Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis (1987)


A single that was included on two 1987 Christmas compilation albums featuring various artists: A Very Special Christmas (A&M records 3911) and Christmas Rap (Profile records 1247). The track was produced by Run DMC along with Rick Rubin, and has become hugely popular during the Christmas season. It re-released and reached no.78 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 2000, 13 years after it was first released.
The title refers to Hollis, the neighborhood in Queens where Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay grew up. The track samples Clarence Carter's 1968 Christmas song Back Door Santa, as well as using the melody from Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, and Joy to the World. The song was famously used in the 1988 film Die Hard, played by the limousine driver Argyle when he drives into Nakatomi Plaza's underground garage. It was heard briefly in 'Can't Fix Crazy', the final episode of the first series  of Orange Is the New Black, and was also heard at the beginning of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode 'Christmas'.
The song is currently being used as part of UK catalogue retailers Argos Christmas 2014 campaign.

- FVHK5K




Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Charles Brown - Merry Christmas Baby (1961)

First posted 21/12/2012.


R'n'B dynamite from the man who goes back so far, he even influenced Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. This much recorded tune truly evokes the spirit of the festive season.
Are we the only ones bothered by the fact that many of our most treasured holiday songs were recorded in the balmy surroundings of Los Angeles? Think about it… Bing Crosby probably played a round of golf and had a couple of cocktails by the pool before laying down White Christmas in an air-conditioned studio. L.A. also served as the backdrop for the holiday classic Merry Christmas Baby by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, with the great Charles Brown on vocals and piano. Guitarist Moore tried several times to recreate the success of that number - even recruiting Brown soundalike Frankie Ervin for this blatant rip-off recorded in November ’55 (just in time for the holiday season).
Who cares? We’ll take this over Michael Bublé’s Christmas any time of year. 

- FVHK5K




Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Merry Christmas, James Brown Style!

Post first published 22/12/2011


Between 1966 and 1970, James Brown released three Christmas-themed albums; Christmas Songs, A Soulful Christmas and Hey America.
The records are a mix of Christmas standards (The Christmas Song, Charles Brown's Merry Christmas Baby), Christmas-themed throwaways ("Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto, Go Power at Christmas Time), obvious filler ("hey, let's do a blues vamp, throw snatches of vibraphone that quote Rudoloph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and title it something seasonal like, uh, I don't know, maybe Believers Shall Enjoy (Non-Believers Shall Suffer)) and stuff that has no obvious reason for being on a Christmas album (Say It Loud (I'm Black & I'm Proud)).
In some ways, they represent James's songwriting at its worst-- the lyrics usually sound like they were entirely ad-libbed-- but his gifts as a singer, a star and a bandleader are such that the records are pretty enjoyable. I was planning to post a bunch of rips, but I discovered that all of the tracks I wanted to post except one are currently available, including a gang that had been left off Rhino's classic James Brown Xmas reissue. So instead, I'll post the one omission and run down some other faves:


This is one of my favorite James Brown songs; when I listen to it, I feel transported. I can't explain why I find it so affecting, but for a few minutes I feel flush with benevolence and optimism like, hey, maybe we all can get along. Really.

I'm Your Christmas Friend, Don't Be Hungry


James's tendency towards maudlin sentimentality on these Christmas records can get really silly, especially when a song also includes lines like "I do the monkey, the mashed potato/Whenever I'm blue", but he infuses the "I'm your friend/I'm your friend" refrain with so much soul that it really moves me.


This song probably contains more WTF? moments than any other James Brown song, and that is saying something. James begins with a shout to those who've come to see him in concert in the past year, riffing about having seen "a million peace signs", before briefly slipping into some Christian fare ("God gave his son, let us celebrate") and then launching a hail of multi-cultural catchphrases, shouting "as salaam aleikum" and "danke schön" (which he pronounces "donkey Sean") and then singing snatches of ethnic-themed supper-club fare (Hava Nagila and Volare).

