Category: funk

On this day in music history: July 19, 1975 – …

On this day in music history: July 19, 1975 – “Fight The Power” by The Isley Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on September 27, 1975. Written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley and O’Kelly Isley, it is the second R&B chart topper for the family band from Cincinnati, OH. Though credited to the entire band, the song is actually written almost entirely by guitarist Ernie Isley. The initial idea for the song comes to him while on a visit to Disneyland in Southern California. As he’s taking a shower, the lyrics to the first verse immediately come to him, forcing him to jump out of the shower to write it down before forgetting it. A short time later, the band cut the track at Kendun Recorders in Los Angeles. Older brother and lead singer Ronald Isley adds the crowning touch to the song by singing the word “bullsh*t” on the song instead of “nonsense” as it had been originally written. Part 2 of the commercial 45 also includes an awkward edit, cutting out the expletive by splicing in music from the songs intro. This version is also serviced to radio as well. Many stations that are unhappy with this edit make their own edits, often just bleeping out the offending word in the proper places. Issued as the first single from the bands twelfth studio album “The Heat Is On” in May of 1975, it is an immediate smash. “Fight The Power” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

twixnmix: Rick James and Linda Blair (1982)…

twixnmix:

Rick James and Linda Blair (1982)

In his posthumously published memoir, “Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James,” Rick says he spent time getting to “know” the actress at the Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills. Later, he found out that Linda had gotten pregnant by him and obtained an abortion without his knowledge. His 1983 hit song “Cold Blooded” came from that discovery. “It was about how Linda could freeze my blood,” he wrote.

