Category: 70’s

On this day in music history: November 11, 1978 – “C’est Chic”, the second album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station Studios in New York City from Mid – Late 1978. Buoyed by the success of their their Gold selling debut album, Chic returns to the studio in the Spring of 1978 to work on their sophomore release. With original lead vocalist Norma Jean Wright departing the band for a solo career, Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin become the lead voices for Chic. While working on their own album, Edwards and Rodgers also concurrently produce an album for Philadelphia based family group Sister Sledge after Atlantic Records executives let them choose whatever act on the company roster they want to work with. The song “He’s The Greatest Dancer”, originally intended to go on Chic’s album is given to Sister Sledge, while “I Want Your Love” (#5 R&B, #7 Pop) written with the intent of giving it to the Sledges, is instead placed on “C’est Chic”. The albums’ cornerstone track, “Le Freak” (#1 Pop and R&B) is inspired by an incident at the legendary Studio 54 disco on New Year’s Eve of 1977, when the producers are invited by singer Grace Jones to discuss working with her. Edwards and Rodgers are met with the club’s infamous “velvet rope” door policy and are not admitted. They instead go to Nile’s apartment around the corner, and begin jamming on a riff that starts with the refrain “ahhh, f*** off!!!, which evolves into “ahhh, freak out!!” With “Le Freak” being issued as the lead single, the album quickly takes off, becoming Chic’s biggest seller and today is regarded as a landmark album of the Disco Era. The front and back cover photos are taken by legendary photographer Joel Brodsky (The Doors, Ohio Players, Funkadelic). Beyond the albums’ two hit singles, the lead track “Chic Cheer” also becomes a dance floor favorite, later being sampled on singer Faith Evans’ hit “Love Like This” in 1998 and on Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful”. Originally issued on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued by Warner Japan in 1998, packaged in a mini-LP sleeve (w/ HDCD encoding). Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, the album is  reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2013. The album is remastered again, by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. It’s reissued as part of the box set “The Chic Organization: 1977 -1979” as a five CD, or four LP + 12” single half speed mastered vinyl set, on November 23, 2018. The vinyl edition is also issued separately, coming with an OBI strip detailing the half-speed mastering process. “C’est Chic” spends eleven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1978 – “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #21 on the Hot 100 on December 23, 1978. Written by Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson, it is the first solo chart topper for the lead singer of the R&B band Rufus. After recording five albums with Rufus, Chaka Khan begins work on her first solo album with producer Arif Mardin (Aretha Franklin, Average White Band, the Bee Gees) in early 1978. While searching for material to record, Mardin finds the song “I’m Every Woman”, written by Ashford & Simpson, who Khan had recently collaborated with on Quincy Jones’ R&B chart topper “Stuff Like That”. The husband and wife duo play the demo for Mardin off of an acetate disc they had recorded some years before. The producer writes out the chord changes and lyrics, before coming up with a new arrangement. Recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City, the track features musicians such as AWB members Steve Ferrone (drums), Hamish Stuart and Onnie McIntyre (guitars and background vocals), bassist Anthony Jackson, guitarist Phil Upchurch and keyboard player Richard Tee. An instant R&B radio and club classic upon its release in September of 1978, it also crosses over into the pop Top 30 before the end of the year. Whitney Houston covers “Woman” (#4 Pop and R&B) for “The Bodyguard” soundtrack in 1992, and Khan makes a cameo appearance in the music video. “I’m Every Woman” is the first of three solo number one singles for Chaka Khan, with that single propelling the accompanying album “Chaka” to Gold status in the US.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1978 – “MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Jimmy Webb, it is the first number one single for the legendary “Queen Of Disco”. The song is originally written in 1967 by songwriter Jimmy Webb (“Up, Up And Away”, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”) for The Association, and is conceived as part of a side long cantata for the bands’ album “Birthday”. When The Association pass on recording the cantata, Webb excerpts “MacArthur Park” from the piece and record it with actor Richard Harris. His version, clocking in at a then unheard of 7:20, is a huge hit (#2 Pop) in spite of its length. Donna Summer records the song in 1978 as part of a seventeen and a half minute long suite for the fourth side of her double album “Live And More!”. Her medley consists of “MacArthur Park” as well as the songs “One Of A Kind” and “Heaven Knows” (the latter also being released as single in early 1979 (#4 Pop, #10 R&B). Edited down from its epic side long duration to a more radio friendly length, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on September 9, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. A few months later, Summer meets Webb while she is recording her next album “Bad Girls” in Hollywood. He takes her out to the parking lot, and shows her a brand new Ferrari he’s purchased, telling the singer with a big smile, “you bought me that!!”