Category: motown

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1968)

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1968)

On this day in music history: September 6, 198…

On this day in music history: September 6, 1980 – “Upside Down” by Diana Ross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on August 16, 1980. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the fifth solo chart topper for the Motown superstar. When producers Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers sign on to work with Diana Ross, they meet the singer at her apartment in New York City. During the several hours they talk to her, she speaks of wanting her record to sound like nothing she’s done before, wanting to make a break with her past both musically and personally. Edwards and Rodgers leave the meeting inspired, and quickly write an entire albums’ worth of material for Ross. Originally titled “The Work Song”, “Upside Down” is inspired by their conversation, being about a woman who is deeply in love with a man who she’s aware isn’t faithful to her, but can’t let go of him. The song is rumored to be about either actor Ryan O’Neal or musician Gene Simmons of the band KISS, both of whom Ross had dated during this period. One of the first tracks recorded for the “diana” album, the basic track and vocals for “Upside Down” are recorded in November of 1979. When the album is released in May of 1980, initially “I’m Coming Out” (#5 Pop, #6 R&B) is chosen to be the first single, but Motown abruptly cancels its release (issuing it as the second single on August 22, 1980) and issues “Upside Down” instead on June 25, 1980. Entering the Hot 100 at #82 on July 12, 1980, the record at first struggles up the chart, taking a month to crack the Top 50. Then on August 9, 1980, the record suddenly pole vaults from #49 to #10 in a single week. Four weeks after that, it makes its final ascent to the top the chart. The funky, groove laden “Upside Down” becomes one of Diana Ross’ biggest and most enduring hits, earning her a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1981. In 1997, the song is sampled as the basis for the remix version of MC Lyte’s hit “Cold Rock A Party”. “Upside Down” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: September 5, 197…

On this day in music history: September 5, 1974 – “Dancing Machine”, the eighth album by The Jackson 5ive is released. Produced by Hal Davis, it is recorded at Motown Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from April – May 1973, June 1973 – July 1974. The album includes the smash title track (#1 R&B, #2 Pop), and spins off two other singles, including “Whatever You Got, I Want” (#38 Pop, #3 R&B) and “I Am Love” (#5 R&B, #15 Pop). The title track “Dancing Machine” originates on the groups previous album “Get It Together” but is remixed and edited when it becomes a popular LP cut, and is later released as a single. The albums third single “I Am Love” also receives significant play in clubs at the time of its release. The simmering seven and a half minute long track features a slow almost ballad like intro for the first half of the song, before exploding into an uptempo funk/rock groove, which creates a sensation on the dance floor. In time, “Love” is regarded as a seminal track in the genre of what becomes known as “proto-disco”. The success of the album pulls the group out of the slump they experienced during the previous two years, though it makes them hungry to take more creative control of their music and career, resulting in their exit from Motown in 1975 for Epic Records.“Dancing Machine” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200, though oddly does not chart on the R&B album chart.

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On this day in music history: September 3, 198…

On this day in music history: September 3, 1983 – “Cold Blooded” by Rick James hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, also peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on September 24, 1983. Written and produced by Rick James, it is the third R&B chart topper for the “King Of Punk Funk”. The innovative, minimalist funk track (featuring James on all instruments and vocals) is inspired by James’ then girlfriend, actress Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”). Blair is actually in the studio with James when he begins writing it. As she watches him work, she expresses to him a desire to learn how to play and write music. Putting his hands on a synthesizer, he begins improvising, coming up with the songs main riff right on the spot. “Cold Blooded” is distinctively different from his earlier material which was mainly written on either guitar or bass. The track features mainly synthesizers and a Roland TR-808 drum machine (inspired in part by friend Marvin Gaye’s recent hit “Sexual Healing”), augmented with electric bass. The first single and title track from his seventh album, it quickly becomes a hit on R&B radio and on the dance floor. “Cold Blooded” is Rick James last major hit for Motown before leaving the company in 1986.

