Category: blue eyed soul

On this day in music history: May 21, 1983 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1983 – “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on April 30, 1983, and peaking at #14 on the R&B singles chart on May 28, 1983. Written by David Bowie, it is the second US chart topper for the British rock icon. Newly signed to a worldwide record deal with EMI Records in 1982 worth over $10 million, David Bowie collaborates with musician Nile Rodgers of Chic on his first album with the label. Before the recording sessions begin, Bowie plays Rodgers a number of new songs he has written including one titled “Let’s Dance”. Originally written on a 12-string acoustic guitar, Bowie’s original arrangement bares almost no resemblance to what it becomes. Rodgers takes the folk-rock acoustic based song, and transforms it into a funky, uptempo dance rock song. Recorded at The Power Station in New York City in December of 1982, “Let’s Dance” along with the rest of the accompanying album is recorded in under three weeks. “Dance” features most of the core rhythm section of Chic including Tony Thompson (drums), Rob Sabino (keyboards), Sammy Figueroa (percussion) and Rodgers himself (guitar) as well as Carmine Rojas (bass), and a then little known blues guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan providing the stinging lead guitar on the track. The title track from David Bowie’s fifteenth studio album, it is released in March of 1983 and is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on March 26, 1983, it  climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single also tops the chart in the UK, becoming his third chart topper in his home country. “Dance” not only become Bowie’s biggest single and album, but also introduces him to a new audience, winning him a new generation of fans. The song is accompanied by a music video directed by long time collaborator David Mallet, shot in Sydney, Australia in early 1983. To commemorate the thirty fifth anniversary, the original demo recording of “Let’s Dance” is released digitally on January 8, 2018, Bowie’s 71st birthday. The complete version along with a live recording from the “Serious Moonlight Tour”, is released as a limited edition 12" single for Record Store Day on April 21, 2018. “Let’s Dance” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1967 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1967 – “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, it is the second chart topping single for the New York City based blue eyed soul/pop rock quartet. For the bands sixth single release, they venture into new musical territory. Taking an interest in Afro-Cuban music, keyboardist and lead vocalist Felix Cavaliere along with percussionist Eddie Brigati come up with a leisurely paced groove with that sound in mind, and begin crafting a song around it. Lyrically, it is about how the only time the two busy musicians could spend with their respective girlfriends were on Sundays. When they get into the studio to cut the track, they enlist the assistance of veteran studio bassist Chuck Rainey to play on the song. Once it’s completed, the band present the song to Atlantic Records, who at first are unsure of the songs commercial potential. Famed New York DJ Murray “The K”, convinces the label to release song after he expresses his enthusiasm for it. Released on April 10, 1967, it is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #79 on April 22, 1967, it rockets to the top of the chart just four weeks later. “Groovin’” proves to have major staying power once it reaches the summit. After two weeks at the top, it is bumped from the number one spot by Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” for two weeks, then it returns to the top for an additional two weeks. The B-side of “Groovin” titled “Sueño”, is later sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, on the intro of their single ‘I Left My Wallet In El Segundo" in 1990. “Groovin’” is also sampled and interpolated by A Lighter Shade Of Brown on their single “On A Sunday Afternoon” in 1991. “Groovin’” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 14, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 14, 1977 – “When I Need You” by Leo Sayer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on April 23, 1977. Written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager, it is the second US chart topper for the UK born singer. Originally recorded by singer and songwriter Albert Hammond in 1976 (“It Never Rains In Southern California”, “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before”), Sayer records the song with producer Richard Perry for his album “Endless Flight”. Issued as the follow up to his number one smash “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” in February of 1977, it becomes another immediate hit. The hit single version of “When I Need You” differs from the original album mix, with the addition of a saxophone solo in the latter half of the track. Subsequent re-pressings of the album replace the original mix with the hit version. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on February 26, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The single is also Sayer’s biggest hit in the UK, hitting number one after placing three singles at number two on the charts. The song is later covered by several artists including Luther Vandross, Rod Stewart, Cliff Richard and Celine Dion. “When I Need You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1996 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1996 – “Older”, the third album by George Michael is released (US release date is on May 14, 1996). Produced by George Michael and Jon Douglas, it is recorded at SARM West Studio Two in Notting Hill, London and Aegean Studios in London from Mid 1993 – Early 1996. The pop superstar’s first full length release in nearly six years, it comes after a long legal battle with Sony Music. Michael battles his label for his release over the terms of his contract, and what he feels was the under promotion of the “Listen Without Prejudice, V.1” album by the US division. He winds up losing the case, and remains bound to Sony until 1995, when Virgin Records in the UK and the newly formed Dreamworks SKG label jointly owned by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. Their company purchases George Michael’s contract from Sony, for an undisclosed sum. In the interim period, Michael has been working on and off on new music, though for the first time in his progress is slowed by writer’s block as well as dealing with other issues in his personal life. Having met Brazilian fashion designer Anselmo Feleppa after performing at the Rock In Rio festival in 1991, Michael enters into his first committed relationship with a man. Tragedy strikes when only six months later, Feleppa discovers that he is HIV positive. Michael himself is not infected, but ceases all work to care for his partner who passes away on March 26, 1993. Shaken by the loss, Feleppa’s death is the catalyst for one of George Michael’s most poignant and moving songs, writing the lyrics to “Jesus To A Child” (#1 UK, #7 US Pop) in just an hour and a half. Once again confident in his creative ability, Michael begins writing and recording again. Musically, “Older” picks up where “Listen Without Prejudice” leaves off, taking on a moodier and jazzier feel and is a direct reflection of what the singer has experienced over the previous three years. The album is an immediate smash in Europe and throughout much of the rest of the world, though the response in the US is decidedly muted and less enthusiastic, with American fans being more accustomed to Michael’s more pop oriented material. It spins off three singles (six internationally) including “Fastlove” (#1 UK, #8 US Pop) and Spinning The Wheel" (#2 UK). In 1997, an expanded edition is released in Europe with a bonus disc titled “Upper” featuring six bonus tracks including remixes and two previously unreleased songs. “Older” spends four weeks at number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 6, 1997 – “S…

