Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Earth Kitt - Santa Baby (1953)

Santa Baby is a 1953 Christmas song written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer. It was originally recorded by Eartha Kitt with Henri René and his orchestra in New York City on October 6, 1953. It was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-5502 (in the USA), and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10728.
The song was a huge hit for Kitt, and she later said that it was one of her favorite songs to record; she reprised it in the 1954 film New Faces. Kitt also reprised the original song in a 1963 re-recording for Kapp Records, with a more uptempo arrangement. (Madonna's popular rendition for the 1987 charity album A Very Special Christmas is based on this latter version.)
In 1954, Eartha Kitt recorded a new version of the song with new lyrics titled This Year's Santa Baby, to no commercial success. Writers listed did not change. The song was featured in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy, Elf in 2003, and 2005's Boynton Beach Club.

- Mr Fabulous

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Donny Hathaway- This Christmas (1970)

This Christmas is a well-known Christmas song originally recorded by Donny Hathaway and released as a single by Atco records in 1970. Hathaway co-wrote the song; it is credited to Nadine McKinnor and 'Donny Pitts,' his stage name. AllMusic shows a Billboard magazine peak of No. 11 on The Hot 100 chart, Joel Whitburn's book, Christmas in the Charts 1920-2004 indicates a No. 11 on the Christmas Singles chart. In 2012, This Christmas hit the Billboard Japan Hot 100 Singles at No. 92, and again in 2013, at No. 71. Although the song was never released on an album at the time, it is included on the 1993 CD re-release of Hathaway's eponymous 1971 album. 
Since Hathaway's original version, This Christmas has become something of a modern holiday standard, covered by a wide range of artists, such as Diana Ross in 1974, (but not released until the 1993 album Christmas In The City, a compilation of various artist's unreleased tracks), by The Whispers in 1979,on Happy Holidays to You, by The Temptations in 1983, on Give Love at Christmas, by Alexander O'Neal in 1988, on My Gift to You and Mary J. Blige, on A Mary Christmas in 2013.


Friday, 25 October 2013

De La Soul - A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays" (1991)

De La Soul were a hip hop trio formed in 1987 on Long Island, New York, comprised of Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos, Mercenary, Plug Wonder Why, Plug One), David Jude Jolicoeur (Trugoy the Dove, Dave, Plug Two) and Vincent Mason (P.A. Pasemaster Mase, Maseo, Plug Three). The three formed the group in high school and caught the attention of producer Prince Paul with a demo tape of the song Plug Tunin'. Prince Paul was also sometimes referred to as Plug Four. The Plug names are alleged to come from the numbers that each bandmate's microphone was labeled on the studio soundboard. Posdnuos was always plugged into plug one, Trugoy was plugged into plug two, and so on.
A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays" is from their second studio album De La Soul Is Dead. The track also includes vocal contributions from Q-Tip, R&B singer Vinia Mojica and Def Jam main man Russell Simmons (as the DJ from fictional radio station 'WRMS'). The song was generally well received by critics and sold well; it peaked at no.22 on the UK Singles Chart, no.6 on the  Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and no.43 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs charts. The song is considered another collaboration from the Native Tongues posse, as both De La Soul, Q-Tip and Mojica are members; however, it would become among the last of these collaborations to appear on a De La Soul album.
The song's main beat is based around a sample of a riff from The Mighty Ryeders' Evil Vibrations; aside from this, the song also samples vocals and the horn riff from Frankie Valli's Grease; vocals from rock band Chicago's Saturday in the Park, Young-Holt Unlimited's Light My Fire, horns from I Got My Mind Made Up by Instant Funk, a drum break from Tower of Power's Ebony Jam and a vocal sample from Chic's Good Times.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Digable Planets - Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat) (1992)

