Category: r&b

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On this day in music history: April 27, 1970 – “Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon & War is released. Written by Charles Miller, Howard E. Scott, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Harold Brown, Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen and Lee Oskar, it is the debut single release for the R&B/Funk band from Long Beach, CA. In 1962, friends Howard Scott (guitar, vocals) and Harold Brown (drums, vocals) form The Creators, with Charles Miller (saxophone, vocals), Morris “B.B.” Dickerson (bass, vocals) and Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan (keyboards, vocals). Backing singer Little Johnny Hamilton, the band record for Dore Records. By 1968, their line up also includes Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen (percussion, vocals). Changing their name to Nite Shift in 1969, they’re hired to back L.A. Rams Defensive End Deacon Jones, who is pursuing a singing career. Playing at a club in North Hollywood, Nite Shift are seen by former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, producer Jerry Goldstein (The Strangeloves) and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar. Looking for new musicians, Burdon and Goldstein approach the band about working together. Adding Oskar to the line up, they change their name to War. Steve Gold, an executive from MGM Records is interested in recording them. With Burdon living in San Francisco, Gold books them into Wally Heider Studios (now Hyde Street Studios) in January of 1970. During one session, Lonnie Jordan comes into the control room, where the others are sharing a bottle of wine. He knocks over the bottle, spilling it right into the mixing desk. With that studio out of commission, they go into the other studio and jam. Improvising a Latin groove on the spot, Eric comes up with the phrase “Spill The Wine”, to acknowledge the incident, and writing the lyrics to “celebrate women”. Laying it down on tape, they go back and lay down passages of Burdon’s then girlfriend, talking in Spanish. Recording the rest of their first album “Eric Burdon Declares War” in just three days, MGM releases “Spill The Wine” as a single. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #99 on May 23, 1970, it peaks at #3 thirteen weeks later on August 22, 1970. After recording a second album (“The Black-Man’s Burdon”) later in 1970, Burdon leaves and they continue without him. Regarded as one of the great “Summer songs” of all time, “Spill The Wine” establishes War as a innovative musical force, throughout the 70’s and into the early 80’s. “Wine” is covered by The Isley Brothers, A Lighter Shade Of Brown and Michael Hutchence. The original version is featured in the films Boogie Nights, Remember The Titans, and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. “Magic Mountain”, the non-LP B-side of Burdon & War’s hit, is sampled twice by De La Soul on “Potholes In My Lawn” and “Pass The Plugs”. UK trip hop band Portishead also samples it on the track “Wandering Star”. “Spill The Wine” is certified Gold in the US the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 25, 1980 – “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow is released. Written by Kurtis Walker, Larry Smith, James B. Moore, Robert Ford, Jr. and Russell Simmons, it is the second single and biggest hit for the rap music pioneer from New York City. Hailing from Harlem, NY, Kurtis Blow (born Kurtis Walker) makes history when he becomes the first rapper on a major label, when he signs with Mercury Records in 1979. He hits pay dirt immediately with the instant classic “Christmas Rappin’” in late 1979, which quickly sells over a half million copies. For the follow up, Kurtis along with manager (and future Def Jam Records co-founder) Russell Simmons, and producers Larry Smith (Run DMC, Whodini), J.B. Moore and Robert Ford come up with an idea destined for his debut album. Taking the word “break”, the song muses on its multiple meanings, a humorous and serious play on the word itself, and how they are all applied to life in general. The first lyrics refer to “brakes on a bus, brakes on a car” (automobiles), “breaks to make you a superstar” (luck and chance) to “But these here breaks will rock your shoes” (referring to break beats in Hip Hop music). The track is recorded at Greene Street Recording Studios in New York City with musicians Jimmy Bralower (drums, percussion), Tom “T-Bone Wolk (bass) (Hall & Oates), John Tropea (guitar), J.B. Moore (electric piano), Denzil Miller (piano, clavinet), and Jamie Delgado (timbales). Released in the Spring of 1980, "The Breaks” creates an immediate sensation at street level, which like The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” only months before, goes overground very quickly. “The Breaks” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, #9 on the Club Play chart and #87 on the Hot 100. With the overwhelming majority of its sales on the 12" single containing the full 7:41 track, it sells over 500,000 copies in the US, becoming only the second 12" in history to be officially certified Gold by the RIAA. “The Breaks” becomes one of the definitive songs of Hip Hop and a pop cultural touchstone, helping to popularize and bring the culture to a worldwide audience. In later years, the song is sampled, interpolated and referred to in other songs. Kurtis Blow’s original version is featured in the video games “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”, “True Crime: New York City”, “Scarface: The World Is Yours” and “Dance Central 2”. “The Breaks” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1980 – “Cameosis”, the fifth album by Cameo is released. Produced by Larry Blackmon, it is recorded at H&L Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ in Late 1979. Riding high off of the success of their fourth album “Secret Omen” and the back to back hits “I Just Want To Be” (#3 R&B) and “Sparkle” (#10 R&B), Cameo quickly return to the studio in the Fall of 1979 to record the follow up. The resulting album sees nine piece R&B/Funk band enjoying their first taste of pop crossover success, and becomes their best seller to date. It spins off two singles including “We’re Goin’ Out Tonight” (#11 R&B) and “Shake Your Pants” (#10 R&B). The album also marks the final appearance of vocalist Wayne Cooper, whose distinctive falsetto vocals are heard on several of Cameo’s hits (including the two singles from “Cameosis”), leaving the band after the albums release for an abortive attempt at a solo career. Cooper passes away in 1984 at the age of 28. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1996. “Cameosis” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number twenty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 22, 1985 – “Around The World In A Day”, the seventh studio album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at the Flying Cloud Warehouse in Eden Prairie, MN, Mobile Audio Studio, St. Paul, MN, Sunset Sound and Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA from January – December 1984. The second album credited to Prince & The Revolution, it is issued only ten months after “Purple Rain”. Though Warner Bros wants Prince to continue to tour in support of his hugely successful album, to maximize its sales worldwide, Prince has other ideas. Bored with touring, the musician insists that his next album be released as soon as the last single from the previous album falls from the charts. The new album is the first in a number of musical departures that Prince takes in his career. Much of the albums first half has a distinctively psychedelic influence, with the rest being balanced out with funk, pop and gospel sounds. Initially it is released with minimal publicity and without a single until nearly a month later. Prince suggests that “Paisley Park” be the first single (which is released in the UK), but with US radio already giving “Raspberry Beret” heavy airplay as an LP cut, Warner Bros in the US insists that it be issued instead. The album receives favorable reviews, and a positive reaction from fans. It spins off three singles including “Raspberry Beret” (#2 Pop) and “Pop Life” (#7 Pop). The initial CD packaging of the album comes in a three panel cardboard long box that unfolds (showing the song lyrics, like the LP’s inner gatefold) with the actual CD inside of a mini cardboard sleeve (of the album cover artwork), inserted into a slot inside the longbox. This packaging is discontinued after the initial press run, and the CD comes in a regular jewel case on subsequent re-pressings. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued in September of 2016, replicating the original LP packaging and the “Balloon Boy” hype sticker. “Around The World In A Day” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Remembering music icon Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, MN) – June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016 

