On this day in music history: March 22, 1975 – “My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, it is the first solo chart topper for the singer from Newark, NJ. Written by long time Four Seasons songwriter and producer Bob Crewe with singer and songwriter Kenny Nolan (“I Like Dreamin’”, “Lady Marmalade”), the original working title of the song is “Blue Eyes In Georgia”. It is originally recorded by The Four Seasons in early 1974 during the groups brief stint on Motown Records MoWest imprint. When the label refuses to release it, Valli buys the the master back for $4,000, and tries to get it released on another label. After several rejections, Private Stock Records agrees to put it out, but only credited to Valli. Released in early November of 1974, it becomes Valli’s first solo chart entry in the US in nearly six years. Entering the Hot 100 at #94 on November 23, 1974, it takes a slow and measured climb up the chart, hitting the top seventeen weeks later. The success of “My Eyes Adored You” and its follow up “Swearing To God” (#6 Pop), kick starts the revival of both Valli and The Four Seasons’ careers, with the group being signed to Warner Bros through Mike Curb’s Curb Records imprint. Later in 1975, The Four Seasons also experience a dramatic return to the charts, scoring back to back smashes with “Who Loves You” (#3 Pop) and “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)” (#1 Pop). “My Eyes Adored You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 20, 1976 – “Wild Cherry”, the debut album by Wild Cherry is released. Produced by Robert Parissi, it is recorded at Cleveland Recording Company in Cleveland, OH in Late 1975 – Early 1976. Formed in 1970, Wild Cherry record and independently release their first single “You Can Be High (But Lay Low)” the same year. Over the next four years, the record for United Artists’ distributed Brown Bag Records and A&M Records. By mid 1975, the band are without a label deal when the latter drop them after one single release. In the interim, bandleader Rob Parissi writes “Play That Funky Music”, with the band record the song at a local studio in Cleveland. The engineer Ken Hamann put them in touch with local label Sweet City Records, which is distributed Epic/CBS Records. Once it’s released, their major label debut initially gets off to a slow start when the band want their cover of The Commodores’ “I Feel Sanctified” to be their first single. CBS convinces them that “Play That Funky Music” (#1 Pop and R&B) should be the single. Once issued as a 45 in April of 1976, the single and LP take off like a rocket during the Summer of 1976. “Wild Cherry” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number five on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 18, 1978 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on May 13, 1978. Written by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb, it is the sixth US chart topper for the British born family trio. Written for the film “Saturday Night Fever”, the brothers write and record the basic track at the Château d’Hérouville outside of Paris, France in the Spring of 1977. The vocals, strings and additional overdubs are recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Released in late January of 1978, heavy airplay as an album cut forces RSO Records to rush release the song as a single while the soundtrack albums then current release “Stayin’ Alive” is still climbing the charts. Like its two predecessors, “Night Fever” is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on February 4, 1978 (on the same day that their previous single “Stayin’ Alive” hits number one), it rockets to the top of the chart six weeks later. The week it tops the pop singles chart, it makes further history as Barry Gibb is also the co-writer and producer of the songs in the #2, #3, and #5 spots on the chart. Those songs are the Bee Gees’ own “Stayin’ Alive”, Samantha Sang’s “Emotion” and Andy Gibb’s “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water”, the latter of which “Night Fever” unseats from the number one spot. One week later on March 25, 1978, Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” also co-written by Barry Gibb, enters the top ten, increasing the number to five singles in the Billboard pop top ten at once. “Fever” is the Bee Gees third consecutive single to sell over two million copies in the US, with “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Stayin’ Alive” both topping that sales plateau during the first two months of 1978. At the time of its release, a promotional music video is shot for “Night Fever” at the time of its release, featuring a clean shaven Barry Gibb. The clip features the Gibb brothers singing the song in a studio with film footage of Motel Row in Sunny Isles Beach, FL chroma key projected over them. However, it is not shown at the time and is not released until 2004. “Night Fever” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 7, 1975 – “Young Americans”, the ninth studio album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie, Harry Maslin and Tony Visconti, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA and Electric Lady Studios in New York City from August – November 1974 and January 1975. Heavily influenced by soul music and looking to break with his musical