Category: 80’s

On this day in music history: December 6, 1986 – “The Next Time I Fall” by Peter Cetera w/ Amy Grant hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on November 8, 1986. Written by Bobby Caldwell and Paul Gordon, it is the second solo chart topper for the former lead singer and bassist of Chicago, and the first chart topper for the vocalist from Augusta, GA. Best known for blue eyed soul classics like “What You Won’t Do For Love”, “My Flame” and “Open Your Eyes”, singer, songwriter and musician Bobby Caldwell continues to enjoy major success internationally, and as a songwriter during the 80’s. Along with co-writer Paul Gordon, the pair write the ballad “The Next Time I Fall”, with Caldwell coming up with the main chord progression while playing a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer in his apartment. The first chorus they come up with is discarded and re-written, fleshing out the main body of the song, also writing the lyrics together. Bobby records a quick demo, playing keyboards and performing the vocals, then submitting it to his publisher for artist consideration. The demo is heard by producer Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Donna Summer), who in turn plays it for Peter Cetera who likes it immediately. Though it was not written that way, Cetera suggests “The Next Time I Fall” be recorded as a duet. He suggests that they reach out to Amy Grant and ask her if she’ll record it with him. Already a major star in the world of Contemporary Christian Pop with the hugely successful “Age To Age” and her first mainstream pop album “Unguarded”, Grant is eager to broaden her audience. A huge fan of Cetera’s from his days in Chicago agrees to the duet. On tour at the time, Amy flies into Los Angeles and records her vocals in a single session. Issued as the follow up to Peter Cetera’s first chart topper “Glory Of Love” in September of 1986, “The Next Time I Fall” is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on September 20, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The single also receives a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1987. The chart topping success of “Next Time I Fall” is major turning point in Amy Grant’s trajectory into pop superstardom, peaking with the multi-Platinum selling album “Heart In Motion” in 1991. Following the success of the song, songwriter Bobby Caldwell cuts a version of “The Next Time I Fall” in 1989. He also co-writes a number of hits for other artists including “Heart Of Mine” (#35 Pop) for Boz Scaggs and “What Kind Of Man Would I Be” (#5 Pop) for Chicago.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1983 – “Japanese Whispers”, the fifth album by The Cure is released. Produced by Robert Smith, Chris Parry, Steve Nye and Phil Thornalley, it is recorded from November 1982 – April 1983. The set is a compilation put together by the band’s UK label Fiction Records (released in the US initially on Sire Records), and collects their recently released singles “Let’s Go To Bed”, “The Walk” and “The Lovecats” along with their respective B-sides. It remains in print for many years, until it is deleted when compilation albums “Standing On A Beach/Staring At The Sea” and the B-sides box set “Join The Dots”, include all of the material featured on “Whispers”. However, due to its long standing popularity with Cure fans, it is reissued once more on CD in 2006 (Europe only). “Japanese Whispers” peaks at twenty six on the UK album chart, and #181 on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1982 – “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” by Indeep is released. Written by Mike Cleveland, it is the debut single release and biggest hit for the dance music group from New York City. Formed in 1980 by musician Mike Cleveland, Indeep also features lead vocalists Réjane “Reggie” Magloire and Rose Marie Ramsey. In the post-disco era, the group create a unique musical hybrid that include sung vocal hooks, rap lyrics and built on a foundation of minimalist, but highly funky instrumentation. For their first single, Cleveland writes “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”. Its narrative describes a woman who’s home alone, and is upset and frustrated that she can’t reach her man. On the verge of leaving him, she changes her mind when she hears a song on the radio that makes her reconsider, proclaiming in the chorus “Last night a DJ saved my life from a broken heart… Last night a DJ saved my life with a song…”. The track is recorded at Eastern Artists Recording Studio in East Orange, NJ, with Ramsey on lead vocals, Cleveland on guitar, bass, and rap vocals, and drummer Dave Reyes (Young & Company, Aurra). “DJ” is recorded by a young engineer named Andy Wallace, who goes on to greater fame later on working with Run DMC, Nirvana, Sheryl Crow and many others. It is mixed by Club DJ legend, remixer and producer Tony Humphries. Co-produced by Reggie Thompson (Mtume, Philip Bailey, Stanley Clarke), the single is released on the Sound Of New York Records label, founded by executive producer Gene Griffin (Guy, Wrecks-N-Effects). “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” quickly becomes a dance floor smash, entering the Billboard Club Play chart at #60 on December 25, 1982. It enters the Billboard R&B singles chart at #83 on the R&B singles chart on January 8, 1983. It peaks at #2 on the Club Play chart five weeks later on January 29, 1983. The record holds for six weeks in the runner spot, unable to budge Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album