On this day in music history: April 20, 1978 – “Come Get It!”, the debut album by Rick James is released. Produced by Rick James and Art Stewart, it is recorded at Crossed-Eyed Bear Studios in Clarence, NY and The Record Plant in New York City from Mid – Late 1977. The first album by James comes some twelve years after first recording for Motown as a member of The Mynah Birds, a band featuring James and future Buffalo Springfield members Neil Young and Bruce Palmer. In the years in between, travel around the world, before moving to California and start a series of bands that lasts for a brief period. At one point, he reconnects with Motown briefly as a staff writer for the label before parting ways again. Finally, he signs with Motown in 1977 after when staff producer Jeffrey Bowen hears a demo of several songs that Rick has written, playing them for label executive Suzanne DePasse. Shortly after this, he is signed to the label and is paired with co-producer and engineer Art Stewart (Marvin Gaye). James plays most of the instruments on the album himself before assembling The Stone City Band in 1979. It spins off two singles including “You And I” (#1 R&B, #13 Pop) and “Mary Jane” (#3 R&B, #41 Pop). “Come Get It!” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 9, 1984 – “Hey DJ” by The World’s Famous Supreme Team is released. Written by Ronald Larkins, Jr., Larry Price, Malcolm McLaren and Stephen Hague, it is the debut single release and biggest hit for the Rap/Hip Hop music duo from New York City. Featuring Se’Divine The Mastermind (Larry Price) and JazzyJust The Superstar (Ronald Price), The World’s Famous Supreme Team begin their careers in the late 70’s. Hosts of the pioneering radio show that bares their name, it broadcasts on WHBI in Newark, NJ. One of the first stations in the country to give rap music and Hip Hop culture a voice on the airwaves, the show also includes fellow DJ legend Mr. Magic. He eventually leaves the Supreme Team to host his own highly successful and legendary radio show Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack on WBLS in New York. In 1982, Larkins and Price meet Malcolm McLaren. He invites the pair to collaborate with him on his debut album “Duck Rock”. Co-produced with Trevor Horn, The World’s Famous Supreme Team rap and scratch on the tracks “Buffalo Gals” and “Double Dutch”. Both regarded as Hip Hop classics, the two singles expose rap music to a wider, international audience. After this, they collaborate with McLaren on “Hey DJ”, produced by Stephen Hague (Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, OMD). Featuring Se’Divine and JazzyJust’s smooth rap verses, along with it’s hooky sing-a-long chorus, “Hey DJ” is the perfect mix of street and crossover appeal. Issued in the UK by Charisma Records (Virgin) and in the US by Island Records, it takes off in the clubs and on US R&B radio. “DJ” peaks at #15 on the Billboard R&B singles chart on July 7, 1984, and at #24 on the Club Play chart on May 19, 1984. They follow it up with “Radio Man” in late 1984. Unfortunately, it fails to grab listeners ears, and the duo are dropped from their respective record labels. However, that isn’t the last time the rap/DJ duo are heard from again. Their one and only album titled “Rappin’” is belatedly released in Europe only in 1986. The Supreme Team collaborate with Malcolm McLaren again in 1990 on the album “Round The Outside! Round The Outside!”. In the meantime, “Hey DJ” resurfaces in the late 80’s, when the Beastie Boys sample the lyric “Hey DJ, a-get funky!!!” on the track “Hey Ladies”. They use another piece of the song a few years later on “Alright Hear This” on “Ill Communication” in 1994. Also in 1994, the rap duo A Lighter Shade Of Brown record a cover version of “Hey DJ” (#67 R&B, #43 Pop) for the soundtrack of the Allison Anders’ film “Mi Vida Loca”. The Supreme Team classic also becomes the basis of Mariah Carey’s hit “Honey” (#1 Pop, #2 R&B, #1 Club Play), with Carey citing the original as one of her favorite songs. “DJ” is also sampled by AZ (“Hey AZ”), Warren G. (“To All DJ’s”), and Silkk The Shocker (“All Night”).

