On this day in music history: November 5, 1977 – “(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again” by L.T.D. hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on December 24, 1977. Written by Len Ron Hanks and Zane Grey, it is the second chart topping single for the ten-piece R&B/Funk band fronted by lead vocalist Jeffrey Osborne. Having made their breakthrough a year before with the R&B chart topping smash “Love Ballad”, L.T.D. changes producers with Larry & Fonce Mizell moving on to other projects, the band are paired with veteran Philly Soul producer Bobby Martin, best known for his work at Philadelphia International Records, and having recently produced and arranged The Manhattans’ massive hit “Kiss And Say Goodbye”. For L.T.D.’s next album, Martin brings in songwriters Grey and Hanks to write material for the band. The songwriting duo were also proteges of R&B singer Jerry Butler, whom L.T.D. had also worked with early in their career. Powered by Jeffrey Osborne’s authoritative soulful vocals, the track is recorded at Total Experience Studios (owned by producer Lonnie Simmons (producer for The Gap Band) in Los Angeles. Issued as the first single from the bands fourth album “Something To Love” in August of 1977, “(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again)” quickly becomes another R&B smash. It hits the top the R&B singles chart just one day shy of a year after they score their first R&B number one with “Love Ballad”, crossing over and hitting the top five on the pop chart. A&M Records also releases an extended remix of “Back In Love Again” (b/w “We Party Hearty”) as one of the first commercially sold 12" singles issued by the label. “(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 3, 1987 – “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa is released. Written and produced by Hurby Azor, it is the fourth single (fifth overall) for the Hip Hop/Rap trio from Queens, NY. In mid 1985, Cheryl James and Sandra Denton meet while attending Queensborough Community College. The pair also work at Sears along with another mutual friend named Hurby Azor. He asks the pair if they can rap on a project he is doing for an audio production course he’s taking. James and Denton agree, recording an response to Doug E. Fresh’s “The Show”. Dubbing the duo Super Nature, the song titled “The Show Stoppa (Is Stupid Fresh)” (#46 R&B) soon makes its way on the radio in New York City. The response is so strong that it’s released by Philly based Pop Art Records. Cheryl and Sandra are then signed to fledgling New York based dance and rap label Next Plateau Records. With this, the group change their name, and they become Salt (James) -N- Pepa (Denton), also adding Latoya Hansen (“Spinderella”) as their DJ. The trio stand out immediately, and don’t take long to make an impact. The singles “My Mic Sounds Nice” and “I’ll Take Your Man” perform well enough to warrant a full album. Before that happens, Hansen leaves and is replaced by Deidra “DeDe” Roper who becomes the new Spinderella. One of the tracks recorded for their debut album “Hot, Cool & Vicious” is a rap cover of Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ soul classic “Tramp”. Needing a “throw away” B-side, they quickly record the up tempo track “Push It”. Initially released in March of 1987, “Tramp” becomes a sizable R&B hit, peaking at #21, but at first most pay little attention to the B-side. By Summer, “Push It” begins getting play in clubs, but doesn’t truly go overground until fate intervenes. In San Francisco, CA, a club DJ named Cameron Paul begins spinning it during his weekly gig at City Nights, and on his mix show on urban crossover power house KMEL. Paul decides to create his own remix, adding keyboards, another drum track and edits. Already gaining popularity on the station in its original mix, “Push It” explodes on local Bay Area radio with Paul’s remix. It is first issued by the DJ subscription service Mixx-It Records, Next Plateau then buys the rights to Cameron Paul’s remix, adding it to the album and releasing it as a single. “Push It” becomes a radio smash, peaking at #19 on the Hot 100 and #28 on the R&B chart. It propels “Hot, Cool & Vicious” past the Platinum mark in the US, and Salt-N-Pepa make further history when they are among the first group of artists nominated for the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989. “Push It” is later parodied on the comedy series “In Living Color” in a sketch called “Cookin’ With Salt-N-Pepa”, and is used to great comic effect when Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella appear in a commercial for Geico Insurance in 2014. “Push It” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 3, 1984 – “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on November 24, 1984. Written by Prince, it is the third solo chart topper and biggest hit for the legendary R&B vocalist. Originally recorded by Prince in 1979, it is the first single from Khan’s fifth album. Producer Arif Mardin uses musicians such as Reggie Griffin (bass) David Frank of The System (keyboards and guitar), Stevie Wonder (harmonica), and Grandmaster Melle Mel (rap) on the track. The stuttering intro heard on the front of the record was initially a mistake, when the producer is “flying in” Melle Mel’s sampled vocals on to the beginning of the multi-track master tape. When he accidentally hits repeat on the digital sampler, the songs trademark “Chaka–Chaka–Chaka–Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan” comes out of the studio monitors. Mardin likes it so much, that he’ll leave it as it is. Khan initially is not fond of the rap on the intro, being embarrassed by hearing her own name repeated throughout. Mardin reassures her that it is a key element of the song (telling Chaka, “don’t worry my dear, it will be a hit.”), and it remains on the finished track. Prince himself was supposed to play on the record but scheduling conflicts prevent him from participating in the