On this day in music history: September 6, 1979 – “Ladies’ Night”, the eleventh album by Kool & The Gang is released. Produced by Eumir Deodato, it is recorded at House Of Music in West Orange, NJ and Media Sound Studios in New York City from Early – Mid 1979. A consistent presence on the charts throughout much of the 70’s, by the later part of the decade, Kool & The Gang find themselves at a major career crossroads. The New Jersey based R&B/Funk band’s unique sound begins to fall out of favor, when the Disco phenomenon sweeps the musical landscape. And without a regular lead singer to hold the public’s focus, they realize that they need to reinvent themselves. Kool & The Gang hire South Carolina born James “J.T.” Taylor, to become their front man. A few other things take place during this time that change the course of the band’s career. Their single “Open Sesame” is featured on the Grammy winning mega soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever”, helps keep them in the public eye. Also, their label De-Lite Records changes distribution from independent Pickwick International, to Polygram. With the backing of a major behind them, Kool & The Gang also understand they have to evolve their sound as well. They are paired with Brazilian born jazz musician and arranger Eumir Deodato to produce them. Famed for his Grammy winning jazz/funk classic “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)”, Deodato helps the band re-tool their sound. It marks the beginning of a highly successful collaboration, that lasts over the course of four Gold and Platinum selling albums. Kool & The Gang hit pay dirt immediately with the album “Ladies’ Night”. The title track (#1 R&B, #8 Pop, #5 Club Play) issued as the first single in August of 1979, is a perfect hybrid of R&B, pop and disco that proves to be irresistible to a wide mainstream audience. It is followed up by “Too Hot” (#3 R&B, #5 Pop, #5 Club Play, #11 AC) in January 1980. Initially issued as the B-side of “Ladies’ Night”, “Too Hot” is reissued as an A-side. The single is another across the board, multi-format smash. The album spins off a third and final single with “Hangin’ Out” (#36 R&B, #103 Pop). Though there is some grumbling from the band’s original fans that they have “sold out to disco and commerciality”, “Ladies’ Night” sets the template for massive success the band enjoy for the next eight years. Originally released on CD in 1986, it is reissued numerous times over the years. Most recently, it is remastered and reissued by Big Break Records in 2013. The expanded reissue contains the original six track album, with six additional bonus tracks, including the original 12" and single edits of the singles. “Ladies’ Night” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “Red Octopus”, the third album (twelfth overall) by Jefferson Starship hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 4 weeks (non-consecutive). Produced by Jefferson Starship and Larry Cox, it is recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, CA in February 1975. The album marks the full time return of vocalist Marty Balin who had left the band (while still named Jefferson Airplane) in 1971. Led by the Balin penned single “Miracles” (#3 Pop), the album becomes the best selling title of any of the San Francisco bands incarnations (Jefferson Airplane or Starship). Original LP pressings feature the cover graphics printed in reflective gold ink, which is changed to a flat black color on subsequent reissues to save on printing costs. The album is also remixed into quadraphonic stereo at the time of its original release. “Octopus” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005 using safety copies, since the original first generation masters have deteriorated beyond use. The reissue contains five bonus tracks, including the single edit of “Miracles” and four previously unreleased live tracks recorded at Winterland in San Francisco in November of 1975. “Red Octopus” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick On The Side)” by The Pointer Sisters hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #20 on the Hot 100 on October 4, 1975. Written by Anita Pointer, Bonnie Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer and David Rubinson, it is the lone R&B chart topper for the family vocal quartet from Oakland, CA. The daughters of a pastor, sisters Anita, Bonnie, June and Ruth Pointer grow up singing gospel in their father’s church in West Oakland. They were discouraged from listening to or singing rock & roll or R&B music, being told that it was “the devil’s music” by their strict parents. However, the pull of secular music proves to be too strong, and the girls become fixtures on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene by the early 1970’s, singing background vocals for prominent artists including Elvin Bishop and Boz Scaggs. The group land a deal with Atlantic Records in 1971, but their tenure with the label is short lived, and are dropped soon after. The Pointers connect producer David Rubinson, helping the sisters get back home when they are stranded in Austin, TX