Category: 80’s

On this day in music history: May 21, 1988 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1988 – “Mercedes Boy” by Pebbles hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on July 9, 1988. Written by Pebbles, it is the second consecutive R&B chart topper from the Oakland, CA born and raised singer (birth name: Perri Arnette McKissack). Having previously worked as a background singer (as a teenager) for Bay Area based bands Con Funk Shun and Bill Summers & Summers Heat, Pebbles gets her big break as a solo artist when KSOL program director Marvin Robinson introduces the singer to MCA Records black music executives Jheryl Busby and Louil Silas, Jr, who immediately sign her to the label. Pebbles writes the song about a guy that she meets and falls in love with while in high school. Both are dating other people at the time, and maintain only a platonic friendship. Referring to him as her “Mercedes Boy” comes from the fact that both of them own and drive the German luxury automobile. However, the two will not get together until five years after first meeting each other. Once she is signed to MCA, Gap Band lead vocalist Charlie Wilson is paired with Pebbles to produce “Mercedes Boy”. Issued as the follow up to her debut smash “Girlfriend” (#1 R&B, #5 Pop) in April of 1988, “Mercedes Boy” follows a similar trajectory up the pop and R&B singles charts. The success of the single drives her debut album “Pebbles” to Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1983 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1983 – “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on April 30, 1983, and peaking at #14 on the R&B singles chart on May 28, 1983. Written by David Bowie, it is the second US chart topper for the British rock icon. Newly signed to a worldwide record deal with EMI Records in 1982 worth over $10 million, David Bowie collaborates with musician Nile Rodgers of Chic on his first album with the label. Before the recording sessions begin, Bowie plays Rodgers a number of new songs he has written including one titled “Let’s Dance”. Originally written on a 12-string acoustic guitar, Bowie’s original arrangement bares almost no resemblance to what it becomes. Rodgers takes the folk-rock acoustic based song, and transforms it into a funky, uptempo dance rock song. Recorded at The Power Station in New York City in December of 1982, “Let’s Dance” along with the rest of the accompanying album is recorded in under three weeks. “Dance” features most of the core rhythm section of Chic including Tony Thompson (drums), Rob Sabino (keyboards), Sammy Figueroa (percussion) and Rodgers himself (guitar) as well as Carmine Rojas (bass), and a then little known blues guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan providing the stinging lead guitar on the track. The title track from David Bowie’s fifteenth studio album, it is released in March of 1983 and is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on March 26, 1983, it  climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single also tops the chart in the UK, becoming his third chart topper in his home country. “Dance” not only become Bowie’s biggest single and album, but also introduces him to a new audience, winning him a new generation of fans. The song is accompanied by a music video directed by long time collaborator David Mallet, shot in Sydney, Australia in early 1983. To commemorate the thirty fifth anniversary, the original demo recording of “Let’s Dance” is released digitally on January 8, 2018, Bowie’s 71st birthday. The complete version along with a live recording from the “Serious Moonlight Tour”, is released as a limited edition 12" single for Record Store Day on April 21, 2018. “Let’s Dance” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1982 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1982 – “Jeffrey Osborne”, the debut solo album by Jeffrey Osborne is released. Produced by George Duke, it is recorded at Le Gonks West Studios in West Hollywood, CA, Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, CA, A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA, George Massenburg Studios in West Los Angeles, CA and Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA from November 1981 – March 1982. After spending ten years as the drummer, then lead singer of R&B/Funk band L.T.D., Jeffrey Osborne leaves the band in late 1980 for a solo career. Remaining with A&M Records, the singer takes his time selecting the right producer for his first solo album. Osborne chooses to work with musician George Duke, who surrounds the singer with an exemplary group of the best studio musicians in L.A. including Brothers Johnson bassist Louis Johnson, former Average White Band drummer Steve Ferrone, Larry Graham, Abraham Laboriel (bass), David T. Walker, Charles Fearing, Michael Sembello (guitar), George Duke, John Barnes (keyboards), Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, Lou McCreary, Larry Williams (horns), Lynn Davis (background vocals) and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion). Osborne also writes or co-writes eight of the albums ten songs. The sessions are highly productive, marking the beginning of a successful collaboration between Jeffrey Osborne and George Duke, which lasts over the course of four albums. Osborne’s debut release spins off three singles including “I Really Don’t Need No Light” (#3 R&B, #39 Pop), “On The Wings Of Love” (#13 R&B, #29 Pop) and “Eenie Meenie” (#76 Pop). “Jeffrey Osborne” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number forty nine on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: May 21, 1982 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1982 – “Hot Space”, the tenth album by Queen is released. Produced by Queen, Reinhold Mack, Arif Mardin and David Bowie, it is recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland and Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany from June 1981 – March 1982. Coming off of the highly successful “The Game” and the “Flash Gordon” soundtrack, Queen begin work on their next album. Scoring one of their biggest hits with “Another One Bites The Dust”, lead singer Freddie Mercury is interested in further exploring that musical territory. However, guitarist Brian May and Roger Taylor are both resistant to the idea, and abandoning their “no synthesizers” rule in spite of having used them on the two previous albums. The dance rock sound favored by Mercury is most pronounced on “Dancer”, “Staying Power” and “Body Language” (#11 Pop, #30 R&B, #62 Club Play). In the UK, response is lukewarm, but is better received in the US. It features only minimal contributions from May and Taylor, with bassist John Deacon not playing on it at all. With Freddie playing most of the instruments, it marks the first time a drum machine is used on a Queen song. “Body” is also the subject of controversy in the US, when the music videos’ erotic imagery cause it to become the first clip to be banned by MTV. It also causes further outcry for the picture sleeve, featuring a man and woman provocatively posed and nude, covered only in body paint. Queen’s US label Elektra Records hastily issues a second sleeve, with the same graphics (printed in red) on a white background. Another song written by Mercury is the piano ballad “Life Is Real (Song For Lennon)”, in tribute to John Lennon. “Under Pressure” (#29 Pop, #1 UK) is written out of a jam session at Queen’s studio in Montreux with David Bowie who had dropped by the studio to visit. Anchored by Deacon’s instantly attention grabbing bass line, Taylor’s in the pocket drumming, and Mercury and Bowie’s searing vocals, “Pressure” is an immediate standout. It becomes Queen’s second number one in the UK, but only cracks the Top 30 in the US, though MTV gives the video substantial airplay. It spins off a third single with “Calling All Girls” (#60 Pop), but is not issued in the UK. When “Hot Space” is released, fans and critics are highly critical to Queen’s change in musical direction and in some cases react with disdain, marking the beginning of the band’s commercial decline in the US throughout the 80’s. The album is remastered and reissued in 1991 with five additional bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since its original release, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2015. “Hot Space” peaks at number four on the UK album chart, number forty on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty two on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 21, 1941 – Isley Brother…

