The Sunday TimesMirror Magazine

27th April 1996



Babyface: Do you know him?

At a candlelit dinner for 800 in Beverly Hills, Quincy Jones and the man everybody's calling the Quincy Jones of the Nineties exchange a kiss. It's a father-to-son type of kiss, shared by a composer-producer-performer who has been re-inventing the black entertainment industry since the Fifties and his heir apparent, who in the past few year - via Whitney Houston, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul, Sheena Eston, Celine Dion and others - has chalked up an unparalleled 100 Top 10 hits on the American R &B and pop charts.

From the next table, I can see Quincy and Kenny - Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds to give him his full name, but "Face" to his friends - and I can see what all the mentor-protege fuss is about. Both are consummate musicians yet are known chiefly for turning the world of other artists into gold. Both have become executives (in addition to his own record label and publishing company, Babyface and his wife Tracey run their own film and television production company)..

"I love him because he understands that you have to bring humility to art first," Jones tells me as Babyface table-hops to greet the other guests who have come to see him honoured by the American Civil Liberties union for his work for children's charities. "And for success, the best thing you can add to that is grace. The music will come automatically if you're like that."

The music, which has seen some over-the-counter action to the tune of 75 million albums and 20 million singles, isn't something Babyface is too wild about discussing. But since he has a new solo album out, The Day , he has obliged his record company honchos by doing an interview, after which he has to catch a late night flight to Chicago where he and Tracey are producing their first film, Soul Food, starring Vanessa Williams.

Babyface munches on a jar of jelly babies in the lounge of his Hollywood studio, Brandon's Way, named after his four-month-old son. He listens intently, speaks softly and maintains a near expressionless face. "I'm often told that in Europe people take offence when you don't come and promote things as an artist, " he says, "but what they don't understand is that I don't do it here. Nothing personal. If it was my choice, I would do the record and that would be it."

Which, considering that his solo career isn't even his day job, is hardly surprising. What 38-year-old Babyface is famous for and what he has just about every R & B act in America knocking on his door for right now - is his skills as a writer and producer of silky, mellifluous love songs.

These include End of the Road, which he co-wrote and produced for Boyz II Men in 1992 and which topped the American Billboard charts for 13 weeks, surpassing the record set by Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel. The follow-up, I'll Make Love to You, fared even better. And then there's the movie soundtracks, most notably. Waiting to Exhale (which sold seven million copies). He has also revived the careers of such soul veterans as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight.

In an age when the noise, bluster and braggadocio of rap still dominate black music, Babyface's undiluted, old-school melodies might make him seem a man out of time. But then, as one who didn't become a player in the music scene until his thirties, he's used to arriving late.

The fifth of six sons, Babyface was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He wrote his first song at the age of 11 for a classmate he was smitten with. "But I never gave it to her," he says wistfully. "Being so shy and naive, it was difficult for me to have any relationships with girls. I had no conversation. I had no rap. And when the girl moved on, I was destroyed. My heart was broken and all those emotions had to go somewhere, so they went into song."

Starting out as a guitarist, Babyface spent several unrewarding years with the group Manchild. In 1983, he joined Antonio "LA" Reid's band, the Deele, and between them they helped to establish a new term of reference for R & B the powerhouse hit factory. "Producers started getting personalities," Babyface says. "It was important because it put attention on the creative process. I used to say, 'I'm a writer first, producer second and an artist last.' I view it differently now: I'm all of those things. It's just as much my artistry when I write and produce with Madonna as when I do my own record."

By the end of the Eighties, Reid and Babyface had solidified their songwriting and producing partnership and formed their own label, LaFace Records. But after scoring a string of hits and a couple of Grammys, they ended their creative alliance in 1993 and Babyface went it alone as an artist. After a modest start, his second and third albums, Tender Lover and For the Cool in You, together shifted five millions copies in America. His latest single from The Day - the Shalamar cover For the Lover in You-is Babyface's biggest selling single to date.

Curiously, though, the subject of his own performance seem to stir little excitement in him. Yes, he enjoys making his own records, but no, he doesn't feel impelled to do them. "I could just as easily pass on it." Does he prefer to write by himself or collaborate? "No preferences, " he shrugs. "It's just got to get done, so I do it. You get a project, you record the song, you mix it."

He is also refreshingly free of the self-indulgent claptrap that plagues many of his peers. "I don't listen to any of my records once I'm done with them." he says. "If something comes on the radio I turn the station." It must be difficult avoiding them. "Mostly," he grins, ever so slightly, " I listen to talk radio."

