Category: dance

On this day in music history: December 7, 1974 – “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also hitting #1 on the R&B singles chart for 1 week on January 11, 1975. Written by Carl Douglas, it is the biggest hit for the Jamaican born singer. He is inspired to write the song when he sees young kids in a pinball arcade in Soho, London “mock fighting” in time with music playing in the background. “Kung Fu Fighting is initially intended to be the B-side of the song "I Want To Give You My Everything” and is recorded very quickly during the last ten minutes of a recording session with Indian born/British based producer Biddu (born Biddu Appaiah). First released through Pye Records in the UK, there is no airplay on the record at all for the first five weeks after its release. It suddenly reaches critical mass when it begins being played in dance clubs. From there radio picks up on it, setting it on the course to number one. The single is licensed to 20th Century Records for release in the US where it immediately follows its UK chart success. Entering the Hot 100 at #94 on October 12, 1974, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The song is used in numerous films in later years including “Wayne’s World 2”, “Beverly Hills Ninja”, “Daddy Day Care”, “Bowfinger” and “Rumble In The Bronx”. A cover version of the song sung by Cee-Lo Green and Jack Black is recorded for the animated film “Kung Fu Panda” in 2008. “Kung Fu Fighting” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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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 6, 1975 – “I Love Music (Part 1)” by The O’Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 on January 24, 1976, also topping the Dance/Disco chart for 8 weeks on November 22, 1975. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, it is the fourth chart topper for the R&B vocal trio from Canton, OH. Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia with members of the studio band MFSB, the basic track to the song is cut live with minimal overdubbing. The song is also significant as being on the first major hit records to be mixed using console automation on the studios’ mixing board (by engineer Joe Tarsia). Released as the first single from the group’s ninth studio album “Family Reunion”, the single quickly becomes a big hit not only on pop and R&B radio, but also becomes a mainstay of the disco era. “I Love Music” is covered by several different artists over the years including versions by house music artists Rozalla and Darryl Pandy. “I Love Music (Part 1)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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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 3, 1990 – Madonna appears on the ABC News program “Nightline” and is interviewed by Forrest Sawyer. During the interview, ABC shows the controversial video for “Justify My Love” in its entirety. Though MTV has the banned clip from airplay, it does not stop the singles’ upward chart momentum. Instead, the video (directed by Jean Baptiste-Mondino) is issued as a single on VHS tape, selling over one million copies. “Justify My Love” hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 5, 1991, spending 2 weeks at the top.