. “MacArthur Park” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1975 – “Gratitude”, the seventh album by Earth, Wind & Fire is released. Produced by Maurice White, Charles Stepney and Joe Wissert (live tracks), it is recorded in Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, St. Louis, MO, Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Washington DC from Late 1974 – Mid 1975 (live tracks) and Hollywood Sound, Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood, CA in June 1975 (studio tracks). Following their huge breakthrough success with “That’s The Way Of The World”, Columbia Records requests another album from the band for release in time for the 1975 Christmas holiday season. Not having enough time or new material written to record a brand new studio album, they begin recording their live shows. The finished album is a two LP set with three sides of live material and a fourth side with five new songs. It is also released with the lower list price of $7.98 ($8.98 cassette and 8-track) rather than the normal $11.98 or $12.98 price for a double album. It spins off the hits “Sing A Song” (#1 R&B, #5 Pop) and “Can’t Hide Love (#11 R&B, #39 Pop). "Gratitude” is regarded by many fans and critics as one of the best live recordings of all time. The album is remastered and reissued in 1999 on a standard redbook CD and single layer SACD. It is remastered again in 2011 for the box set “Earth, Wind & Fire – The Columbia Masters”, and in 2012 as a two disc high resolution Blu-Ray disc in Japan, replicating  the original album packaging in mini-LP form. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued by Friday Music in 2015, as a limited edition pressed on blue vinyl. Another LP reissue pressed on standard black vinyl is released by Sony Music also in 2015. “Gratitude” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, six weeks (non-consecutive) at the top of the R&B album chart, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 10, 1979 – “Heartache Tonight” by the Eagles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bob Seger and J.D. Souther, it is the fifth chart topping single for the L.A. based rock band. After the huge critical and commercial triumph of the Eagles fifth studio album “Hotel California”, there is intense pressure put on the band by their record label, and by themselves to repeat that success. However, the grind of non stop touring and recording through the 70’s find the band exhausted and tapped out creatively. Looking for inspiration, Don Henley and Glenn Frey collaborate with fellow musicians outside of the band to get the creative juices flowing again. “Heartache Tonight” is written in a jam session at Glenn Frey’s house, when friend and fellow Detroit native Bob Seger comes to visit. The pair finish the song with mutual friend, musician and songwriter J.D. Souther and Frey’s band mate Don Henley. Issued as the first single from the band’s sixth album “The Long Run” on September 18, 1979, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #52 on October 6, 1979, streaking to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Heartache Tonight also wins the Eagles a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1980. "Heartache Tonight” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 10, 1978 – “Holy Ghost” by The Bar-Kays is released. Written by Henderson Thigpen, Eddie Marion and James Banks, it is the twentieth single release for the R&B/Funk band from Memphis, TN. Enjoying both triumph and enduring tragedy, The Bar-Kays are rightfully acknowledged as soul survivors. After the loss of Ronnie Caldwell, Phalon Jones, Carl Cunningham and Jimmy King, all of whom perish with singer Otis Redding in a plane crash in December of 1967, it initially seems that the band is over. However, bassist James Alexander who had been traveling on another plane, and trumpeter Ben Cauley, the lone survivor of the crash, rebuild The Bar-Kays with new members. The reformed band includes Harvey Henderson (saxophone), Michael Toles (guitar) Ronnie Gorden (organ), and Willie Hall (drums). Former Temprees vocalist Larry Dodson joins the band in 1970 becoming their lead singer. By 1975, Stax Records is in major trouble, due to mismanagement and a disastrous alliance with CBS Records, seals the venerable R&B label’s fate. In the Fall of that year, The Bar-Kays record several songs including a funky mid tempo groove titled “Holy Ghost”. Featuring Larry Dodson’s fiery lead vocals, a couple of versions are recorded. Before the album can be completed, Stax is involuntarily forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 19, 1975, abruptly shuttered. All of its assets are then seized on January 12, 1976. Suddenly without a record label, The Bar-Kays are at loose ends, but quickly bounce back and are signed to Mercury Records, where they enjoy even greater success. Even with the demise of Stax Records, it makes a surprising re-dux, with The Bar-Kays as unlikely flag bearers. After Stax’s assets are liquidated, the label’s famed catalog eventually sees the light of day again. In 1978, Stax is purchased by Berkeley, CA based Fantasy Records. Going through the tapes, Fantasy discovers The Bar-Kays unfinished album (titled “Money Talks”) from 1975, completing it with outside studio musicians. Among those songs is “Holy Ghost”, released just before their third Mercury album “Light Of Life”. Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, “Holy Ghost” becomes an R&B smash, peaking at #9 on the Billboard R&B chart on Feburary 3, 1979. It out charts all three of the bands recent Mercury singles. Also released as an extended 12" single, it becomes a sensation on the dance floor in part due to its extended timbale break. That breakdown also becomes a favored break beat by Hip Hop DJ’s, and becomes a crate staple. The song and the band are also name checked on The Sugarhill Gang’s classic “Rapper’s Delight” later in 1979. It’s also sampled on M/A/R/R/S’ classic “Pump Up The Volume”, the Beastie Boys “Hey Ladies” and Def Jef’s “Give It Here” to name a few.