past, Bowie works with top studio musicians including Willie Weeks (bass), Ralph MacDonald (percussion), Dennis Davis (drums), and a then largely unknown young singer named Luther Vandross. Vandross, who has been friends with Bowie’s guitarist Carlos Alomar and his wife, singer Robin Clark since high school visits the studio one day during the sessions at Alomar’s invitation. Bowie walks into the control room and overhears Vandross and Clark improvising vocals over the top of the track to “Young Americans”. Highly impressed, Bowie hires Vandross on the spot to sing and arrange background vocals on the album, as well as contributes the song “Fascination” (originally titled “Funky Music (Is A Part Of Me”) ). It spins off three singles including “Fame” (co-written w/ John Lennon and Alomar) (#1 Pop, #21 R&B) and the title track (#28 Pop). Reissued several times since making its CD debut in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2016 on CD and 180 gram vinyl. The box set “Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976)” also features an additional LP titled “The Gouster”, containing early versions and alternate mixes of songs, which is the previously unreleased early draft of what evolves into the “Young Americans” album. “Young Americans” peaks at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 4, 1983 – “True”, the third studio album by Spandau Ballet is released. Produced by Steve Jolley and Tony Swain, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, The Bahamas from October – November 1982. Breaking away from the New Wave/New Romantic sound of their first two albums, the British pop band adapts a more “Blue Eyed Soul” sound with jazz and R&B influences throughout. The shift in musical styles gain the band a huge worldwide following, becoming their breakthrough album in the US. It spins off off four singles including “Gold” (#2 UK, #29 US Pop, #76 R&B, #1 AC), and the title track (#1 UK Pop, #4 US Pop), which is featured in the John Hughes comedy “Sixteen Candles” in 1984, and is sampled numerous times including on PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” (#1 US Pop) in 1991. The album is remastered and reissued in 2003 for its twentieth anniversary, as a standard CD and hybrid SACD. It is reissued again in 2010 as a 2 CD + 1 DVD set with remixes, B-sides, and a live concert. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Music On Vinyl in 2015, on standard black and gold vinyl, the latter being limited to only 1,000 individually numbered copies. “True” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number nineteen on the Billboard Top 200, and certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 4, 1978 – “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” by Andy Gibb hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Barry Gibb and Andy Gibb, it is the second consecutive chart topper for Manchester, UK born singer and songwriter. Written just prior to the sessions for his debut album “Flowing Rivers”, Gibb writes the song with his older brother Barry on the island of Bermuda while staying at the home of RSO Records founder and manager Robert Stigwood. The track is cut at Criteria Studios in Miami in early 1977, and features Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, who happens to be recording in an adjoining studio. Once completed, the song is slated to be Andy Gibb’s US debut single, but Stigwood changes his mind three days before it’s due to be released, and “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” is issued instead. That single tops the charts for 4 weeks (non-consecutive) in July, August, and September of 1977, spending over six months on the Hot 100. “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” is released as the follow up in late September of 1977. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on November 5, 1977, like its predecessor, it takes a slow and steady climb up the charts, reaching the top of the chart seventeen weeks later. The week that “Water” tops the chart, it resides over a unique top ten, with five of the top ten singles (including four of the top five chart positions) all co-written and produced by Barry Gibb. Andy at #1, the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” holding at #2, Samantha Sang’s “Emotion” at #4, the Bee Gees again at #5 with “Night Fever”, and the Bee Gees yet again holding at #10 with “How Deep Is Your Love”. “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 2, 1963 – “Walk Like A Man” by The Four Seasons hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, it is the third chart topping single for the New Jersey based vocal quartet. The track is recorded in January 1963 at Stea-Phillips Recording Studios in New York City. The sessions are interrupted when a fire breaks out in the floor above the studio. Producer Crewe, ever the perfectionist continues to keep recording the group, blockading them in the studio until firemen knock down the door with axes and force everyone to evacuate. Released in January of 1963, “Walk Like A Man” quickly becomes another smash for The Four Seasons. Entering the Hot 100 at #40 on January 26, 1963, it rockets to the top of the chart five weeks later. After scoring five more Top 40 singles during the year (which include the top five hit “Candy Girl”), there are problems between the group and their label Vee Jay Records over the payment of royalties. By the end of 1963, The Four Seasons leave Vee Jay for a lucrative deal with Mercury subsidiary Philips Records, continuing their string of hits. “Walk Like A Man” is later covered by singer and actor Divine in 1985, and the Mary Jane Girls for the film “A Fine Mess” in 1986. The Four Seasons original version is featured in the film “Mrs. Doubtfire” in 1993.