On this day in music history: July 15, 1997 – …

On this day in music history: July 15, 1997 – “Supa Dupa Fly”, the debut album by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott" is released. Produced by Timbaland, it is recorded at Master Sound Studios in Virginia Beach, VA from Mid 1996 – Mid 1997. Born in Portsmouth, VA, Melissa Arnette “Missy” Elliott grows up singing, with music at the center of her life. It becomes even more of a refuge when her parents volatile marriage ends, after she and her mother escape from her physically abusive father. During this time, Missy forms a singing group with three friends, naming themselves Fayze. With childhood friend Timothy “Timbaland” Moseley, they write songs and record demos. The group meet DeVante Swing of Jodeci, who offers to work with them. Signing his Elektra distributed Swing Mob Records, they’re re-named Sista. In spite of nearly four years of hard work, their debut album is shelved by Elektra, with only one song being released on the soundtrack to “Dangerous Minds” in 1995. Though Sista breaks up, Missy makes in roads as a songwriter and backing vocalist, singing and rapping on the remix of Gina Thompson’s “The Things That You Do”, and writing songs with Timbaland for Jodeci, Tony Thompson, SWV, 702 and Aaliyah. It is with Aaliyah that the pair cement their rep as serious hit makers, when they write and produce most of the singer’s second album “One In A Million” in 1996. Its Double Platinum success, leads to Elliott being signed to Atlantic subsidiary East West Records, to record as a solo artist. Masterfully blending R&B, funk and Hip Hop with Missy’s distinctive vocals as both a singer and rapper, “Supa Dupa Fly” announces her arrival. It features guest appearances by Lil’ Kim, Busta Rhymes, Aaliyah, 702, Ginuwine, Da Brat, and Magoo. Led by an innovative reconstruction of Ann Peebles soul classic “I Can’t Stand The Rain”, re-titled “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” (#4 R&B), it breaks the album wide open. The song is also aided by innovative visuals, courtesy of director Hype Williams (LL Cool J, Aaliyah, Puff Daddy). One of the most striking features of the video is Missy herself, dancing, wearing oversized wrap around shades, and giant trash bag suit inflated with compressed air. Featuring sequences shot with a fish eye lens, and Williams’ signature techique of removing film frames, to make the subjects move in odd and jerky movements, it instantly grabs the public’s imagination. The album is a huge critical and commercial success, spinning off three more singles including “Sock It 2 Me” (Featuring Da Brat) (#3 R&B, #12 Pop) and “Beep Me 911” (Featuring 702 and Magoo) (#13 R&B Airplay). In time, “Supa Dupa Fly” is regarded as one of the best and most influential albums of the 90’s, taking R&B in a new and exciting direction. “Supa Dupa Fly” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number three on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1971 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1971 – “Maggot Brain”, the third album by Funkadelic is released. Produced by George Clinton, it is recorded at Universal Studios in Detroit, MI from Late 1970 – Early 1971. Having established themselves with their self-titled debut and “Free Your Mind… And Your Ass Will Follow” in 1970, Funkadelic cultivate a sizable and loyal cult following with their unique brand of R&B, Funk and psychedelic rock influenced by the band’s prolific intake of LSD. The songs on their third album address concerns such as class and racial inequality, interpersonal relationships, the need for unity among people, and the ongoing war in Vietnam. The albums’ mesmerizing title track recorded in only a single take is its centerpiece. A nearly ten and a half minute long opus, featuring an epic solo by guitarist Eddie Hazel is inspired when George Clinton, who is tripping on acid, tells Hazel to play like he has just heard that his mother had died, and to put his emotions into his solo. Prior to the release of “Maggot Brain”, original members Hazel, Tawl Ross, Billy “Bass” Nelson, and Tiki Fulwood leave the band over financial and business disputes with Clinton. In spite of this, “Maggot Brain” becomes another success for Funkadelic, and its status as an important and influential album grows as the years pass. Numerous bands including Santana, Pearl Jam, Widespread Panic and Gov’t Mule cover “Maggot Brain” in live performances. The album  spins off three singles including “Can You Get To It” (#44 R&B, #93 Pop), “Hit It And Quit It” and “You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks” (#42 R&B, #91 Pop). It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005 with three bonus tracks, including an alternate mix of the title track. The albums striking cover photos of a black woman (fashion model Barbara Cheeseborough) buried up to her neck and screaming (with a skull posed the same way on the back), taken by photographer Joel Brodsky (The Doors), become iconic images. Reissued on CD and vinyl numerous times over the years, most recently the vinyl LP edition is issued by 4 Men With Beards Records in 2014. Besides the standard black vinyl pressing, the label also issues limited edition colored vinyl LP’s (1,000 copies each) on orange, blue and white marbled, purple, and “Chocofunkalatte"vinyl. “Maggot Brain” peaks at number fourteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number One Hundred Eight on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: July 11, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 11, 1980 – “Wide Receiver”, the fifth album by Michael Henderson is released. Produced by Michael Henderson, it is recorded at United Sound Studios, Sound Suite in Detroit, MI, Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA, The Record Plant and Allen Zentz Recording in Los Angeles, CA from March – June 1980. A talented and highly versatile musician from an early age, Detroit native Michael Henderson establishes his reputation as a first rate bassist before even graduating from high school. At sixteen, he’s hired as a touring musician for Stevie Wonder as well as doing session work. In 1970, Henderson meets jazz icon Miles Davis during a gig backing Stevie at the Regal Theater in Chicago. Highly impressed with the young bassist, Davis jokingly but seriously tells Wonder, “I’m taking your f*cking bassist!”. Joining Davis’ band, Michael Henderson plays on several seminal albums recorded during Miles’ “electric period” including “Live-Evil”, “Jack Johnson”, “On The Corner”, “Get Up With It” and “Agharta”. Henderson leaves Davis’ band in 1975 to focus on a solo career after the trumpeter is side lined by health and substance abuse problems. The same year, the bassist records with jazz drummer Norman Connors, writing and singing the hit “Valentine Love” (#10 R&B). The following year, Henderson scores another major hit with Connors with the classic “You Are My Starship” (#4 R&B, #27 Pop). He is then signed as a solo artist to Buddah Records, releasing four albums and scoring more hits including “Be My Girl” (#23 R&B) and “Take Me I’m Yours” (#3 R&B, #88 Pop). In 1980, Henderson begins work on his fifth solo album. Along with friend and guitarist Ray Parker, Jr., Ollie E. Brown (drums) and Sylvester Rivers (keyboards), the album also features a young background singer from Detroit named Cheryl Norton. She goes on to greater fame during the 80’s as R&B singer Cherrelle. Primarily known as a soul balladeer from his previous hits, the new album marks a pronounced shift in that musical direction. Along with guitarist Randall Jacobs (later a member of Was (Not Was)), the bassist comes up with the up tempo and ultra-funky “Wide Receiver” (#4 R&B, #42 Club Play). Sporting a wicked back beat, references to NFL football and teaming with sly and humorous sexual double entendres, the song is an instant smash on R&B radio, though some stations actually ban the record for being “too suggestive”. It spins off two more singles including “Prove It” (#27 R&B) and “Reach Out For Me”. Out of print for many years, “Wide Receiver” is remastered and reissued on CD in 1997 by EMI/The Right Stuff Records, and is reissued again briefly by UK label Superbird Records in 2010. In 2014, it is reissued by Funky Town Grooves Records, featuring five additional bonus tracks. “Wide Receiver” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number thirty five on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: July 10, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: July 10, 1985 – “Pop Life” by Prince & The Revolution is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is released as the second single issued from “Around The World In A Day”. With the “Purple Rain” film and soundtrack all but complete by early 1984, Prince does not rest on his laurels as he continues his prolific streak of writing and recording new material. “Pop Life” is written during this period, recording it at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA on February 19, 1984. The track features Prince playing most of the instruments with Sheila E. on drums, and Wendy and Lisa providing background vocals. The end of the song features a sample of a hostile audience yelling “throw the bum out” at Prince while opening for The Rolling Stones in 1981. The single is backed with the non LP B-side “Hello”, which is written in response to the criticism leveled at Prince due to him not participating in the recording of “We Are The World”, as well as the intrusiveness of the press in the wake of his huge mainstream success.  The track is recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders on May 24, 1985. “Hello” also features background vocals by Jill Jones. Both “Pop Life” and “Hello” are released with significantly longer versions on a 12" single simultaneously with the 7". The US 12" of “Pop” features a remix of that track by Sheila E., with the UK release including a different and much longer remix. The US 12" mix makes its CD debut on the compilation “Ultimate Prince” in 2006. “Pop Life” peaks at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 21, 1985,  and #8 on the R&B singles chart on September 14, 1985.

