Category: ashford & simpson

On this day in music history: December 1, 1984 – “Solid” by Ashford & Simpson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #12 on the Hot 100 on February 9, 1985. Written and produced by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, it is the biggest hit for the husband and wife songwriting and production team. The song is inspired after Nick Ashford is greeted on the street by a fan who recognizes him, and says to him “yo man, solid!!”. Returning home, Nick tells his wife Valerie about the encounter with the fan. Both come to the realization that not only is the word “solid” used as a greeting, but it also best describes their long and loving relationship. When they sit down to write the song, it doesn’t take long to complete, after years of knowing each other on an intimate level, and being able to feel what the other was thinking. “Solid” is the title track to Ashford & Simpson’s twelfth album (and third release on Capitol Records). The hit single version of the song is remixed by Francois Kevorkian and Ron St. Germain, who add the now signature a cappella to the songs’ intro and outro. An immediate smash on R&B radio, “Solid” crosses over to top 40 pop radio, something that had eluded the duo during their years recording for Warner Bros. “Solid” becomes Ashford & Simpson’s signature song, and is also parodied on Saturday Night Live when former SNL performer and actress Maya Rudolph performs it as First Lady Michelle Obama (with Fred Armisen as President Obama) re-written as “Solid As Barack”.

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Born on this day: August 26, 1946 – Singer, songwriter and musician Valerie Simpson (born in The Bronx, NY). Happy 73rd Birthday, Val!!

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On this day in music history: August 11, 1978 – “Is It Still Good To Ya”, the sixth album by Ashford & Simpson is released. Produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios and Celebration Studios in New York City from Early – Mid 1978. Landing their first major commercial success with the Gold selling “Send It”, Ashford & Simpson immediately go to work on the follow up. Recorded during an especially prolific time in their career, it comes during a time where they have co-written songs for the film adaptation of “The Wiz”, as well as the R&B chart topper “Stuff Like That” with Quincy Jones. Writing and producing all of the material on “Is It Still Good To Ya”, the duo are backed by top studio players including Steve Jordan, John Sussewell (drums), Eric Gale (guitar), Ralph MacDonald (percussion), Ray Chew (synthesizers), Francisco Centeno (bass), and their former Motown associate Paul Riser (string arrangements). Valerie Simpson’s younger brother (and future Village People member) Ray Simpson and Ullanda McCullough provide backing vocals on the album. It is led by the single “It Seems To Hang On” (#2 R&B), becoming an R&B radio and club smash, and is their highest charting single to date. A longer version of the track is released as a promotional only 12" single in the US, and commercially in some international territories. The album spins off two more singles, including the title track “Is It Still Good To Ya” (#12 R&B) and “Flashback” (#70 R&B). Originally released on CD in 1996, the album is reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2010 with three additional bonus tracks. The extra tracks include the original 12" disco mix and a later remix (by Tommy Musto) of “It Seems To Hang On” and the extended version of “Flashback”. The album is remastered and reissued again in 2015, by BBR/Big Break Records. The expanded reissue includes seven additional bonus tracks including single edits, 12" mixes, and previously unreleased alternate mixes of “It Seems To Hang On” and “The Debt Is Settled”. “Is It Still Good To Ya” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number twenty on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.  