On this day in music history: March 1, 1976 – “Silk Degrees”, the seventh album by Boz Scaggs is released. Produced by Joe Wissert, it is recorded at Davlen Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA and Hollywood Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA in October 1975. Beginning his solo career in the mid 60’s, Boz Scaggs reconnects with his old friend Steve Miller, joining The Steve Miller Band in 1967 after moving to San Francisco. Appearing on the band’s first two albums, Scaggs also signs a solo deal with Atlantic Records in 1968. His self-titled second album is released in August of 1969 and is produced by Rolling Stone Magazine founder Jann Wenner. In spite of solid musical support from The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and lead guitar work by Duane Allman, the album sells poorly and barely makes a dent in the charts. Scaggs signs with Columbia Records, releasing four albums between 1971 and 1974, with the Johnny Bristol produced “Slow Dancer” faring best. Though known as an ace guitarist in his own right, Scaggs’ playing takes a back seat as he revamps his musical persona from the more blues rock elements of his early career, toward a more refined blue eyed soul and pop sound. Boz works with a group of young ace studio musicians which include future Toto members David Paich (keyboards), Jeff Porcaro (drums) and David Hungate (bass). Little Feat guitarist Fred Tackett, Les Dudek, Louie Shelton (guitars), Plas Johnson, Jim Horn, Bud Shank and Chuck Findley (horns) also play on the sessions. Titled “Silk Degrees”, the album initially gets off to a slow start when the first single “What Can I Say” (#42 Pop) receives only a lukewarm reception. Things turn around dramatically when an R&B station in Cleveland begins playing “Lowdown” (#3 Pop, #5 R&B, #11 AC) right off of the album. The enthusiastic response it receives from listeners moves CBS to issue it as a single in the Summer of 1976. After that, the floodgates literally fly open as the album and single race up the charts. Two more singles are released including “Lido Shuffle” (#11 Pop) and “It’s Over” (#38 Pop). Released as the B-side of “Lido” in early 1977, the ballad “We’re All Alone” also becomes a fan favorite, and a big hit for singer Rita Coolidge when her version makes the top ten. Regarded as a landmark 70’s album, “Silk Degrees” receives widespread praise and accolades including winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for “Lowdown” in 1977. One of the first titles issued by CBS Records on CD in 1982, it is reissued numerous times over the years, most recently in 2007 with three additional live bonus tracks, recorded at the Greek Theatre in August of 1976. It is also remastered and reissued on vinyl by Simply Vinyl in 1999, Pure Pleasure Records in 2009, Music On Vinyl in 2011, and Friday Music in 2012. “Silk Degrees” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, number six on the R&B album chart, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 28, 1970 – “Moondance”, the third album by Van Morrison is released. Produced by Van Morrison and Lewis Merenstein, it is recorded at A&R Studios in New York City from August – November 1969. Following the highly acclaimed (but only modestly selling) “Astral Weeks”, the Northern Irish singer and songwriter returns with what becomes one of his best and most beloved works. Moving to upstate New York, he’ll spend nearly ten months writing the material that make his next full length release. The albums blend of R&B, Jazz, Folk, Country and Rock firmly establishes Morrison as one of the premier singer/songwriters of his generation. Several songs including “Crazy Love”, “Into The Mystic”, “Caravan”, and the title track become album rock radio staples over the years, and are covered by many other artists. The album is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2008 by Rhino Records. In 2013, the label remasters and reissues this classic title on CD in an expanded five disc edition (4 CD’s + Blu-Ray disc). The first CD features the original ten song album, with the second, third and fourth CD’s featuring outtakes and alternate mixes from the sessions. The Blu-ray disc features newly remixed high resolution stereo and 5.1 surround mixes of the original album, from the original multi-track masters. Regarded a landmark recording in Van Morrison’s career, the album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. A limited edition 180 gram LP titled “The Alternative Moondance” is released for Record Store Day in April of 2018. Featuring alternate takes culled from the 2013 CD box set, the album comes packaged in a Stoughton tip on jacket, designed to look like a vintage vinyl LP. “Moondance” peaks at number twenty nine on the Billboard Top 200, is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.