from the top spot. “DJ” peaks at #10 on the R&B singles chart nine weeks later on March 12, 1983, holding for three consecutive weeks. Though it doesn’t make the US pop chart, bubbling under at #103, Indeep’s record is a big hit across Europe, in the UK (#13), Spain (#7), The Netherlands (#2). Belgium (#2) and Germany (#10). The group follow up their breakthrough with “When Boys Talk” (#32 R&B, #16 Club Play), “Buffalo Bill” (#81 R&B) and “The Record Keeps Spinning” (#45 R&B). Though regarded as a one hit wonder, Indeep’s “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” has enjoyed enduring popularity, being covered most notably by Mariah Carey on the “Glitter” Soundtrack in 2001. The song has also been sampled numerous times, also being featured on the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and the television mini series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

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On this day in music history: December 5, 1987 – “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley, it is the biggest hit for the singer from Thousand Oaks, CA. As the lead singer of The Go-Go’s, Belinda Carlisle  achieves major success with the band, releasing three albums including the chart topping “Beauty And The Beat”. However, infighting between the five band members including heavy drug use and squabbles over money and media attention cause The Go-Go’s to implode in 1985. Carlisle continues on as a solo act, scoring a hit right out of the box with “Mad About You” (#3 Pop) and her debut solo album “Belinda” in 1986, she leaves IRS Records shortly after, signing a new deal with MCA Records. Paired with producer Rick Nowels (Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Jewel, Nelly Furtado), they begin work on Carlisle’s second album. Nowels collaborates with songwriter Ellen Shipley on two songs for the album including “Circle In The Sand” (#7 Pop) and titled “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”. When Carlisle hears “Heaven”, she loves it immediately and agrees to record it. After it is recorded, Nowels is unhappy with parts of the song, and it is re-written with the original version being scrapped. Once the re-recorded version is complete, all agree that it is a hit. The song is accompanied by a music video directed by actress Diane Keaton. Released as the first single from “Heaven On Earth” early September of 1987, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on September 26, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The success of “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” helps to propel the album “Heaven On Earth” to Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: December 5, 1984 – “Sugar Walls” by Sheena Easton is released. Written by Alexander Nevermind (aka Prince), it is the thirteenth US (sixteenth UK) single release for the pop vocalist from Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. Making a conscious effort to shed her “sweet and innocent good girl” image, Sheena Easton looks to shake things up with her sixth album “A Private Heaven”. While working on the album with her producer Greg Mathieson, Easton receives an unexpected message from Prince. At the time, he’s putting the final touches on the “Purple Rain” soundtrack and film. On January 20, 1984, Prince records the basic track for a new song he has written titled “Sugar Walls” at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA. The track is originally intended for singer Jill Jones, but the musician changes his mind when he sees Sheena that same night on television, performing on The Tonight Show. Impressed by her performance, the musician will say to himself, “Ya, I gotta write something for that girl”. The next day, Prince contacts Easton through recording engineer David Leonard, whom both are working with at the time. Sheena likes the track immediately, and agrees to work with Prince on the song. Easton records her vocals at Sunset Sound’s sister studio The Sound Factory on January 22, 1984. Getting on well immediately, Easton and Prince finish recording the vocals in one session. Following up the sexy first single “Strut” (#7 Pop), the even more provocative “Sugar Walls” is issued next. Poppy and undeniably funky, laced with Sheena’s equally sexy vocals, it draws immediate attention from fans and radio. Credited to the pseudonym “Alexander Nevermind”, it doesn’t take long for the public to realize that Prince, is the one behind this sexy musical confection. It also doesn’t take long for listeners to figure out the title is a euphemism for a woman’s privates. However, this doesn’t stop it from becoming an across the board smash on pop and R&B radio, as well on club dance floors. “Sugar Walls” enters the Billboard Hot 100 at #60 on December 22, 1984, peaking ten weeks later at #9 on March 2, 1985. It’s an even bigger hit on R&B stations, peaking at #3 on the R&B chart on March 9, 1985, and topping the Club Play chart for one week on February 23, 1985. After it peaks on the charts, “Sugar Walls” is the subject of further controversy and infamy, when it is singled out by the PMRC (Parents Music Research Center), as one of its “Filthy Fifteen” along side Prince’s “Darling Nikki”. The success of the collaboration between Sheena Easton and Prince leads to future musical collaborations. Easton later appears on the hit “U Got The Look” (#2 Pop, #11 R&B), co-writing the “Sign ‘O’ The Times” B-side “La, La, La, He, He, Hee”, and “The Arms Of Orion” on the “Batman Soundtrack”.