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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, 1986 – “Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know”, the third album by Dead Or Alive is released (UK release is on November 21, 1986). Produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, it is recorded at PWL Studios in London, UK from Early – Mid 1986. Achieving worldwide success with their second album “Youthquake” and “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, Dead Or Alive begin work on the follow up in early 1986. Intent on maintaining full creative control, lead singer Pete Burns insists that their label CBS Records keep a hands off policy. Executives are not allowed to hear any of the new material, until it’s completed. The title “Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know”, comes from a statement by 18th century Anglo-Irish aristocrat Lady Caroline Lamb, when describing her affair with poet and politician Lord Byron. Issued in the UK first in September of 1986 is “Brand New Lover” (#31 UK, #15 US Pop, #1 US Club Play). Its narrative about a man leaving his partner, feeling they’re too “predictable and safe” for someone who is “more exciting”, is considered somewhat controversial. Some feel that it is endorsing promiscuity at a time, when panic against the AIDS pandemic is at an all time high. In spite of this, it fares much better in the US, becoming Dead Or Alive’s second highest charting single, hitting the US top twenty and rising to the top of the dance chart. The follow up “Something In My House” (#12 UK, #85 US Pop, #3 US Club Play), is the highest charting single in their home country. The music video pays homage to French filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bete (Beauty and the Beast)”. The gothic themed picture sleeve for the single also attracts more controversy. It features Burns standing at what appears to be a satanic altar, with an inverted cross. One of the 12" remixes features samples of dialogue from “The Exorcist”, “Day Of The Dead” and other horror films. In the UK, the album spins off two more singles including “Hooked On Love” (#69 UK) and “I’ll Save You All My Kisses” (#78 UK). The album marks the final time Dead Or Alive work with Stock, Aitken & Waterman. After their time with Burns and company, they become a virtual hit factory, turning out hits for Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Sinitta, and Rick Astley to name a few. Following the release of their third album, Tim Lever and Mike Percy leave, becoming successful remixers and producers. Among the artists the pair work with, include S Club 7, Blue, and Robbie Williams. Out of print on vinyl since its initial release, “Mad” is remastered and reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2018. The LP is pressed on standard black and limited edition white vinyl. “Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know” peaks at number twenty seven on the UK album chart, and number fifty two on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 2, 1978 – “Le Freak” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also hitting #1 on the Hot 100 for 6 weeks (non-consecutive) on December 9, 1978. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the first number one single for the New York City based R&B/Funk band. The song is inspired by an incident when Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, are denied entry into Studio 54 on New Year’s Eve 1977, after being invited by Grace Jones. The duo encounter the discos’ notoriously brash doorman Marc Benecke, who brusquely tells them that they are not on the guest list. Upset at the rebuff, the pair go back to Rodgers apartment around the corner and jam, coming up with the song, which is initially titled “F*** Off”. Realizing that they’re on to something, the lyric is changed, from “f*** off” to “freak out”. Taking into mind the current popular dance “the freak”, they re-title the song “Le Freak”. Released in late September of 1978 as the first single from the bands’ second album “C’est Chic”, it becomes the largest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records, shifting an astounding six million copies in the US alone. The single is such a massive seller, eventually it is taken out of print for a time, with Atlantic and Chic fearing that it will impede on sales of “C’est Chic”, which sells nearly two million copies. “Le Freak” makes further history on the Hot 100 when the record hits number one three times during its run on the charts. After it hits the top of the pop chart on December 9, 1978 it is bumped from the top by “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond returning to the top (on December 16, 1978) after being displaced by “Le Freak”. It holds on to the top spot for two more weeks over the Christmas holiday before being bumped from the top by the Bee Gees’ “Too Much Heaven” on January 6, 1979. Startlingly, two weeks later, Chic return to the top for the third and final time on January 20, 1979 for three more weeks. Regarded as a definitive recording not just of the Disco Era, but of 70’s music period, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2015. “Le Freak” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Madeon – Dream Dream Dream

On this day in music history: November 30, 1991 – “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” by P.M. Dawn hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #16 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Attrell Cordes and Gary Kemp, it is the biggest hit for pop/rap duo from Jersey City, NJ. Consisting of brothers Prince Be (Attrell Cordes) and DJ Minutemix (Jarrett Cordes), the duo make their debut in 1989 with the single “Ode to a Forgetful Mind”. The record flops in the US, but fares much better in the UK when their US label Warlock Records licenses it to Gee Street Records. After Gee Street is purchased by Island Records in 1990, P.M. Dawn begin work on their first album. While working on the album, Prince Be hears Spandau Ballet’s 1983 hit “True”, and comes up with the idea to base a new song around a sample of that songs’ intro. Calling it “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss”, they also add samples of hip hop staples like The Soul Searchers “Ashley’s Roachclip”, and Bob James’ “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” to the track. The lyrics make reference to a number of different songs including Joni Mitchell’s “The Boho Dance”, George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance”, and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum”, with the latter’s lyric altered to name check actress Christina Applegate. For its single release, the track is remixed by Youth (birth name Martin Glover) of the British post punk band Killing Joke.  Released in the UK first, it peaks at #3 on UK singles chart before it is released in the US in September of 1991, as the second single from PM Dawn’s debut album “Of The Heart, Of The Soul And Of The Cross: The Utopian Experience”. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on October 19, 1991, it vaults to the top of the chart six weeks later. The music video for the song features a cameo appearance by Spandau Ballet lead vocalist Tony Hadley. “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” makes history as the first single to hit number one on the US pop chart using the Soundscan and BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) computer systems to tabulate radio airplay (the actual number of spins on air) and sales information (the number of copies sold in record stores). “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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