Category: blue eyed soul

Born on this day: July 17, 1950 – Singer, song…

Born on this day: July 17, 1950 – Singer, songwriter and musician Phoebe Snow (born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York, NY). Happy Birthday to this wonderfully talented lady on what would have been her 69th Birthday.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1967 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1967 – “Bee Gees 1st”, the US debut album by the Bee Gees is released. Produced by Robert Stigwood and Ossie Byrne, it is recorded at IBC Studios in London from March 7 – April 14, 1967. Following their breakthrough success with their twelfth single release “Spicks And Specks” (#3 AUS Pop) in Australia in late 1966, The brothers father Hugh sends demo tapes of their work to The Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Epstein passes the tapes on to Robert Stigwood (Cream), who invite the band to come to England in February of 1967 to audition for him. Impressed by what he hears, Stigwood becomes the bands manager, with the Bee Gees moving back to their native UK. He secures them recording contracts with Polydor Records in the UK and Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco in the US. The album is actually the third full length release by the band, but is their first to be released internationally. It spins off three singles including “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (#14 Pop), and “To Love Somebody” (#17 Pop) the latter of which is originally intended for Otis Redding. The albums’ cover is designed by artist and musician Klaus Voorman. The album is remastered and reissued in 2006 as a two CD set featuring the original mono and stereo mixes, along with unreleased tracks from the sessions and early takes. “Bee Gees 1st” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – “Holding Back The Years” by Simply Red hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #29 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Mick Hucknall and Neil Moss, it is the first US chart topper for the British pop/soul band from Manchester, UK. Lead singer Mick Hucknall initially begins writing what becomes “Holding Back The Years” when he is only seventeen years old, inspired by his mother leaving the family when he is three years old. Hucknall completes the song a few years later with band mate Neil Moss, while both are members of The Frantic Elevators. The band originally record “Holding Back The Years” in 1982, making only a minimal impact. After the Elevators break up, Hucknall forms Simply Red in 1985, re-recording the song for their debut album “Picture Book” with veteran producer Stewart Levine (The Crusaders, Hugh Masekela). When it is first released as the album’s third single in the UK, it stalls at #51 on the charts. Undaunted, WEA reissues it in the Spring of 1986 where it soars to #2. On the heels of its UK chart success, Elektra Records in the US releases it as a single. Entering the Hot 100 at #88 on April 5, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. The success of “Holding Back The Years” propels “Picture Book” to Platinum status in the US, also earning Simply Red two Grammy nominations including Best New Artist of 1986.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers is released. Written by Hy Zaret and Alex North, it is the eleventh single release for the pop/blue eyed soul vocal duo from Los Angeles, CA. Written in 1955 by lyricist Hy Zaret and film score composer Alex North (“A Streetcar Named Desire”, “The Rainmaker”, “Spartacus”) for the prison drama “Unchained”, the original version of “Unchained Melody” is sung by Todd Duncan in the film. It becomes an instant hit, through numerous cover versions cut after “Unchained” is released. Les Baxter, Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton all score major hits with their renditions in 1955. Fast forward a decade later, The Righteous Brothers  are in the middle of a major hit streak, begun that February when “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” hits number one. While working the follow up album, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield agree to record “Unchained Melody” for the new record. In spite of singing together as a duo, they mutually agree to record one solo vocal each per album. They flip a coin to decide who will sing it with Hatfield winning the coin toss. Using Roy Hamilton’s epic version as the template for theirs, the track is recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA, with members of The Wrecking Crew on March 2, 1965. Though producer Phil Spector is co-credited on the released record, “Melody” is produced by Bill Medley alone. “Unchained Melody” is initially released as the B-side of “Hung On You”, written by Spector, Carole King and Gerry Goffin. DJ’s response to “Hung On You” is lukewarm and the song stalls at #47 on the Hot 100. Flipping the single, radio begins playing “Unchained Melody” instead and rockets up charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 July 17, 1965, it peaks at #4 on August 28, 1965. An instant classic, it becomes one The Righteous Brothers most popular songs. “Unchained Melody” becomes a surprise hit again, twenty five years after its original release when it is prominently featured in the box office smash “Ghost” in 1990. Verve Records re-releases the original version due to overwhelming popular demand, but only as a 7" vinyl single in the US, in an effort to encourage to fans to purchase a newly compiled Greatest Hits package released on CD. In the wake of the songs sudden resurgence in popularity, The Righteous Brothers release a newly re-recorded version of “Unchained Melody” on Curb Records. Filling the gap left by Verve not releasing a cassette or CD single of the original recording, the Curb version competes with the original, with the cover peaking at #19 on the Hot 100, turning Platinum and receiving a Grammy nomination in 1991. In spite of the original recording not being made widely available as a single, it still wins the chart race, peaking at #13 on the Hot 100 on October 20, 1990. The Righteous Brothers’ 1965 recording of “Unchained Melody” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2000.