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On this day in music history: December 5, 1980 – “Trombipulation”, the ninth studio album (tenth overall) by Parliament is released. Produced by George Clinton, William “Bootsy” Collins, Ron Dunbar and Ron Ford, it is recorded at United Sound Studios and Super Disc, Inc. in Detroit, MI, The Power Station and Sigma Sound Studios in New York City from Late 1979 – Mid 1980. After more than a decade, it is clear that the mothership is rapidly running out of gas. In spite of achieving major success, the P-Funk Thang is dogged by various lawsuits and financial disputes. Numerous key members including Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, Grady Thomas, Eddie Hazel, Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey, Glenn Goins, DeWayne “Blackbird” McKnight and Walter “Junie” Morrison have all left. Adding to the chaos, Casablanca Records is in also flux as their greatest ally, founder Neil Bogart is ousted for his reckless spending and management. With Clinton still at the helm, he comes to rely more on Bootsy Collins who plays nearly all of the instruments on several tracks. Ron Dunbar and Ron Ford also co-write songs and co-produce. Musically, “Trombipulation” breaks no new ground, feeling like a rehash of Parliament’s past glory, though there are bright spots. The first single, the punning “Agony Of Defeet” (#7 R&B) musically recalls Funkadelic’s classic “One Nation Under A Groove”. Clocking in at six and a half minutes on the album, is also released in its full uncut version (running 9:05) as a promo only 12" single in the US. “New Doo Review” also features new P-Funk recruit Lige Curry on bass. It spins off a second single with “Crush It” in early 1981. Originally packaged in a gatefold LP sleeve, the front and back covers feature photos of George Clinton, hair styled in a pompadour and wearing an elephant trunk. Past elaborate extras like posters or comic books are eliminated for this release. Instead, the inner sleeve features illustrations by artist Overton Loyd. Though it gets off to a decent start, interest tapers off quickly and is the first Parliament album not to go Gold in the US since “Chocolate City”. Not surprisingly, it is the band’s final release before finally parting ways. Several years later, “Trombipulation” is rediscovered when its grooves are sampled by numerous Hip-Hop artists, most notably Digital Underground. The Oakland, CA based group use the track “Let’s Play House” as the basis for their smash “The Humpty Dance”, and “Agony Of Defeet” on “Doowutchyalike”. “Defeet” is also sampled by Ice Cube on “How To Survive In South Central”, “Step Daddy” by Too Short" and “Buss ‘N Rocks” by Snoop Dogg. First reissued on CD in 1990, the album is remastered and released as a SHM-CD by Universal Music Japan in 2015. “Trombipulation” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart and number sixty one on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 3, 1988 – “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)” by Will To Power hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also hitting #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Written by Peter Frampton/Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant, it is the biggest hit for the Miami, FL based trio. The brainchild of DJ and producer Bob Rosenberg and taking their name from title of a book by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Will To Power make their debut in late 1986 with the freestyle dance track “Dreamin’”, releasing it on his own label Thrust Records. Featuring Suzi Carr on lead vocals, the song becomes a big regional hit in Florida, attracting the attention of Epic Records who pick up the single for re-release nationally in June of 1987. Peaking at #50 on the Hot 100 and #15 on the Billboard Club Play chart, the success of “Dreamin’” paves the way for a full album released in March of 1988. Their next single titled “Say It’s Gonna Rain” is an even bigger hit, topping the Club Play chart for two weeks in August and September of 1988, peaking at #49 on the Hot 100. For their third release, the band and label decide to go in an entirely different direction from their more uptempo Freestyle dance club oriented material. Covering two 70’s rock classics, “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)” is a medley combining Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”. Issued as a single in August of 1988, the single quickly takes flight. Entering the Hot 100 at #97 on September 10, 1988, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The group score one more top 10 pop single with a cover of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” peaking at #7 in January 1991. “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 3, 1984 – “Last Christmas” by Wham! is released. Written and produced by George Michael, it is the seventh UK single release for the pop music duo from Bushey, Hertsfordshire, UK. In Fall of 1984, George Michael announces that Wham! are to release a new single for Christmas. Having already had an incredible year with three consecutive UK number ones including “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”, “Careless Whisper” and “Freedom”, they set their sights on the coveted number one spot during the holidays. For the occasion, Michael pens “Last Christmas”. In spite of its melancholy lyric, the track and George’s excellent vocal make it another sure fire hit. It is also supported by a music video directed by Andy Morahan. The clip’s narrative depicts Michael’s girlfriend (played by model Kathy Hill) leaving him and taking up with Andrew Ridgeley, who is seen wearing the brooch that George had given her. At the time, the British press play up the rivalry between Wham! and Frankie Goes To Hollywood who is also competition with “The Power Of Love”. Both are bested by Band Aid’s unstoppable “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. “Last Christmas” is issued as a double A-side with “Everything She Wants”, peaking at number two. The initial pressing is packaged in a picture sleeve featuring George dressed like Santa Claus, and Andrew as Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. The holiday themed art is replaced by a second sleeve on December 27, 1984. Wham! donate their royalties to the Band Aid Trust. It sells over 1.8 million copies, setting a record for the largest selling UK single to not top the chart. It is not issued in the US, to avoid direct competition with the just released “Careless Whisper”, though Columbia Records releases it as a promo only 7" to US radio stations in 1986. It is reissued in 1985 with a new picture sleeve and with the live version of “Blue (Armed With Love)” recorded in China on the B-side. It charts again, peaking at number six on the UK singles chart. It is issued a third time in 1986, also with a new sleeve, and with “Where Did Your Heart Go” on the B-side. The extended version, subtitled the “Pudding Mix” also appears on “The Final” and “Music From The Edge Of Heaven” in 1986. “Last Christmas” becomes a perennial holiday favorite, re-charting nine more times between 2007 and 2015. It is also covered by Jimmy Eat World, Taylor Swift, Whigfield, Billie Piper, Crazy Frog, Alcazar, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ashley Tisdale, and Ariana Grande. Wham’s original is issued in the US as a 12" single on Black Friday Record Store Day on November 28, 2014, pressed on red and green colored vinyl limited to 3,000 copies, using the first issue UK cover artwork, including a previously unreleased instrumental mix. In 2019, the song becomes the theme and title of a romantic comedy film, directed by Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”).

