
Images courtesy of Mint Condition
"It's like the African proverb says, 'If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together," said keyboardist Lawrence Waddell, who prefers to go by Lawrence El. "We just kind of jelled. It's the love we have of music and love for one another that keeps us together."
And it is the music that has endeared Mint to a legion of faithful fans worldwide. The fan support was no more evident than on the album's release date, when "Music" soared to number one on the iTunes R&B album chart. iTunes is the world's leading online music outlet.
Mint bassist Rick Kinchen said with this latest release, "Music" was a completely collaborative effort among the group. "This was a record where everybody was on the same page on every song," said Kinchen. "When we were putting this CD together it just all fell perfectly in place."
With the new album, Mint ventured into uncharted territories for the band. The most notable difference in the Mint sound this time around is the addition of horns.
"We talked for years about adding horns and with this album it totally took it to another place," said guitarist Homer O'Dell. "And to have Eric Leeds; one of my favorite horn players on this (album) is amazing."
The horns on the album are courtesy of M Factory Horns (Leeds, Bradley Shermock and Michael Nelson). Leeds arranged all the horn for the album.
Mint also collaborated with the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff for the song, "Girl of My Life" and rapper, Brother Ali, who provides a powerful verse on SixFortyNine/Changes.
"I don't think anybody could have done a better verse on that song than Brother Ali," said Kinchen.
Mint is preparing to take the stage where it all began for them (the group performed there when they were seen – and later signed – by the legendary production duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) at the famed downtown Minneapolis club, First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. The upcoming show takes place on Friday, Sept. 28.
Mint keyboardist, Jeffrey Allen, said the group's live show is the reason the group has endured for so many years.
"Our live show is where we excel," said Allen. "That's our biggest asset; it's our biggest advertisement. We're no holds barred on stage. It's emotional up there on stage."
The group said the M Factory Horns will be joining them on stage for the Sept. 28 First Avenue show.
"One of the good things about being a live band is you never know what to expect," said O'Dell. "This is going to be a fun, exciting show."
An Evening with Mint Condition
First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N, Minneapolis (www.first-avenue.com)
Friday, Sept. 28
Doors: 8 p.m.
Admission: $26 in advance $29 at the door
Ages 18 and up
The new single "Believe In Us" is currently at #15 UAC, and the new album "Music @ the Speed of Life" (just released) is ALREADY #1 on the iTunes R&B album chart!