Category: r&b

On this day in music history: October 22, 1966 – “The Supremes A’ Go Go”, the tenth album by The Supremes hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B album chart for 4 weeks on the same date. Produced by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Hal Davis and Frank Wilson, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from Fall 1965 – Summer 1966. The Motown superstar trio’s tenth full length release in just four years, the album consists mostly of cover versions of recent Motown songs (“This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)”, “Get Ready”, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) and pop hits ("These Boots Are Made For Walking”, Hang On Sloopy"), along with newly composed original songs for the group. It spins off two singles including “Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart” (#9 Pop, #7 R&B), and “You Can’t Hurry Love” (#1 Pop, #1 R&B). The Supremes become the first all female group in history to top the Billboard Pop and R&B album charts, with ‘A Go Go selling over a million copies in the US (3.5 million internationally) becoming their second largest selling album worldwide behind their double LP Greatest Hits collection released a year later.

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On this day in music history: October 21, 1972 – “Superfly – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” by Curtis Mayfield hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 4 weeks, also topping the R&B album chart for 6 weeks on October 14, 1972. Produced by Curtis Mayfield, it is recorded at RCA Studios in Chicago, IL and Bell Sound Studios in New York City from Late 1971 – Early 1972. Written as the score to the Gordon Parks, Jr. directed blaxploitation film about a drug dealer trying to get out of the dealing game, it provides an arresting counterpoint to the accompanying film. It marks the pinnacle of Mayfield’s career both artistically and commercially, becoming his biggest selling album. The album is so successful in fact, that it actually surpasses the film itself in profits. In time, “Superfly” is widely regarded a landmark recording and one of the greatest R&B albums of the ‘70’s. It spins off two singles including “Freddie’s Dead” (#2 R&B, #4 Pop) and the title track (#5 R&B, #8 Pop) both being certified Gold. The original vinyl LP package features a unique die cut cover that opens up to reveal the track listing for the album. Later re-pressings of the LP do away with this feature, and the portion with the title graphics and actor Ron O’Neal are printed flat on a single pocket sleeve. First reissued on CD in 1988 by Ichiban Records, the landmark soundtrack is remastered and reissued as a double CD deluxe edition by Rhino Records for its 25th anniversary in 1997. The first disc features the original nine track album, plus the single mixes/edits of “Freddie’s Dead” and “Superfly”. Disc two includes extended versions of the underscore from the film, alternate and extended versions of the released album tracks, two rare radio advertisements for the soundtrack, and a brief interview with Curtis Mayfield on the film and about his songwriting. The booklet included in set features detailed and extensive annotation by A Scott Galloway. The deluxe CD reissue is released in a digi-pak, with a die cut cover that mirrors the original vinyl LP release. During the 2000’s, “Superfly” is also reissued numerous times on vinyl, with two limited edition pressings on colored vinyl. The landmark soundtrack is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. “Superfly – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 21, 1957 – “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 7 weeks, also topping the Country singles chart for 1 week on December 2, 1957, and peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, it is the eighth chart topper for Presley in under a year and a half. Recorded as the title song from his third film, the track recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 30, 1957. The song name checks a number of real people including musician Shifty Henry and the 1920’s mobsters The Purple Gang. Released on September 24, 1957, it is another immediate smash for Elvis. Entering the Best Sellers chart at #4 on October 14, 1957, it leaps to the top of the chart the following week. “Jailhouse Rock” is backed with the song “Treat Me Nice” also included in the film. “Nice” peaks at #18 on pop singles chart on October 28, 1957. The film also opens on the same date and tops the box office charts simultaneously. Presley also makes history as being the only artist to ever dominate the top of the singles chart for twenty five weeks during one calendar year. Elvis achieves this unprecedented feat in both 1956 and 1957. “Jailhouse Rock” is reissued in the UK in 2005 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Presley’s birth. It makes UK chart history as the only single to enter at number one twice, as it had done so on its original release. The single is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2017. “Jailhouse Rock” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 20, 1980 – “Winelight”, the tenth album by Grover Washington, Jr. is released. Produced by Grover Washington, Jr. and Ralph MacDonald, it is recorded at Rosebud Recording Studio from June – July 1980. After recording “Paradise”, his first album for Elektra Records in early 1979, Grover Washington, Jr. sets about working on his second album the label in mid 