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On this day in music history: December 3, 1982 – “All I Need” the sixth album by Sylvester is released. Produced by James “Tip” Wirrick and Patrick Cowley, it is recorded at Independent Sound Studios in San Francisco, CA and Starlight Sound Studios in Richmond, CA from June – November 1982. After six years and six albums with Fantasy Records, Sylvester leaves the label, also falling out with long time producer Harvey Fuqua over unpaid royalties. Looking to take more creative control of his career, and change his sound now that Disco has fallen out of vogue, the singer makes some major changes. Securing new management, Sylvester signs with San Francisco based independent label Megatone Records, founded by musician Patrick Cowley and Marty Blecman. Making records primarily for the underground club scene, the label helps pioneer the Hi-NRG dance music genre, largely led by Cowley. By mid 1982, Patrick Cowley though musically creative as ever, is in failing health due to suffering from the AIDS virus. He asks Sylvester to sing on a couple of new tracks he’s working on, one of which is “Do You Wanna Funk?” (#4 Club Play). Released in July of 1982, “Funk” becomes an instant club classic, also hitting the charts across Europe. Plans to do more tracks with Cowley unfortunately do not come to pass, when the musician’s health further deteriorates, and passes away in November of 1982. The rest of what becomes Sylvester’s first album for Megatone, are tracks written and produced by his guitarist and touring bandleader Tip Wirrick. The songs were originally intended for a female vocalist signed to Megatone, but is dismissed when she becomes too demanding and difficult to handle. Sylvester along with his backing vocalists The Fabulashes (Martha Wash, Jeanie Tracy, Daryl Coley, Lynette Hawkins and Dennis Sanders), overdub their vocals on the existing tracks. Titled “All I Need”, the album is a departure from the singer’s trademark disco sound, experimenting with new wave, rock, pop and mainstream R&B music. The single “Hard Up”, featuring a pronounced up tempo rock/new wave sound, its music video is aired on MTV at a time when few African American artists are given air time on the fledgling cable music channel. The album spins off two more singles including “Tell Me” (#49 Club Play) and the double A-sided title track (b/w “Don’t Stop”) (#67 R&B, #3 Club Play). Several months after the release of “All I Need”, “Do You Wanna Funk?” is featured in the hit comedy “Trading Places”. The album makes its CD debut in 1990 two years after Sylvester’s passing, as a 2-fer disc set with the follow up album “Call Me”. “All I Need” peaks at number thirty five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number one hundred sixty eight on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 2, 1989 – “Here And Now” by Luther Vandross hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #6 on the Hot 100 on April 21, 1990. Written by Terry Steele and David Elliott, it is the fifth and final R&B chart topper for the New York born R&B singer, songwriter and producer. Vandross is hanging out at long time friend Dionne Warwick’s home one day playing video games, when David Elliott (Warwick’s son), asks him if he would listen to some new song demos he has just recorded. Luther agrees, and the second of the three songs catches his ear. Titled “Here And Now”, Vandross loves the song and tells Elliott that he’ll record it. Luther rearranges the song significantly from the original demo by the time he records it. One of two new songs cut for his first greatest hits album “The Best Of Luther Vandross… The Best Of Love”, it’s released as a single in October of 1989. The song not only becomes Vandross’ first top ten pop single, it also wins him his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1991 after nine previous nominations and losses. “Here And Now” becomes an instant wedding staple, with Vandross performing it on an episode (Rose and Warren’s wedding) of the hit sitcom “227” in 1990. The singer also performs the song at the wedding of a couple who win a contest sponsored by Sony Music to promote the single, and Vandross’ album. “Here And Now” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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