Having polished off a couple of Whitney Houston tracks for her new movie, The Preacher's Wife, Babyface is planning projects with Eric Clapton, Elton John and the Rolling Stones, which may finally bring him closer to British audiences.

But there are other names Babyface cites, names that he says draw the demarcation between him and Quincy Jones, names that are gone for ever. "I might have a long career, but what I will never be able to say is that I worked with Miles Davis, that I knew Dizzy Gillespie. Musically, I was born at the wrong time because the best music, still today, comes from the Sixties and Seventies, and the Fifties. And I think it came from that period because the world was young; there was an innocence in the world that just allowed you to write that way. Marvin Gaye couldn't write What's Going On today; it wouldn't be the same.

"I think that people still write great songs and there's a lot of good producers out there, but the most important thing is how long you stay in the game. I want to wake up ten years from now and still be a force to be reckoned with, to know that I wasn't just a flash that disappeared. Maybe, then I might be standing closer to Quincy Jones's shoes."

Of push and pull technology

Darius Dane, the greatest scientist the world has ever known, the man who was able to whip up a death ray with a tube of toothpaste, a couple of batteries and a few odds and ends picked up from a trashcan, was thinking of his latest invention - a robotic banana picker and peeler for those times when you needed the use of both your hands (like during a boxing match) - when his train of thought was dramatically derailed by the shrill and annoying sound of the doorbell. Darius sprang out of his couch like the five stage booster rocket that he'd tested out just the previous day - it had been a complete success except for the matter of his father cutting off his pocket money to pay for their neighbour's broken windows - and rushed to the door.

His face dropped like a meteor plunging through the atmosphere on seeing who it was but being the master of diplomacy and tact that he was, he managed to recover and to summon a smile - albeit a very reluctant one - to his face and greet his visitor.

"Hello Mr. Hogsbottom! What brings you this way?"

The visitor, an oldish looking gentleman with a precisely cropped goatee and steel-rimmed spectacles beamed up at Darius.

"Ah, Darius my boy! I was just thinking about all that you told me last time about push and pull technologies but while chewing over what you told me, I realized that I hadn't really understood your explanation of push technology …"

" And you decided to rectify the omission immediately," interrupted Darius, imitating the old man.

Mr. Hogsbottom seemed to be unaware of Darius' mimicry and beamed at his companion.

"Exactly! Now can you help me out?"

"Oh, all right!" replied Darius ungraciously, "Now you understood about pull technology right? When you surf the Net and find web pages that you want to look at, you are pulling those pages to your machine your browser software …"

"Yes, yes! I understood all of that but explain the push part of it and how it is done!"

"When you use push technology, you don't have to search the Internet at all. You simply use a piece of software to which you provide a list of the categories of information that you want. It will connect to the Internet hourly, daily - whatever, you can specify the time interval - and collect the information that you want."

"Does this mean that my computer will have to be connected to the Internet all the time?" asked Mr. Hogsbottom plaintively, seeing in his mind's eye all his money slowly disappearing down a telephone line as if sucked up by a black-hole.

"No, of course not! Don't be silly! You think computer technology is so dumb these days? The software will dial-out automatically and activate your Internet connection at the specified times and once it has collected the information, it will disconnect automatically as well."

"Whew! That's a relief." sighed the old gentleman. Then he seemed to remember something else. "But will push technology always find what I want?"

"Now that is a bit of a tricky point," replied Darius "The problem is that push technology currently can find only specific categories of information like news, sports or entertainment. You can't ask it to find you information on the second World War for example …"

"So what you mean is that push technology will work something like a daily newspaper albeit one tailored to my individual taste?"

"Well, yes. Something like that. But some of the push oriented programs, FreeLoader for example, allow you to specify pages from the Internet which are fetched whenever a change takes place in its contents. But still, for finding unusual information, you will have to resort to old fashioned searching."

"Then what's all this hype about push technology for? I'd rather search for whatever I want whenever I want!" retorted Mr. Hogsbottom.

"Uh it's like this, you see. For one thing, most users find it is easier to have a program automatically get stuff than to find it themselves and then, there is the time factor. As the information is downloaded to your hard disk, you don't have to wait for a web page to be loaded in to your browser nor do you have to spend a lot of time on the Web reading information to verify whether you need it or not."

"Hmph! Sounds like a lame excuse to me!"

"Well in a sense it is but there are other possibilities for push technology."

"Such as?"

"Well software downloads for example. How if an entire software package could be downloaded bit by bit in the background when your Internet connection is idling?"

"Hmm that sounds interesting. Anything else?"

