Bend Me, Shape Me, Anyway You Want Me

Song: Bend Me, Shape Me (1967)

Artist: The American Breed

Writers: Scott English and Laurence Weiss

Album: Bend Me, Shape Me (Atca)

Originally written by Scott English and Laurence Weiss, Bend Me, Shape Me was a no. 5 hit for the band The American Breed, out of Chicago. It was one of three top forty hits for the band, along with Step Out of Your Mind and Green Light.

The song was originally recorded by the Cleveland band The Outsiders, who put the song on their third album but did not release it as a single. This may have had something to do with their previous experience with the songwriters. Scott English and Laurence Weiss had given them a song called Help Me Girl at the same time as they gave it to British rock star Eric Burdon. Burdon had just given a hugely popular performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, so that his version of the song zoomed past The Outsiders' version, reaching no. 29 while theirs peaked at 37.

The Outsiders, though, were a very influential group and had four other Top 40 hits in 1966, including a no. 5 hit, Time Won't Let Me, the song for which they most known.

The American Breed recorded the song a year later, scoring their biggest hit. The single version of the song, recorded in mono, was released as a slightly faster version than the album version.

Amen Corner also had a hit with it in the U.K.

Scott English also wrote the Barry Manilow song Brandy, which was renamed to Mandy to avoid confusion with the very popular song Brandy, by Looking Glass.

The American Breed disbanded in 1969, due mostly to an ever-changing lineup, which started with original member and keyboard player Kevin Murphy being drafted. But, after Murphy returned home, he, along with original member and guitar player Al Ciner, along with singer Paulette Williams formed a group called Ask Rufus, which was shortened to Rufus in 1970. The group signed with Epic records but recorded only two singles. While playing the Chicago circuit, the band got to know another called Goliath, which had grown out of Baby Huey and the Babysitters. The two bands often sat in on each other's songs. The singer for the Goliaths was none other than Chaka Khan.

Rufus recruited Chaka Khan and played all around the midwest, honing their sound, before being signed to ABC records and going on to R&B and Pop fame. Tell me Something Good, written by Stevie Wonder, who himself played keyboards on the song, was a no. 3 hit on the Pop charts in August 1974. You Got the Love, written by Chaka Khan and Ray Parker, Jr. was an R&B hit. The group had many others.

When ABC began to treat Chaka Khan as a solo artist, singling her out for sleeve credit on the albums and burying the other vocals, which has previously been shared, three members, including Ciner, quit. To this day, the band is often billed as Rufus and Chaka Khan or Rufus, Featuring Chaka Khan.

Two of the members, Stockton and Belfield went on with the famous rock band Three Dog Night, famous for such songs as Mama Told Me, Shambala, Joy to the World, One, Old Fashioned Love Song, and many more.

Rufus continued with another hit album and continued to be successful on into the 1980's.

Watch the American Breed Peforming Bend Me, Shape Me

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