Friday, 12 December 2014

Double Exposure ‎– Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight) (1976)



Sampled by many, most famously by M&S Presents The Girl Next Door back in 2000; a cracking dance tune in and of itself, but not the reason we're here today. Now, the original is by Double Exposure, a Philadelphia-based act (who were originally called 'United Image' back in the 1960s) that recorded on the iconic Salsoul label.
On December 11, 1975, at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA, Double Exposure began recording what would become one of the most successful albums ever to come out of the Philly music empire. Their 1976 album Ten Percent featured a pair of major club hits, with the title track's remix by Walter Gibbons being the first commercially available 12-inch single. and the other track Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight).
The group are currently, as of September 2008, recording new material, including an Eli/Dixon/Green composition called Soul Rece$$ion at Eli's 'Studio E' facility in Philadelphia. Some original Salsoul/Philly/TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)/MFSB (Gamble and Huff) session musicians appeared on Soul Rece$$ion, including Earl Young (drummer), Bobby Eli, Dennis Harris, T G Conway, Jimmy Williams & Rikki Hicks.


- FVHK5K


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sister Sledge - Got To Love Somebody Today (1980)


This track hails from Love Somebody Today, the follow-up album to the mighty 1979 album We Are Family and seems pretty much a forgotten child of the Nile Rogers/Bernard Edwards collaborations. It did get a release, but failed to reach the heights that the more famous sibling songs did (US Pop no.64, R&B no.6), but make no mistake, Got To Love Somebody Today is no poor relation to the sisters more famous tracks.
As an aside, Love Somebody Today was one of four albums to be written and produced by Edwards and Rodgers in 1980, the other three being Sheila and B. Devotion's King of the World which included its hit single Spacer, Chic's fourth studio album Real People and Diana Ross' multi-platinum selling Diana which includes Upside Down, I'm Coming Out and My Old Piano.
Thats some prodigious output for one year.

- FVHK5K










Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Stephanie Mills - You Can Get Over (1979)


While the previous two tracks we have posted this week were one-off from acts that were (sadly) never hard from again, I think its fair to say that today's artist has staying power.
Stephanie Mills has had a career spanning from 1975 covering many musical styles, including some TUFF disco tracks. You Can Get Over is a track from her classic 1979 album What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'. Written and produced by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas ( of MFSB fame), the rack didn't make much of a dent in the charts, getting to no.55 on the US R&B chart and no.101 on the main Billboard chart, but that doesn't detract one iota from it being a great track.
And as an extra-special treat, heres the full 12" version; nine minutes of late-70's DiscoSoul loveliness. Enjoy.

- FVHK5K


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Air Power - Be Yourself (1979)



Before writer/producer Donald Burnside formed First Love , he gave us the lone Air Power single on legendary LA-based disco label AVI (American Variety International) Records. Soaring disco strings, funky clavinet stabs and endless percussion breaks make this one an essential piece of the late period disco puzzle. Another gem from 1979.

- FVHK5K


Monday, 8 December 2014

Mary Clark ‎- Take Me I'm Yours (1980)


Not much seems to be known about either the artist or label; Mary Clark only released this track (and a great one it is) and it was the only release on the Le Shawn label, in 1980. According to some sources, less than 200 copies were pressed, so laying your hands on a copy would be hard, to say the least.
But in the digital age, nothing is impossible. The song has surfaced on the Internet via various platforms, so one of those 200 lucky owners went that extra mile and ripped this gem to Mp3. Whomever you are, we thank you, as  a bass line like this well as flights of brass and violins and the powerful and vibrant voice of Mary Clark deserve a wider audience.

-FVHK5K


Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Decks Files: Sony Chord Machine (1982)

Released in 1982, the Sony CFS-C7 Chord Machine wasn't really a 'boombox' to play tapes on; it was intended as a mini-amp; it has guitar and and microphone inputs, so that the signal is passed through the backing code rhythm and rhythm box, so that the user could sing while play the guitar and then record their efforts.

- FVSHK5K





Monday, 13 October 2014

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The World Of Soul Music PTIV: Chile


Lingo feat. Consu - Algo Real (2011)


  

Little is known about Chilean DJ Lingo in the English-speaking part of the internet, and precious little anywhere else (unless you know different, in which case let me know). He's a DJ and producer who has put out some great R&B and hip-hop version of established tracks, as well as some original compositions, such as the track Algo Real (Something Real), featuring an equally mysterious female vocalist only known as Consu.
Lingo does by all accounts have a following in a lot of Hispanic countries, judging by his YouTube and Facebook accounts. I'm rapidly becoming a fan myself

- FVHK5K



Monday, 16 June 2014

The World Of Soul Music PTIII: Spain

Aniki - Tiempo Al Tiempo (2003)


 