"There are people who suggest that you don't even have to download the whole upgrade for a newer version of a package you are using. They predict that push technology will make it possible for you to download a few simple patches which add only the new features that you want and then there are others who suggest that lecturers would be able to send notes to their students the day before the lecture or that movies to suit your tastes could be sent over the Net via push technology."

"Sounds impressive. Are we likely to see any of this in our life time?"

"That of course depends on whether the major Internet players like Microsoft and Netscape get their acts together and develop a common push standard instead of each using their own proprietary standard." commented Darius.

"Why? What's wrong with each company having their own standard?"

"You'll have to have all of their browsers or push clients to get all the information you want. It will be like having to buy more than one TV because a set belonging to one manufacturer doesn't show certain channels. Would you settle for that?"

"Certainly not! I guess something's got to be done about this!"

"Some people are already doing something. In fact, ZDNet is trying to get people to sign a petition asking Microsoft and Netscape to drop their rivalries and agree on a common standard."

"Do you know where this petition can be found on the Net?"

"It's at"

"OK! I'm off to find it and add my name to it!"

Cyberian Lambert's Short Cuts

You know just the other day I was using Windows 95's Explorer (yes, the file manager replacement) and I was telling Amma (that's the highly advanced computer I brought with me from the future) how very clumsy the dragging and dropping of files was.

Do you know what she told me? No? (Of course, how could you - you weren't there!) She told me that I didn't have to go through all that trouble to copy a file or set of files - I simply had to highlight the file or files I wanted and press CTRL+C (That's the "Control" key and the "C" key at the same time) just as I do when I want to copy text in my Windows word processor and then I simply had to click on the directory I wanted to copy the file(s) to and paste them back using CTRL+V. It was so simple and to think that a computer had to teach me this! Oh we...(?)

Long John Cyber's Game Tips

Ahoy, me hearties! 'Tis time for me to be giving ye a few pointers on how to cheat (how I love the sound of that word … heh, heh) in the games that have been driving all of ye crazy. 'Tis sequel time as I bring ye the cheats for two of the hottest sequels around.

WarCraft II

To enable a code press enter, a message prompt will appear on the bottom of the screen, type the code, and press enter again.


Disables Title (has to be typed in from the command line)

GLITTERING PRIZES	10000 Units of Gold, 5000 Units of Lumber
VALDEZ			5000 Units of Oil
SPYCOB			Same as VALDEZ (only effects you not the CPU)
HATCHET			Lumber
MAKE IT SO		Fast Build
SHOWPATH		Shows Entire Map
DAY			No Fog of War
UCLA			Displays "Go Bruins!"
NOGLUES			Disables Cutscenes
IT IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE	Gives Your Troops Super Strength

Master of Orion II

Hold the Key while typing these:

Einstein	All Research
Moola		1,000 BC
Menlo		Another Research cheat
Iseeall		Show All Planets & Players
Allai		Something About the AI Not Sure What Though
Score		Gives you the score of your game
Ldr		Don't Know
Snd		Don't know

Golden Wonder

Twenty years after it first hit our screens, 'Star Wars' is back : bigger and more high-tech than ever. Anthony Daniels, the real-life actor inside the golden frame of C-3PO, remembers exactly what it was like on the 'Star Wars' set the first time round.


I am C-3PO, Human Cyborg Relations, some people call me Anthony Daniels and that's great because it's usually 3PO who gets all the attention. Why wouldn't he? Head to foot in shiny gold, he's hard to ignore! But next time you see him, remember there's a rather hot actor on the inside. Back in 1977, I agreed to be in a hokey little sci-fi film. It had a very low budget, but they still managed to give me one of the most expensive costumes ever made. I must admit, I did feel pretty good at the way people stared at me - well, at the costume — when I walked out in to the Tunisian desert on the first day of filming.

It was a fantastic costume — at least from the outside. Starting with a plaster cast of my body, a sculptress built up the external design in clay. I spent six months at the studio while craftsmen, metal-workers and artists created the design in all sorts of materials. I would try on each piece - a foot, a knee, an arm — and everyone would stand around and evaluate it. So would I. The worst experience was a rubber version. I hadn't even got it on fully before it felt like 'Attack Of The Undead Slime Monster'. We threw that one away. In the end, the suit was a mix of plastic feet, head and hands, fiberglass legs and chest, and rubber in the middle. I think it comes to 16 pieces on a good day). Getting it all on was like trying to do a Rubick cube with me inside it. One reason I'd been asked to audition for the part of C3PO was that I was good at mime. With a costume like that, I was very restricted. I could see ahead but it was rather like looking through a tiny letter box. No up or down, left or right. I'd rehearse without the suit on and if Artoo moved position afterwards we had problems. And he moved a lot!

