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

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Dennis Edwards feat. Siedah Garrett - Don't Look Any Further (1984)

Dennis Edwards is an American Soul and R&B singer, most noted for being one of The Temptations lead singers. Edwards first joined the Temptations in 1968, replacing David Ruffin, and sang with the group until 1976, returning from 1980-1984 and 1987-1989. Any doubts that the Temps would be able to hit the heights of success post 'Classic Five' era, without Ruffin on lead vocals were firmly dispelled with a string of hits such as, Cloud Nine (1968), I Can't Get Next to You (1969), Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today) (1970), Papa Was a Rollin' Stone (1972), Shakey Ground (1975) and many others. Cloud Nine and Papa Was a Rollin' Stone were both Grammy Award winning songs.
In the mid-1980s he recorded two solo albums on Motown and scored a hit with the  classic Don't Look Any Further, featuring the vocal of Siedah Garrett (who amongst other things duetted with Michael Jackson on I Just Can't Stop Loving You as well as fronting The Brand new heavies for a while after N'dea Davenport left). The track peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard Black Singles chart and peaked at no.72 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Edwards currently tours as The Temptations Revue featuring Dennis Edwards.

- The Oakland Stroke

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Alicia Keys - If I Ain't Got You (2004)

Alicia Keys (born Alicia Augello Cook - January 25, 1981)  is an American R&B/soul singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, and actress. She released her début album Songs in A Minor in 2001, selling over 12 million copies worldwide . She became one of that years best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist; the album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for Fallin' becoming the second American recording artist to win five Grammys in one night. Her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies; the album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005 to add to her collection. Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at no.1 in the US; she became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album to début at no.1 and the highest since Nirvana in 1994.
She released her fourth album, The Element of Freedom, in December 2009, which became Keys' first chart-topping album in the United Kingdom. She released her fifth album, Girl on Fire, in November 2012, which became Keys' fifth chart-topping album in the United States. Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 65 million records worldwide. Billboard magazine placed her number ten on their list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years.

- The Oakland Stroke

Monday, 3 February 2014

Anita Baker - Giving You The Best That I Got (1988)

Anita Baker started her career in the late-1970s with the Funk/Soul band Chapter 8. She released her first solo album The Songstress in 1983, with included her US top 5 R&B/ Soul hit, Angel. In 1986, she rose to stardom following the release of her platinum-selling second album Rapture, which included the Grammy-winning single Sweet Love. She has also won seven other Grammys and has four platinum albums and two gold albums to her credit.
Her follow-up, Giving You the Best That I Got was released in 1988 and immediately became a success, topping the Billboard 200 and selling over five million copies worldwide. This was followed by the albums, Compositions in 1990, with Rhythm of Love following in 1994. after a lengthy break, she released My Everything in 2004, coinciding with her first UK tour in years.
In 2012, Anita Baker released her version of Tyrese's hit in America, Lately. The song made headlines for Baker after the song was played on every single hour of the hour throughout the day on US urban adult contemporary radio, making her the first artist to make this kind of début. Baker has been working on the album featuring the single, Only Forever, since 2010; we are still waiting for the release, but Anita Baker is never an artist to rush perfection.

- The Oakland Stroke