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: August 10, 1979 – “Stay Free”, the seventh album by Ashford & Simpson is released. Produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, it is recorded  at Sigma Sound Studios and A&R Studios in New York City from Early – Mid 1979. Finally establishing themselves as successful recording artists, after signing with Warner Bros. Records in 1973, Ashford & Simpson begin to really hit their stride by the later part of the decade. The husband and wife duo score back to back Gold albums with “Send It” and “Is It Still Good To Ya?” in 1977 and 1978. Having found early support from club DJ’s with the dance floor classic “Over And Over” in 1976, Disco and dance music permeate the sound of Ashford & Simpson’s seventh studio album “Stay Free”. As usual, the couple surround themselves with excellent musical support, including musicians Eric Gale (guitar), Steve Gadd, Chris Parker, Jimmy Young (drums), Anthony Jackson, Francisco Centeno (bass), Ralph MacDonald (percussion), Ray Chew (synthesizers), Ullanda McCullough (backing vocals), Paul Riser and John Davis (horn and string arrangements). Putting their own unique musical stamp on the genre, they come up with songs that are classy and funky, with an understated gloss that avoids all of the cliches of the Disco movement. The first taste comes in June of 1979, with the first single “Found A Cure” (#2 R&B, #36 Pop, #1 Club Play). An instant club classic, “Cure” tops the Dance/Disco chart, replacing Diana Ross’ “The Boss” at the top of that chart, which Ashford & Simpson have written and produced. It also holds at number two for three weeks (beginning on September 15, 1979), behind Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, and becomes their first top 40 pop hit. It is followed by the syncopated and funky “Nobody Knows” (#19 R&B, #1 Club Play) and the title track “Stay Free”. Making its long awaited CD debut in 1996, the album is reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2010, with five additional bonus tracks. The extra tracks include the original 12" disco mixes of “Nobody Knows” and “Found A Cure”, as well as remixes of “Stay Free” and “Found A Cure” by Dimitri From Paris and Tom Moulton. It is remastered and reissued again my BBR/Big Break Records in 2015. The expanded CD reissue features four additional bonus tracks, including the single edits of “Found A Cure” and “Nobody Knows”. “Stay Free” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty three on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: December 1, 1984 – “Solid” by Ashford & Simpson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #12 on the Hot 100 on February 9, 1985. Written and produced by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, it is the biggest hit for the husband and wife songwriting and production team. The song is inspired after Nick Ashford is greeted on the street by a fan who recognizes him, and says to him “yo man, solid!!”. Returning home, Nick tells his wife Valerie about the encounter with the fan. Both come to the realization that not only is the word “solid” used as a greeting, but it also best describes their long and loving relationship. When they sit down to write the song, it doesn’t take long to complete, after years of knowing each other on an intimate level, and being able to feel what the other was thinking. “Solid” is the title track to Ashford & Simpson’s twelfth album (and third release on Capitol Records). The hit single version of the song is remixed by Francois Kevorkian and Ron St. Germain, who add the now signature a cappella to the songs’ intro and outro. An immediate smash on R&B radio, “Solid” crosses over to top 40 pop radio, something that had eluded the duo during their years recording for Warner Bros. “Solid” becomes Ashford & Simpson’s signature song, and is also parodied on Saturday Night Live when former SNL performer and actress Maya Rudolph performs it as First Lady Michelle Obama (with Fred Armisen as President Obama) re-written as “Solid As Barack”.

On this day in music history: September 30, 1977 – “Send It”, the fifth album by Ashford & Simpson is released. Produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios and A&R Studios in New York City from Early – Mid 1977. Written and produced in its entirety by the husband and wife duo, it is the record that finally launches their own successful recording career, after writing and producing hits for numerous artists including Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, and Diana Ross. The album also features a number of top New York based studio musicians including Eric Gale and Steve Khan (guitars) and Ralph MacDonald (percussion). It spins off three singles including the second single “Don’t Cost You Nothing” (#10 R&B) which gives them their first top 10 hit under their own names. The album yields another classic with the instrumental track “Bourgie Bourgie” which becomes a dance floor staple in clubs around the world and in a cover vocal version by Gladys Knight & The Pips on their 1980 album “About Love”(that the duo also produces). The album is remastered and reissued on CD for the first time in 2015 by UK reissue label Big Break Records. The expanded edition features four additional bonus tracks, including the 12" and 7" mixes of “Don’t Cost You Nothing”,  a remix of “Bourgié Bourgié” and the single edit of the title track. “Send It” peaks at number ten on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fifty two on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Ashford & Simpson photographed by Bobby Holland, 1982.

Born on this day: August 26, 1946 – Singer, songwriter and musician Valerie Simpson (born in The Bronx, NY). Happy 72nd Birthday, Val!!

On this day in music history: December 1, 1984 – “Solid” by Ashford & Simpson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #12 on the Hot 100 on February 9, 1985. Written and produced by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, it is the biggest hit for the husband and wife songwriting and production team. The song is inspired after Nick Ashford is greeted on the street by a fan who recognizes him, and says to him “yo man, solid!!”. Returning home, Nick tells his wife Valerie about the encounter with the fan. Both come to the realization that not only is the word “solid” used as a greeting, but it also best describes their long and loving relationship. When they sit down to write the song, it doesn’t take long to complete, after years of knowing each other on an intimate level, and being able to feel what the other was thinking. “Solid” is the title track to Ashford & Simpson’s twelfth album (and third release on Capitol Records). The hit single version of the song is remixed by Francois Kevorkian and Ron St. Germain, who add the now signature a cappella to the songs’ intro and outro. An immediate smash on R&B radio, “Solid” crosses over to top 40 pop radio, something that had eluded the duo during their years recording for Warner Bros. “Solid” becomes Ashford & Simpson’s signature song, and is also parodied on Saturday Night Live when former SNL performer and actress Maya Rudolph performs it as First Lady Michelle Obama (with Fred Armisen as President Obama) re-written as “Solid As Barack”.

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