Aniki (real name Ana Escudero) was a bit of a child prodigy; she starred in plays and sang in her school choir; her talent caught the eye of her teachers, who recommended her to expand her musical studies. From 15 years old she developed an interest in rap, gradually discovering djing, breakdancing and graffiti art. in 1997 she began to discover Soul and Jazz music and her interest in taking her vocals in that direction took off. She is now one of the most recognisable names on the Spanish R&B scene.
She cites her musical influences on her current sound as reggae, soul, jazz, electronic, folk, bolero, salsa hip hop; in her own words 'I do not think I should limit my ears and not recognise beauty where I see it'.
Her current projects include making a mixtape on Jamaican riddims to be titled Ego, and recording in the studio with Spansh Hip-Hop artist Malputo Dest.

- Mr Fabulous




Saturday, 14 June 2014

The World Of Soul Music PTII - Mexico

Mexican Dubwiser - Trouble In My Soul (2013) &
Bad Behaviour (2014)

A producer and DJ on the Latin scene, Marcelo Tijerina aka Mexican Dubwiser hails from Monterrey but lives in Los Angeles. A lover of mash-ups and remixes, his debut release, Revolution Radio, was released in May 2013. This track, Trouble in My Soul, features the deep baritone of the late Artwork Jamal, members of Kinky, and Billy Gould of Faith No More.


 


And from his latest album Electric City, a track entitled Bad Behaviour, featuring Billy Gould, Ulises Lozano from Kinky and Myron Glasper.



Amanda Perez - Never (2001)

 


Discovered by a talent scout and signed to the independent record label Powerhowse/Silverstone Records in 2001; Perez's debut album Where U At? was released in 2002 and included the singles Never and Angel. Never peaked at no.10 on the Billboard Hot 100 sales chart, but the album itself did not see much success until it was re-released by Virgin Records under the new title Angel. The single of the same name has proved to be her most popular single to date; Angel peaked at no.20 on the Billboard Hot 100 sales chart and no.3 on the Top 40 Radio chart.
The album was produced by Mike Quinn and co-produced by Powerhowse produced/DJ Tony Palacios, from Texas. DJ Tony P. was Amanda's touring DJ during her initial rise to popularity and a former radio employee-friend of Quinn. Perez notably charted at no.7 on the MTV viewer request show Total Request Live. Perez has had moderate success since departing from the original producers in 2005; subsequently, she took time off to care for her mother who was diagnosed with cancer. In 2004 Quinn's Silverstone/Powerhowse label partnered to released her second album I Pray, this time with Virgin Records, as a joint effort.
I Pray , the title track from the album was the first single off the album, and would prove to be the last time writer-producer Mike Quinn would work with the Star from Fort Wayne on an album. The second single Dedicate (Remix) featured Layzie Bone of Bone Thugs under the direction of Quinn. Shortly after its release, Perez parted ways with her original label and the writer-producer. Amanda's next album, The Hand of Fate was to be released on Virgin under Amanda's direction, but she was soon released from her contract due to legal conflicts and Virgin's unwillingness to effect Quinn's original agreements.
In 2007 Upstairs Records released a special album, dedicated to Amanda's mother. The lone single from that album, Candy Kisses, did not break any records, but it had success on the Top 40/Rhythmic Chart peaking at no.17.
In 2013, Amanda Perez and A-Hype Records released the single Freak For The Weekend, the first single from the album Unexpected.




Thursday, 12 June 2014

The World Of Soul Music PTI - Brazil

Elis Regina - Madalena (1966)


Elis Regina Carvalho Costa became nationally renowned in Brazil in 1965, after singing Arrastão (composed by Edu Lobo and Vinícius de Moraes) in the first edition of the TV Excelsior festival song contest, and soon joined O Fino da Bossa, a television program on the Brazilian TV Record channel. Elis was noted for her vocalisation, as well as for her personal interpretation and performances in shows. She recorded several successful compositions, such as Como nossos pais, Upa Neguinho, Madalena, Casa no Campo, Águas de Março, Atrás da Porta, O bêbado e a equilibrista, an Conversando no bar. Her premature death, at the age of 36, shocked Brazil. Elis Regina is regarded as the best Brazilian singer of all time by many critics, musicians, and commentators.
This is from one of Elis Regina’s finest LPs; her singing is quite simply outstanding on this record. The arrangements were made by Jose Roberto Bertrami, her pianist at the time and many of the songs, like Madelena, became hits in Brazil and wider South America.