sessions. At the time of its release, the song is one of the most expensive singles ever recorded, due to the complexity of the production, and time spent in the studio working on the basic track. The Hip Hop flavored music video featuring dancers Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones and Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers (“Breakin’) also play an important role in the records’ huge success. Chaka Khan’s version of "I Feel For You” wins two Grammy Awards including Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, and Best R&B Song in 1985. “I Feel For You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 3, 1979 – “Pop Muzik” by M hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by M (aka Robin Scott), it is the biggest hit for the British born singer, songwriter and musician. Scott originally writes the song with a more R&B/Funk feel, but when he isn’t fully satisfied with that version, he re-arranges it into the electronic New Wave dance track that it becomes famous for. Synthesizer programmer John Lewis adds the crowning touch by creating the distinctive “bubble synth” sound that is one of the standout features of the song. The single features Scott (guitar and vocals) as well as keyboardist Wally Badarou and Level 42 drummer Phil Gould playing on the track, and is recorded at Mountain Studios (owned by the rock band Queen) in Montreaux, Switzerland. Entering the Hot 100 at #61 on August 11, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. “Pop Muzik” is also a big hit internationally reaching #1 in Canada and #2 on the UK singles chart. The picture sleeve for the single features a picture of Scott’s baby daughter Berenice who grows up to become a musician also. Though M himself becomes a one hit chart wonder in the US, his biggest single has enduring popularity. Over the years, the song is remixed, covered and sampled by the likes of Tricky and U2. “Pop Muzik” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 3, 1979 – “Ladies Night” by Kool & The Gang hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 on January 12, 1980. Written by George Brown, Ronald Bell, Robert Bell, James “J.T.” Taylor, Dennis Thomas, Charles Smith, Robert Mickens, Meekaaheel Muhammed and Earl Toon, it is the fourth chart topping single for the R&B band from Jersey City, NJ. By 1978, Kool & The Gang find themselves at a career crossroads, after their two previous albums “The Force” and “Everybody’s Dancin’” fare poorly. With their long time label De-Lite Records now a subsidiary of Polygram, the band realizes they must adjust to shifting musical tastes if they want to keep going. Not having a permanent lead singer in past years, vocalist James “J.T.” Taylor is hired as Kool & The Gang’s front man, after he is introduced to them by House Of Music Studios co-owner Stephan Galfas. Possessing smooth and versatile vocal chops as well as formidable songwriting talent, Taylor proves to be a perfect fit. For their first album with their new singer, the band works with Brazilian born jazz musician, arranger and producer Eumir Deodato (“Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)”). The idea for what becomes “Ladies Night” initially comes from bassist and band leader Robert “Kool” Bell who coins the title. Drummer George Brown develops the musical foundation of the song with the other band members pitching in ideas and helping write the lyrics. The track comes together quickly, and all agree that it is a hit. When “Ladies Night” is released as a single in late August of 1979, it is an immediate smash. Initial pressings of the single have the full LP version of “Too Hot” (#3 R&B, #5 Pop) as the B-side (edited and reissued as an A-side in January of 1980), but are quickly recalled and pressed with “If You Feel Like Dancin’” as the flip side. Though some of the bands’ original fans grumble that Kool & The Gang has “sold out” their R&B and funk roots for “disco and pop”, the record marks the beginning of a new era for the band, and the start of an unbroken hit streak that lasts for the next eight years. The huge success of “Ladies Night” drives the accompanying album to Platinum plus status in the US, giving them their biggest selling album since “Light Of Worlds” five years earlier. “Ladies Night” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 29, 1988 – “The Way You Love Me” by Karyn White hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on February 4, 1989. Written and produced by L.A. Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons, it is the first chart topping single for the R&B vocalist from Los Angeles, CA. In 1987, singer Karyn White is paired with up and coming hit makers L.A. & Babyface along with fellow collaborator Daryl Simmons, after she is signed to a solo artist deal with Warner Bros. White’s initial success comes after working with musician Jeff Lorber on the single “The Facts Of Love” (#17 R&B, #27 Pop) in 1986. When the singer receives a demo tape of “The Way You Love Me” from L.A. and Face, they include a message at the beginning telling her “Karyn White, welcome to the top.” The song is nearly passed over for release as a single, when an executive at Warner Bros believes that it wouldn’t be a hit. Warner Bros R&B music VP Benny Medina intervenes, championing the singles’ release. Issued as the first single from White’s self-titled debut album in August of 1988, “The Way You Love Me” quickly rises up the R&B singles chart, becoming the third of four R&B chart toppers for songwriter and producers L.A. Reid and Babyface in 1988. The single also crosses over, and is White’s first top ten hit on the pop chart. “The Way You Love Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 25, 1977 – “Once Upon A Time”, the sixth album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Belotte, it is recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany from Late 1976 – Mid 1977. The first of four consecutive double LP sets for “The Queen Of Disco”, it is Donna Summer’s third release centered around a central theme that tie the individual songs together. “Once Upon A Time” is a concept album forming a narrative that is a modern day retelling of the fairy tale “Cinderella”. The album sides are split into four separate “acts”, as the story unfolds. The LP’s gatefold packaging further emphasizes this theme with a photo of Summer wearing a white dress posed against a night sky. It spins off three singles including “Rumour Has It” (#53 Pop, #21 R&B, #1 Club Play) and “I Love You” (#37 Pop, #28 R&B, #1 Club Play). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued as an SHM-CD by Universal Japan in 2012. The limited edition Japanese release comes packaged in a mini-LP gatefold sleeve, replicating the original vinyl LP packaging. “Once Upon A Time” peaks at number twenty six on the Billboard Top 200. and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 25, 1975 – “To Each His Own” by Faith, Hope & Charity hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #50 on the Hot 100 on September 20, 1975. Written and produced by Van McCoy, it is the biggest hit for the R&B/Disco vocal group from Tampa, FL. Originally known as The Lovelles and consisting of vocalists Zulema Cusseaux, Albert Bailey and Brenda Hilliard, the group are given their name “Faith, Hope & Charity” by producer Bob Crewe (The Four Seasons). But it is with another star producer that the trio have their greatest success. In 1970, they sign to Maxwell Records and begin working with Van McCoy. The collaboration pays off quickly when their score their first hit single “So Much Love” (#14 R&B, #51 Pop) in the Spring of 1970. Cusseaux leaves the group in 1971 to pursue a solo career, while Bailey and Hilliard continue on as a duo, moving to Sussex Records. In 1974, Faith, Hope & Charity gain a new member with the addition of Dianne Destry. Along with that change also comes a change of record label, when the group move to RCA Records in 1975 after the demise of their former label Sussex Records. With Van McCoy back at the helm production wise, they begin work on their debut album for RCA at their studios in New York City. McCoy writes or co-writes seven of the nine songs on the album including the mid tempo groove “To Each His Own”. Having scored his own recent smash with “The Hustle”, the producer utilizes many of the same musicians that played on that classic including Steve Gadd (drums), Eric Gale, David Spinozza (guitar), Gordon Edwards (bass), Richard Tee, Leon Pendarvis (keyboards) and Gene Orloff (string arrangement). Buoyed by the trio’s spirited and soulful vocals, “To Each His Own” quickly becomes a smash on club dance floors and hits on R&B radio after its release as a single in August of 1975. McCoy also utilizes their vocal talents on another project he’s producing at the same time, when they sing on former Temptation David Ruffin’s comeback smash “Walk Away From Love” (#1 R&B, #9 Pop). The group score more chart hits in the US with the follow up “Don’t Go Looking For Love” (#38 R&B), and a cover version of Doris Troy’s “Just One Look” (#15 UK) in the UK. Faith, Hope & Charity land their last sizable hit in 1978 with “Don’t Pity Me” (#20 R&B), after which Dianne Destry leaves the group, which splits following her departure. Acknowledged as a disco classic, “To Each His Own” is also covered by bandleader and composer Enoch Light, and also a version released by Van McCoy himself.
On this day in music history: October 20, 1992 – “Erotica”, the fifth album by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, Shep Pettibone and Andre Betts, it is recorded at Mastermix Studios and Soundworks Recording Studios in New York City from November 1991 – August 1992. Madonna’s first full studio release (not counting “I’m Breathless”) since 1989’s “Like A Prayer”, “Erotica” is a concept piece about sex and sexuality, with the singer adapting the alter ego of “Mistress Dita”. Musically it is heavily influenced by the house music, and new jack swing movements ruling both the club scene, and mainstream pop at the time. Madonna works closely with producer and remixer Shep Pettibone and producer Andre Betts on the project, spending nearly ten months in the studio. Released in tandem with the sexually graphic picture book “SEX”, the album also attracts a great deal of controversy for its explicit sexual content, leading to public backlash and resistance from radio programmers and video outlets. It spins off five singles including “Deeper And Deeper” (#7 Pop), “Rain” (#14 Pop), and the title cut (#3 Pop), whose video is significantly re-edited in order to be broadcast. Originally released on a limited basis as a double promo vinyl LP in the US (commercially in some international territories), “Erotica” receives its first commercial vinyl release stateside (pressed on 180 gram vinyl) in 2016. “Erotica” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 19, 1974 – “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” by B.T. Express hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 for 2 weeks on the Hot 100 on November 16, 1974. Written by Billy Nichols, it is the biggest hit for the Brooklyn, New York based R&B/Funk band. Nichols (a former sideman for Marvin Gaye and The Spinners) writes the song at home using a newly purchased drum machine (possibly a Maestro Rhythm King) that uses a similar rhythm to the one on the finished record. Nichols plays his two-track demo for producer Jeff Lane who loves the song and suggests that B.T. Express record it. Nichols also plays on the track with the band which is recorded in only two takes. The single is also a huge pop crossover success, and is considered a milestone in the burgeoning underground Disco movement now beginning to reach mainstream prominence in the US and around the world. “Do It” is also sampled as the basis of R&B singer Truth Hurts hit single “Addictive” (#1 R&B, #9 Pop) in 2002. “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.