By Alex Johnson
As the creative force behind the Timex Social Club’s R&B chart-topper single “Rumors”, producer Jay King decided he could find success by forming his own funk group. He named the group Club Nouveau, and consisted of Jay King, Denzil Foster, Thomas McElroy, Samuelle Pratter, and Valerie Watson. The group was brought together in 1986 in Sacramento.
Club Nouveau was a band known for their funk and disco tunes. As a new band, their career began with instant success. The group had four consecutive hits the first two years from their debut album, Life, Love & Pain: “Jealousy,” “Situation #9,” a cover of “Lean on Me” originally by Bill Withers, and “Why You Treat Me So Bad.” The last two songs both climbed to hold the number-two spot on the Billboard R&B charts. Their debut album garnered much praise and eventually gained the certification of platinum.
At the height of the group’s popularity, Club Nouveau held tension amongst each other. Members McElroy, Pratter, and Foster left the group only to be replaced by David Agent and Kevin Irving. With a different roster, the band started to make different music. Their next albums were laced with an evolving social consciousness, but unfortunately were unpopular commercially. The next album, Listen to the Message, which was released in 1988, peaked at #44 on the R&B charts. Their third studio album, Under a Nouveau Groove, released in 1989, was the last album to be released by Warner Brothers Records. After changing record labels, Club Nouveau suffered. “A New Beginning”, the group’s 1992 album released under the record label Quality Music, only peaked #80 on the R&B charts. The 1995 album Everything Is Black did not chart. The group’s final recordings for Tommy Boy were not successful and subsequently disbanded.