Arthur Verocai - Na Boca do Sol (1972)



Arthur Verocai Cortes  participated as composer of numerous music festivals in 1960 and  worked as arranger disks and producer for various singers such as Ivan Lins, Jorge Ben Jor , Elizete Cardoso , Gal Costa , Erasmo Carlos, Celia and Marcos Valle. He was musical director and arranger of TV Globo in programmes such as Som Livre Export, Chico City and Big Family, and also wrote music for TV adverts in Brazil.
In 1972 he released his eponymous first solo album, mixing Jazz , Bossa and other experimental elements. The album was not well received by the public at the time, and was forgotten for many years until American hip-hop acts discovered his work, such as Little Brother , who used a snippet of the song Caboclo as sample for their We Got Now track; MF Doom and Ludacris have also used samples from Verocai's songs. In 2003, his debut album was reissued on CD by Ubiquity records, the first of many; you just have to look at the amount of reissues and presses of that album to see how important it was and what a great record it still is. What is so good about the record is really the instrumentation and the production. All of Brazil’s best musicians are on the record and it is one of the most underrated works in Brazil.




Azymuth - Manha (1975)



Not to be confused with Azimuth, the British Jazz trio, Azymuth is a Brazilian Jazz-Funk trio formed in 1972. The original band members were the late Jose Roberto Bertrami (keyboards), Alex Malheiros (bass, guitars), and Ivan Conti (drums, percussion).
From 1979 to 1988, they released many albums for Milestone Records. They also had a major hit single with Jazz Carnival in 1979. It peaked at no. 19 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1980. Since the mid-1990s, they have released albums on the London-based Far Out Recordings label, while remaining based in Brazil, and continue to tour in Europe.
Azymuth have also been involved in producing albums and their artists have been involved in several other projects through the years, including an album by Brazilian singer-songwriter Ana Mazzotti, and the 2005 debut album, Equilibria, by Alex Malheiros's daughter Sabrina Malheiros. They call their music Samba Doido, which means 'Crazy Samba'. Since the advent of the remix, many of Azymuth's songs have been redone by a wide range of artists and musicians. Several electronic acts like Jazzanova among many others, can be heard remixing their works.
This is from the first self titled album by Azymuth, confusingly called Azimüth. Its more of a Funk, Samba Jazz affair, but what a record. It features such classics like Manha, Faca de Conta, Linha do Horizonte, Periscopio and many other huge tunes.



João Gilberto - Chega De Saudade (1959)
Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz  - The Girl from Ipanema (1964)

 

João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, known as João Gilberto, is a Brazilian singer and guitarist. His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre of Bossa Nova ("new style") in the late 1950s. This style, which Gilberto introduced in 1957, created a sensation in the musical circles of Rio's Zona Sul, and many young guitarists sought to imitate it.
While in Rio, he struck up old acquaintances, most significantly Jobim, who was by then working as a composer, producer and arranger with Odeon Records. Jobim was impressed with Gilberto's new style of guitar playing, and set about finding a suitable song to pitch the style to Odeon management. It was first heard on record in 1958 in a recording of Chega de Saudade ("No More Blues"), a song by Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. Gilberto had first accompanied singer Elizeth Cardoso as her guitarist in a recording of this song, explaining his vision for the new style, but Cardoso would have none of his singing advice and sung it in the standard way. But shortly after this recording, João Gilberto made his own debut single of the same song, in the new style, followed by the 1959 album of the same name. The song turned into a hit, launching Gilberto's career and the Bossa Nova craze. Besides a number of Jobim compositions, the album featured older sambas and popular songs from the 1940s and 1950s, all performed in Gilberto's distinctive style. This album was followed by two more in 1960 and 1961, by which time the singer featured new songs by a younger generation of performer/composers such as Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal.
By 1962, Bossa Nova had been embraced by North American jazz musicians such as Herbie Mann, Charlie Byrd, and Stan Getz, who invited Gilberto and Jobim to collaborate on what became one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, Getz/Gilberto.
Through this album, Gilberto's then wife Astrud - who had never sung professionally prior to this recording session - became an international star, and the Jobim/de Moraes composition The Girl from Ipanema became a worldwide pop music standard.



