Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Midnight Star- Curious (1984)

Reggie Calloway is a songwriter, producer & trumpeter. With his brother Vincent Calloway, they formed Calloway and scored a US hit single with I Wanna Be Rich in 1990; however Reggie's biggest success came before this in 1976 when he formed the band Midnight Starr.
Two years later in New York City, they preformed a showcase, that inspired SOLAR (Sound Of Los Angeles Records) chief Dick Griffey to sign the group to his label. They released their debut album The Beginning in 1980, with Make It Last being their first minor US R&B hit. In 1981 they released the album Standing Together with the single I've Been Watching You just reaching the US R&B top 40. The 1982 album, Victory really seemed to be as the title track suggested, almost the breakthrough they had been waiting for; Hot Spot made the R&B chart and just bubbled under the hot 100 Billboard chart, but you could see they were getting nearer to getting the cross over success they deserved.
In 1983 the double platinum album No Parking (On the Dance Floor) was released with at last giving them the same kind of recognition that their label mates, Shalamar and The Whispers were gaining. Freak-A-Zoid was not only a US no.2 R&B hit, but crossed over to the Billboard 100 chart, as did their next single releases from the album, Wet My Whistle which was also a minor hit in the UK. These singles, along with hot album tracks like Slow Jam (co-written by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds) and Electricity propelled the album to double platinum status.
The US Gold certified album Planetary Invasion was released in 1984, with the hits Curious and the no.1 US R&B hit Operator, which also crossed over to no.18 in the Billboard hot 100 chart; so far their biggest US hit as a band. At this point the demand for The Calloways work was high as they started writing hits for other artists such as Klymaxx (Meeting in the Ladies Room), and The Whispers (Contagious). In 1986, they released their sixth album, Headlines, which was their third album go at least gold in America, but this time their success crossed over to Europe; they enjoyed success with Midas Touch, not only reaching the American R&B top 10, but also the Top 10 in the UK and in many other European countries. This was to be Midnight Star's last album with the Calloway brothers; they continued writing for other musicians, such as Teddy Pendergrass (Joy), Gladys Knight & the Pips (Love Overboard), Natalie Cole (Jump Start), and Levert (Casanova).

 - The Oakland Stroke

French release

Monday, 27 January 2014

Aaron Neville - Tell it Like It Is (1966)

The third youngest of the famous Neville brothers - Art and Charles are older, Cyril younger, Aaron was born into one of New Orleans' most celebrated families. His first influence was Art. "I never heard a better singer or funkier keyboardist than my big brother," says Aaron. "Brother Charles," he continues, "was the family jazzman. He blew sax and schooled me in the ways of improvisation. Brother Cyril was our James Brown. He was-and still is a great singer. He burns with soul."
Aaron though was the first Neville to burn his way up the national charts. In early 1966, he recorded and released the original version of Tell It Like It Is from his eponymous album on Par-Lo Records. In November 1966, the track was issued as a single which peaked in early 1967 at no.1 on the US R&B chart and no.2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Unfortunately Par-Lo went broke before Aaron got paid. On the strength of the single though, Neville toured nationally and established his status and a singular style marked by a rare and haunting beauty. "That style," he says, "is rooted in the doo wop of the fifties; the Moonlgows, the Flamingos, the Clovers and a close friend, Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels. But I was also deep into the gospel groups, the Pilgrim Travelers, the Brooklyn All-Stars and The Blind Boys of Alabama. And then there were those yodeling cowboys. I loved them."

- The Oakland Stroke

Album Cover

Information courtesy of Burgundy Records.

Friday, 24 January 2014

George Benson - Turn Your Love Around (1981)

Turn Your Love Around was written to help fill out Benson's 1981 greatest hits album, The George Benson Collection. It reached no.1 on the soul singles charts and no.5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts in early 1982, as well as the top ten on the jazz chart, a legacy of Benson's Jazz origins. The song won a Best R&B Song Grammy at the 25th Grammy Awards in 1983 for Bill Champlin, Jay Graydon, and Steve Lukather (of Toto) as its composers.
The original inspiration for the song came to co-songwriter Jay Graydon in the bathroom. He explained to Songfacts: "'Turn Your Love Around' was a gift, and it's the gift that keeps giving. I was in the bathroom when I came up with the melody, and I was sitting down, if you get my drift. Well, I got off the can as fast as I could and got to a cassette machine so I wouldn't forget it. George Benson was coming in town Tuesday, so I had four days to come up with a song for The George Benson Collection. And I was gettin' nothing. And then bang! I just came up with this melody for the chorus when I was in the bathroom." Incidentally, the song was one of the first pop hits to feature a Linn LM-1 drum machine, programmed by session drummer, the legendary Jeff Porcaro.
The song was sampled on the album version of Lil' Kim's Not Tonight and on the Japanese 1 million hit song Da.Yo.Ne. by East End X Yuri in 1994.