after another record deal goes terribly wrong. Rubinson becomes their manager, securing them a record deal with Blue Thumb Records in 1973. Their self-titled debut album is a solid hit, spinning off their first major hit with “Yes We Can Can” (#12 R&B, #11 Pop). The Pointer Sisters third album “Steppin’” in 1975 yields their biggest R&B chart hit. The idea for what becomes “How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick On The Side)” comes from a few different sources. Anita had written the beginnings of a country song called “How Long”, when Rubinson comes up with the counter hook “betcha got a chick on the side”, with its signature syncopated rhythm being inspired by blues musician Taj Mahal’s distinctive vocal style. A song by John Lee Hooker titled “Homework”. Released as a single in May of 1975, “How Long” quickly rises up the R&B and pop charts, becoming one of The Pointer Sisters’ signature hits, as well as one of their most covered songs. Various artists including drummer Buddy Rich, rappers Salt ‘N’ Pepa, and Queen Latifah record versions of the song. Comedian Bill Cosby records an answer parody titled “Chick On The Side” on his album “Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days Rat Own, Rat Own, Rat Own” in 1976.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Country chart for 3 weeks (non-consecutive) on August 23, 1975. Written by Larry Weiss, it is the first pop chart topper for the veteran studio musician turned country/pop superstar. A well established songwriter since the early 60’s Larry Weiss has co-written several major hits for other artists, including The American Breed’s “Bend Me, Shape Me” (#5 Pop) and R&B singer Jerry Butler’s “Mr. Dream Merchant (#23 R&B, #38 Pop), before becoming a recording artist in his own right. Weiss is signed to 20th Century Records in 1974, recording his debut album "Black & Blue Suite”. The song “Rhinestone Cowboy” is released as a single, but does not attract any significant attention, except from Adult Contemporary radio, where the song peaks at #24 on that chart. Glen Campbell hears Weiss’ original version while on a tour of Australia in late 1974. Liking what he hears, Campbell records it shortly after in Los Angeles with producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter (The Four Tops, The Righteous Brothers). Entering the Hot 100 at #81, climbing to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. On the country singles chart, “Rhinestone” spends two consecutive weeks at the top before being displaced by “Feelins” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn for one week. Surprisingly it rebounds and returns to the top for one more week on September 13, 1975. “Rhinestone Cowboy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1974 – “Dancing Machine”, the eighth album by The Jackson 5ive is released. Produced by Hal Davis, it is recorded at Motown Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from April – May 1973, June 1973 – July 1974. The album includes the smash title track (#1 R&B, #2 Pop), and spins off two other singles, including “Whatever You Got, I Want” (#38 Pop, #3 R&B) and “I Am Love” (#5 R&B, #15 Pop). The title track “Dancing Machine” originates on the groups previous album “Get It Together” but is remixed and edited when it becomes a popular LP cut, and is later released as a single. The albums third single “I Am Love” also receives significant play in clubs at the time of its release. The simmering seven and a half minute long track features a slow almost ballad like intro for the first half of the song, before exploding into an uptempo funk/rock groove, which creates a sensation on the dance floor. In time, “Love” is regarded as a seminal track in the genre of what becomes known as “proto-disco”. The success of the album pulls the group out of the slump they experienced during the previous two years, though it makes them hungry to take more creative control of their music and career, resulting in their exit from Motown in 1975 for Epic Records.“Dancing Machine” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200, though oddly does not chart on the R&B album chart.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1973 – “Buckingham Nicks”, the sole album by Buckingham Nicks is released. Produced by Keith Olsen, it is recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA from Early – Mid 1973. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks meet while both were high school students in Atherton, CA. They become romantically involved and musical collaborators in the band Fritz. Both eventually drop out of college, moving to L.A. to pursue their mutual goal of making it in music business. Taking odd jobs to support themselves, Lindsey and Stevie begin recording demos of their songs, when not long after they meet recording engineer and producer Keith Olsen of Sound City Studios. Olsen take the duo under his wing, living in his home for a time with Nicks working as Olsen’s housekeeper. They also meet Ted Feigan and Lee LaSeffe who shop the pairs demos around and secure them a deal with Polydor Records. The album is recorded with a number of top L.A. studio musicians including Jim Keltner (drums), Jerry Scheff (bass) Jorge Calderón (percussion) and Waddy Wachtel (guitars). Despite high hopes for its success, Polydor does very little to promote it. The project is a commercial flop and the duo are dropped from the label. Disappointed by the failure, the duo resume working day jobs to get by. A little more than a year after, fate intervenes when Mick Fleetwood is in town looking for a studio to record Fleetwood Mac’s next album. While at Sound City, Keith Olsen plays the track “Cryin’ In The Night” from Buckingham Nicks’ album to demonstrate the recording console. Very impressed by what he hears, Fleetwood asks Lindsey to join the band. Buckingham agrees, but only if Mick takes Stevie as a member also. He consents, and the pair officially join Fleetwood Mac on New Years Day of 1975. The song “Crystal” from the duos album is re-recorded and featured on their first album with Fleetwood Mac. With their rise to stardom in Fleetwood Mac, fans discover the “Buckingham Nicks” album, turning it into a cult classic. Never charting on the Billboard Top 200, it charts only briefly on Billboards Catalog (#28) and Midline LP charts (#43) in 1983 after the release of Fleetwood Mac’s “Mirage”, before going out of print. To date, there has never been an official CD release, though it has been widely bootlegged, with as many as an additional dozen unreleased tracks surface. A demo recording of “Without You” from the sessions is released on Apple iTunes April of 2013, “Stephanie” (on a promo CD from Buckingham titled “Words and Music (A Retrospective)” in 1992) and “Long Distance Winner” (on Nicks’ “Enchanted” box set), presently remain the only officially sanctioned releases associated with the album to date, though talk continues about an official reissue of the original album.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1976 – “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the third US chart topper for the trio of brothers from the Isle Of Man, UK. Issued as the first single from the bands fourteenth album “Children Of The World”, the single and album mark a major turning point in the Bee Gees career. Having previously worked successfully with producer Arif Mardin on their comeback release “Main Course”, Mardin is not able to work with the group on the follow up, when the Bee Gees label RSO Records changes distribution from Atlantic Records to Polydor in 1976. Mardin is an Atlantic staff producer exclusively at the time and isn’t permitted to work with artists not on the label. Having gained experience from all they have learned about producing records from their mentor, the Bee Gees take over the production duties themselves with assistance from engineers Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson who become their co-producers. “You Should Be Dancing” is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in early 1976 with the Bee Gees band including Alan Kendall (lead guitar), Blue Weaver (keyboards), Dennis Bryon (drums), Joe Lala (percussion) along with Barry Gibb (rhythm guitar) and Maurice Gibb (bass). Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash happens to recording his album “Illegal Stills” in adjoining studio, also sits in on a session playing percussion. Entering the Hot 100 at #67 on July 4, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. A little more than a year after its release, “You Should Be Dancing” is featured prominently in the film “Saturday Night Fever” when it is used in an electrifying dance sequence featuring John Travolta, that is one of the films highlights. At the time of the singles original release, a slightly longer version of “Dancing” is issued as a promotional 12" single. Also featured on another promo 12" single issued to promote the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack in 1977, this mix finally sees its first commercial release in 1990 on the box set “Tales From The Brothers Gibb – A History In Song – 1967 – 1990”. The extended mix is also reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day in April of 2015, on a limited edition 12" single titled "Bee Gees: Extended EP". "You Should Be Dancing" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1976 – “Fleetwood Mac” by Fleetwood Mac hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week. Produced by Fleetwood Mac and Keith Olsen, it is recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA in February 1975. Released in July 1975, the album is the first to feature new members Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals) and Stevie Nicks (vocals), replacing guitarist Bob Welch when he departs for a solo career. The album marks the beginning of the band moving from having a solid cult following the the US to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. Though it gets off to a modest start, steadily building momentum as the band tours tirelessly in support of it. It eventually spins off three singles including “Rhiannon” (#11 Pop), “Say You Love Me” (#11 Pop) and “Over My Head” (#20 