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On this day in music history: August 31, 1968 …

On this day in music history: August 31, 1968 – “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on September 14, 1968. Written and produced by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, it’s the second R&B chart topper for the duo of Gaye & Terrell. Writing a string of hits for Gaye and Terrell that begins with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in mid 1967, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson continue their prolific streak with the follow ups “Your Precious Love” (#2 R&B, #5 Pop), and “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” (#1 R&B, #8 Pop). In the Spring of 1968, Ashford and Simpson pen the devotional ode “You’re All I Need To Get By”. Recorded at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit, it features The Funk Brothers providing musical support. The initial tracking sessions take place on April 15 and 27, 1968, with additional overdubs including Marvin and Tammi’s vocals being recorded on May 21 -23, and 27 – 29, 1968. Gaye and Terrell actually record their vocals separately, since Terrell is recovering from surgery for a malignant brain tumor at the time. The surgery is one of several she has after having passed out on stage during a performance with Gaye at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia on October 14, 1967. Released in the late Summer of 1968, it is another smash for Gaye and Terrell. Sadly it is the last major hit to feature Tammi Terrell on lead vocals. The song is covered a number of different artists over the years, including versions by Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, and Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams. It is revived again in 1995 when rapper Method Man and singer Mary J. Blige cover “You’re All I Need To Get By” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop), winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1996.

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On this day in music history: August 31, 1964 …

On this day in music history: August 31, 1964 – “Where Did Our Love Go”, the second album by The Supremes is released. Produced by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Smokey Robinson, Norman Whitfield and Robert Gordy, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from December 28, 1962 – July 13, 1964. The album features singles by the group released during 1963-64 including their first top 40 pop hit “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” (#23 Pop). It makes Billboard chart history when it becomes the first album to ever generate three number one pop singles (“Baby Love”, “Come See About Me” and the title track). It also spends an unprecedented 89 weeks on the Top 200, becoming Motown Records first album to sell over one million copies in the US. In 2004 to commemorate its 40th anniversary, Universal Music Group’s Hip-O Select label releases a 2 CD Deluxe Edition of the album featuring remastered versions of both the original stereo and first digital release of the long out of print mono version, along with outtakes and a complete live performance recorded at the Twenty Grand Club in Detroit. It quickly sells out of its limited pressing of 10,000 copies, turning it into a sought after collector’s item by Supremes fans. “Where Did Our Love Go” spends four weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and one week at number one on the R&B album chart.

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On this day in music history: August 30, 1994 …

On this day in music history: August 30, 1994 – “II”, the third album by Boyz II Men is released. Produced by Dallas Austin, Boyz II Men, Tim & Bob, L.A. Reid, Babyface, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, The Characters, Brian McKnight and Tony Rich, it is recorded at Kajem Studios, Studio 4 in Philadelphia, PA, Doppler Studios, D.A.R.P. Studios, Studio LaCoCo in Atlanta, GA, The Enterprises, Encore Studios in Burbank, CA, Flyte Tyme Studios in Edina, MN, Larrabee Sound Studios, Skip Saylor Recording, Lighthouse Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Backroom Studios in Glendale, CA and Granny’s House Studios in Reno, NV from December 1993 – May 1994. Making a huge splash with “Cooleyhighharmony” in 1991, Boyz II Men follow it up with the mega smash “End Of The Road”, and the seasonal “Christmas Interpretations”. By late 1993, they begin work on the highly anticipated follow up. Much of it is produced by Dallas Austin associates Tim Robinson & Bob Kelley. Austin who had produced much of the group’s debut, only produces one track and part of another. His minimal involvement is due in part to scheduling conflicts, working with TLC. Also, he is owed over $3 million in royalties, then still being held in escrow by Motown Records. Though the issue is resolved, Austin does not work with the group again after this. They also nearly turn down a smash from Babyface. When they hear Face’s “I’ll Make Love To You” (#1 R&B, #1 Pop), the group nearly pass on it. Motown label boss Jheryl Busby literally tell them to “roll up their sleeves, and do the song”, knowing they’d be foolishly passing up an obvious smash. Babyface also contributes “Water Runs Dry” (#4 R&B, #2 Pop). Superstar producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis also put their special touch on the project, with “All Around The World” and “On Bended Knee” (#1 R&B, #1 Pop). In all, “II” spins off five singles including “Thank You” (#17 R&B, #15 Pop) and “Vibin’” (#27 R&B). The album wins Boyz II Men two more Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1995. It also spins off an alternate version titled “II – Yo Te Voy A Amar”, for the Latin American music market. “II” not only becomes the group’s most successful album, but the biggest seller in the history of Motown Records, racing past Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key Of Life” and Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down”. In 1997, “II” is remixed into 5.1 surround sound and issued as a DVD-A disc by DTS Entertainment. Originally given only a limited release on vinyl in 1994, the album is reissued as a double LP set in 2016. It is reissued again, pressed on opaque blue vinyl in 2018. “II” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, five weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Top 200, and is certified 12x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.

