U Can’t Hurry Love
On this day in music history: July 19, 1986 – “Winner In You”, the eighth album by Patti LaBelle hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week, also topping the R&B album chart for 8 weeks beginning on June 14, 1986. Produced by Richard Perry, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Howie Rice, Budd Ellison, Nick Johnson, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, it is recorded at Conway Studios, Cello Studios, Studio 55, Bill Schnee Studio, Lion Share Studios, Baby ‘O’ Recorders, Rock Steady Recording Studios, One On One Studios, Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, CA and 39th Street Recording Studios in New York City from Mid 1984 – Late 1985. Following the success of the singles “New Attitude” and “Stir It Up” recorded for the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack, the veteran R&B singer goes into the studio with a number of top producers to record the first album for her new label MCA Records. The label signs her just as her contract with Philadelphia International Records expires at the end of 1983, and her career is on the upswing, as her final album for the label “I’m In Love Again” spins off two hits with “If Only You Knew” (#1 R&B, #48 Pop) and “Love, Need & Want You” (#10 R&B). “Winner” is LaBelle’s most successful album, spinning off three singles including “On My Own (w/ Michael McDonald) (#1 Pop and R&B), "Kiss Away The Pain” (#13 R&B), and “Oh, People” (#7 R&B, #29 Pop). “Winner In You” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 19, 1982 – “Donna Summer”, the tenth studio album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at Westlake Audio, Allen Zentz Studios and Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, CA from December 1981 – May 1982. In the Fall of 1981, Geffen Records rejects “I’m A Rainbow”, an eighteen song double LP concept album, it is initially presented as Summer’s projected second full length release for the label. With Geffen deciding to shelve the ambitious project (until 1996), she instead collaborates with producer Quincy Jones. The sessions prove to be difficult as Summer is pregnant with her third child (daughter Amanda Grace Sudano) at the time. Suffering from morning sickness and fatigue throughout most of the sessions, she frequently clashes with Jones over the musical direction of the album. Jones invites numerous artists to contribute songs to the project including Bruce Springsteen, Rod Temperton and Michael Sembello. Label founder David Geffen approaches Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau about the musician writing a song for Donna. Springsteen agrees and initially writes “Cover Me” for Summer. However, Bruce’s manager feels the song is a potential hit for his client and convinces him to keep it for his own album. Springsteen ends up recording the song for himself and includes it on “Born In The USA”, and writes another song instead for Summer. He offers up the rocking “Protection”, of which he also plays guitar and sings background vocals on. The track earns Donna Summer a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1983. It spins off three singles including “Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)” (#10 Pop, #4 R&B) and “State Of Independence” (#41 Pop, #31 R&B), the latter of which includes an all star chorus that includes Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, James Ingram, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, Brenda Russell, Dionne Warwick and many others. Originally released on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 1994 by Casablanca/Mercury Records. Regaining the rights to her albums originally released on Geffen, Summer’s catalog is remastered and reissued two years after her passing in 2014 on the Driven By The Music label, including her self titled album with seven additional bonus tracks. "Donna Summer" peaks at number twenty on the Billboard Top 200, number six on the R&B album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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.
On this day in music history: July 19, 1969 – “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” by Jr. Walker & The All Stars hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on August 9, 1969. Written by Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua and Vernon Bullock, it is the second R&B chart topper for the Motown singer and saxophonist. The track is recorded in late 1968 at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit with members of The Funk Brothers sitting in for members of Walker’s band. The Originals (“Baby I’m For Real”) and The Andantes, provide the background vocals. “What Does It Take” is initially passed over for release in one of Motown’s Quality Control meetings in favor of another Jr. Walker song titled “Home Cookin’” (#19 R&B, #42 Pop). When that single is only moderately successful, “What Does It Take” is immediately pulled from the vault and is released on April 25, 1969. “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” takes off faster than any of Walker’s singles since “Shotgun” four years before, becoming his second million seller.
