Category: dance

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 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 19, 1990 -…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1990 – “Vogue” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on the same date. Written and produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone, it is the eighth chart topping single for the pop music superstar born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. Collaborating with club DJ, remixer, and producer Shep Pettibone, Madonna decide to come up with a non-album B-side for the “Like A Prayer” albums’ fifth single “Keep It Together”. The singer is inspired by dancers she sees at the New York City club The Sound Factory doing a stylized dance called “voguing”. Originating in New York’s black and latino underground gay clubs and drag balls as early as the 1960’s, the dance takes its name from the fashion magazine “Vogue”. It is a series of “angular, rigid hand, arm, leg and body movements” designed to look like the person is posing like a model while they are moving. When Madonna lets Warner Bros. know of her original intent to the use the song as a B-side, their great enthusiasm for the track persuade her to release it an A-side instead. “Vogue” is also added to the album “I’m Breathless” which includes songs from the film “Dick Tracy” in which she plays the character Breathless Mahoney. The songs popularity is further heightened by a memorable and striking black and white video directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “Se7en”), featuring several of the dancers Madonna originally sees performing the dance, becoming dancers on the “Blonde Ambition Tour” in 1990. Entering the Hot 100 at #39 on April 14, 1990, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. In 2010, “Vogue” is featured in “The Power Of Madonna” episode of the television show “Glee”, when the song is used in a spoof of the music video performed by actress Jane Lynch. The same year, Madonna and co-writer/producer Shep Pettibone are sued by Salsoul Records, claiming that “Vogue” samples a portion of The Salsoul Orchestra’s disco classic “Love Break”. The court eventually settles the lawsuit in Madonna’s favor. As a result of the suit, Warner Bros stops publishing royalty payments to Pettibone, who sues WB Music and Warner/Chappell Music in April of 2017. The suit claims that he is owed more than $500,000 in back royalties. Finally in April of 2019, one month shy of twenty nine years after the song tops the pop chart, Shep Pettibone wins his lawsuit (on appeal) against Warner Music Group and its music publishing company Warner/Chappell. “Vogue” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 19, 1948 – Singer, songw…

Born on this day: May 19, 1948 – Singer, songwriter, model and actress Grace Jones (born Beverly Grace Jones in Spanish Town, Jamaica). Happy 71st Birthday, Grace!!

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On this day in music history: May 15, 1993 – &…

On this day in music history: May 15, 1993 – “That’s The Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on May 8, 1993, and topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on June 26, 1993. Written by Janet Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis, it is the sixth pop and ninth R&B chart topper for the youngest member of the Jackson musical family. After almost ten years recording for A&M Records, which produce four albums including the multi-platinum selling “Control” and “Rhythm Nation 1814”, Janet Jackson’s contract with the label expires in 1991. During that time she is approached by Virgin Records founder Richard Branson offers her a deal she is unable to refuse. Jackson signs a deal with the label estimated to be worth between $32 – 50 million. At the time it makes her the highest paid artist in the history of the music industry (until her brother Michael signs a new deal with Sony for $65 million one week later). With the deal signed, Janet returns to work with her longtime collaborators, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. One of the first things the duo give the singer is a demo tape for the track that becomes “That’s The Way Love Goes”. Based around a sample of James Brown’s classic “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”, at first Janet isn’t particularly enthused by it. But by the time she returns to Minneapolis after Christmas in January of 1993, she has a dramatic change of opinion of it. She also comes up with idea of writing the lyrics with a more sultry tone, rather than the original theme of love gone wrong. Once they submit the album, Virgin is initially hesitant to release the laid back, down tempo track as the first single, preferring the song “If”. However, Jackson is adamant that “That’s The Way” be released first, and they comply with her wishes. Issued on April 12, 1993, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #14 on May 1, 1993, it rockets to the top of the chart two weeks later, becoming her most successful single ever. Also issued as an extended 12" with remixes by DJ CJ Mackintosh and additional production by “Little” Louie Vega and “Kenny "Dope” Gonzalez. Virgin Records in the US also releases a limited edition 7" jukebox vinyl single with the LP version on one side, and the instrumental mix on the B-side. The 45 is pressed on both translucent red and black vinyl. The single also wins a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1994. “That’s The Way Love Goes” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 15, 1976 – &…