Digable Planets were a jazz hip-hop trio based in New York City, composed of Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler (from Seattle), Mary Ann "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira (from Silver Spring) and Craig "Doodlebug" Irving (from Philadelphia).
They released their debut single Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) is a 1992 song by jazz rap trio Digable Planets which was released as the first single from their brilliant debut album, Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space).
The song peaked at No.15 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of March 6, 1993, becoming the group's only top 40 single. During that time, the song also topped the Hot Rap Singles chart at No.1; shortly after, the single was certified gold by the RIAA on March 16, 1993 for sales of 500,000 copies. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 36th Grammy Awards.
The song was also sampled by E-40 on the song Yay Area from his 2006 album My Ghetto Report Card.
They released their follow-up album, Blowout Comb in 1994, but shortly after this release the trio parted ways, citing creative differences, though they've re-united to perform shows in more recent years. The track was reissued in 2005 to coincide with the album Beyond the Spectrum: The Creamy Spy Chronicles, mixing previously released material with remixes and B-sides.
Butterfly is now one half of the experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces and A&R for their record label Sub Pop Records. Doodlebug is now known as Cee Knowledge and tours with a band called Cee Knowledge & the Cosmic Funk Orchestra that released two albums in limited edition on FarmHouse Records. Ladybug, now known as Lady Mecca, has also embarked on a solo career, releasing an album Trip The Light Fantastic in 2005. She also performs as DJ Lady Mecca on the club circuit.


Monday, 21 October 2013

Arrested Development - Tennessee (1992)

Tennessee is the title of a number-one R&B single by hip hop group, Arrested Development, from their album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of.... The music video for the song was directed by Milčo Mančevski and shot in Georgia, with friends of the group and people from the local area appearing in the video. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1993. A recent poll of VH1 viewers placed the song at no.71 on their list of the Greatest Songs of the 90s and is listed as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was ranked no.78 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop. The song also served as the theme to the short-lived Malcolm-Jamal Warner sitcom Here and Now.
Speech was inspired to write the song after meeting up with his brother at his grandmother's funeral in Tennessee. Shortly afterwards, his brother died suddenly from a bad asthma attack, and Speech wrote the song about the experience of losing two loved ones so close together.
The song uses a sample from Prince's Alphabet Street which was not cleared at the time of the song being released; Prince's lawyers waited until after the song sold well and then charged the group $100,000 for the use of the sample.


Friday, 18 October 2013

Free The Robots - Jazzhole (2007)

When hip-hop meets the charleston.
Free the Robots started as a side project by Chris Alfaro in 2003, while also playing with different bands, producing tracks for rappers and DJing,  Having worked with so many different styles of music, Free the Robots brought everything together under one roof, allowing further musical exploration.
With the use of samples, controllers, and other live instruments, he creates a balance between the sounds of the past, present and future. He has reached a worldwide audience since its beginnings and found its place among the top artists in this genre, sharing the stage with the likes of Prefuse 73, Flying Lotus, The Glitch Mob, Afrika Bambaataa and more. In 2010, Free the Robots shared the stage with The Gaslamp Killer and Daedelus at the Masquerade Venue in Atlanta, Georgia. His second album Ctrl Alt Del, which features Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, was released on Alpha Pup Records in 2010.
Originally released on the 2005 limited edition CD Promo The Prototype, Jazzhole was remastered and re-released for the EP.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Mighty Show-Stoppers - Shaft In Africa (2011)

Back in September 2007, Freestyle Records released Black Feeling, an album project brought to life by Australian musical supremo Lance Ferguson from The Bamboos, exploring a number of alter egos, such as Cookin´ On 3 Burners and Lanu. Each track was presented under a pseudonym to give the impression of an album you would find whilst digging in a Caribbean record shop or American thrift store. As a collection of reworked classics, the album set dance floors alight across the world, indeed the single Hippy Skippy Moon Strut by The Mighty Show-Stoppers became a huge selling 12", and also notched up well over 350,000 individual viewings on YouTube to date.
In 2011, Freestyle Records released a teaser 45 single that featured 2 cuts from the follow up album Black Feeling: Volume Two. The A side is Lance & Co´s fantastic reworking of the anthemic Burning Spear under the moniker of The Poly-Tones, an intense and driving piece of soulful funk, and what could possibly equal that for the flip side? The Mighty Show-Stoppers giving Johnnie Pate´s blaxploitation soundtrack classic Shaft In Africa such a convincing and wonderful re-working, you will think you are back in time, on the film set whilst Richard Roundtree's John Shaft persona kicks some serious ass.
An awesome cover by Lance Ferguson from The Bamboos, exploring a number of alter egos; I've used this well produced and played 45 to kick my DJ sets off.


