On this day in music history: August 18, 1979 – “Good Times” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 6 weeks on July 28, 1979. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second chart topping single the New York City based R&B band led by musicians Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. One of the first songs completed for Chic’s third album “Risque”, the song was not originally Atlantic Records choice for the first single. The label actually preferred the song “My Feet Keep Dancing”. The label quickly presses singles and has them ready to ship, when Edwards and Rodgers have a disagreement over the labels choice, resulting in the two not speaking to each other for several days. When they both realize that they don’t want the song to be the first single, they quickly call a meeting with Atlantic label execs asking that “Feet” be withdrawn, and “Good Times” be released instead. The decision proves to be a wise one with “Good Times” rising to the top of the pop and R&B singles charts quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on June 16, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “My Feet Keep Dancing” is eventually issued as the third and final single from “Risque” in late 1979, peaking at #42 on the R&B singles chart and Bubbling Under the Hot 100 at #101. “Good Times” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1983 – “Delirious” by Prince is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is thirteenth single release for the singer, songwriter and musician from Minneapolis, MN. Prince records the basic track (playing all of the instruments himself) for “Delirious” at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood on May 9, 1982, with additional overdubs recorded at Prince’s home studio outside of Minneapolis, MN. The song is a substitution for “Turn It Up” which was recorded earlier during the “1999” sessions. Prince feels that “Delirious” is a much stronger track than “Turn it Up” which is bumped from the final running order of the album and to this day remains unofficially released, but has surfaced in bootleg form. The US pressing of the single is issued with a limited edition poster sleeve that unfolds into a calendar that becomes a collector’s item. The single also includes the non-LP B-side “Horny Toad”. Issued as the third single from the “1999” album, “Delirious” becomes Prince’s second top 10 pop single in the US, peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 on October 22, 1983 and #18 on the R&B singles chart. Originally clocking in at 3:56 on the album, the single is released with some pressings containing the album version, and another edited down by over one full minute to 2:36. In recent years, a significantly longer version of the master take running just over six minutes surfaces, circulating as a high quality bootleg among fans.
On this day in music history: August 15, 1981 – “I’m In Love” by Evelyn (“Champagne”) King hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on September 12, 1981. Written by Kashif, it is first R&B chart topper for the Philadelphia, PA born R&B vocalist. The title track and first single from her fourth album, “I’m In Love” is the beginning of a major career resurgence for King, whose career has experienced a major down turn following her initial success with the million selling hit singles “Shame” and “I Don’t Know If It’s Right”, from her Platinum selling debut album “Smooth Talk”. Paired with producer Morrie Brown and songwriter/musicians Kashif and Paul Laurence Jones III, the production team and singer hit it off immediately and begin working together. “I’m In Love” goes on to be highly influential during the 80’s and beyond, marking the beginning of a major shift in the way that R&B and dance records are produced. With record company budgets tightening during this period, self contained R&B bands begin to fall by the wayside, in favor of producer/musicians often playing many of the instruments themselves. Kashif and Jones pioneer this movement, by combining live instrumentation and programmed elements such as drum machines and synthesizers, creating a unique musical hybrid. “I’m In Love” is later sampled as the basis of the song “R&B Junkie” by Janet Jackson in 2004.
