Category: 70’s

On this day in music history: May 22, 1976 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1976 – “Silly Love Songs” by Wings hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks (non-consecutive), also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on May 29, 1976. Written and produced by Paul McCartney, it is the fifth solo chart topper for the former Beatle. McCartney writes the song in response to critics who often chide him, feeling that his solo work is “lightweight” in comparison to his Beatles era material. Released on April 1, 1976, it is issued as the first single from Wings’ fifth studio album “Wings At The Speed Of Sound”, becoming an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on April 10, 1976, it leaps to the top of the singles chart just six weeks later. After one week on top, it is temporarily bumped from the top spot by Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” for two weeks on May 29, 1976. The single then rebounds and returns to the top for four more weeks on June 12, 1976. McCartney re-records “Silly Love Songs” in a dramatically revamped version for the film “Give My Regards To Broad Street” in 1984, that features Brothers Johnson bassist Louis Johnson on bass. “Silly Love Songs” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1975 – “…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1975 – “Adventures In Paradise”, the third album by Minnie Riperton is released. Produced by Stewart Levine, Minnie Riperton and Richard Rudolph, it is recorded at Wally Heider 3 Studios in Los Angeles, CA from January – March 1975. Just as she is experiencing the breakthrough success of her second album “Perfect Angel” and the single “Lovin’ You” headed toward number one, Minnie Riperton begins working on the follow up album. With Stevie Wonder being pre-occupied with work on his magnum opus “Songs In The Key Of Life”, he is not able to co-produce with Riperton and her husband, musician Richard Rudolph. Instead, they work with Crusaders producer Stewart Levine on the new project. In between, Minnie meets singer and songwriter Leon Ware, while both are working on Quincy Jones’ “Mellow Madness” album. Hitting it off immediately, Ware, Riperton and Rudolph write three songs together for Minnie’s new album. Co-producer Levine assembles an outstanding team of first call musicians to play on the sessions including Crusaders keyboardist Joe Sample, saxophonist Tom Scott, Jim Gordon (drums), Dean Parks, Larry Carlton (guitar), Jim Horn (saxophone), and Dorothy Ashby (harp). Released right on the heels of “Perfect Angel”, the jazzy, soulful, and sensual album becomes a favorite of Riperton’s fans, though it is less commercially successful than its predecessor. It spins off two singles including the classic “Inside My Love” (#26 R&B, #76 Pop), which meets with resistance from numerous radio stations feeling that it is “too suggestive” for daytime radio play. “Paradise” becomes a cult classic and highly sought after album in later years when A Tribe Called Quest samples the track “Baby This Love I Have” as the basis of their iconic single “Check The Rhime” in 1991. Minnie’s original version of “Inside My Love” is featured on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s film “Jackie Brown” in 1997, while R&B singer Chante Moore covers the song for the “New York Undercover” soundtrack two years earlier in 1995. R&B vocalist Trina Broussard also covers “Inside” for the “Love Jones” soundtrack in 1997. Timbaland also samples “Baby This Love” for Aaliyah’s song “Heartbroken” in 1996. Shortly after the album is released, a TV spot recreating the cover shot is filmed. Using a different lion than the one used previously, it jumps on Riperton, but she is unhurt in the incident. “Adventures In Paradise” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number eighteen on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1977 – “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on May 28, 1977. Written and produced by Stevie Wonder, it is fifth pop and thirteenth R&B chart topper for the twenty two time Grammy award winning singer, songwriter and musician. The song is written in tribute to legendary composer, arranger and bandleader Duke Ellington. Having been an influence on Wonder as a musician, he feels compelled to acknowledge Ellington who had passed away in May of 1974 at the age of 75. Stevie also name checks many other important jazz and swing music pioneers in the song including Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. The track features Wonder (keyboards) with members of his band Wonderlove including Nathan Watts (bass), Michael Sembello and Ben Bridges (lead and rhythm guitars), Hank Redd (alto sax), Trevor Laurence (tenor sax), Raymond Maldonado, Steve Madaio (trumpets) and Raymond Pounds (drums). Issued as the second single from the landmark “Songs In The Key of Life” album on March 22, 1977, “Sir Duke” follows its predecessor “I Wish” to the top of the pop and R&B singles charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on April 2, 1977, it  climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The success of “Sir Duke” propels “Songs In The Key Of Life” to 10x Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1977 – “…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1977 – “Whodunit” by Tavares hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #22 on the Hot 100 on June 4, 1977. Written by Keni St. Lewis and Freddie Perren, it is the third and final R&B chart topper for the family vocal quintet from New Bedford, MA. Former Motown staff songwriter St. Lewis (also co-writer of “Boogie Fever” and “Farewell