Pop). “Fleetwood Mac” sets a new precedent for the slowest climb to number one, taking a then record fifty eight weeks from the time it first enters the Top 200 chart in late July of 1975. The record stands until 1989 when Paula Abdul’s “Forever Your Girl” hits #1 in its sixty fourth week on the Top 200. “Fleetwood Mac” breaks into the Top 10 on September 27, 1975, climbing to #9 a week later before slipping out of the Top 10. It does not return until February 21, 1976 in its thirtieth week. Bolstered by the singles “Rhiannon”, “Say You Love Me” and airplay favorite “Landside”, the album remains in the Top 10 until October 30, 1976. “Fleetwood Mac” is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1974 – “When Will I See You Again” by The Three Degrees is released. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the twenty eighth single release, and biggest hit for the R&B vocal trio from Philadelphia, PA. Originally formed in 1963, the first line up of The Three Degrees consists of Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter and Linda Turner. With Pinkney remaining the mainstay of the group, a number of personnel changes occur before additions of Valerie Holiday and Sheila Ferguson by 1967. The group record for several different labels including Swan, Warner Bros, Metromedia and Roulette. The Three Degrees first connect with songwriter and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in 1970 when they record the single “What I See” on the duos label Neptune Records. The record fails to chart, and the girls return to Roulette later that year, scoring their first major hit with a cover of The Chantels’ classic “Maybe” (#4 R&B, #29 Pop). During this period, they make a brief appearance appearance in the film “The French Connection”, and continue to record with Roulette through 1972. Now running their label Philadelphia International Records through CBS, Gamble and Huff sign The Three Degrees in 1973. The groups first single for the label “Dirty ‘Ol Man” (#58 R&B), though only a minor hit, becomes a favorite in clubs as the Disco movement begins in major cities around the US and internationally. Among the songs Gamble & Huff write for The Three Degrees first album is “When Will I See You Again”. After Kenny Gamble plays the song for the group, lead singer Sheila Ferguson immediately voices her disapproval of it, calling it “simple” and that it took “no talent to sing it”. The producers insist they do it anyway, the group record it, feeling that it’s just an album track, and was unlikely to do anything. At first, they seem to be correct as the follow up “Year Of Decision” (#74 R&B) also fails to make any major waves. The Three Degrees luck changes in a major way in the Spring of 1974 when “TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by PIR house band MFSB and featuring them on background vocals, becomes an across the board smash, topping the R&B, Pop and AC charts and winning a Grammy Award. It is followed by the club classic “Love Is The Message” (#42 R&B, #85 Pop) in June of 1974. Now a year after their self-titled debut album, “When Will Will I See You Again” is released as a single, in the UK first, racing to number one on August 17, 1974. It is issued in the US three weeks later, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 14, 1974, topping the AC chart on the same date, and peaking at #4 on the R&B chart on December 28, 1974. The song is later featured in the film “Kill Bill: Volume 2” in 2004. “When Will I See You Again” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1971 – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, it is the first solo chart topper for the former Beatles bassist. The first number one single for Paul McCartney following the break up of The Beatles come from a number of different sources. It is pieced together from various unfinished song fragments McCartney has lying around. Paul’s uncle, Albert Kendall (married to his Aunt Milly) is also an inspiration while the song is being written. The track is recorded at Columbia Studios in New York City in November of 1970, and features Paul on electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano, lead and background vocals, Linda McCartney on harmony vocals, Denny Seiwell on drums, Hugh McCracken on electric and acoustic guitars, with members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra playing brass and strings. George Martin actually co-writes the orchestral arrangement for the song with Paul, but is not credited at the time of its original release. After the initial sessions, more overdubs are recorded and final mixing takes place over the next five months. “Uncle Albert” is rush released as a single in the US on August 2, 1971, nearly three months after the album “Ram”, when heavy airplay by American radio stations forces its release. Entering the Hot 100 at #65 on August 14, 1971, it leaps to the top of the chart just three weeks later, making an impressive jump from #12 to #1. The single wins a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 1972. “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.