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On this day in music history: July 9, 1970 – &…

On this day in music history: July 9, 1970 – “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth is released. Written by Cornelius Grant, Eddie Holland and Norman Whitfield, it is the fourth single release for the Detroit, MI based rock/funk band. A cover of The Temptations 1966 classic, the band work with the songs original producer and co-writer Norman Whitfield, giving it a stunning, extended psychedelic make over. Clocking in at over eleven minutes on the LP, it is edited down to just over three and a half minutes for single release. Issued as the first single from the bands’ third album “Ecology”, “(I Know) I’m Losing You” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and number twenty on the R&B singles chart on October 3, 1970. Rare Earth’s version of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” is also  sampled by the rap duo Black Sheep on the track “Try Counting Sheep” on their 1991 debut album “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”.

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On this day in music history: July 7, 1990 – &…

On this day in music history: July 7, 1990 – “You Can’t Deny It” by Lisa Stansfield hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #14 on the Hot 100 on July 28, 1990. Written by Lisa Stansfield, Ian Devaney and Andy Morris, it is the second chart topping single for the blue eyed soul/pop vocalist from Manchester, Lancashire, UK. Following the UK chart topping success of her breakthrough hit “All Around The World”, executives at Lisa Stansfield’s label Arista Records request a full album from her, to be delivered as quickly as possible. With no time to spare, Stansfield and her collaborators Ian Devaney and Andy Morris go through the numerous demos they have recorded to select material for the album. Among the songs they find is “You Can’t Deny It”, originally written while the trio were recording under the group name Blue Zone.  Having a similar flavor to its predecessor “All Around The World”, it is also recorded in the same fashion, with Lisa recording the vocals in the bathroom of the flat she shares with Devaney. Stansfield records her lead vocal on the song almost completely on the first take, with only a few minor punch ins to complete it.  Not released in the UK, when “What Did I Do To You?” is released in her home country instead, Arista Records in the US releases “You Can’t Deny It” on May 2, 1990. Like “All Around The World”, it is an immediate smash on R&B radio and in the clubs, racing to the top of the R&B singles chart within two months of its release. Lisa Stansfield becomes the first British female artist in history to score back to back number one singles on the US R&B chart. “You Can’t Deny It” helps propel the accompanying album “Affection” past the Platinum mark in the US, being certified by the RIAA on May 30, 1990.

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On this day in music history: July 6, 1985 – “…

On this day in music history: July 6, 1985 – “Sussudio” by Phil Collins hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on the same date, and #4 on the Club Play chart on May 18, 1985. Written by Phil Collins, it is the third solo chart topper for the singer, songwriter and musician from Chiswick, London UK. Collins begins writing the song in his home studio, improvising lyrics to a Roland TR-909 drum machine rhythm he has programmed. Sussudio is just a nonsensical word he makes up, and when he can’t come up with anything better to replace it, it remains the title of the song. When he gets in the studio to record the track, Collins enlists the help of keyboardist David Frank of The System to assist with the synthesizer parts and programming. As on his two previous solo albums and Genesis’ “Duke” and “Abacab” albums, Collins also features The Phenix Horns from Earth, Wind & Fire (Don Myrick, Michael Harris, Rhamlee Michael Davis and Louis Satterfield). When the record is heard by the public, many note its similarity to Prince’s “1999”, and Collins acknowledges that “1999” did inspire him (in part) to write the song. Issued in the US on May of 1985 second single (released as the first single in the UK in February 1985) as the follow up to the chart topping “One More Night”, “Sussudio” is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #39 on May 11, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The extended dance mix of the song remixed by John “Tokes” Potoker, also becomes a staple on club dance floors during that Spring and Summer, as well as on R&B radio stations. “Sussudio” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. 

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On this day in music history: July 1, 1986 – “…

