Dexter Wansel  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Dexter Wansel is an American keyboardist, born and raised in West- Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. He contributed to the development of the "Philly Sound" and worked with producers Gamble and Huff at Philadelphia International Records. Wansel led the musical group "Yellow Sunshine". He has worked with Phyllis Hyman, The Jacksons, MFSB, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle, and Lou Rawls. He also wrote The Jones Girls 1981 soul music classic "Nights over Egypt" and Patti Labelle's 1984 #1 R&B hit "If Only You Knew" with Cynthia Biggs. His "Theme from the Planets" has been heavily sampled and was featured on the breakbeat compilation "Ultimate Breaks and Beats".

Whilst Wansel was relatively unknown outside the USA, many have suggested that his influence on music as both a producer and performer in the mid-1970s lead to the development of the disco and jazz funk sounds which transformed the US music scene. His most successful album was called Life On Mars, released on the Philadelphia International record label in 1976. Wansel played keyboards, Derek Graves provided the bass line whilst a session singer hired by Wansel named Terri Wells was on vocals. The remaining sound was filled in by Dexter's rhythm section called The Planets featuring Darryl Brown, Calvin Harris, Bobby Malach, Al Harrison and the aforementioned Derek Graves.

During the 2nd half of the 1970s, Space travel and sci-fi were important themes in the ambiant US culture and therefore in funk, jazz, and Jazz-funk (see Herbie Hancock's thrust, George Clinton's Mothership, etc.) and were reflected in in Dexter's titles and music. Listening to other tracks on the album, like 'Stargazer', 'Theme from the Planets' and 'Rings of Saturn', it can be seen quite clearly that a space theme runs through his music. His straight-ahead Fatback-funk like 'Funk Attack' on the 1979 album 'Time is Slipping Away' and the now popular 'I'll never forget (my favourite disco)' have stood the test of time. Instrumental, almost classical, arrangements appear on the album 'Voyager' from 1978. In addition to this he presented a strong discotheque theme with 'Disco Lights' from the album 'What The World is Coming To' 1977 and jazzfunk such as 'Latin Love' on the album 'Voyager' 1978 or 'Ode Infinitum' on the 'What The World Is Coming To' album.

He has produced and recorded many soul ballads including the 'Time is Slipping Away' title track, 'New Beginning' on that same album, 'Sweetest Pain' which was sampled by The Solid Doctor for his triphop-track 'Lights On The Vibe' and 'You Can Be What You Wanna Be' from 1976. He also co-wrote the Pieces of a Dream (band) track called 'Warm Weather' - a smooth soul sound often played by Robbie Vincent on his Sunday night radio shows on BBC Radio 1.

He entered the music charts with 'Sweetest Pain' in 1979 and 'Solutions' a year earlier in 1978. He also made a reggae track called 'Going Back To Kingston Town' in 1977.

Dexter Wansel played and produced with and for Teddy Pendergrass, The Jones Girls (who were guest vocalists on his solo albums), MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) and singer Patti Labelle




  • Life on Mars (Philadelphia International) 1976
  • What The World Is Coming To (Philadelphia International) 1977
  • Voyager (Philadelphia International) 1978
  • Time is Slipping Away (Philadelphia International) 1979


  • "All Night Long/Disco Lights" (12") (Philadelphia International) 1978
  • "It's Been Cool/I'll Never Forget (My Favorite Disco)" (12") (Philadelphia International Records) 1979
  • "Life On Mars" (12") (Philadelphia International Records) 1979
  • "Life On Mars/Always There" (12") (Streetwave) 1985
  • "Captured" (12") (Ten Records Ltd.) 1986


  • "Was That All It Was/Breaking and Entering" (12") (Columbia Records) 1987


  • "We Must Be In Love" (12") (Interscope Records) 1995

Appears on

  • Goin' Places (Epic)
  • Yellow Sunshine (Gamble) 1973
  • Thirteen Blue Magic Lane (ATCO Records) 1975
  • "Show You The Way To Go" (7") (Epic) 1976
  • Goin' Places Epic 1977
  • "Nobody Could Take Your Place" (12") (Philadelphia International) 1977
  • "Your Song" (12") (Philadelphia International) 1977
  • "Let Me Be Good To You/Lover's Holiday" (12") (Philadelphia International) 1979
  • "Was That All It Was" (12") (Philadelphia International) 1979
  • "Mysteries Of The World" (Promo) (7") (TSOP) 1980
  • "I Just Called To Say" (7") (Philadelphia International) 1981
  • "Watch Out" (12") (Metronome Musik GmbH) 1981
  • Always In The Mood (Philadelphia International) 1986
  • Prime Of My Life (Zoo Entertainment) 1991
  • "The More I Get The More I Want" (12") (X-Clusive Records) 1994
  • Klubbjazz 2 (Slip 'n' Slide) 2001
  • "Pieces Of A Dream/We Are One" (Collectables) 2005

Unofficial releases

  • "Loft Classics Volume II" (12") (Loft Classics) 1995

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dexter Wansel" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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