On this day in music history: October 23, 2001 – “Screamin’ And Hollerin’ The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton” by Charley Patton is released. Compilation Producer: Dean Blackwood. The seven CD, one hundred forty four track box set collects the complete works of legendary Mississippi Delta blues musician Charley Patton (1891 – 1934) recorded for the Paramount and Vocalion labels between June 1929 and February 1934. The compilation has its genesis in a biography written by Patton biographer and delta blues historian John Fahey in 1970. Having only recorded for a brief five years before dying prematurely at the age of forty three, Patton is largely forgotten about, other than by blues historians and fans who are aware of his legend. With the assistance of business partner Dean Blackwood, Fahey set about putting together the definitive word on Patton, forming the label Revenant Records. The process of compiling the recordings proves to be a very long and arduous process. The bluesman’s original label Paramount Records being a relatively low budget operation, goes out of business during The Depression in the 1930’s. All of the original metal masters of Charley Patton’s recordings are destroyed or sold for scrap after their demise. Paramount’s records were pressed on relatively poor quality shellac 78 RPM discs, with even the best copies exhibiting prodigious surface noise. Nearly eighty years later, only handful of surviving copies, or just one original copy remains, often in rough condition. With minimal clean up (to prevent losing too much of the recordings original sonics) and speed correction, they are carefully digitally remastered for the best possible sound quality. Sadly, John Fahey passes away in February of 2001 eight months before the set is released, which is dedicated to his memory. The lavishly produced set comes in a 11" x 13" x 3.5" cloth-bound slipcase box (with title graphics embossed in gold ink), with a 78 RPM single binder housed inside. Inside the front cover is a paperback copy of Fahey’s biography on Charley Patton with an extensively annotated one hundred twenty eight page book, with reproductions of original newspaper ads advertising Patton’s singles. The CD’s themselves attached to 10" cardboard replicas of Paramount and Vocalion label 78’s, and stored in reproductions of the original company paper sleeves. The box also comes with a complete set of Paramount and Vocalion label singles printed on stickers. In spite of its $200 plus price tag, it is released to an enthusiastic response by blues aficionados, and actually sells out, turning it an instant collectors item. “Screamin’ And Hollerin The Blues” wins three Grammy Awards in 2003 for Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes and Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.
On this day in music history: October 23, 1989 – “The Cactus Album”, the debut album by 3rd Bass is released. Produced by Pete Nice, MC Serch, Sam Sever, Prince Paul and The Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler), it is recorded at Chung King House Of Metal, Greene Street Studios, and Island Media Studios in New York City from Mid 1988 – Mid 1989. Hailing from Queens, NY, MC Serch (Michael Berrin) and Prime Minister Pete Nice (Peter Nash), begin working together in 1987 when they are introduced to each other by producer Sam Sever (Sam Citrin). Along with DJ Richie Rich (Richard Lawson), they adapt the name 3 The Hard Way (after the 70’s Blaxploitation film with Jim Kelly, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, and Jim Brown), and begin working on material. The group attracts interest from Def Jam Records after Sever tells label executive Lyor Cohen about them. But when Cohen discovers that an A&R rep from a rival label is checking them out, he withdraws from offering them a deal. It is only after Russell Simmons sees the group at the Battle for World Supremacy in 1988, that they are signed to Def Jam. Along with Sever, the group also works with Prince Paul (De La Soul, Stetsasonic) and The Bomb Squad. The album also features guest appearances by Zev Love X and DJ Sub Roc from KMD. For legal reasons, they are forced to change their name from 3 The Hard Way to 3rd Bass. A critical and commercial success upon its release, it spins off four singles including “Steppin’ To The A.M.” (#5 Rap, #54 R&B), “The Gas Face” (#5 Rap), and “Brooklyn-Queens”. Originally issued as a single vinyl LP (along side the CD and cassette versions) in 1989, the first pressings suffered from poor fidelity due to the album’s sixty five minute plus running time. It is remastered and reissued as a double vinyl set in 2000, and reissued again in 2014, to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Def Jam Records. “The Cactus Album” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fifty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 