Monday, 14 October 2013

The Apples - Chemical Sniffer (2005)

The band The Apples is an Israeli Funk nine piece - including a drummer, bassist, 4 brass, 2 DJs and a sound console operator. The Apples play funk, jazz and groove.
The Apples started out in 2002, when a friend assembled the members of RadioTrip (Ofer Tal, aka SchoolMaster, and Uri Wertheim, aka MixMonster), drummer Yoni Halevy and bassist Shai Ran. The idea was to create a funky base combined with samples, scratching, and a dominant brass division. Their first impressions were actually spontaneous improvisations, which formed the basis of The Apple's first album, Mitz (Hebrew for "juice"), published on 2003, which was recorded in one recording session.
Their second album, Attention! was released in October 2005. The album launch was accompanied by a tour culminating in New Year's Eve at the Comfort Club in Tel Aviv in front of an audience of about 700 people. The UK edition of Attention! was released in 2006 and contains the bonus track Strip Ahskrac 'first Hebrew'.
In October 2006, The Apples released a single through London-based company Freestyle Records; in January 2007, The Apples toured for three weeks in Britain, primarily playing at the Jazz Cafe for extended periods.
In June 2007, the band released an EP single on 7" vinyl  with a cover of Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name Of . It gained massive popularity, and sold out in the shops within a few days, becoming a hit dance radio stations in Europe and Australia.
In May 2008, The Apples released their third album Buzzin' About, on vinyl and CD, through Freestyle Records.
In 2010, they released their fourth album, Kings. The band collaborated with Fred Wesley, the trombonist musical director of James Brown, and Shlomo Bar, lead singer Natural Selection.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Chris Ballin - Full Time Lover (1994)

Released in 1994 on Intimate Records, Full Time Lover by Chris Ballin wasn't first the track to feature his sublime vocals (that was Endless Love, his duet with ‎Mary Rose in 1990), but it was his first solo single, and one that got him noticed by the connoisseur soul crowd. It was then featured on the fantastic compilation album Soul Messenger 1 in 1995.
It finally found an album home on his 1996 album Do It Right; although output from Ballin has benn sporadic at best in recent years, he has also done session work with the likes of Incognito and Omar.
The version of Full Time Lover featured here is the Clean Hands Xtra Overtime Mix.

- FVHK5000

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Sinclair - I Want You Back (1992)

Dome’s very first R&B outing was Mike Sinclair and this track, from the 1994 album of the same name. Produced by Dwayne Burke, the track was originally released in '92 on G&Q records and the reaction was amazing; specialist radio played it to death and that catchy sample (Rick Braun's theme to Midnight Caller) made this one of the memorable tunes of '92.
His talent caught the eye of Dome records, who signed him up for a full album deal in '94. It was a great example of Brit Street Soul during that time and came very close to crossing over, with Ain't No Casanova denting the UK Top Twenty at no. 28 in September of '93.  
While Ain't No Casanova is the more famous song, I Want You Back is Sinclair at his best, a little slice of soul heaven.

- Mr Fabulous

Monday, 7 October 2013

Donna Gardier - I'll Be There (1991)