It was written in 1962, with music by Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel. The first commercial recording was made in 1962, by Pery Ribeiro, but its of course the Getz/Gilberto version that became an international hit. In the US, it peaked at no.5 on the Hot 100, and went to no.1 for two weeks on the Easy Listening chart. Overseas it peaked at no.29 in the United Kingdom, and charted highly throughout the world. It also won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965.
Numerous recordings have been used in films, sometimes as an elevator music cliché. It is believed to be the second most recorded pop song in history, after Yesterday by The Beatles. In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry in America. In 2009, the song was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone as the 27th greatest Brazilian song.
The song was composed for a musical comedy titled Dirigível (Blimp), then a work-in-progress of Moraes. The original title was Menina que Passa ("The Girl Who Passes By"); the famous first verse was different. Jobim composed the melody on his piano in his house in Rua Barão da Torre, in Ipanema. In turn, Moraes had written the lyrics in Petrópolis, near Rio de Janeiro, as he had done with Chega de Saudade six years earlier.
During a recording session in New York with João Gilberto, Jobim and Getz, the idea of cutting an English-language version came up. João's wife, Astrud Gilberto, was the only one of the Brazilians who could speak English well and was chosen to sing. Her voice, without trained singer mannerisms, proved a perfect fit for the song.
The song was inspired by Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, a 19-year-old girl living on Montenegro Street in the fashionable Ipanema district in Rio de Janeiro. Daily, she would stroll past the popular Veloso bar-café, not just to the beach ("each day when she walks to the sea"), but in the everyday course of her life. She would sometimes enter the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother and leave to the sound of wolf-whistles. In the winter of 1962, the composers watched the girl pass by the bar, and it is easy to imagine why they noticed her - Heloísa was a 5'8"inch brunette, and she attracted the attention of many of the bar patrons. Since the song became popular, she has become a celebrity.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Grace Jones - Williams Blood (2008)


Williams' Blood is an autobiographical song, written by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (formerly of Prince and The Revolution) explaining how Jones takes after her mother's, Marjorie Jones née Williams, musical side of the family rather than that of her disciplinarian father Reverend Robert Jones. According to the lyrics, Jones' mother reveals that her grandfather was a musician who traveled with Nat King Cole, womanizing and drinking from town to town. The song describes her family's lament that she isn't more of a Jones like her sister or brother Noel while she expresses her desire to be free.
In the song's introduction Jones distorts a line from the first stanza of Amazing Grace declaring, "You can't save a wretch like me". At the end of the track when Jones sings the first two lines of Amazing Grace, her mother Marjorie, a lyric soprano, can be heard singing the same hymn in church. The song's working title was Keeping up with the Joneses, an idiom heard in the lyrics.
And below, the sublime Aeroplane Remix by Vito De Luca's Belgium-based disco project.

- Facel Vega HK5000



Thursday, 29 May 2014

Grace Jones - Do Or Die (1978)


Do Or Die was a single released by Grace Jones, from her 1978 album Fame. The track was the first and in most parts of the world the only single release from the album, the second of her disco outings. The 7" single featured a heavily edited version (3:22) with the French-language non-album track Comme un oiseau qui s'envole as the B-side, included as a bonus track on the Canadian edition of the album. The 12" single release saw an A-side comprised of a medley of the album A-side Do Or Die/Pride/Fame while the B-side an extended mix of the single B-side.
Do Or Die reached no.3 on the U.S. Billboard dance chart, but failed to make a chart impact elsewhere. In 1985 the 7" edit of Do Or Die was included as one of three disco tracks on the Island Life compilation album, the other being the album versions of 1975's I Need A Man and La Vie En Rose from 1977.

- Mr Fabulous

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Grace Jones - I've Done It Again (1981)


One of the most misunderstood and underrated artists of our time. She can do both subtle and gross, but she's always compelling. And not for the timid. More Grace Jones tracks to come this week.
Speaking of subtle, take this track; a Barry Reynolds-penned song from her highly successful fifth studio album, Nightclubbing, from 1981. It was the last track on the album, and for me made a nice low-key ending. It wasn't released as a single and isn't that well known outside her fan base, but that doesn't stop it being as great a track as any of her more well-known material.