On this day in music history: August 14, 1980 – “Irons In The Fire”, the third album by Teena Marie is released. Produced by Teena Marie, it is recorded at Motown/Hitsville USA Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from Late 1979 – May 9, 1980. With musical mentor Rick James having produced her debut album “Wild And Peaceful”, and co-producing her sophomore release “Lady T” with Richard Rudolph (Minnie Riperton), Teena Marie is finally granted full creative control of her next album. Utilizing the lessons learned from her previous collaborators along with her own prodigious talents, the singer and musician takes the reigns with authority. Teena assembles a team of top studio musicians including Paulinho Da Costa (percussion), Wali Ali (guitar), Michael Boddicker (synthesizers), Earl Palmer (drums), James Jamerson, Jr. (bass), Bobby Lyle (piano) and members of the R&B/Funk band (and fellow Motown label mates) Ozone. Bassist Allen McGrier also becomes a creative ally in the studio as well as a core member of Teena Marie’s band along with vocalists Jill Jones and Mickey Hearn. Continuing to blossom creatively, the material on “Irons” runs the gamut from R&B and funk, to latin and jazz rhythms set to compelling and musically complex arrangements written by Marie (with string arrangements by veteran Motown arranger Paul Riser). The albums title is taken from a statement made by Teena’s father Thomas Brockert had said to her as a teenager, telling her “you’ve always got so many irons in the fire…”. Teena dedicates the album to her father, who had passed away four years before. Released barely six months after “Lady T”, “Irons In The Fire” takes off quickly. Led by the instant classic “I Need Your Lovin’” (#9 R&B, #37 Pop, #2 Club Play) which becomes a hit on R&B radio, club dance floors and her first top 40 pop hit, it is the singer, songwriter and musician’s biggest success to date. The album spins off one further single with “Young Love” (#41 R&B), album cuts including “You Make Love Like Springtime”, “Chains” and the title track also become fan favorites. Originally released on CD in the early 90’s, the album is remastered and reissued on Universal Music Group’s Hip-O Select imprint in 2011, including five live bonus tracks. “Irons In The Fire” peaks at number nine on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty eight on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 14, 1965 – “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag Pt. 1” by James Brown hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 8 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 on September 4, 1965. Written and produced by James Brown, it is the second R&B chart topper for the “Godfather Of Soul”. The song is recorded in February 1965 when the band stops at a recording studio in Charlotte, North Carolina while en route to a gig in nearby Greensboro. The band run through the song a few times before recording the master take. In all, it is completed in under hour of studio time. Prior to its release, the nearly seven minute long track is split into two parts for single release, slightly sped up with reverb added. “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” marks an important turning point in James Brown’s career, pioneering the R&B sub genre known as Funk, as well as becoming his first major pop crossover hit. The single wins Brown his first Grammy Award, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1966. The original unedited version is finally released on Brown’s career retrospective “Star Time!” in 1991. The track is featured at its original recorded speed, and without the reverb added to the hit single version. The song is covered by several artists over the years including Otis Redding, The McCoys, Jimmy Smith, Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, and Roger Troutman. James Brown’s original recording is also used in the film “Mrs. Doubtfire” in 1993. “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.
On this day in music history: August 11, 1982 – “Vanity 6”, the debut album by Vanity 6 is released. Produced by Prince (aka “The Starr Company”), it is recorded at Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, MN and Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA from July – August 1981, March – April 1982. Having toured with and having had a sometimes contentious rivalry with musician Rick James, Prince decides to put together a girl group, after seeing James’ female background vocalists The Mary Jane Girls. Originally dubbed “The Hookers”, Prince pairs his then girlfriend Denise Matthews (aka “Vanity”) together with his former girlfriend Susan Moonsie and wardrobe mistress Brenda Bennett, forming the group. Prince’s personal assistant Jamie Shoop is initially intended to be the third member, but is dropped from the group after he meets and begins a relationship with Matthews. Ironically she had dated Rick James before Prince. The female vocal trio is created as another outlet for Prince’s prolific songwriting output, though the songs are credited to the individual group members. Initially, three songs are cut for the project in the Summer and Fall of 1981 before stopping to embark on the Controversy Tour. The remaining five songs are recorded during March and April of 1982. Playing most of the instruments himself, Prince also enlists assistance from band mate Dez Dickerson and Time members Jesse Johnson and Terry Lewis who also co-write