My Summer Love”), both fans of detective stories comes up with the concept for the song, name checking famous private eyes such as Charlie Chan, Sherlock Holmes, Ironside and Ellery Queen to name a few. The track features such top flight studio musicians as James Gadson (drums), Scott Edwards (bass), Bob Bowles (guitar), John Barnes and Sonny Burke (keyboards) and Paulinho DaCosta (congas). Released as the first single from Tavares’ fifth album “Love Storm” in March of 1977, it quickly becomes an R&B smash. Though the group continues to have regular chart success on the R&B charts, “Whodunit” is one of the last three Top 40 pop hits Tavares has. They are only able place in the upper half of the Hot 100 with “More Than A Woman” (#32 Pop, #36 R&B) also included on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack and “Penny For Your Thoughts” (#33 Pop, #16 R&B) after moving to RCA Records in 1982.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1971 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1971 – “What’s Going On”, the eleventh studio album by Marvin Gaye is released. Produced by Marvin Gaye, it is recorded at Motown Studio A, Golden World Studios (Motown Studio B), United Sound Studios in Detroit, MI and the Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA from June 1970, March – May 1971. A concept album focusing on the subjects of poverty, drug abuse, and war, its messages immediately resonate with the public. Following the huge success of the title track as a single, Motown demands a full album to go with it ASAP. Recording with Motown’s studio band The Funk Brothers, the basic tracks and vocals for the album is recorded in only ten days of studio time. The initial version of the album, now known as the “Detroit Mix” is mixed by Motown engineers while Gaye is off in California filming a movie. After hearing the initial mix, Gaye orders them shelved and send for the tapes while in California. He adds additional overdubs to several tracks, and completely remixes and re-sequences the album with engineer Lawrence Miles. The album is immediately recognized by critics and the public as an important artistic musical statement upon its release, as well as being a major commercial success. It spins off three singles including “Mercy Mercy Me” (#1 R&B, #4 Pop), “Inner City Blues” (#1 R&B, #9 Pop) and the title track (#1 R&B, #2 Pop). Regarded as a landmark album of its era, is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. Reissued numerous times since making its CD debut in 1986, it is released as a two disc Deluxe Edition in 2001. The first disc contains the original nine song album, as well as the initial but previously unreleased “Detroit Mix”, plus an instrumental mix of the title track. The second disc features a live concert recorded in Washington DC in January of 1972, with Gaye performing the album in its entirety live. It also contains the original mono single mixes of “What’s Going On”, and the B-sides “God Is Love”, “Sad Tomorrows” and an early demo recording of “Distant Lover”. This edition is also released as a four LP set in 2016, to commemorate the forty fifth anniversary of the albums’ release. Also a favorite of audiophiles, it is remastered and reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab twice. The first time as an SACD and as a half speed mastered LP (in 2008 and 2009), and as a One Step 45 RPM double LP set in 2019. “What’s Going On” spends nine weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number six on the Top 200, is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1978 – “With A Little Luck” by Wings hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written and produced by Paul McCartney, it is the sixth solo chart topper for the former Beatle. In early 1977, Linda McCartney finds out that she is expecting her and Paul’s third child together (a son, named James Louis McCartney born on September 12, 1977). Inspired by the good news, McCartney writes “With A Little Luck” based on his feelings of happiness and optimism about the impending birth and their future. Deciding that a change of scenery is necessary when recording the follow up to their previous studio album “Wings At The Speed Of Sound”, the band take a working vacation, by living and recording on a yacht called the “Fair Carol” (equipped with a twenty-four track recording studio) moored off of the Virgin Islands in the Spring of 1977. Final overdubbing and mixing for the track is completed in London at Abbey Road and AIR Studios. Released as the first single from “London Town” (original working title “Water Wings”), it quickly becomes a hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #70 on March 25, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. Commercially sold copies of the 45 contain the full album version clocking in at 5:45, while promotional copies serviced to radio stations feature an edited version running 3:13. The short version is not issued on a commercial album, until the release of the compilation albums “All The Best!” in 1987 (US Version only) and “Wingspan” in 2001. “With A Little Luck” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – “In The City”, the debut album by The Jam is released. Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry, it is recorded at Stratford Place in London in March 1977. Heavily influenced by the 60’s mod culture in London and by bands like The Kinks and The Who, the punk/new wave trio from Woking, Surrey, UK led by guitarist and vocalist Paul Weller will stand out significantly from their contemporaries. Unlike other British punk bands of the era, The Jam often dress in sharp tailored suits, (rather than the ripped and safety pinned clothing that many other bands wore), and are more musically influenced by the 60’s pop and R&B music that mod teens of the era listened and danced to. The band immediately make their impact felt in their home country with their critically acclaimed and commercially successful debut, also earning them a solid cult following in the US. The album spins off two singles including “All Around The World” (#13 UK) and the title track (#40 UK). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2008 in Japan as an SHM-CD. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued in 2013 as a 180 gram vinyl LP, as part of UMe’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series. “In The City” peaks at number twenty on the UK album chart.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1976 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1976 – “Changesonebowie”, the eleventh album by David Bowie is released. It is the first compilation of Bowie’s hits on RCA Records from 1969 to 1976. The album also marks the first appearance of the track “John I’m Only Dancing” on an album. The song had been previously issued as a stand alone single in September of 1972. The first 1,000 copies of the UK LP have the “sax version” of the song, a re-recorded version cut in January of 1973. It issued as a single in the UK in April of 1973, using the same catalog number as the first pressing. The compilation subsequently switches out the “sax version” with the original release on future pressings. “Ziggy Stardust” is also issued as a single A-side in tandem with the compilations release to help promote it. “Changesone” is also briefly reissued on CD in 1985 by RCA, but is quickly withdrawn after Bowie acquires the rights to his master recordings. The album also spawns a sequel compilation titled “Changestwobowie” released in November of 1981. After both titles are deleted, another Bowie hits album titled “Changesbowie” featuring tracks from both albums with songs from the “Let’s Dance” and “Tonight” albums (originally released on EMI-America Records) is released in 1990, while Bowie’s catalog is distributed by Rykodisc. It too is deleted when the Bowie’s catalog is licensed to EMI Records worldwide. On May 20, 2016, the album is reissued on vinyl for the first time in over two decades, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of its original release. Parlophone/WMG presses the new reissue on black and limited edition clear 180 gram vinyl. “Changesonebowie” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 20, 1946 – Pop music ico…

Born on this day: May 20, 1946 – Pop music icon and Academy Award winning actress Cher (born Cherilyn Sarkasian La Pierre in El Centro, CA). Happy 73rd Birthday, Cher!!

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1974 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1974 – “Rags To Rufus”, the second album by Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan is released. Produced by Bob Monaco, it is recorded at Quantum Recording Studios in Torrance, CA from December 1973 – February 1974. Originally known as Ask Rufus when they form in 1971, the band originally consists of former American Breed (“Bend Me, Shape Me”) members Kevin Murphy (keyboards), Chuck Colbert Jr., Willie Weeks (bass), Lee Graziano (drums), Al Ciner (guitar), James Stella and Paulette McWilliams (vocals). They’re signed to Epic Records and record an album, which is shelved and they are dropped. Manager and producer Bob Monaco helps them to land another contract, this time with ABC/Dunhill Records. Before it’s recorded, Weeks is replaced by Dennis Belfield, Stella is replaced by Ron Stockert, and Graziano by Andre Fischer. During this time McWilliams becomes close friends with a young Chicago based singer named Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens), who initially joins as a background singer. Paulette eventually decides to leave, grooming Khan to replace her. Shortening their name to Rufus, they release their debut album in July of 1973 (#44 R&B, #174 Pop), then quickly beginning work on the follow up. In spite of being very pregnant with her first child Indira Milini (born December 21, 1973), Chaka delivers powerful vocals throughout. During the sessions, Rufus receive a visit in the studio by R&B and pop superstar Stevie Wonder, who had become aware of them through their cover of his song “Maybe Your Baby” on their first album. Wonder offers to write the band a song for them, initially coming up with one titled “Come and Get This Stuff”. Chaka tells Stevie bluntly that she doesn’t like it. Stunned at the rejection, Wonder asks Khan what her birth sign is, to which she replies “Aries-Pisces”. Stevie comes back with another song titled “Tell Me Something Good” (#3 R&B and Pop). It also features future members Tony Maiden (talk box, guitar), and Nate Morgan (keyboards), though both are uncredited. Putting her unique vocal stamp on the unusually structured but ultra funky song, “Tell Me” becomes a crossover smash. The single wins Rufus and Chaka Khan their first Grammy Award For Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1975. It is followed by the equally funky “You Got The Love” (#1 R&B, #14 Pop), co-written by Khan and former Stevie Wonder guitarist Ray Parker, Jr., pushing the album past the million mark in sales. First released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued by Geffen/Universal Japan in 2004, packaged in a mini-LP sleeve. “Rags To Rufus” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart and Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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