- The Oakland Stroke

UK release
French release

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Roberta Flack - Feel Like Makin' Love (1974)

Feel Like Makin' Love is a song composed by Eugene McDaniels, and recorded originally by Roberta Flack.
Released nine months before the album of the same title, the song became one of the greatest musical successes of 1974, as in America it went to no.1 in both Pop & the R&B/Soul charts; in the UK it reached no.34. The song went on to receive three Grammy nominations in 1975: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Flack had won Record Of the Year in '73 &'74 for The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Killing Me Softly with His Song respectively.
The song has been covered by a host of of artists including D'Angelo, Marlena Shaw & Isaac Hayes and most notably, George Benson.

- The Oakland Stroke

Dutch single release
French release
US release

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Grace Jones - Pull Up to The Bumper (1981)

Pull Up to the Bumper was co-written by Grace Jones herself. The song's instrumental path was originally recorded in 1980 during the Warm Leatherette sessions, however, it didn't make the album as Chris Blackwell found its R&B sound not fitting in the rest of the material. It was finally completed for the 1981 critically acclaimed album Nightclubbing and became a single in June 1981. The original 1981 release peaked at no.53 on the UK Singles Chart.
In 1985 the track was again remixed and re-released to promote the Island Life compilation, and was released in two different 12" mixes, one an extended mix with additional keyboard overdubs and remix by Paul "Groucho" Smykle, which can be found on both the Rodeo Media 2011 Dance Classics - Pop Edition Vol. 4 2CD Compilation and the very rare EVA Records 1986 Now Dance compilation CD. The other, an eight-minute megamix entitled Musclemix, which included excerpts from tracks like Warm LeatheretteWalking in the RainUse Me, "Love Is the Drug" and "Slave to the Rhythm", remains unreleased on CD. With that re-release, with the 1977 recording of La Vie En Rose as the B-side, it reached no.12 on the UK pop chart in early 1986. The song then finally charted in Ireland and Germany, becoming the singer's best-seller. In the States, it reached no.5 on the R&B/Soul & no.2  on the Dance charts.

- The Oakland Stroke

1981 release:

1985 version:

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Crusaders with Bill Withers - Soul Shadows (1980)

From the 1980 album Rhapsody and Blues and featuring the sublime vocals of Bill Withers.
The group shortened their name to The Crusaders in 1971, and adopted a jazz-funk style. They also incorporated the electric bass and electric guitar into their music. Bass guitarist Robert "Pops" Popwell and guitarist Larry Carlton joined the band, and featured on the group's albums throughout most of the 1970s. With this new style came increased crossover appeal, and the group's recordings started to appear on the Billboard pop charts. The height of the group's commercial success came with 1979's Street Life, with Randy Crawford as featuring singer, which peaked at No.18 on the pop album charts and the title track from the album made the Top 10 on the R&B chart and No.36 on Billboard′s Hot 100 chart.
In April 2010, Joe Sample announced a reunion tour with Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder (but not Stix Hooper); the first reunion of these founding members of the Jazz Crusaders since 1974.

- The Oakland Stroke

Monday, 20 January 2014

Caron Wheeler - Livin' In The Light (1990)

She is a British recording artist who gained fame by writing and singing the lead vocals on the two biggest hits for Soul II Soul; Keep on Movin' and Back to Life (However Do You Want Me). She then embarked on a solo career, and released two albums: UK Blak in 1990 and Beach of the War Goddess in 1993. Her biggest solo success single is Livin' In The Light from her first solo album, which hit no.53 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and spent a week at No.1 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1989. It also reached no.4 in the UK Singles Chart.
She is reportedly working on a new solo album to be released in 2014. She is also back in the recording studio with Jazzie B recording tracks for a new Soul II Soul album for a 2014 release.

- The Oakland Stroke

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Earth Wind & Fire - September (1979)

Throwback Thursday: Earth, Wind & Fire were no.1 on this day in 1979 on the Billboard R&B/Soul chart. The single was written by Maurice White, Al McKay and Allee Willis. It was recorded during the I Am sessions, but used on their, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 hits album as a new track. The single also reached, no. 3 in the UK Charts & crossed over in America to no.8 in the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart.


RIP Ronny Jordan 1962 - 2014

R.I.P Ronny Jordan - (29 November 1962 - 13 January 2014).
Just found this nice tribute edit that I thought you may like. On the morning of 14 January 2014 in an announcement from 'Rickey and Denise' (Jordan's brother and sister) via a memorial page Ronny Jordan RIP on Facebook 'the world was informed that Ronny Jordan had passed away aged only 51 in London, England. No further details on the cause of death were made available. He was a unique Jazz/ Acid Jazz guitarist that incorporated elements of, Soul,Funk, Hip Hop, Blues into his jazzy style of playing. Our thoughts & prayers go to his family & friends. R.I.P Ronny Jordan.'


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Kashif - I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On) (1983)

Kashif's first solo single that was both a UK & US hit in 1983. He released 7 albums and mostly wrote and produced the songs himself. His sound was very in demand and was recorded by Kenny G, George Benson, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Johnny Kemp, Melba Moore, Dionne Warwick, Giorge Pettus, Stacy Lattisaw, Exposé, The Wootens, Freda Payne, Whitney Houston, and others.

- The Oakland Stroke