1980, after recording “Skylarkin’”, the final album he owes former label Motown released in early 1980. The saxophonist utilizes many of the same musicians who played on “Skylarkin’” including Eric Gale (guitar), Richard Tee, Ed Walsh (keyboards) and Marcus Miller (bass), along with other top studio veterans including Steve Gadd (drums), Paul Griffin, Raymond Chew and Bill Eaton (keyboards). Grover also collaborates again with his old friend percussionist Ralph MacDonald who also co-produces the project. MacDonald along with longtime songwriting partner William Salter, both of whom had penned Washington’s classic “Mr. Magic” get together to write songs for the new album. The pair write “In The Name Of Love” and another called “Just The Two Of Us”. Looking for a vocalist to sing the song, MacDonald calls musician Bill Withers. Long an admirer of Grover Washington, Jr., Withers agrees to do the song also since Washington had been the first artist to cover one of his songs, having recorded “Ain’t No Sunshine” on the “Inner City Blues” album in late 1971. Before Withers adds his vocals to the track, he asks MacDonald and Salter if he can re-write some of the lyrics, to which they agree. Once the album is completed and released, no one is prepared for how it will be received by the public. “Just The Two Of Us” (#2 R&B and Pop, #3 AC) becomes a break out across the board smash, racing into the top five on the Pop, R&B and Adult Contemporary singles charts by the Spring of 1981.“Winelight” becomes the biggest selling album of Washington’s career, spending an astounding six consecutive months at the top of Billboard’s Jazz album chart, returning to the top for two more non-consecutive weeks in July and August of 1981. The album wins two Grammy Awards including Best R&B Song (for “Just The Two Of Us”) and Best Jazz Fusion Performance (for the entire album) in 1982, receiving two further nominations for “Two Of Us” for Record Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (for Withers). “Winelight” spends twenty nine weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Jazz album chart, also peaking at number two on the R&B album chart, number five 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: October 20, 1980 – “The Wanderer”, the eighth studio album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, it is recorded at Westlake Audio Recording Studios in West Hollywood, CA from May – August 1980. With her five year association with Casablanca Records having ended acrimoniously at the end of 1979, Donna Summer becomes the first artist signed to former Asylum Records founder David Geffen’s eponymously named label in early 1980. Having established herself in the 70’s as “The Queen Of Disco”, Summer seeks to go in a different musical direction in the new decade after the fierce and sweeping backlash against the Disco music phenomenon of the previous decade takes hold. Donna continues to collaborate with her longtime producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, experimenting with rock and new wave sounds, showing yet another side of her musical versatility. The public get their first taste of the new sound when the title track “The Wanderer” (#3 Pop, #13 R&B) is released in September of 1980. The sharp shuffling new wave flavored dance track is an immediate hit, paving the way for the rest of the album which is also a commercial success. It spins off two more singles including “Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’” (#40 Pop) and “Cold Love” (#33 Pop), the latter of which receives a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1982. Having rediscovered her Christian faith in the late 70’s, “The Wanderer” also marks the beginning of Summer including one self penned gospel song on each of her albums, with the first one being “I Believe In Jesus” which receives a Grammy nomination for Best Inspirational Performance. After being briefly reissued on CD in 1996, “The Wanderer” along with Summer’s other Geffen era albums go out of print for nearly two decades, having purchased the rights back from her former label. The album is reissued in December of 2014 on the Driven By The Music label, established by the late singer’s husband Bruce Sudano. “The Wanderer” peaks at number thirteen on the Billboard Top 200, number twelve on the R&B album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 20, 1979 – “Rise” by Herb Alpert hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on September 22, 1979, and peaking at #4 on the R&B singles chart on October 27, 1979. Written by Andy Armer and Randy (Badazz) Alpert, it is the second number one single for the co-founder of A&M Records. Recorded in Studio D at A&M Records in Hollywood, the song is one of the first hit records to be recorded on digital recording equipment. The 3M Corporation lends the label, one of its first 32-track tape machines to experiment with. Alpert initially begins the sessions by attempting to record a disco remake of his first hit “The Lonely Bull”. When the musicians realize the new version isn’t working, Alpert’s nephew Randy gives his uncle a demo tape with some songs he as written with his friend Andy Armer. Herb loves the instrumental titled “Rise” and agree to record it. Originally written an uptempo dance track, it is recorded at a slower tempo for the finished recording. The track is recorded almost completely live in the studio in just a few takes. After its release in June of 1979, the single initially gets off to a slow start until it is prominently featured