songs. The albums initial single, “He’s So Dull” (later featured in “National Lampoon’s Vacation”) fails to make an impact, and is quickly followed up with “Nasty Girl” in September of 1982. The sexually provocative and funky track becomes an immediate smash on club dance floors, and on R&B radio. The song is later featured in the Spike Lee directed film “Girl 6” in 1996. Original vinyl and cassette copies of the album feature labels that read “Side 1 and Side 6” instead of 1 and 2. It spins off four singles including “Nasty Girl” (#7 R&B, #1 Club Play, #101 Pop), “Bite The Beat” and “Drive Me Wild”. “Wild”, initially released as the B-side of “Nasty Girl”, receives significant play on radio and in clubs, prompting Prince to remix and extend (while concurrently remixing his own “Little Red Corvette”) the originally two and a half minute track to over an seven minute work out. Adding a funky rhythm guitar and stinging solo lead, it is released as a 12" and edited 7" in March of 1983. Part of the initial press run of the US LP come with a 18 x 22" poster of the group (taken by photographer Allen Beaulieu), that becomes a rare and coveted collector’s item. Originally released on CD in 1988, the album has been out of print since the mid 90’s, commanding a premium price on the collector’s market due to its enduring popularity, also being heavily bootlegged as a result. “Vanity 6” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 10, 1979 – “Off The Wall”, the fifth solo album by Michael Jackson is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at Allen Zentz Recording, Westlake Audio and Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA from December 1978 – June 1979. Following their work together on the film and soundtrack for “The Wiz”, Jones and Jackson begin work on his first solo album for Epic Records. From the outset, the ultimate goal they have in mind is to craft an album that move the singer away his past childhood success, and be regarded as a mature, adult performer. The album features musical support from the cream of L.A. studio talent including Larry Carlton, David Williams, Marlo Henderson, Wah Wah Watson, Phil Upchurch (guitars), Louis Johnson, Bobby Watson (bass), John Robinson (drums), Greg Phillinganes, George Duke, David Foster, Michael Boddicker, Steve Porcaro, David “Hawk” Wolinski (keyboards), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion) and The Seawind Horns (brass & woodwinds). Recorded over a period of six and a half months, Jones cuts the basic tracks in Los Angeles, while Jackson is on the road with his brothers, touring in support of “Destiny”. He comes in off the road during breaks in the tour to record his vocals and oversee the sessions in progress. Buoyed by Jones’ flawless production and Jackson’s outstanding and spirited vocals throughout, it is released to universal praise, surprising the public who are taken aback at Michael Jackson’s stunning musical transformation. A huge commercial success as well, it becomes one of the biggest selling albums of the era, during a time when the music industry is experiencing a major downturn in sales. It spins off four top 10 singles including “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (#1 Pop and R&B), “Rock With You” (#1 Pop and R&B), “Off The Wall” (#10 Pop, #3 R&B), and “She’s Out Of My Life” (#10 Pop, #46 R&B). “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” wins Jackson his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1980, with the album being inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008. The first CD release includes earlier mixes of “Rock With You” and “Get On The Floor” featured on the first pressing of the album, using the LP gatefold artwork with Jackson’s full body shown. It is remastered and reissued in 2001, featuring interview excerpts with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, and the demos of “Don’t Stop” and “Working”. The reissue features amended cover art showing only the lower half of the gatefold with the singers legs and feet. It is remastered and reissued again in 2016 on CD and vinyl, restoring the original artwork, with the CD being released with a DVD or Blu-ray disc with the Spike Lee directed documentary on the making of the album. “Off The Wall” spends sixteen weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number three on the Top 200, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 8, 1987 – “The Pleasure Principle” by Janet Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, peaking at #14 on the Hot 100 on August 1, 1987, and topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on June 6, 1987. Written and produced by Monte Moir, it is fifth consecutive R&B chart topper from the “Control” album. While working with his former Time band mates Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Moir gives Janet a cassette demo of the song. She likes the track so much that she cuts the final version with him the next day at Jam & Lewis’ Flyte Tyme Studios in Minneapolis. Released as a single nearly a year and a half after “Control’s” initial release in May of 1987, the track receives an additional boost when it is remixed by prominent club DJ/remixer Shep Pettibone. This version is also used for the songs dynamic music video directed by Dominic Sena (“Rhythm Nation 1814” long form video), which wins an MTV Video Music Award for its choreographer Barry Lather, earning an additional nomination for Best Female Video.