https://youtu.be/-5EmnQp3V48

https://youtu.be/-5EmnQp3V48

On this day in music history: July 8, 1989 – &…

On this day in music history: July 8, 1989 – “Keep On Movin’” by Soul II Soul hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 on September 9, 1989. Written by Beresford Romeo, it is first US chart topper for the British sound system/musical collective. Led by Jazzie B. (birth name Trevor Beresford Romeo) and Nellee Hooper, the duo meet four years earlier in 1985 when Hooper’s group Massive Attack hires Jazzie B’s DJ sound system for a gig in London. A misunderstanding over who will be spinning causes the two to argue, but they soon settle their differences and decide to join forces. Gathering together a loose group of musicians and singers, they begin to record as Soul II Soul. Signed to Virgin’s 10 Records subsidiary in the UK, they quickly score two club hits with the singles “Fairplay” (featuring Rose Windross) and “Feel Free” (featuring Do’reen). “Keep On Movin’” is the bands third single release in the UK, with former background vocalist Caron Wheeler (Afrodizak) featured on lead vocals. After reaching #5 on the UK singles chart, it rapidly becomes a dance floor sensation in the US as an import release, prompting Virgin Records to release it domestically. Issued in tandem with their debut album “Club Classics Volume One” (re-titled “Keep On Movin’” for its US release), it becomes a staple on R&B radio stations, following suit on Top 40 pop radio. The songs down tempo, Hip Hop flavored rhythm (said to be inspired by Biz Markie’s 1986 rap hit “Pickin’ Boogers”) augmented with lush strings and piano, revolutionizing and changing the face of dance and R&B music for the next several years. “Keep On Movin’” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 7, 1984 – &…

On this day in music history: July 7, 1984 – “When Doves Cry” by Prince hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, topping the R&B singles chart for 8 weeks on June 30, 1984, and also topping the Club Play chart for 6 weeks on June 30, 1984. Written and produced by Prince, it is the first pop and second R&B chart topper for the virtuoso singer, songwriter and musician from Minneapolis, MN. After principal photography on his first film “Purple Rain” is completed, director Albert Magnoli asks Prince to write another song for the film to underscore a montage sequence describing the vibe that he’s looking for. Stating “that it’s about your parents and about loss and redemption”. Prince tells Magnoli “OK”, and comes back the next day with not one but two songs that he feels will suit the director’s request. The two settle on “When Doves Cry”, and Prince goes off to work on it immediately. Prince enters Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA on March 1, 1984, with the assistance of engineer Peggy McCreary (aka “Peggy Mac”) recording and mixing the track in a single thirty six hour long session. Released on May 16, 1984, ten weeks ahead of the films July 27, 1984 opening date, the record is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #57 on June 2, 1984, it streaks to the top of the chart five weeks later. By the time the single drops off the charts it has sold over three million copies in the US alone, making “When Doves Cry” the top selling single of 1984. The single is backed with the non-LP B-side “17 Days” (full title: “17 Days (the rain will come down, then U will have 2 choose. If U believe, look 2 the dawn and U shall never lose.)”). Originally intended for Apollonia 6’s album, Prince keeps the track for himself, becoming a firm fan favorite. “When Doves Cry” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.