23, 1984 – “Make It Big”, the second album by Wham! is released. Produced by George Michael, it is recorded at SARM West Studios in London and Studio Miraval in La Val, France from July – September 1984. After a year long court battle to extricate themselves from their contract with CBS distributed Innervision Records, the British pop music duo finally begin work on the follow up to their debut release “Fantastic!”, shortly after signing with the UK division of Epic Records in their home country, remaining on Columbia Records in the US. Barely twenty one years old at the time, George Michael takes full creative control of the group, becoming the sole producer and arranger of their music. He writes six of the albums’ eight songs with the seventh, “Careless Whisper” (#1 Pop, #8 R&B) being co-written with Andrew Ridgeley. “Whisper” is issued as a solo single by George Michael internationally, and co-credited as “Wham! Featuring George Michael” in the US. The American release of the album features different cover photo and graphics from its more understated European counterpart. Also, some initial pressings of the international LP release come packaged with a full color poster of the duo. The album is a huge critical and commercial success worldwide, spinning off four singles including “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” (#1 Pop), “Everything She Wants” (#1 Pop, #12 R&B) and “Freedom” (#3 Pop). Along with the standard vinyl and cassette releases, “Make It Big” is also issued as a limited edition picture disc. The album also spins off a music video compilation titled “Wham! – The Video”, in Europe and Japan in late 1984 and in throughout the rest of the world in the Spring of 1985. The original European release features only five clips, including “Wham Rap”, “Club Tropicana”, “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”, “Careless Whisper” and “Last Christmas”. The Japanese release contains six videos, adding “Bad Boys”. The version issued in the US contains all of the aforementioned clips, also adding “Everything She Wants”, which is shot after the international home video release is issued. Originally issued on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued (Europe and Japan only) in 1992. It is later reissued as a single layer SACD (Japan only) in 2001. “Make It Big” spends two weeks at number one on the UK album chart, three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number twenty on the R&B album chart, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 23, 1979 – “Pizzazz”, the fifth album by Patrice Rushen is released. Produced by Patrice Rushen, Charles Mims, Jr. and Reggie Andrews, it is recorded at Conway Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from Late 1978 – Mid 1979. In spite of being attacked by jazz critics for “abandoning jazz for R&B” on her major label debut “Patrice”, musician Patrice Rushen is undaunted by the criticism and soldier forward, beginning work on the follow up toward the end of 1978. Continuing to refine her virtuoso jazz keyboard chops, combining them with R&B, Funk, and pop, the diminutive musician is joined in the studio with a group of top notch players, many of whom become mainstays of Rushen’s albums. They include “Ready” Freddie Washington (bass), Gerald Albright (saxophones), James Gadson, Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, Melvin Webb (drums), Paul Jackson, Jr., Wali Ali, Melvin “Wah Wah Watson” Ragin, Marlo Henderson (guitars), Lynn Davis, Josie James, Roy Galloway, Syreeta Wright, and Jim Gilstrap (backing vocals). The album broadens Patrice Rushen’s fan base, becoming her most successful release to date. It spins off three singles including “Givin’ It Up Is Giving Up” (#47 R&B) (featuring DJ Rogers), “Let The Music Take Me” (#50 R&B), and “Haven’t You Heard” (#7 R&B, #42 Pop, #5 Club Play), the latter of which becomes a smash on club dance floors and her first R&B top 10 hit. Originally released on CD in 1997, it is remastered and reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2003. It is remastered again and reissued WMG Japan in 2012 as part of their “Tower To The People” CD reissue series. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2015. “Pizzazz” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard R&B album chart, number two on the Jazz chart, number thirty nine on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 23, 1976 – “The Rubberband Man” by The Spinners hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on December 4, 1976. Written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed, it is the sixth and final chart topper for the R&B vocal quintet from Detroit, MI. With four years of non-stop hits behind them since establishing a winning association with producer, songwriter and arranger Thom Bell, The Spinners continue their reign as one of the biggest acts in R&B and Pop music into the bicentennial year. The inspiration for “The Rubberband Man” comes from Bell’s own son Mark. Always a big kid, Mark Bell grows up to be 6’7", weighing 375 lbs by the time he reaches adulthood. Teased by many of his fellow school mates over his size and weight, he is referred to them as “the fat man”. Sensing his sons’ hurt over being taunted, Bell sets about writing a song to cheer him up. Along with his long time writing partner, lyricist Linda Creed, they change “the fat man” into “The Rubberband Man”. The songs’ protagonist is gifted with extraordinary agility and grace as a dancer, who is beloved by all who encounter him. The track and vocals are recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA in mid 1976, with members of the famed studio collective MFSB including Tony Bell, Sr., Bobby Eli (guitars), Larry Washington (percussion), Thom Bell (keyboards), and former Funk Brothers Bob Babbitt (bass, electric funk box) and Andrew Smith (drums). “The Rubberband Man” features Philippé Wynne on lead vocals with the other four members of The Spinners Bobby Smith, Pervis Jackson, Henry Fambrough and Billy Henderson on background vocals, along with The Sweethearts Of Sigma (Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Yvette Benton), adding additional backing vocals. When The Spinners appear on various television programs to promote the single, they are seen dancing with giant rubberbands, while performing the song. It is the last major hit to feature lead vocalist Philippé Wynne, who leaves The Spinners in early 1977 for a solo career, with the group continuing with new lead singer John Edwards. “The Rubberband Man” is later featured in the comedy “Stripes” in 1981, as well as on the sitcom “Martin”, in a series of commercials for OfficeMax and also in the films “Radio”, “Akeelah And The Bee”, “About Last Night” and “The Avengers – Infinity War”. “The Rubberband Man” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 23, 1976 – “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on September 25, 1976. Written by Peter Cetera, it is the first chart topping single for the veteran rock band. Though liked by the other members of the band, the song is nearly be left off of the “Chicago X” album since it differs so much from the rest of the songs on the record. It is included at producer James William Guercio’s insistence. After the initial single “Another Rainy Day In New York” (#32 Pop) receives a lukewarm reception from radio, Columbia Records rush releases “If You Leave Me Now” as a single on July 31, 1976. Entering the Hot 100 at #60 on August 14, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The single wins two Grammy Awards including Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 1977. The success of the record also marks a major turning point for Chicago, with Peter Cetera becoming the most high profile member of the band, as his songwriting and lead vocals begin to dominate the band’s sound afterward. It proves to be troublesome to Robert Lamm and Terry Kath, both of whom have been prominent creative forces within Chicago until that point. The tension this creates eventually leads to James William Guercio’s ouster from being the band’s producer and manager after the next album. The huge popularity of the ballad has endured over the years as a pop radio oldies staple, as well as being featured in the films “Three Kings”, “Shaun Of The Dead”, “A Lot Like Love”, and “Sex And The City”. The song was also featured in a memorable commercial for the ill fated dot com company Pets.Com in 1999. “If You Leave Me Now” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 23, 1961 – “Runaround Sue” by Dion hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Dion DiMucci and Ernie Maresca, it is the biggest solo hit for the former lead singer of The Belmonts. Co-written with singer/songwriter Maresca who has his own hit several months later with “Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out)” (#6 Pop), “Runaround Sue is born out of a spontaneous jam session during a party that DiMucci and Maresca ("Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out”)) are at. Released in early September of 1961, “Sue” is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #45 on September 25, 1961, it rockets to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Not long after the success of “Runaround Sue”, Dion is signed to Columbia Records by legendary A&R man John Hammond (after Dion & The Belmonts split) where he continues his string of hits including “Ruby Baby” and “Drip Drop”. He eventually returns to Laurie Records in 1968 for his final million selling single “Abraham, Martin, And John” (#4 Pop). “Runaround Sue” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002.