I used to look at Luke Skywalker and envy his easy, comfortable clothes. But there were lots of things to distract me from my uncomfortable situation. One day I heard a strange sound coming from one of the 'disgusting' Jawas. You know — the mean little creatures that go round the desert picking up scraps like Artoo and 3PO. These kids had been desperate to play Jawas but suddenly found that wearing thick woolly robes with hoods and masks stopped being fun after a few hours In the desert heat. The sound, I realised, was sobbing. I could just hear the words, "I don't wanna be a Jawa any more!" I guess they're just not as mean as they look.

My voice was recorded via a radio mike (I won't tell you where we hid the transmitter!). Of course, it was very muffled from inside the mask and had to be replaced later in the studio. What I never realised was that George Lucas intended to replace it with someone else's voice — a creepy New York type — but in the end he decided to keep my English butler performance.

It was also quite a shock to find that Artoo Detoo, my 'best friend', never spoke to me at all. In the script it said, "Artoo burbles a response". All through the movies, I talk to myself and Imagine what Artoo is saying. I had to memorise his lines as well. I found it so hard at first that I asked George if he could possibly reply to me with a "Beep" or something. "Sure", he said. He doesn't waste words. We started the scene again. I spoke. There was a very long pause.

Then George looked embarrassed and whispered, "Err beep". I decided it was easier on my own. It was Ben Burtt, the sound designer for the trilogy, who created Artoo's beeps and burbles, but only months after we'd finished filming.

To go to work on a Monday morning and walk into the Death Star is a pretty amazing experience. it was really huge but clever perspective painting made it seem even bigger. In contrast, we spent days in the Millennium Falcon cockpit. Very small and cramped. One day in 'The Empire Strikes Back', we hit an asteroid storm. The cockpit rocked and we swayed because there were scaffold poles running under the floor. Clusters of stage hands would push or pull on them to rock the whole set, while we did 'nervous-falling-about' acting. Those asteroids can be fairly scary.

But we weren't really facing giant lumps of rock. We were staring at a rather bored camera crew looking at their watches and wondering how long it was before lunch. It was only when I saw the finished movie that the asteroids became a reality. They'd been animated in the effects studio to our reactions, i.e., Left, Right, Up, Down, Big and Bigger! They were even better than I'd imagined.

So much of the movie happened after we'd finished filming — stunning sound effects and the music. And now it's even better. Now there are new, extra-special effects—creatures, monsters and space ships. These films really are good on video. But sitting in the movie theater, dwarfed by a giant screen, and surrounded by the new THX digital sound, I believe the audience will feel as much a part of the action as I did when I was taking part in it. Except they don't have to wear a gold suit! Believe me, now The Force will really be with you at the movies!

Servants in the sky

Tiros... Intelsat... TDRS. These may sound like villains in a video game, but they are real. All are satellites orbiting high above the earth - and all work for you.

TIROS is the Television and Infrared Observation Satellite. It helps provide the weather forecast that lets you know what to wear tomorrow. Intelsat relays messages. It carries your phone call to your cousin in Hawaii. TDRS (TEE-drus) is the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite shown here. It collects information from other satellites and sends it to earth. TDRS brought you live television coverage of astronauts at work aboard space shuttles.

The age of the satellite began in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I. Zipping around the earth, the small silver sphere sent out a steady beep for nearly three months. Soon the United States began launching satellites of its own. In 1960 it sent up the world's first communications satellite, Echo I.

An aluminum-coated balloon as big as a ten-storey building, Echo I slowly circled the earth. It reflected radio signals from one part of the earth to another. The signals covered great distances, but the satellite worked only when it was in a direct line with both sender and receiver.

By 1963 the US had placed a communications satellite in geosynchronous (gee-oh-SING-kruh-nus) orbit 22,300 miles above the earth. The satellite's speed exactly matched the speed of the earth's rotation, so it stayed over the same spot on the earth. People below it could bounce signals off the satellite to another continent at any time.

Today about 1,800 working satellites orbit the earth. They do a variety of jobs, both civilian and military. Some examine the earth's surface. Others link students with distant teachers. Some look for signs of earthquakes. Some help track storms, and others study the heavens.

In the future, satellites will probably do more things for us than we can now imagine. Scientists foresee a day when we will send huge platforms into space to form a band around the earth. Each platform will be covered with electronic eyes and ears. Power stations on the platforms will collect solar energy and beam it to earth as electricity.

Plans are under way for a satellite that would act as a docking station for space shuttles. Such a station might serve as a launchpad for the most exciting space mission yet: sending an expedition to another planet.

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