Born on this day: May 21, 1941 – Isley Brothers lead vocalist Ronald Isley (born in Cincinnati, OH). Happy 78th Birthday, Ron (aka Mr. Biggs 😀 )!!

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1985 – “Youthquake”, the second album by Dead Or Alive is released. Produced by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, it is recorded at PWL Studios in London from September 1984 – March 1985. Following the departure of founding member and guitarist Wayne Hussey to join the goth-rock band Sisters Of Mercy in mid-1984, Dead Or Alive continue on as a quartet. The Liverpool, UK based band completely abandon their early goth/post-punk sound which they had begun moving away from on their debut album “Sophisticated Boom Boom”. Dead Or Alive work with the fledgling production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aikten and Pete Waterman (aka Stock, Aitken and Waterman. The first product of the bands fully revamped Eurodisco/Hi-NRG sound is the single “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” (#1 UK Pop, #11 US Pop), which Epic Records has such disdain for it initially, that they refuse to fund its recording. Lead singer Pete Burns believes so deeply in the songs hit potential that he takes out a loan to record it independently of the label. After the song is recorded, Epic releases it, but again refuses to provide a budget to shoot a music video. The self financed clip directed by Vaughan Arnell and Anthea Benton (George Michael’s “Fastlove”, The Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There”) begins to receive play on UK television and in clubs, helping the record move on to the charts in December of 1984. The song moves slowly up the charts until Dead Or Alive appears on Top Of The Pops in February of 1985. That lone television appearance helps propel the single to #1 on the UK singles chart in March, prompting its US release. The album meets with similar success as it spins off three additional singles including “Lover Come Back To Me” (#11 UK Pop, #75 US Pop), “In Too Deep” (#14 UK Pop), and “My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor)” (#23 UK Pop). The albums striking cover artwork is designed by British graphic design firm Satori (Def Leppard, Thompson Twins), and features an enigmatic photograph of the flamboyant Burns on the front, taken by famed fashion photographer Mario Testino. The original European CD and cassette versions of the album include the Performance Mix of “You Spin Me Round” and the extended dance mix of “Lover Come Back”, as well as the remastered release in 1994. The US and Japanese CD’s contain the original vinyl LP track listing. Out of print on vinyl since its original release, it is remastered and reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2018. The LP comes pressed on standard black or limited edition purple vinyl (1,500 numbered copies). “Youthquake” peaks at number nine on the UK album chart, number thirty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1980 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1980 – “Unmasked”, the eighth studio album by KISS is released. Produced by Vini Poncia, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City from January – March 1980. Following the Platinum selling “Dynasty” album and tour, KISS again collaborate with songwriter and producer Vini Poncia (Ringo Starr, Leo Sayer), who had produced and contributed material to their previous release. Ponicia is heavily involved in the project, also co-writing eight of the new albums eleven tracks. “Unmasked” is last studio album to feature the bands original line up, though drummer Peter Criss actually has no involvement in the recording of the album. His drum parts are played by session drummer Anton Fig (uncredited), who played on the majority of the previous album “Dynasty”. Criss’ only involvement in the project is when he appears in the music video for the first single “Shandi” (#47 Pop). The drummer is fired from the band for his erratic, drug fueled behavior. It is another fifteen years before he unites with the band at a Kiss Fan Convention on June 17, 1995. Unlike previous albums, KISS does not support the album with a tour in US, with the only live performance being a one off show at The Palladium in Hollywood, CA, with Peter Criss’ replacement, drummer Eric Carr. They mount an international tour, playing Australia, France, Italy, Germany, and the UK where the project fares much better commercially. The album spins off three singles including “Talk To Me”, and “Tomorrow”. Remastered and reissued on CD in 1997, it is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014. “Unmasked” peaks at number thirty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1986 – “So”, the fifth studio album by Peter Gabriel is released. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel, it is recorded at Ashcombe Studios, near Bath, England from May 1985 – March 1986. It is Gabriel’s second collaboration with producer Lanois (having worked together on the “Birdy” Soundtrack in 1984), the songs are a mixture of his more experimental progressive rock sounds and world music combined with more radio friendly, pop oriented material. The results yield his biggest selling album, spinning off five singles including “Sledgehammer” (#1 US Pop, #4 UK), “Big Time” (#8 US Pop, #13 UK), and “In Your Eyes” (#26 US Pop). The albums cover artwork is designed by graphic artist Peter Saville (New Order, Factory Records), and is the first to feature a clear photo of Gabriel on the front. It is also the first of his solo albums to bear a proper title, which he comes up with off the cuff, liking its simplicity and the fact that it had no specific meaning. In 1989, “In Your Eyes” is prominently featured in the Cameron Crowe written and directed film “Say Anything”, in a highly memorable scene featuring actor John Cusack, blasting song on a boombox outside his girlfriend’s (Ione Skye) window. The songs exposure in the film and soundtrack album, leads to it being re-released and charting a second time, peaking at #41 on the Hot 100 in July of 1989. In 2012, a three CD reissue to commemorate the album’s twenty fifth anniversary is released, containing a remastered version of the original album and a live concert recorded in Athens, Greece in 1987 during the “So World Tour”. A further box set edition is also released including the aforementioned contents along with a disc of demo recordings, two DVD’s including the Athens concert, the Classic Albums documentary on the making of the album, a remastered vinyl pressing of the LP, and a vinyl 12" single including two unreleased tracks and an alternate piano version of “Don’t Give Up”. “So” hits number one on the UK album album chart, peaking at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1980 -…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1980 – “Fame – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Michael Gore, it is recorded at Media Sound Studios, C.I. Recording Studios, A&R Recording Studios and Columbia 30th Street Studios in New York City from April – May 1979. Issued as the soundtrack to the Alan Parker directed film about students attending the New York High School of Performing Arts, it stars Irene Cara, Gene Anthony Ray, Lee Curreri, Barry Miller, Maureen Teefy and Paul McCrane. Parker approaches Giorgio Moroder who had won an Oscar for composing the score to his film “Midnight Express”, to work on “Fame”. Moroder declines as he is busy working with Donna Summer. The director also asks Jeff Lynne of ELO who also busy. Ultimately musician Michael Gore is hired, who co-writes six of the nine songs. The music is recorded prior to the start of filming in July of 1979. Three of the songs are performed by Irene Cara. The title track (#4 Pop, #1 Club Play) is co-written by Gore and Dean Pitchford, featuring a group of backing vocalists that includes Luther Vandross who is also the vocal arranger on the track. The song is the albums’ break out single, becoming a pop radio and club smash. “Fame” also earns Gore and Pitchford the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1981. The follow up single, the ballad “Out Here On My Own” (#19 Pop, #20 AC) also sung by Cara is co-written by Gore along with his sister pop vocalist Lesley Gore, also earning an Oscar nomination. It marks the first time in history that two songs from the same film, are nominated in the same category. Paul McCrane (Montgomery MacNeil) performs “Dogs In The Yard” and “Is It Okay If I Call You Mine?”, the latter of which is written by him. “Red Light” (#1 Club Play, #41 Pop, #40 R&B) performed by Linda Clifford is another stand out, featured in a memorable scene. Like the film itself, the soundtrack becomes a major success, and a pop cultural phenomenon at a time when film musicals are considered well past their prime. It launches Irene Cara’s career as a recording artist, having performed on Broadway, on television and in film since childhood. “Fame” is spun off into a successful TV series in 1982, running for six seasons. The title track and soundtrack become belated hits in the UK two years after the films release, when both are reissued after the debut of the series. Both top the UK singles and album charts in July of 1982, with the album being succeeded at number one by “The Kids From Fame” album. Originally released on CD in 1990, the original soundtrack is remastered and reissued in 2003, including three bonus tracks not on the original album. “Fame – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 19, 1945 – Singer, songw…

Born on this day: May 19, 1945 – Singer, songwriter and musician Pete Townshend (born Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend in Chiswick, London, UK. Happy 74th Birthday, Pete!!

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