On this day in music history: May 6, 1997 – “Still Waters”, the twenty-first studio album by the Bee Gees is released (UK release date is on March 10, 1997). Produced by Russ Titelman, David Foster, Hugh Padgham, Arif Mardin, Raphael Saadiq and the Bee Gees, it is recorded at Middle Ear Studios in Miami Beach, FL from October 1995 – August 1996. The band initially record an earlier version of the album that is rejected by Polydor Records, but regroup and rework the material with various producers. Among the producers working on the album include their old friend and mentor Arif Mardin, marking the first time they have worked with him since the “E.S.P” album in 1987. It is Mardin who had helped the band re-invent their sound in 70’s, guiding them into their second and most successful era of pop stardom. The result is their most successful album in twenty years, coinciding with the band being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and being honored by the BRIT Awards for their Outstanding Contribution To Music. It spins off three singles including “Alone” (#5 UK, #20 US Pop). “Still Waters” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 3, 1986 – “A…

On this day in music history: May 3, 1986 – “Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Robert Palmer, it is the biggest hit for the blue eyed soul and rock vocalist from Batley, West Yorkshire, UK. After the huge success of The Power Station’s self titled album in 1985, singer Robert Palmer once again collaborates with producer and musician Bernard Edwards for his seventh studio album “Riptide”. Recording at Compass Point Studios (owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell), in Nassau, The Bahamas, Edwards assembles a crack team of musicians to play on the album including former Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor, drummer Tony Thompson, keyboardist Wally Badarou, and the producer himself on bass. “Addicted To Love” is originally conceived as duet between Palmer and singer Chaka Khan, but the track is remixed with Khan’s vocals removed before the albums release. Her label Warner Bros refuses grant clearance for the track to be released as a single with her voice on it. With Chaka featured on the “Krush Groove” and “Miami Vice” soundtracks during 1985, and also scheduled to release her seventh solo album “Destiny” in the first half of 1986, her label fears overexposure by having so many records out in such a brief time span. However, she is credited with arranging the vocals on the finished recording. Released as the second single from “Riptide” in January of 1986, it quickly hits the charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on February 8, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The songs popularity is bolstered by an instantly memorable and iconic music video directed by British fashion photographer Terrence Donovan. It features Palmer fronting a band consisting of five fashion models all wearing identical clothing, hair styles and make up. The single wins Palmer his first Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance in 1987. During the songs run on the charts, Island Records in the US releases “Addicted” with two different picture sleeves, the first being a head shot of Palmer, and the second a still photo from the music video. “Addicted To Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 30, 1966 -…

On this day in music history: April 30, 1966 – “Good Lovin’” by The Young Rascals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Rudy Clark and Arthur Resnick, it is the first chart topping single for the New York City based quartet. Written by former postman turned songwriter Rudy Clark (“Got My Mind Set On You”, “If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody”, “It’s in His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)”, “Everybody Plays The Fool” ), and his writing partner Arthur Resnick, the song is originally recorded in 1965 by R&B singer “Lemme B. Good”. Another version by The Olympics follows shortly after, and is the one heard by keyboardist/vocalist Felix Cavaliere on the radio. Shortly after, the band add the song to their repertoire begin playing it regularly in live performances. The Young Rascals record “Good Lovin’” as their second release on Atlantic after being signed in 1965. The band record “Good Lovin’” at Atlantic Studios in New York City with producers Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd. Released on February 21, 1966, the single is an instant smash upon its release. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on March 12, 1966, it streaks to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Good Lovin’” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 27, 1987 -…

