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.
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