-FVHK5K



Friday, 14 February 2014

Teddy Pendergrass - Come Go With Me (1979)



In the midst of his late-'70s hot streak, Teddy Pendergrass slowed down his groove somewhat for most of Teddy, his third album in as many years, and reprised the hushed tone and bedroom motifs that had made Close the Door such a success a year earlier. Pendergrass had sung bedroom ballads before Close the Door, but that song in particular resonated with his listeners, Philly soul and quiet storm fans alike. It's not surprising, then, that Teddy begins with back-to-back seducers penned by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff - Come Go With Me (featured here) and Turn Off the Lights - that are clearly modeled after Close the Door, and nothing wrong in that. Next comes I'll Never See Heaven Again and All I Need Is You, which keep the tempo laid-back and the mood sentimental, closing out the first side.
The second side gets off to a jumping start with If You Know Like I Know, one of the most ferocious songs Pendergrass ever recorded, a sweaty disco workout driven by a funky bassline that just doesn't stop and a long-winded rant of bellowed pleading. Do Me likewise jumps along but does so more lightly and playfully, and then Set Me Free and Life Is a Circle again up the intensity level and showcase Pendergrass in a frantic mood. The bipolar nature of Teddy, with its quiet storm first side and disco-soul second, gives it a consistent flow that prolongs the mutually stimulating moods of each side. This is a marked difference from the likewise rock-solid Teddy Pendergrass (1977) and Life Is a Song Worth Singing (1978), which generally alternated up-tempo steppers cuts with down-tempo slow jams. As such, Teddy does foreshadow Pendergrass' drift toward mass-market studiocraft, but he's far from being formulaic here on Teddy, where he's still ablaze and bearing the distinct mark of top-shelf Philly International.

- Mr Fabulous

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Heatwave - Always And Forever (1977)


Always and Forever is an R&B song written by Rod Temperton (later of Michael Jackson fame) and first recorded by the British-based funk-disco band Heatwave in 1976. Released as a single in 1977, the song is included on Heatwave's debut album Too Hot to Handle and has been covered by numerous artists. After the international success of Heatwave's debut single, the disco song Boogie Nights, Always and Forever was chosen as the U.S. follow-up single in late 1977. A ballad featuring lead vocals by Johnnie Wilder, Jr., Always and Forever stood out among the band's predominantly disco material and became a successful U.S. hit song in early 1978. It reached no.18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March of that year after peaking at no.2 on the Billboard R&B chart, the band's highest showing on that tally. The single was certified platinum by the RIAA. In the UK, the songs Too Hot to Handle and The Groove Line were released before a double A-sided Always and Forever/Mind Blowing Decisions was issued in November 1978. This became the band's second top ten on the UK Singles Chart when it spent two weeks at no.9 in December of that year.
The song was also played during the slow dance scene in the movie House Party.

 - Mr Fabulous

1976 release
1978 release

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Freddie Jackson - Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake) (1985)



Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake) is the début single for Harlem-born R&B/soul singer Freddie Jackson. Taken from the namesake début title album, Rock Me Tonight, the popular ballad was written and produced by Paul Laurence. It was the top-selling R&B single for 1985 and was Jackson's first of ten entries to hit the no.1 spot on the R&B chart. The song was number one for six weeks on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart and reached no.18 on the Hot 100 singles chart. It also reached no.18 in the UK Singles Chart.
The success of the album garnered Jackson a Grammy Award nomination in 1986 for Best New Artist, losing out to Sade. Rock Me Tonight went on to top the R&B Albums chart for 14 nonconsecutive weeks, and peaked inside the Top 10 on the Billboard 200.

- Mr Fabulous

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Whitney Houston - One Moment In Time (1988)



In Loving Memory of Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)
One Moment in Time is a worldwide hit Emmy Award winning song written by Albert Hammond and John Bettis, produced by Narada Michael Walden and recorded by Whitney Houston for the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 1988 Summer Paralympics held in Seoul, South Korea. The song was Houston's third number one in the UK Singles Chart, and reached number five on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The song's melody was inspired by Elvis Presley, with Hammond imagining it as being sung by Presley at the opening of the Olympics. It appeared on the album 1988 Summer Olympics Album: One Moment in Time, produced in conjunction with NBC Sports' coverage of the Seoul games and which, in addition to Whitney Houston who sang it live at the main ceremony, also featured artists such as The Four Tops, The Bee Gees, Eric Carmen, Taylor Dayne and the film composer John Williams.
One Moment in Time was released by Arista Records in August 1988 and debuted at no. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100; nine weeks later, it peaked at no.5 on the chart, becoming Houston's tenth top 10 hit on the Hot 100, and spent 17 weeks on the chart. It also debuted on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at no.78, and six weeks later reached a peak of 22, her lowest position on the R&B chart at the time. the single peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary chart, making it her seventh number-one single on the chart, and stayed on the top for two weeks. Worldwide, it was a big hit. In the UK, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at no.24, and within four weeks of its release reached the top position, a peak it maintained for two weeks, becoming her third UK no.1 single; certifying Silver by the BPI for shipments of 200,000 copies on October 1, 1988. According to The Official Charts Company, the single has sold 400,000 copies in the UK.
The song re-entered the UK Singles Chart for week ending February 18, 2012 following Houston's death.