On this day in music history: July 1, 1986 – “Music From The Edge Of Heaven”, the third album by Wham! is released. Produced by George Michael, it is recorded at Sarm West Studios in London, GM Home Studio, Knightsbridge, London, UK, and Worker’s Gymnasium in Beijing, China from August 1982, November 1984 – May 1986. Released in only North America and Japan, the eight song compilation consists of new material, previously released singles and remixes from the duos last UK album, the fifteen-track double LP set “The Final”. The three brand new songs “The Edge Of Heaven” (#10 Pop) (featuring Elton John on piano), “Battlestations”, and “Where Did Your Heart Go?” (#50 Pop), are paired with George Michael’s own recent solo hit “A Different Corner” (#7 Pop), along the previously released Wham! singles “I’m Your Man” (#3 Pop), the seasonal “Last Christmas” (#2 UK) (unreleased in the US prior to its inclusion on this album), a new remix of their UK debut single “Wham Rap”, and the live track “Blue (Armed With Love) (Live In China)”. The US release also differs from its UK counterpart, featuring a longer version of “Different Corner” and a shorter version of the extended mix of “I’m Your Man”. The album is also sequenced with all of the uptempo songs on the first side (HOT SIDE) and the ballads on the second side (COOL SIDE). The packaging for the US LP is also largely redesigned from the artwork prepared for “The Final” in the UK. The US “Heaven” LP jacket features a striking rainbow color spectrum on the front and back designed by George Michael, Peter Saville Associates and Trevor Key (New Order). The album sleeve includes no text other than the artist name, title and catalog number printed on the spine. A removable sticker with a picture of Michael and Ridgeley along with the album track listing and UPC code is affixed in the upper right hand corner. The inner sleeve includes a larger version of the same photo on the sticker, song titles printed on the back, and a separate insert with printed lyrics and credits. “Music From The Edge Of Heaven” peaks at number ten 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: June 30, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: June 30, 1986 – “Back In The High Life”, the fourth solo album by Steve Winwood is released. Produced by Russ Titelman and Steve Winwood, it is recorded at The Power Station, Unique Recording Studios, Right Track Recording Studios, Giant Studios in New York City and Netherturkdonic Studios in Gloucestershire, UK from October 1985 – March 1986. Starting off the 80’s with the critically acclaimed and successful album “Arc Of A Diver”, Steve Winwood falters with the follow up “Talking Back To The Night”, when it meets with a tepid reception from the public. Other than guesting on former Traffic band mate Jim Capaldi’s “Fierce Heart” album and co-writing Will Powers’ top 20 UK hit “Kissing With Confidence” in 1983, Winwood, takes a two year long hiatus from recording to regroup and plan his next move. During the interim, he begins writing new songs with frequent collaborator lyricist Will Jennings. Having produced his previous solo albums on his own, Winwood enlists veteran producer Russ Titelman (James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones, Randy Newman) to assist him in the studio. Together, they assemble a group of top flight musicians that include John Robinson, Mickey Curry, Steve Ferrone (drums), Robbie Kilgore, Rob Mounsey, Philippe Saisse, David Frank (keyboards), Nile Rodgers, Joe Walsh,Paul Pesco, Eddie Martinez, Ira Siegal (guitars), Randy Brecker, Tom “Bones” Malone, George Young, Bob Mintzer and Lewis Del Gatto (horns). Chaka Khan, James Taylor, James Ingram, Dan Hartman and Jocelyn Brown also appear on the album as backing vocals on numerous tracks. The finished album is released to critical raves and becomes the most successful album of Steve Winwood’s career, selling more than five million copies worldwide. It spins off four singles including “Higher Love” (#1 Pop) (featuring Chaka Khan on backing vocals), “Freedom Overspill” (#20 Pop), “Back In The High Life Again” (#13 Pop) (featuring James Taylor on backing vocals), and “The Finer Things” (#8 Pop). The album receives a total of five Grammy nominations including Album Of The Year and two for Record Of The Year. Winwood takes home Grammys for Record Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Higher Love” in 1987. “Back In The High Life” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 29, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: June 29, 1976 – “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs is released. Written by Boz Scaggs and David Paich, it is the biggest hit for the San Francisco, CA based singer, songwriter and musician. Co-written by Scaggs and future Toto co-founder and keyboardist David Paich, the track also features future Toto members Jeff Porcaro (drums) and David Hungate (bass), along with veteran studio guitarists Fred Tackett and Louie Shelton and background vocalists Carolyn Willis, Jim Gilstrap, Augie Johnson and Marty McCall. The song is originally considered just an album track, with Scaggs and Paich believing that CBS Records won’t release it as a single, and that radio will not play it. When “Silk Degrees” is released in March of 1976, the albums’ first two singles “What Can I Say” and “It’s Over” receive only a lukewarm response from radio and the public, with the album not fairing any better. Then a DJ at an R&B radio station in Cleveland, OH discovers “Lowdown”, and begins playing the track off of the album. The response is overwhelmingly positive and begins to spread to other stations independently of any direct promotional effort by CBS Records. CBS responds quickly by releasing it as a single and promoting it to both pop and R&B radio. It becomes Scaggs’ biggest hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, #5 on the R&B singles chart, and #5 on the Club Play chart. The success of “Lowdown” sets the “Silk Degrees” album on the path to selling well over five million copies in the US, spending five weeks at #2 on the Top 200. The song wins Scaggs and Paich a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1977. “Lowdown” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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