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On this day in music history: November 10, 1975 – “Chicago IX: Chicago’s Greatest Hits”, the ninth album by Chicago is released. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at CBS Studios in New York City, Columbia Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA, and the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO from January 1969 – December 1973. The first greatest hits package for the band, the eleven song compilation features tracks from Chicago’s first seven albums. Though it  excludes any selections from their third and fourth albums, due to “Chicago III” not yielding a major hit single and their sprawling four LP live set recorded at Carnegie Hall also not having any singles released from it. It also does not contain any tracks from “Chicago VIII” which had only been released eight months before. Since “XI” is issued only as a single LP, it includes the edited versions of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (original pressings feature the promo radio edit, later replaced by the commercial 45 edit when reissued on CD), "Make Me Smile”, and “Beginnings” (faded earlier to run only 6:28, with the full 7:51 version restored on the CD release) to meet the time constraints of vinyl. The albums’ cover artwork (designed by John Berg) features a photo of the band members on a painting scaffold, making it one of the few Chicago albums to actually feature the band on the front cover. Original vinyl pressings feature custom label artwork and inner sleeve, with later re-pressings using the standard red Columbia label and generic inner sleeves. CBS also releases the album in quadraphonic stereo. The album is also remastered and reissued on vinyl in 2015. A limited edition pressing of the LP is pressed on red and gold swirled vinyl, and sold as an exclusive through retailer Barnes & Noble. “Chicago IX: Chicago’s Greatest Hits” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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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. “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.

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On this day in music history: November 9, 1976 – “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers”, the debut album by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers is released. Produced by Denny Cordell, it is recorded at Shelter Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1974 – Mid 1976. The first release by the Gainesville, FL based rock band is released on Cordell and Leon Russell’s Shelter Records label (distributed by ABC). The album initially receives little attention upon its release. After touring relentlessly in the UK and US, it finally charts in the US in 1978. It spins off the classics “Breakdown” (#40 Pop) and “American Girl”. “Girl” is later featured in the films “FM”, “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”, “The Silence Of The Lambs”, and numerous television shows including “The Sopranos”, “Parks And Recreation” and “Scrubs”. Petty regains the rights to the master tapes, and is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002 on his Gone Gator Records imprint through Warner Bros. In April of 2011, the album is reissued as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl LP (2,500 copies), pressed on white vinyl for Record Store Day. The vinyl release is also reissued on standard black vinyl as a stand alone release in 2014, and as part of the box set “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – The Complete Studio Albums Volume 1 (1976-1991)” in 2016. “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers” peaks at number fifty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 9, 1974 – “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Randy Bachman, it is the biggest hit for the Canadian rock band fronted by Bachman (formerly of The Guess Who). The song is written in tribute to Bachman’s brother (and first manager of BTO) Gary who has a stuttering problem. The song is recorded as a gift to Randy’s brother and was never intended to be released. Bachman also takes inspiration from The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and “My Generation” while writing the song. Only after Charlie Fach, an executive at Mercury Records hears the song and deems it a smash will it see the light of day. Included on the band’s “Not Fragile” album, it is released as the second single. Entering the Hot 100 at #65 on September 21, 1974, it streaks to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The B-side “Free Wheelin’” also garners significant airplay and is listed along side “Yet” as it is descending the charts. The huge success of the single also drives their album to the top on the Billboard Top 200. “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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