On this day in music history: May 15, 1976 – “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on May 29, 1976. Written by Pam Sawyer and Marilyn McLeod, it is the second R&B and fourth pop chart topper for the Motown superstar. With the departure of The Jackson 5 from Motown after the release of their album “Moving Violation”, producer Hal Davis is left without his top act after working together for five years. During this time he hears the original demo of “Love Hangover” in a Motown colleague’s office. Instantly excited about the songs hit potential, he cuts it right away. Recorded at Paramount Studios in Hollywood in mid 1975, it features musicians such as Joe Sample (keyboards), James Gadson (drums), and Henry Davis (of the band L.T.D.) (bass) playing on the track. Davis also comes up with the idea for the songs signature dual tempos, which the musicians are initially resistant to, but he convinces them otherwise. Shortly after, Davis plays the completed track for Berry Gordy who hears it as a smash for Diana Ross. Though initially, Ross doesn’t care for it, but agrees to record it at Gordy’s urging. Upon arriving at the studio, Davis pours her a drink and they get to work. The producer has recording engineer Russ Terrana install a strobe light in the vocal booth to add some ambiance, helping to put Ross in the proper frame of mind. The end results of which are heard on the finished record. “Love Hangover” is rush released as a single in March of 1976 when a competing version by The 5th Dimension is released on ABC Records just before it. Both versions enter the chart the same week on April 3, 1976, with The 5th Dimension’s version stalling at #80 on the Hot 100 the week of April 24, 1976, while Ross’ version soars to the top of the chart three weeks later. Ross’ version of “Love Hangover” also receives a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1977. It is also prominently featured in the film and on the soundtrack of “Looking For Mr. Goodbar” in 1977. The song is also remixed twice, first in 1988 by Phil Harding of PWL (Pete Waterman Limited), and again in 1993 by Frankie Knuckles and Joey Negro for a remix album titled “Diana Extended: The Remixes”. “Love Hangover” has also sampled numerous times by many artists including Digital Underground on a remix version of their single “Freaks Of The Industry”, Will Smith (“Freakin’ It”), Craig Mack (“Rap Hangover”), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (“Ready 4 War”), 2Pac & Snoop Dogg (“If There’s A Cure (I Don’t Want It”), and Junior M.A.F.I.A. (“We Don’t Need It”). R&B singer Monica’s hit “The First Night” also samples the Diana Ross classic, taking it to the top of the Club Play, R&B and pop singles charts in 1998.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – “…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – “Low-Life”, the third studio album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it is recorded at Jam and Brittania Row Studios in London from Mid – Late 1984. Continuing the musical evolution begun on their previous album “Power, Corruption And Lies”, New Order incorporate more synthesizers, sequencers, and samplers into their traditionally instrument based post-punk sound. With these changes they break new ground in the dance music genre, setting the course for their greatest successes throughout the rest of the decade. Upon its release, it is regarded as one of their best albums, spinning off two singles including “The Perfect Kiss” (#46 UK, #5 US Club Play) (video directed by Oscar winning director Jonathan Demme), and “Sub-culture” (#63 UK, #35 US Club Play). The original UK pressing of the LP features a transparent paper outer sleeve with the band name printed on it, with the jacket featuring individual photos of the band members. Drummer Stephen Morris is featured on the front, though the photos may be interchanged to show any of the other three through the transparency. It is the only New Order album to feature pictures of the band. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2008 as a two disc collector’s edition. The first disc features the original eight song album. Disc two includes B-sides, dub mixes and the full 12" mixes of “The Perfect Kiss”, “Sub-Culture” and the single “Shellshock”, originally issued on the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack in early 1986. Out of print on vinyl for twenty years, “Low-Life” is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2009.“Low-Life” peaks at number seven on the UK album chart, and ninety four on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – “19” by Paul Hardcastle is released (UK release is on April 26, 1985). Written by Paul Hardcastle, William Coutourie and Jonas McCord, it is the biggest hit for the multi-instrumentalist from Kensington, London, UK. Having made his breakthrough on the European and US dance charts with the singles “Rain Forest (and its B-side "Sound Chaser”) (#1 US Club Play) in 1984, musician Paul Hardcastle quickly makes the jump from indie label Oval Records in the UK and Profile Records in the US to a major label the same year. Signed to Chrysalis Records by label A&R man Simon Fuller, who also becomes Hardcastle’s manager, the musician gets to work recording his first album for the label. While working on material, Hardcastle sees an ABC network documentary on the Vietnam War titled “Vietnam Requiem”, which focuses on the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a condition affecting many veterans who have witnessed the horrors of active combat while serving in Vietnam. Working in his home recording studio in Leytonstone, East London, Hardcastle utilizes various instruments, including the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synthesizer, LinnDrum II and Roland TR-808 drum machines to put the track together. He also utilizes an E-mu Emulator II keyboard to sample spoken audio passages from the documentary to lay on top of the instrumental track. Released in the UK first in April of 1985, “19” quickly leaps to number one the UK singles chart, spending five weeks on top. Released in the US three weeks later, it quickly becomes a huge hit on dance floors and R&B radio. Though lingering controversy about the Vietnam War keeps the song off of some US top 40 pop stations. “19” spends two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Club Play chart on July 6, 1985, peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on July 13, 1985, and #15 on the Hot 100 on July 20, 1985. The huge success not only establishes Paul Hardcastle on a worldwide basis, it allows Simon Fuller to leave his job at Chrysalis Records to start his own management firm called 19 Entertainment. Fuller later manages numerous British pop stars including Annie Lennox, Cathy Dennis, The Spice Girls, and creates the highly successful “American Idol” franchise. Hardcastle also finds later success in the smooth jazz realm with his band The Jazzmasters. “Vietnam Requiem” narrator Peter Thomas sues over the unauthorized sampling of his voice on “19”, and receives a co-writing credit and royalties from sales of the record.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1978 – “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #60 on the R&B singles chart on June 3, 1978. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the biggest hit for the Hawaiian born singer and actress. The song is actually the first that the Bee Gees complete when writing material for the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. Initially, Elliman is to record the ballad “How Deep Is Your Love” for the film, but when executive producer/Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood hears the Bee Gees’ demo version, he insists that they record it themselves, giving “If I Can’t Have You” to Elliman. The bands own version of “If I Can’t Have You” is issued as the non-LP B-side to “Stayin’ Alive” in late 1977. Elliman records her version with producer Freddie Perren (The Jackson 5, The Sylvers, Peaches & Herb) at The Mom & Pops Company Store Studios in Studio City, CA in mid 1977. Issued as the fourth single from “Saturday Night Fever” in January 1978, it is another major smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on January 28, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart fifteen weeks later. “If I Can’t Have You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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