On this day in music history: November 17, 1982 – “Chaka Khan”, the fourth solo album by Chaka Khan is released. Produced by Arif Mardin, it is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City from Summer – Fall 1982. Issued as the official follow up to “What’cha Gonna Do For Me” (having also recorded the jazz standards album “Echoes of An Era” in the interim), the album features musical support from musicians such as Michael Brecker, Hamish Stuart, Will Lee, Joe Henderson, Anthony Jackson and also features Rick James on “Slow Dancin’”. It spins off two singles including her cover of the Michael Jackson classic “Got To Be There” (#5 R&B, #67 Pop) and “Tearin’ It Up” (#48 R&B). The track “Be Bop Medley” wins Khan and Mardin a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices, and Chaka picks up a second Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for the entire album in 1984. The album makes its CD debut in 1991, when it is released by Warner Music Japan. It is currently in print as part of the box set “Chaka Khan – Original Album Series” released by Warner Music Group UK in 2009. “Chaka Khan” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number fifty two on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 13, 2000 – “Lovers Rock”, the fifth album by Sade is released. Produced by Sade and Mike Pela, it is recorded at Deliverance Studios, Sarm Hook End Studios in London and El Cortijo Studios in San Pedro de Alcántara, Spain from September 1999 – August 2000. Despite scoring yet another multi-Platinum selling album with “Love Deluxe” in 1992, it is one of only two times that Sade are heard from during the 90’s. After releasing their first greatest hits package in 1994, the band begin their longest hiatus from the public eye yet. After a turbulent marriage to Spanish director Carlos Pliego which ends in divorce in 1995, Sade Adu begins another relationship with music producer Bob Morgan, giving birth to a daughter named Mickailia (aka “IIa”) in 1996. Taking time off to raise her child, the band do not begin work on a new album until the Fall of 1999. Refreshed from their extended time apart, band members Stuart Matthewman, Paul Spencer Denman and Andrew Hale have been active in the interim, recording an album under the moniker Sweetback, and Matthewman co-producing R&B singer Maxwell’s first two albums. Once back together in the studio, the band decide to try a different creative approach from their signature sound. Sade move away from the full band arrangements of their previous albums, toward more spare and acoustic guitar driven tracks. Having spent much of the 90’s living in Jamaica to escape the European tabloid press, Adu is inspired and influenced by the sounds of the Caribbean. The title “Lovers Rock” comes from the sub genre of reggae music that is notable for its romantic and sensual vibe, that Sade listened to growing up. Her ups and downs relationship wise also figure significantly in the overall mood and feeling of the album, most notably on the first single “By Your Side” (#75 Pop, #18 AC), the follow up “King Of Sorrow” (#101 R&B) and “Somebody Already Broke My Heart”. Like their previous work, “Lovers Rock” receives a rapturous reception from fans when it is released in the Fall of the new millennium. In the US, the album is also issued with a bonus CD through big box chain store Target, featuring four previously unreleased live versions of “The Sweetest Taboo”, “Smooth Operator”, “Nothing Can Come Between Us” and “No Ordinary Love”, recorded during the Love Deluxe Tour. Sade also follow it with a world tour in 2001, which is then followed by a live concert video and album both titled “Lovers Live” released in 2002. “Lover’s Live” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album chart, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 13, 1968 – “Love Child”, the fifteenth studio album by Diana Ross & The Supremes is released. Produced by Berry Gordy, Jr., Frank Wilson, R. Dean Taylor, Deke Richards, Henry Cosby, Smokey Robinson, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, Marv Johnson, George Gordy, Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol, it is recorded at Motown Studio A & B in Detroit, MI from February 17 – October 2, 1968. It is the first Supremes album not written or produced by Holland/Dozier/Holland, who depart from Motown over a year before over a royalty dispute with Motown, resulting in the Supremes not having a major hit for over a year. The album contains the chart topping title track, as well as songs written by Ashford & Simpson, Deke Richards, R. Dean Taylor and Johnny Bristol. Out of print since the early 90’s, the album is remastered and reissued on CD by Universal Japan in 2013, also having been reissued in a limited edition by specialty label Culture Factory the same year. “Love Child” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number fourteen on the Top 200
On this day in music history: November 10, 1973 – “Ship Ahoy”, the eighth album by The O’Jays is released. Produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA from August – September 1973. Following the success of “Back Stabbers”, Gamble and Huff continue their prolific creative streak, with The O’Jays becoming their chief messengers. “Ship Ahoy” continues the theme of combining socially conscious songs, with ones that explore relationships and romantic love. The title track “Ship Ahoy” had originally been earmarked for the film “Shaft In Africa”, but the producers end up keeping it. It is initially intended to be part of a theme album about slavery in its various forms, and its affect on Africans brought to the new world. The epic track paints a visceral aural picture, complete with the sounds of crashing ocean waves and cracking bull whips. This imagery also extends to the cover artwork, illustrated by artist James Barkley. The inner gatefold features a now iconic photo of group, taken by CBS staff photographer Don Hunstein. The album is led by the up tempo first single “Put Your Hands Together” (#2 R&B, #10 Pop) whose message of coming together in the spirit of cooperation and brotherhood, starts the set off with an optimistic tone. However, it is the follow up “For The Love Of Money” (#3 R&B, #9 Pop), that has the longest lasting impact. Written as commentary on the negative affects of materialism and greed, its point is driven home with unerring precision by Walter Williams and Eddie Levert’s twin lead vocals. The instrumental track featuring members of Philly International’s house band MFSB, provides an ultra funky and arresting back drop. Recording engineer Joe Tarsia adds memorable touches to the mix, by adding phasing effects to drummer Earl Young’s cymbals, and echo to Anthony Jackson’s bass during the songs’ intro. Another key track is “Now That We Found Love”, which is later covered by the reggae band Third World, turning the ballad into a simmering dance floor classic. Other stand outs include “You Got Your Hooks In Me” and “Don’t Call Me Brother”. “Ship Ahoy” is another major success, and like its predecessor is regarded as a classic album. It is also remixed and released as a quadraphonic stereo album in 1974. Reissued on CD numerous times, it is released as a hybrid SACD in 2001. It features the original stereo mix, and a new 5.1 surround remix by Al Quagileri. Out of print on vinyl for many years, it is reissued by Sony Music in 2006, and is remastered and reissued again by Music On Vinyl in 2015 as a 180 gram LP. A third LP reissue is released by Sony Legacy in 2018, on standard weight vinyl, and coming with an mp3 download card of the full album. “Ship Ahoy” spends three weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number eleven on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.