On this day in music history: April 27, 1987 – “Living In A Box”, the debut album by Living In A Box is released. Produced by Richard James Burgess, it is recorded at AIR Studios in London and Galaxy Sound Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Mid 1986 – Early 1987. Formed in Sheffield, UK in 1985, the band consists of Richard Darbyshire (lead vocals, guitar), Anthony “Tich” Crichlow (drums) and Marcus Vere (keyboards). They meet while Crichlow and Vere are in a studio working on song demos. Darbyshire, then working as a solo artist at the same studio, is invited to join the band. Their name and the song “Living In A Box” (#5 UK, #17 US Pop, #6 US Club Play), are inspired by a friend who lived in a council flat so small, that it was akin to “living in a cardboard box”. Featuring Richard Darbyshire’s robust and soulful vocals up front, the song gets them signed to Chrysalis Records. Recording in London and Los Angeles, the band are supported by a number of veteran R&B musicians including Paul Jackson, Jr. (guitar), “Ready” Freddie Washington (bass) and Paulinho da Costa (percussion). Their backing vocals are also augmented by several vocal greats including Lisa Fischer, Paulette McWilliams, Myrna Smith-Schilling (The Sweet Inspirations) and Tessa Niles. Released in the UK in March of 1987, “Living In A Box” becomes a top five smash in their home country, and a US top 20 hit a few months later. The single is supported by a video, featuring eye catching visual effects, including jump cutting, fast and slow motion framing, and entire shots running in reverse. It grabs the attention of soul legend Bobby Womack, who records his own cover of the song. When the album’s third single “So The Story Goes” (#34 UK, #81 US Pop) is remixed for release as a 12", it features additional vocals by Womack. The original LP and 7" versions do not feature the added vocals. Following the success of their debut album, the members of Living In A Box begin to have “artistic differences” as well as problems with their record label, after their second album “Gatecrashing”. The friction causes them to split in 1990 before finishing their third album. Darbyshire resumes his career as a solo artist and as a songwriter, penning songs for Lisa Stansfield, The Temptations, and Jennifer Rush. More than twenty five years after their break up, Crichlow and Vere reform the band in 2016, with new lead singer Kenny Thomas. LIAB are presently performing live, and working on new music. The band’s name sake song has enjoyed enduring popularity over the years. It is featured in the films “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Masters Of The Universe”, as well as the video game “Grand Theft Auto V”. “Living In A Box” peaks at number twenty five on the UK album chart, number eighty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the UK by the BPI.  

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On this day in music history: April 23, 1969 -…

On this day in music history: April 23, 1969 – “With A Little Help From My Friends”, the debut album by Joe Cocker is released. Produced by Denny Cordell, it is recorded at Olympic and Trident Studios in London circa early 1968. The first album by the Sheffield, UK born rock vocalist features musical support from musicians such as Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood, Albert Lee, Henry McCullough, as well as L.A. studio veterans like Carol Kaye, Paul Humphrey and vocalists Merry Clayton, Madeline Bell and Brenda & Patrice Holloway. It spins off two singles including a cover of the Dave Mason penned “Feelin’ Alright” (#69 Pop) and the title track (#68 Pop). The latter’s striking rearrangement provides Cocker with his commercial breakthrough. The single release of “With A Little Help From My Friends” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001. The song is also used as the theme song for the long running series “The Wonder Years”. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999, with two additional bonus tracks added. It is remastered again and reissued as a hybrid SACD disc in 2015. “With A Little Help From My Friends” peaks at number thirty 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: April 18, 1987 -…

On this day in music history: April 18, 1987 – “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” by Aretha Franklin & George Michael hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #5 the R&B singles chart on May 2, 1987. Written by Simon Climie and Dennis Morgan, it is the second pop chart topper for Franklin and the fourth US chart topper for Michael. The two singers are paired together by Arista Records chief Clive Davis after George Michael is quoted in an interview on his ambition to sing with Aretha. Working with producer Narada Michael Walden, the duo record their vocals at United Sound in Detroit, MI. Released as the third single from Franklin’s thirty-fourth studio album “Aretha” in early February of 1987, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on February 21, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single is Franklin’s first pop chart topper since “Respect” almost twenty years before (nineteen years and ten months to be exact), and wins Franklin and Michael a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1988. “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” scores a unique coup for producer Narada Michael Walden when it replaces Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” (also produced by Walden) at the top of the Hot 100, placing him in the company of such legendary producers such as Quincy Jones, Phil Ramone, George Martin and the Bee Gees who have all achieved the same career milestone.

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