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.
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.
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.
On this day in music history: November 28, 1979 – “The Dance Of Life”, the fourth album by Narada Michael Walden is released. Produced by Narada Michael Walden and Bob Clearmountain, it is recorded at Filmways-Heider Recordings in San Francisco, CA from Mid – Late 1979. Making a major breakthrough earlier in 1979 with his third album “Awakening” and the hit single “I Don’t Want Nobody Else (To Dance With You)” (#9 R&B, #47 Pop, #64 Club Play), Narada Michael Walden jumps right back into recording the follow up. The producer and drummer is joined in the studio by bassist T.M. Stevens, Corrado “Pat” Rustici (guitars), Frank Martin (keyboards) and The “See America Horns” (Marc Russo (alto and tenor saxophones), Danny Noe (trombone) and Dave Grover (trumpet) ). Walden collaborates with his studio band mates on the songs, along with songwriter Allee Willis (“September”). With Patrick Adams, the co-producer of his previous album moving on to other projects, Walden works with Bob Clearmountain. Originally a recording and mix engineer at The Power Station, Clearmountain’s work with Walden and Chic, lead to his long and highly successful career as a record producer. The first single out of the box is the funky mid tempo “I Shoulda Loved Ya” (#4 R&B, #66 Pop, #8 Club Play). Featuring a rolling bass line by T.M. Stevens, it gives Narada Michael Walden his biggest hit as a solo artist, also hitting the UK top ten (#8 UK). It’s followed by “Tonight I’m Alright” (#35 R&B, #8 Club Play, #34 UK), which becomes another dance floor classic, just as the Disco Era is coming to a close. The instrumental title track pays homage to his fusion jazz roots, showcasing his dynamic drumming skills as well. “The Dance Of Life” becomes Walden’s most successful album as a recording artist, and though he records eight more albums over the years, he gains greater notoriety as a Grammy Award winning record producer. He will apply his magic touch to hit albums and singles by numerous artists including Sister Sledge, Stacy Lattisaw, Angela Bofill, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey to name a few. Out of print for many years, “The Dance Of Life” makes its CD debut in 1992. It’s most recently remastered and reissued by Atlantic/WMG Japan in 2012. “The Dance Of Life” peaks at number nine on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number seventy four on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 27, 1978 – “Love Tracks”, the sixth album by Gloria Gaynor is released. Produced by Freddie Perren & Dino Fekaris, it is recorded at Mom & Pop’s Company Store Studios in Studio City, CA from Mid – Late 1978. Following her breakthrough in early 1975 with her cover of The Jackson 5 classic “Never Can Say Goodbye” and the subsequent follow ups “Honey Bee”, and “Reach Out I’ll There”, Gloria Gaynor finds that her next three albums fail to match the success of her sophomore album. The singer is paired with former Motown staff songwriters Freddie Perren (The Jackson 5, The Miracles) and Dino Fekaris (Rare Earth) to write material and produce the album. Released in the late Fall of 1978, the album initially gets off to a slow start when the song “Substitute” is chosen as the first single. Club DJ’s flip the single and begin playing “I Will Survive”, forcing Polydor Records to quickly reissue the single with “Survive” as the A-side when it becomes an instant smash, and also remaster the LP with the eight minute long “disco mix” of the song. It spins off one more single with the follow up “Anybody Wanna Party” (#16 R&B) in the Spring of 1979. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2013 by BBR Records with five bonus tracks including the extended 12" mixes of “Anybody Wanna Party”, Substitute" and three versions of “I Will Survive” (the original 12" mix, the Spanish language version “Yo Viviré” and a previously unreleased mix by Tom Moulton). “Love Tracks” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 24, 1979 – “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” by Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #20 on the R&B singles chart on January 5, 1980. Written by Paul Jabara and Bruce Roberts, it is the fourth pop chart topper for Streisand and Summer. Having previously written the Oscar winning smash “Last Dance” (#3 Pop, #8 R&B) for Donna Summer and the pop/disco hit “The Main Event/Fight” (#3 Pop) for singer and actress Barbra Streisand, songwriter Paul Jabara sets his sights on writing a song pairing the two divas. A joint production between Summer’s producer Giorgio Moroder and Streisand’s producer Gary Klein, the basic track for “Tears” is recorded at Rusk Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA and features musicians James Gadson (drums), Neil Stubenhaus (bass), Greg Mathieson (keyboards), Jay Graydon, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (guitars), and is arranged and conducted by Mathieson. The vocals are recorded at Village Recorders in Los Angeles on August 28, 1979. The track also features background vocals by Maxine & Julia Waters and Luther Vandross (also the vocal arranger). Though the record is an instant smash, it effectively ends Summer’s working relationship with Casablanca Records label head Neil Bogart. Summer is infuriated when she discovers that Bogart has leaked the song to radio early while her then current single “Dim All The Lights” is still climbing the charts. Donna is anxious to see her single reach number one on the pop chart as it would be her first completely self written song to hit number one. She asks her label boss to hold back the new single for a couple weeks, until her record peaks. Bogart agrees, and then goes back on his word leaking “No More Tears”. Radio stations begin playing it immediately, forcing it to be rush released. When this happens, several major stations drop “Dim All The Lights” from their playlists in favor of the new song, causing it to stall at number two, while the duet rockets past it to number one. The uptempo dance track is simultaneously released on Streisand’s album “Wet” and Summer’s greatest hits album “On The Radio”. “Tears” is released with differing mixes on each singers’ album, featuring one or the other more prominently in the mix. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on October 20, 1979, it rockets to the top of the chart five weeks later. Selling more than two million copies between the 7" and 12" single releases, it is one of the biggest selling singles of 1979. The song is later parodied by comedian Eddie Murphy on his self-titled debut album in 1982. “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” are certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 24, 1978 – “Blondes Have More Fun” (subtitled “…Or Do They?), the ninth studio album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Tom Dowd, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Sounds Interchange, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Criteria Studios in Miami, FL from Summer – Autumn 1978. The album is one of Stewart’s most successful and controversial. Its centerpiece is the single "Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (#1 Pop, #5 R&B) whose full on disco sound earns him new fans and disdain from rock critics and older fans, feeling he has sold out to current musical trends. Stewart is also sued by Brazilian composer Jorge Ben when it’s revealed the songs’ refrain is borrowed from his song “Taj Mahal”. The album also spins off the single “Ain’t Love A Bitch” (#22 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2000, as part of the Warner Remasters series. It is also issued as a SHM-CD by WMG in Japan in 2009, and packaged in a mini-LP sleeve replicating the original gatefold album sleeve. The now iconic cover taken by French photographer Claude Mougin (Olivia Newton-John, Shaun Cassidy, Leo Sayer), features Stewart with then girlfriend (soon to be wife) Alana Hamilton. The album sleeve’s distinctive text graphics are created by artist Mike Manoogian (Toto, George Benson, Rick James). “Blondes Have More Fun” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 22, 1977 – “Chic”, the debut album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios and The Power Station in New York City from September – October 1977. After playing together in various incarnations since first meeting in 1970, bassist Bernard Edwards and guitarist Nile Rodgers form the band Chic in 1976 with keyboard player Rob Sabino, drummer Tony Thompson and singer Norma Jean Wright rounding out the basic line up. A DJ friend of theirs named Robert Drake gives them an opportunity to make demo recording of their song “Everybody Dance”, by sneaking them into Electric Lady Studios after hours where he works part time as a recording engineer. A few weeks later, Drake invites Rodgers to The Night Owl, an upscale disco where he DJ’s. Spinning two acetate discs he has cut of Chic’s demo of “Everybody”, Rodgers watches him in stunned amazement as the DJ spins the discs non stop for nearly an hour to the euphoric crowd on the dance floor. Shortly after this, the band return to the studio to cut the single “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)”, which attracts the attention of Buddah Records executive Tom Cossie who options the record for release. When Cossie moves to Atlantic Records only a couple of weeks after Buddah releases “Dance”, he takes the band with him, signing them with Atlantic in spite of the fact they had been previously rejected by the label. The debut album by the New York City based R&B/Disco band is recorded in only three weeks for a budget of $35,000. It features all original songs written by Edwards and Rodgers with vocals by Norma Jean Wright, Alfa Anderson, Diva Gray, David Lasley, Robin Clark and Luther Vandross. It spins off the hit singles “Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)” (#6 R&B and Pop) and “Everybody Dance” (#12 R&B, #38 Pop). Originally released on CD in the early 90’s by Atlantic, the original CD is deleted and goes out of print for several years. It is reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2006, with WEA in Japan remastering and reissuing it on CD in 2011. Out of print on vinyl for more than thirty years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2016. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl again, as part of the box set “The Chic Organization: 1977 – 1979” on November 23, 2018. “Chic” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty seven on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 22, 1975 – “That’s The Way (I Like It)” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks (non-consecutive), also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on November 29, 1975. Written by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the second consecutive number one single for the R&B band from Hialeah , FL. Knowing instinctively that a little controversy can be good for anyone’s career, KC and his songwriting partner and band mate Rick Finch, turn to subject matter of a more carnal nature for their next big hit.The trademark “ah-ha, ah-ha” refrain in “That’s The Way (I Like It)” was originally recorded as sensual moans and groans, but is given a more “benign” vocalization when the vocals are re-recorded. Issued as the third single from their self-titled second album in October of 1975, it takes off even faster than its predecessor “Get Down Tonight”. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on October 25, 1975, it rockets to the top of the chart just four weeks later. “That’s The Way” holds the top spot for one week, then is bumped from the pole position by the Silver Convention’s “Fly Robin Fly” for three weeks. Slipping back as far as #4, the single regains its bullet (signifying upward chart momentum), leaping back to the number one spot for one more week on December 20, 1975. One of the quintessential songs of the Disco Era, “That’s The Way (I Like It)” has been covered several times over the years by different artists, including versions by Giorgio Moroder, Dead Or Alive and by The Spin Doctors and Biz Markie for the film “Space Jam”.
On this day in music history: November 15, 1975 – “Fly Robin Fly” by Silver Convention hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 3 weeks on September 27, 1975, and topping the Hot 100 for 3 weeks on November 29, 1975. Written by Silvester Levay and Stephen Prager, it is the biggest hit for the German based studio band. The band is helmed by producers Silvester Levay and Michael Kunze and also features future producer Keith Forsey (Donna Summer, Billy Idol, Simple Minds) on drums, with the vocals being performed by uncredited studio singers. Originally titled “Run, Rabbit, Run”, Levay and Prager have a change of heart and re-title it before its recorded. Cut at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, the single is picked up for release in the US by RCA Records subsidiary Midland International. It quickly becomes a smash in the clubs before crossing over to radio. The producers enlist vocalists Linda G. Thompson, Penny McLean and Jackie Carter to front the group live, and to sing on subsequent releases. The single wins a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in 1976. “Fly Robin Fly” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.