Donna Gardier; yet another British Soul singer criminally overlooked.
Her early musical influences are all strong-voiced US females – from the Jones Girls and Chaka Khan to Vesta Williams and Patti Labelle and Aretha Franklyn. Gardier, a lifelong Londoner, began singing in church at the age of five, but only broke into the music business by accident. “A friend of mine who was a professional singer had double-booked herself and asked me to cover for her,” she recalls. She went to the session, for a band called Kid Can’t Dance, and found herself asked to join the band, going on the road with them and singing on their album.
This was followed soon afterward by her debut solo album on Virgin Records, which launched her professional career with the singles Reach Out and I'll Be There.
In the mid-90's she fronted UK band Raw Stylus, who recorded the classic singles Pushing Against The Flow and Believe In Me and toured extensively with them in Europe, the US and Japan. Believe In Me made Billboard No1 for Hot Dance Music. Her stint with Raw Stylus began by complete chance. A friend was auditioning for the band and called Donna in the middle of the audition after telling the band "I know who would be perfect for this".
I went along the next day and they chose me as the band’s lead singer,” says Gardier. “The friend who recommended me became one of the backing singers.”
Donna describes her style as “a strong gospel type of vocal” and her interest in gospel grew greatly following the break-up of Raw Stylus; in recent years she has sung with different gospel choirs, along with doing a lot of session work.
When the opportunity came along to cut an album for Dome and resume her recording career as an artist in her own right, she jumped at the chance and immediately began working on material with Lennox Cameron. Her last album, Home was written and recorded by herself and Cameron. Donna says: “I enjoyed doing my first solo album, but the reason why I particularly like this new album is that it is true to me, coming from the heart, true to the person I am today. On my original solo record I didn’t write any of the material, whereas on this album I have written all but one of the songs”. The exception is an intimate acoustic version of the Marvin Gaye favourite How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), produced by the Birmingham-based Full Flava team.
From 2004 to 2005 she recorded with Sting and was part of the Sacred Love tour. She has also been on tour with the Four Tops and the Temptations and more recently with Billy Ocean.
At present Gardier is writing songs for another solo album and is a member of the Sunburst Band, who are the live performance of the creative works by the famed dance music DJ, Joey Negro.

Info courtesy of Donna Gardier's website.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Charles Bradley - The World Is Going Up (In Flames) (2011)

Charles Bradley is an American funk/soul/R&B singer, signed to the Daptone Records label under their Dunham Records division. His performances and recording style are consistent with Daptone's revivalist approach, celebrating the feel of funk and soul music from the 1960s and 1970s. One review stated that Bradley "echoes the evocative delivery of Otis Redding". I'll second that and throw in an extra compliment; Bradley's sound is Retcon Soul at it's very best. He was also the subject of a documentary, Soul of America, that was on BBC Four recently; what a voice, what a hard life.
Bradley was raised by his maternal grandmother in Gainesville, Florida until the age of 8 when his mother, who had abandoned him at 8 months of age, took him to live with her in Brooklyn, New York. In 1962, his sister took him to the Apollo Theatre to see James Brown perform. Bradley was so inspired by the performance that he began to practice mimicking Brown's style of singing and stage mannerisms at home. When he was 14, Bradley ran away from home due to his poor living conditions - his bedroom was in a basement with a sand floor - and lived on the streets during the day and slept nights in subway cars for two years. Later, he enlisted in the Job Corps which eventually led him to Bar Harbor, Maine to train as a chef. One time while working, a co-worker told him he looked like James Brown. When asked if he could sing, he was at first shy but eventually admitted that he could. He overcame his stage fright when a crew member pushed him through the curtains onto the stage, and performed five or six times with a band. After his band mates were drafted into the Vietnam War, the act never re-formed.
Bradley worked in Maine as a cook for 10 years until deciding to head west, hitchhiking across the country. He lived in upstate New York, Seattle, Canada and Alaska before settling in California in 1977. There, Bradley worked odd jobs and played small shows for 20 years. In 1996, Bradley's mother called him and asked him to move back in with her in Brooklyn so she could get to know him. It was there he began making a living moonlighting as a James Brown impersonator in local clubs under the name 'Black Velvet'. During this time, Bradley experienced more hard times, including almost dying in a hospital after being given penicillin (to which he has an allergy) and waking to the police arriving to the scene of his brother's murder just down the road from his mother's house.
While performing as Black Velvet, he was eventually discovered by Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Daptone Records. Roth introduced Bradley to Daptone artist and his future producer Tom Brenneck, (then the songwriter and guitarist for The Bullets and later for Menahan Street Band), who invited Bradley to his band's rehearsal. Bradley asked that the band simply perform while he made up lyrics on the spot. After writing several songs, Daptone released some on vinyl starting in 2002; ten were chosen and released as Bradley's debut album No Time For Dreaming in 2011, at age 62. The album caused a stir almost immediately; for example Mojo magazine placed the album at number 40 on its list of "Top 50 albums of 2011."
In the spring of 2012, Soul of America, a documentary directed by Poull Brien debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas; Brien had first met Bradley when he directed the music video for the track featured her, The World (Is Going Up In Flames). The documentary tells Bradley's life story and met with favourable reviews and the film went on to play prominent festivals around the world.
Bradley's second album, Victim of Love was released in April 2013; as further endorsement of  his soul credentials some of his songs have frequently been sampled by hip hop artists, such as Jay-Z and Asher Roth.
After years of struggle merely to survive, it looks like the success Charles Bradley has long been overdue are finally coming to him; his legacy have already been established.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Lance Ellington - Treat Me Right (Club Mix) (1990)