on the daytime soap opera “General Hospital”. The exposure the song receives on the show jump starts interest in it, spreading to radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on July 28, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. The single wins Alpert a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1980, his first Grammy win since 1967. The song also becomes the basis of The Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumous chart topper “Hypnotize” in 1997. “Rise” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 19, 1985 – “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on October 26, 1985, topping the Hot 100 for 1 week on November 2, 1985, and also topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on November 16, 1985. Written and produced by Stevie Wonder, it is the sixteenth R&B and ninth pop chart topper for the Motown icon. Issued as the first single from “In Square Circle” in August of 1985, it is an instant smash. “Part Time Lover” makes chart history as the first record to hit the top of the Pop, R&B, Dance and Adult Contemporary charts. The track also features background vocals from Luther Vandross, Philip Bailey and Syreeta Wright. Wonder publicly debuts “Part Time Lover” on May 19, 1985 three months before its release, when he performs the song on the television special “Motown Returns To The Apollo” with Boy George of Culture Club. At the time that the single reaches the top of the pop singles chart, it puts Wonder in a tie for fourth place with the Bee Gees and Paul McCartney among the artists with the most number ones. In late 1985, the only other artists ahead of them were The Beatles (20), Elvis Presley (17), and The Supremes (12). The success of “Part Time Lover” propels “In Square Circle” to 2x Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: October 18, 1977 – “Goin’ Places”, the eleventh album by The Jacksons is released. Produced by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead, Victor Carstarphen, Dexter Wansel and The Jacksons, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA from December 1976 – August 1977. The groups second album on Epic Records like the first is produced by Gamble & Huff and several other Philadelphia International staff writers and producers. It lacks a major hit single, becoming one of the groups poorest selling albums, barely selling 300,000 copies in the US (next to “2300 Jackson Street” in 1989). Though it is the first release in which The Jacksons begin writing their own material (contributing two songs). This opportunity for greater expression comes to full fruition on their next album, when The Jacksons are finally allowed the creative freedom they have long desired. Along with the original vinyl LP, it is also issued as a limited edition picture disc that becomes a collector’s item. It spins off three singles including “Find Me A Girl” (#38 R&B) and the title track (#8 R&B, #52 Pop). The tracks “Different Kind Of Lady”, “Jump for Joy” and “Music’s Takin’ Over” become break outs hit in discos, continuing the succession of underground club classics their albums have generated since the part of their tenure at Motown. Originally issued on CD in the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in Japan in 2009, packaged in a mini cardboard sleeve. It is subsequently remastered and reissued again in 2010, and as a Blu-Spec CD in 2016. Out of print on vinyl for over three decades, it is remastered and reissued by Sony/Legacy in 2018. “Goin’ Places” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number sixty three on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: October 18, 1969 – “I Can’t Get Next To You” by The Temptations hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 5 weeks on October 4, 1969. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, it is the ninth R&B chart topper and second pop number one for the Motown vocal quintet. On a roll after changing lead vocalists and going in a bold new musical direction in 1968, The Temptations continue their hot streak into 1969. Much like their groundbreaking single “Cloud Nine”, the groups hit from earlier in the year, producer Norman Whitfield arranges the song so that all five members of the Tempts rotate singing lead through the course of the song, borrowing the template from Sly & The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music”. The basic track is recorded at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit on June 23, 1969 with members of The Funk Brothers playing on it. Further overdubs are recorded on June 24, 27, 30, and July 2, 1969. The Temptations add their vocals on July 3, 1969. Released on July 30, 1969, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on August 16, 1969, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. An instrumental mix of the song is featured on the Deluxe Edition of the soundtrack for “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” in 2002. “I Can’t Get Next To You” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 18, 1969 – The Jackson 5 make their national television debut on the variety show “The Hollywood Palace” on the ABC television network. The show is hosted that week by Diana Ross and Sammy Davis, Jr.. The group perform four songs including their debut single “I Want You Back”, “Sing A Simple Song”, and “Can You Remember”. The performance is also recreated in the television mini series “The Jacksons: An American Dream” in 1992.

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