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On this day in music history: August 29, 1970 …

On this day in music history: August 29, 1970 – “War” by Edwin Starr hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written and produced by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, it is the biggest hit for the Nashville, TN born R&B singer, given name Charles Edwin Hatcher. The song is originally recorded by The Temptations and included on their 1970 album “Psychedelic Shack”. Motown receives numerous requests from young fans to release it as a single, but the label declines, feeling that the songs strong anti-war sentiment will alienate the groups older and more conservative fans. Instead, Whitfield re-cuts the song with Edwin Starr in May of 1970 at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit, MI, with The Funk Brothers providing musical backing, and featuring The Originals and The Undisputed Truth on background vocals. Released on June 10, 1970, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on July 11, 1970, it climbs to the top the chart seven weeks later. Selling nearly two million copies in the US, “War” wins Starr a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1971. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band record a live version of “War” that is released as a single, peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 in December of 1986.

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On this day in music history: August 29, 1967 …

On this day in music history: August 29, 1967 – “Diana Ross & The Supremes Greatest Hits”, the twelfth album by Diana Ross & The Supremes is released. Produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI and Columbia Pictures Sound Stage in Los Angeles, CA from October 1, 1963 – February 25, 1967. With The Supremes being the most successful act on Motown Records’ prodigious roster and having scored an unprecedented ten pop and six R&B chart toppers by mid 1967, the label decides to assemble a collection of their biggest hits thus far. Rather than a single LP hits compilation like many other Motown artists, the label compiles a double LP set with fifteen chart hits culled from their first top 40 single “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” to “The Happening”, along with five popular B-sides. At the time it is due to be released, the album is originally intended to also include their then current single “Reflections”, but it is left off of the compilation and not issued on an album until March of 1968. The first album released with the group’s new billing as Diana Ross & The Supremes, it is also the last Supremes album to be issued in the US commercially in separate mono and stereo formats. For the stereo release, many tracks are given new and greatly improved remixes over the ones featured on earlier albums. Also one of the first Motown LP’s to be issued in a gatefold sleeve, its distinctive royal blue sleeve features a painting of the group by artist Robert Taylor. Original pressings come packaged with three individual 12" x 12" portraits of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, though Ballard had been fired from the group the previous month. The set also features liner notes written by Broadway legend Carol Channing. Though not containing any new material, the greatest hits album is an immediate smash, becoming The Supremes second chart topping LP. It spends twenty four weeks in the top ten on the Billboard pop album chart, twenty of those weeks in the top five alone. In all, the album stays on the chart for a total of eighty nine weeks, and is the last number one album in the US for a female group until The Go-Go’s “Beauty And The Beat” hits the top almost fifteen years later. Over time, it becomes one of the best selling titles in Motown’s catalog. To date, it has sold more than six million copies in the US alone. When it is reissued on CD in the mid 80’s, Motown issues them both as a single twenty track disc, and as two separate ten song discs, with Volume One maintaining the original blue cover art and Volume Two being tinted pink. “Diana Ross & The Supremes Greatest Hits” spends twelve weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, five weeks at number one on the Top 200.

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twixnmix: Michael Jackson photographed by Jim …

twixnmix:

Michael Jackson photographed by Jim Hendin, 1969.