Lance Ellington is an English singer, songwriter and actor. The only son of the band leader, Ray Ellington, he specialises in swing and big ballads. He has worked with many artists including Sting, George Michael, Michael Jackson and Robbie Williams, and currently makes regular performances on the BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing.
And is one of the most underrated, overlooked British soul talents of the last 20 years.
Back in 1990, before Mr Ellington was relegated to being a backing singer on Strictly or doing James Bond theme shows, he released Pleasure And Pain, his debut album on A&M records. If you haven't heard this album, check it out; tracks like Who's Loving You Tonight, Love Scared, Don't Ever Leave Me Again and Do Something For Ya are worth of gracing any top soul artist's repertoire.
And that goes for that track featured here, Treat Me Right. A great way to start the album and the 12" remix here gains a little extra kick here courtesy of Flytetyme wingman Steve Hodge, a man who mixed almost everything that came out of Jam & Lewis's studio for 16 years and produces six tracks on this album.
He's still got plenty to give as a soul artist, if only someone would sign him up; please don't let him reside in TV schlock ignominy...

Monday, 30 September 2013

Isaac Hayes - Fragile (1995)

Isaac Hayes music is timeless; now that might sound like an obvious statement, but this song is proof. If you weren't aware that this song was produced by Hayes in 1995, would you be able to tell it wasn't a product of a Stax session in the 70's? His sound even works with someone else's lyrics, in this case a cover of a Sting song. His version is a very stark, poignant rendition, but Hayes' version knocks his lyrics into the stratosphere. Isaac's version first saw the light of day on Branded, his last studio album, released on Point Blank Records, a pet project of John Wooler, former deputy head of A&R at Virgin records. As well as signing Isaac Hayes, Wooler had the likes of John Lee Hooker, Solomon Burke, Pops Staples and Van Morrison on the label roster; quite a stable of talent.
This version is The Complete Moses Experience version, from the US-market CD promo; thirteen minutes and forty six seconds of pure heaven, a blissfully long intro and the payoff is HUGE.


Friday, 27 September 2013

SOS Band - The Finest (1986)

The Finest was a 1986 hit single for the R&B act The SOS Band. It's the 5th track on their 6th studio album Sands of Time and it is one of the group's last songs to feature the vocals of original lead singer Mary Davis.
Singing alongside Mary Davis in the song is Tabu labelmatea Alexander O'Neal & Cherelle. The Finest was a major success on the US R&B charts, reaching no.2 and was their last entry on the Hot 100, where it peaked at no 4. On the dance charts, it peaked at no.8 and was also a hit in the UK Singles chart, reaching no. 17.
From the backwards xylophone intro which is repeated later on in it's intended direction) to that loping Jam & Lewis backing track and Mary Davis' memorable vocals, The Finest is well named.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Geroge Benson - 20/20 (1985)

20/20 was the title track of the Gold-certified studio album of the same name by George Benson in 1985. Released on the Warner Bros record label, the lead single by the same name reached no.48 on the Billboard Hot 100 & no.29 over here in the UK.
The song features the vocals Patti Austin and James 'JT' Taylor of Kool and The Gang. You can especially hear Austin's voice when when they sing the word "Visionnnnnn" and the tight scat duet with George at the outro.
20/20 as an album might be a little bubblegum for some soul fan's tastes, but to my mind there isn't one bad song; it just goes to show that an artist who is at heart a Jazz guitarist can cross over while not selling out.