On this day in music history: July 17, 1967 – “With A Lot O’ Soul”, the fifth studio album by The Temptations is released. Produced by Norman Whitfield, Smokey Robinson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Frank Wilson and Ivy Jo Hunter, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from Fall 1966 – Spring 1967. Released during the period when the legendary Motown vocal group is reaching the peak of their commercial success, the album is the most successful of the groups’ “Classic 5” era line up. It spins off four hit singles including the top 10 hits “(I Know) I’m Losing You (#1 R&B, #8 Pop), "All I Need (#2 R&B, #8 Pop), ”(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need" (#3 R&B, #14 Pop), and “You’re My Everything” (#3 R&B, #6 Pop). Over the years, outtakes from the sessions that produce this album surface on compilations such as The Temptations “Emperors Of Soul” box set in 1994, and “Lost and Found: You’ve Got To Earn It (1962-1968)” in 1999. The album is remastered and reissued in 1998 with the original cover artwork restored. “With A Lot O’ Soul” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, and peaking at number seven on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: July 16, 1988 – “Roses Are Red” by The Mac Band Featuring The McCampbell Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week. Written and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface, it is the biggest hit for the R&B band from Flint, MI. Formed in the mid 80’s by brothers Ray, Derrick, Charles and Kelvin McCampbell, The Mac Band features band members Ray Flippin (bass), Rodney Frazier (keyboards), Mark Harper (guitar) and Slye Fuller (drums). The band comes together after the McCampbell Brothers relocate from their hometown of Flint, MI to Dallas, TX, where the meet the other four members. Signed to MCA Records in 1987, The Mac Band are paired with two pairs of top R&B songwriters and producers, David and Wayne Lewis of Atlantic Starr and L.A. Reid and Babyface of The Deele. L.A. and Face wind up writing and producing three of the nine tracks featured on the bands self titled debut album. Among those is the hooky and infectious “Roses Are Red”, which the duo base on the poem whose origin dates back to 16th century English poet Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene”. The producers actually record the track themselves in Los Angeles, then take it to Dallas for the rest of the band to add their vocals. Released as a single in April of 1988, “Roses Are Red” quickly becomes a smash on the R&B chart. The song is also a hit overseas, cracking the top ten on the UK singles chart, peaking at #6. Shortly after the chart topping success of “Roses”, The Mac Band are featured in a television commercial for fast food chain McDonalds, with the band singing a version of “Roses Are Red” with re-written lyrics. In spite of receiving a major hand up from two of the hottest producers in the music business, The Mac Band are unable to maintain the career momentum of their chart topping debut. Subsequent follow up singles including “Stuck” (#25 R&B), “That’s The Way I Look At Love” (#70 R&B) and “Got To Get Over You” fail to make much of an impact. The bands second album “Love U 2 The Limit” released in 1990, and is largely self produced, also with contributions from R&B band Surface and producer Vassal Benford, it does not produce any hits, and the band are dropped by MCA Records. The Mac Band record and release one final album for local Dallas label Ultrax Records (run by former Vanilla Ice manager Tommy Quon) in 1991, which is not successful and the band split up. In later years, original lead singer Derrick “D-Mac” MacCampbell runs a basketball camp for kids in his local church in his home of McKinney, TX.
On this day in music history: July 16, 1977 – “Easy” by The Commodores hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on August 27, 1977. Written by Lionel Richie, it is the third R&B chart topper for the band from Tuskegee, AL. Born and raised in Alabama, songwriter and musician Lionel Richie grows up influenced by many different genres of music including R&B, pop and country music. All three musical styles come together when Richie writes the song “Easy”, about a man coming to terms with the end of a relationship. “Easy” is released on March 18, 1977 in advance of The Commodores self-titled fifth album. The pop/soul ballad becomes a multi-format smash, becoming their third number one R&B hit and their biggest pop single to date. The million selling “Easy” takes The Commodores to the next level of success in their career, helping drive sales of the “Commodores” album to 2x Platinum status. Over the years it is covered numerous times by pop, rock and country artists including Clarence Carter, Faith No More and Boyz II Men. Lionel Richie himself covers “Easy” in 2012 with country music icon Willie Nelson, on the duets album “Tuskegee”.
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.