Category: soul

On this day in music history: July 17, 1967 – …

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.

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On this day in music history: July 16, 1988 – …

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.

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On this day in music history: July 16, 1977 – …

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”.

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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 to make 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 15, 1989 – …

On this day in music history: July 15, 1989 – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 6 weeks on June 24, 1989, also peaking at #38 on the R&B singles chart on July 8, 1989. Written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the second and final US chart topper for the Manchester, UK pop/soul band fronted by lead singer Mick Hucknall. The track is a cover of the Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes classic (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) originally recorded in 1972. Having included at least one cover per album since their debut, Simply Red decide to do a version of the Philly Soul classic for their new album, recording it at AIR Studios in Montserrat, W.I. in late 1988. Released as the first single from their third album “A New Flame, it becomes their second biggest single. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on May 6, 1989, climbing to the top of the chart ten weeks later. Simply Red’s recording of the song wins songwriters Gamble & Huff a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song in 1990. "If You Don’t Know Me By Now” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: July 15, 1944 – Singer and s…

Born on this day: July 15, 1944 – Singer and songwriter Millie Jackson (born Mildred Jackson in Thomson, GA). Happy 75th Birthday, Millie!  

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On this day in music history: July 15, 1967 – …

On this day in music history: July 15, 1967 – “I Was Made To Love Her” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on July 29, 1967. Written by Henry Cosby, Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy and Stevie Wonder, it is the third R&B chart topper for the then seventeen year old Motown star. Staff producer and songwriter Sylvia Moy comes up with the initial idea for the song, drawing upon her own family background while growing up in Arkansas. Moy collaborates with producer/songwriter Henry “Hank” Cosby along with Stevie Wonder and his mother Lula who also contributes lyrics and melody lines to the song. The track is cut at Motown Studio A in Detroit on March 11, 1967 with The Funk Brothers providing the instrumental backing. The strings (played by members of the Detroit Symphony) are added on March 21, 1967 with Wonder recording his lead vocal on March 30, 1967. The background vocals are recorded on March 31, 1967. Released in May of 1967 after a number of mid charting singles on the pop charts, it fully restores Wonder to commercial prominence, becoming his first million selling single since “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” a year and a half before. “I Was Made To Love Her” is also covered numerous times by various artists including The Beach Boys, Boyz II Men, The Jackson 5, and Michael McDonald. Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston record their own versions as “I Was Made To Love Him” in 1978 and 1998 respectively.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1990 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1990 – “My, My, My” by Johnny Gill hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #10 on the Hot 100 on September 29, 1990. Written by Babyface and Daryl Simmons, it is the third chart topping single for the R&B vocalist from Washington D.C.. After joining New Edition in 1988, and making a solid impression with group, Johnny Gill resumes his solo career in late 1989. With MCA Records Black Music executive Jheryl Busby having been promoted to the President and CEO of Motown Records, Busby is assigned with the daunting task of re-building the iconic R&B label after years of decline. Originally believing that his solo album will handled by MCA, Gill is initially disappointed when he finds that his solo contract has been transferred to Motown. Busby reassures the singer that not only will he be a major priority, but an essential cornerstone in the new regime at Motown. The executive makes good his promise, pairing Johnny Gill up with two of the hottest songwriting and production teams in the music business. Gill works with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, whom he had previously worked with on New Edition’s “Heart Break” album, and with L.A. and Babyface. For Gill’s album, Babyface and L.A. produce four songs for the project including “Fairweather Friend”, “Feels So Much Better” and “My, My, My”. The latter of those is co-written by Face with Daryl “De’Rock” Simmons, who had been one of L.A. and Babyface’s collaborators while both were still members of The Deele. The pair write the silky and romantic ballad “My, My, My”. Recorded at the producers’ home base of Elumba Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA in late 1989, the track features Babyface on all keyboards, L.A. Reid on drum programming, former Deele bassist Kayo, with the background vocals being sung by Gill and the members of After 7. For the crowning touch, Babyface invites saxophonist Kenny G. to play the songs signature soprano sax solos on the track. Released as the second single from Johnny Gill’s self-titled third album on May 16, 1990, “My, My, My” quickly follows its predecessor “Rub You The Right Way” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) right to the top of the R&B chart. Acknowledged as a contemporary R&B and Quiet Storm classic, “My, My, My” becomes one of Gill’s signature songs. The success of the song helps propel “Johnny Gill” past the 3x Platinum mark in the US.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1980 – “Joy And Pain”, the fourth album by Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly is released. Produced by Maze, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA from Early – Mid 1980. Coming off their third consecutive Gold album “Inspiration”, Maze return to the studio in 1980 to begin work on the follow up. Prior to recording, drummer Ahaguna Sun and lead guitarist Wuane Thomas leave the band and are replaced by Billy (Shoes) Johnson and Ron Smith. Working from their San Francisco Bay Area home base, Maze record at the famed Record Plant Studios just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. As with the previous albums, all of the material is composed bandleader and front man Frankie Beverly. The end result is Maze’s strongest effort to date. Proceeded by the single “Southern Girl” (#9 R&B), the album is another immediate smash. The follow up “The Look In Your Eyes” (#29 R&B) also hits the top thirty on the R&B singles chart that Fall. Though it is not released as a single in the US, it is the album’s title track that makes the longest lasting impact. Running seven and a half minutes in length, “Joy And Pain” becomes an instant classic, and a centerpiece of the band’s live performances. Featuring relatively spare instrumentation using a drum machine, electric piano, synthesizer, guitar and bass, its popularity and influence on R&B music is long lasting. The song is covered numerous times, including versions by Avant, Donna Allen, and Kamal Brown. “Joy” is also sampled and interpolated in Hip-Hop with several artists borrowing from it, most notably Rob Base & DJ EZ-Rock, Kelly Price, and Coolio. As with previous albums, the striking cover artwork for “Joy And Pain” is painted by artist Shusei Nagaoka (Earth, Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra), also responsible for creating Maze’s distinctive “hand” logo. First remastered and reissued on CD in 1995 by Razor And Tie Records, is remastered and reissued again by Capitol Records in 1999, as two-fer CD set with “Inspiration”. It is reissued a third time in 2004 as a stand alone CD on Capitol’s Right Stuff imprint. “Joy And Pain” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty one on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1979 – “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on July 21, 1979. Written by Donna Summer, Eddie Hokenson, Bruce Sudano and Joe Esposito, it is the third pop chart topper and biggest hit for the Boston, MA born singer and songwriter. Summer is inspired to write the song (collaborating with the group Brooklyn Dreams) when her personal assistant is mistaken as being a street prostitute by a police officer, while walking down Sunset Blvd near Casablanca’s offices. Upon hearing her demo recording, Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart suggests that Donna give the song to Cher. Summer refuses to give the song away, and files the tape away until engineer Steve Smith discovers the demo during recording sessions for the “Bad Girls” album in early 1979. His enthusiasm for the song encourages Donna to record it herself. Due to intense public demand, Casablanca Records rush releases “Bad Girls” as a single on May 14, 1979, just one month after the first single “Hot Stuff”. The two singles are released so closely together, that both reside in the top five on the pop chart for six consecutive weeks. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on May 26, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The success of the single helps drive sales of the album to over 3x Platinum status in the US. The huge success of the singles and album, lead the ABC television network to offering Summer the opportunity to host her own television special. “The Donna Summer Special” directed by Don Mischer (The Academy Awards) airs on January 27, 1980. “Bad Girls” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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