The John 'Jellybean' Benitez remix:

Monday, 23 September 2013

Howard Johnson - So Fine (1982)

Howard Johnson charted on the USA Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart during the 80's; one of his hits being So Fine, (from the album Keepin' Love New) which spent one week at no.1 in 1982, reaching no.45 in the UK Pop chart that year. Johnson started his career as lead singer of the group Niteflyte on Arista Records with several pop hits, then became a solo artist on A&M Records.
Still thriving in the 90s, Johnson was featured on vocals and co-produced music for such artists as Madonna, Boys II Men, Tupac and Tom Jones, as well as being an independent singer, songwriter producer and Manager for other artists. He also found himself as Vice President, A&R Director, and Studio Production Coordinator for Lifestyle Records. Currently, he is performing double duty, touring both as the new lead singer of the iconic R&B group LTD and wowing fans around the world as a solo artist.
Jonson also has a new album called The Orange Album, in 2012.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Vesta Williams - Once Bitten twice Shy (1986)

The late, great Vesta Williams; a brilliant voice that deserved far more exposure than it got.
She was known for her four-octave vocal range and once sang The Star Spangled Banner for the Los Angeles Lakers game opener using all four of those octaves. Although Williams never had any albums certified gold nor any Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, she scored six Top 10 hits on the United States Billboard R&B chart from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. She was known for the hits, Sweet Sweet Love, Special, and her 1989 hit and signature song, Congratulations. But to me, Once Bitten, Twice Shy is the song that defines her career. Produced by David Crawford, an acclaimed producer at Atlantic records who worked with artists such as the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Candi Staton and B.B. King. The 12" extended version was remixed by Flytetyme wingman Steve Hodge, a man who mixed almost everything that came out of Jam & Lewis's Flyte Tyme Studios for 16 years, there's very little Steve Hodge doesn't know about making R&B records work.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Tammi Terrell - All I Do Is Think About You (1966)

Stevie Wonder wrote this track for Tammi Terrell who then recorded it in 1966; for some unfathomable reason, it was never released. After Tammi's untimely death in 1970 at just 24, Stevie recorded it for himself and it was included on his Hotter Than July album in 1980. The Terrell version finally saw the light of day on 2005's A Cellarful Of Motown! Volume 1; a series of compilation albums of Motown rarities, containing versions of known songs by alternative artists, as well as demos of songs that were not released at the time, but had been shelved for various reasons. Much to the surprise of Motown connoisseurs these recordings from the sixties and seventies emerged in the 21st century.
Personally I feel that All I Do would have been a major hit and would have further cemented her status as a solo artist. As an aside, I feel the manner of Tammi's death probably took Marvin Gaye's music in a different connection; if she'd lived, we may have never seen the Whats Going On album and maybe her supplanting Diana Ross as the first lady of Motown.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Lionel Richie - Dancing On The Ceiling (1986)

The 80's was not a good time for Motown; their records sales were in decline, several of their 'marquee' acts had left for over labels, such as Michael Jackson to CBS (1976) with Marvin Gaye following to the same label in '82; Diana Ross defected to RCA in 1981. Motown's star was on the wane and would eventually lead to Berry Gordy selling the company to MCA in 1988.
But while Motown was a shadow of it's glory days of the 60's and mid 70's, they did still have the occasional hit; Rockwell had a top 10 song with Somebody's Watching Me in 1984 while Stevie Wonder hit the top of the charts with I Just Called to Say I Love You in the same year with Part-Time Lover repeating the feat in 1985.
But it was mostly Lionel Ritchie, now solo after leaving The Commodores, that carried Motown on his shoulders in the 1980's with no.1 hits like Hello and All Night Long (All Night). And it was his third solo album, the 1986 release Dancing on the Ceiling that holds the honour of being the last release from an independent Motown records to reach no.1 in a chart, peaking in the top position on the Billboard Hot 200. The single release of the title track failed to match the album's success however; it reached no.7 on the UK Singles Chart and no.2 on the Billboard Hot 100, behind Take My Breath Away by Berlin and Stuck With You by Huey Lewis and the News.
And no post about Dancing on the Ceiling would be complete without a mention about the video; directed by Stanley Donen, whose most celebrated works are the Gene Kelly films Singin' in the Rain and On the Town. Donen took a page out of his own playbook too, with the party and famous ceiling dance reminiscent of Fred Astaire's routine in Donen's 1951 film Royal Wedding .