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On this day in music history: April 8, 1980 – “The Glow Of Love”, the debut album by Change is released. Produced by Jacques Fred Petrus, it is recorded at Fontoprint Studios in Bologna, Italy, The Power Station and Media Sound Studios in New York City from Late 1979 – Early 1980. In 1979, businessman Jacques Fred Petrus, and musicians Mauro Malavasi and Davide Romani create a band. Calling it Change, the name and concept for it is a studio creation, with a revolving line up. To give the project wider appeal, they hire songwriters Wayne Garfield, Paul Slade and Tanyayette Willoughby to pen lyrics and American singers. The tracks are recorded in Italy, then brought to the US to overdub the vocals. The singers hired to front Change include Jocelyn Brown (née Shaw) and Luther Vandross. Brown, a first call background singer with a resume that includes singing with Cerrone, Musique, Inner Life and Chic, contributes lead vocals on “Angel In My Pocket” and “It’s A Girl’s Affair”. Luther Vandross, another Chic Organization alumnus, also has an impressive background. As a backing vocalist, Vandross sings with major artists including David Bowie, Bette Midler, Diana Ross and Roberta Flack. He’s heavily sought after for his brilliant vocal arranging skills, and carves out a highly lucrative career as a commercial jingle singer. One of the industry’s “best kept secrets”, Luther tires of being in the background, and is looking for a chance to grab the spotlight. Initially hired for backing vocals, the producers also want him to sing lead vocals. Vandross agrees, but with certain caveats. If he doesn’t like his performances, he wants them erased, and he wants to be properly credited on the record. They readily agree to both demands. Singing lead on two tracks, everyone is more than satisfied with the results. Released on Ray Caviano’s RFC Records, Change’s debut is launched with “A Lover’s Holiday” (#5 R&B, #1 Club Play, #40 Pop, #14 UK). An instant classic, “Holiday” (along with two other tracks), tops the Billboard Club Play chart for nine weeks. The follow up is “Searching” (#23 R&B, #1 Club Play, #11 UK), then the title track (#49 R&B, #1 Club Play, #14 UK) both featuring Vandross’ spirited leads. The songs raise Vandross’ profile, to the point where many DJ’s introduce them as “Change Featuring Luther Vandross”. “Glow” later becomes the basis of Janet Jackson’s #1 single “All For You” in 2000. Considered one of the last gasps of the Disco Era, the debut album by Change provides the launch pad for Luther Vandross’ career as a solo artist, and is regarded as a dance floor classic. Originally released on CD in 1992, it’s most recently reissued by Warner Music Japan in 2014. “The Glow Of Love” peaks at number ten on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty nine on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Vintage Rock ‘N Roll and R&B Concert Posters

  1. American Legion Hall (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – July 4, 1951

  2. Memorial Auditorium (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – March 18, 1957

  3. Municipal Auditorium (Kansas City, Missouri) – November 10, 1957

  4. Memorial Auditorium (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – February 4, 1958

  5. Evergreen Ballroom (Olympia, Washington) – May 5, 1963
  6. Sunset Lake Park (Portsmouth, Virginia) – July 4, 1963
  7. Waco Coliseum (Waco, Texas) – March 18, 1965
  8. Civic Auditorium (Knoxville, Tennessee) – February 3, 1967

  9. Victory Stadium (Roanoke, Virginia) – June 26, 1968
  10. Civic Auditorium (Knoxville, Tennessee) – June 28, 1968