- Mr Fabulous

Monday, 10 February 2014

Love Unlimited Orchestra - Love's Theme (1973)


Love's Theme is an instrumental piece recorded by Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra and released in 1973 as an A-side single. It is one of the few instrumental and purely orchestral singles to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, which it did in early 1974. The piece was included on two albums: 1973's Under the Influence of... Love Unlimited (by the vocal group Love Unlimited) and 1974's Rhapsody in White. The recording, with a large string orchestra and wah-wah guitar, is considered to be an influence to the disco sound, which would explode in popularity the following year.
The song was also popular on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in the U.S., where the song spent two weeks at no.1. In Canada, the single saw similar success, reaching no.1 on the RPM 100 National Singles Chart on March 2, 1974. In addition, Love's Theme has been recorded with lyrics (penned by White's publisher, Aaron Schroeder), with vocal versions by such artists as Love Unlimited (on their 1974 album In Heat), Julio Iglesias, and Andy Williams; Enoch Light also recorded an electro-disco instrumental version of the song on his 1977 album, Disco Disque. In 1993, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark released the single Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme) from their album Liberator released the same year, which used a sample of the song; it reached no.24 on the UK Singles Chart, and White was given a writing credit. Love's Theme has been covered by smooth jazz trumpeter Rick Braun and by guitarist Chuck Loeb.

- The Oakland Stroke




Thursday, 6 February 2014

Maze & Frankie Beverly - While I'm Alone (1977)


The band can be considered as the project formerly known as The Butlers, and later Raw Soul, with member Frankie Beverly being songwriter, record producer, arranger, singer, keyboardist and guitarist. The Philadelphia born Beverly started the group as Raw Soul in 1970. They recorded a couple of singles on the small Gregar label, but without any major success. With a few personnel changes, a relocation from Philadelphia to the San Francisco Bay Area in California in 1971, and an introduction to Marvin Gaye, the group became an immediate success. Gaye took the group on the road with him as one of his opening acts, and in 1976, he suggested that they changed their name from Raw Soul to Maze. 
Signed to a recording contract with Capitol Records in 1976, Maze would release their début album, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly in 1977. From that album Maze would earn a devoted fan base with classic tracks Happy Feelin'sWhile I'm Alone, and Lady of Magic, ultimately giving them their first gold record. They also had success with the albums Golden Time of Day (1978), Inspiration (1979) and Joy and Pain (1980). Their next recording was Live in New Orleans, 3/4 of which was recorded at the Saenger Theatre, on November 14-15, 1980. Three of those songs were released onto the US R&B chart, including Running Away, Before I Let Go, and We Need Love To Live. By that time, the band had both a reputation in America and also enjoyed a following in the United Kingdom with promotional support from the DJ Robbie Vincent. In May 1985, Maze sold out eight nights at the Hammersmith Odeon. The group released their next album, Can't Stop the Love in March 1985, which featured the group's first number one R&B hit Back In Stride. The Top 5 follow-up, Too Many Games was also featured on this album. The latter single also became the band's biggest hit in the UK, where it peaked at no.36 on the charts.
In 1989, they signed with Warner Bros. and released the hit album Silky Soul and Back to Basics in 1993, and released the live DVD recording at London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1994. The two albums also attained gold disc status. They had another number one R&B success with Can't Get Over You. In 2009, a tribute to the hits of Maze was released; called Silky Soul Music: An All Star Tribute to Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, it included modern stars performing Maze's biggest hits with Maze acting as the backing band. On September 2, 2011, their percussionist and background singer, McKinley "Bug" Williams, died of an apparent heart attack at a hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Maze continues to tour around the United States as well as Europe to this day. Every year they are the closing act for the Essence Music Festival.

- Mr Fabulous