On this day in music history: August 7, 1976 – “Getaway” by Earth, Wind & Fire hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks also peaking at #12 on the Hot 100 on October 9, 1976. Written by Bernard “Beloyd” Taylor and Peter Cor, it is the third chart topper for the legendary R&B band led by lead singer and drummer Maurice White. Songwriter and guitarist Beloyd Taylor writes “Getaway” a few years earlier while still a member of the Cleveland, OH based R&B band S.O.U.L. (Sounds Of Unity And Love). Over the years, Taylor later writes several more songs for Earth, Wind & Fire including “Lady Sun, "The Changing Times”, “Spread Your Love”, “Freedom Of Choice”. Earth, Wind & Fire records the song in April 1976 at Wally Heider’s Studio 3 in Hollywood, CA, and is the first release under Maurice White newly formed company “Kalimba Productions”, co-produced with Charles Stepney. Issued as the first single from the bands seventh album “Spirit” (released in September 1976) in July of 1976, it is an immediate smash on R&B radio, making a swift crossover to the pop singles chart. When “Getaway” is released, a longer version of the track is released as a promotional only 12" single serviced to radio stations and club DJ’s. In 2014, the 12" mix is included as bonus track on the CD reissue of “Spirit” released by BBR/Cherry Red Records. Also, a third version of “Getaway” is issued on the box set “The Eternal Dance” in 1992. It features a previously unreleased instrumental intro that had been edited off of the other two released versions. “Getaway” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 7, 1973 – “3 + 3”, the eleventh album by The Isley Brothers is released. Produced by The Isley Brothers, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1973. Enjoying a string of hits since “It’s Your Thing” in 1969, The Isley Brothers undergo significant changes in the new decade. Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly bring brothers Ernie, Marvin and brother-in-law Chris Jasper into the fold. The younger three first participate as backing musicians, becoming full time members upon completing their educations. The Isley’s label T-Neck signs with CBS Records, after their contract with Buddah Records ends at the end of 1972. Looking for assistance with their next album, The Isleys contact Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil. The masterminds behind Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, the duo are also the catalysts behind Stevie Wonder’s innovative use of synthesizers during the 70’s. The band first meet the pair while working with Wonder, as they’re recording “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”. The band ask the duo to work with them, with Margouleff and Cecil signing on to engineer their album, recording in Studio B at The Record Plant. Unhappy with the sound of Ernie Isley’s guitar, Malcolm Cecil introduces him to famed British electronics engineer Roger Mayer. Inventor of the Octavia effects pedal, Mayer is one of the architects behind Jimi Hendrix’s technical innovations. He plays a vital role in assisting Ernie in shaping his signature guitar sound. A mixture of originals and well chosen covers, The Isley Brothers record the album in only six weeks. It is led by a dramatic reworking of the band’s song “That Lady” (#2 R&B, #6 Pop), released on July 14, 1973. First recorded in 1964 as “Who’s That Lady?”, it is reinvented as an up tempo R&B/Rock groove, topped by Ernie’s epic solos. Its success marks the beginning of a new and hugely successful era for the veteran R&B band. The album spins off two more singles including “What It Comes Down To” (#5 R&B, #55 Pop), and a cover of Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” (#10 R&B, #60 Pop). “3 + 3” is also remixed and issued as a quadraphonic stereo LP and 8-track tape in 1974. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 2003 with one additional bonus track. The quadraphonic mix is also reissued as a hybrid SACD in 2001 (also including the original stereo mix) which becomes a sought after collectible after it goes out of print. Unavailable on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP by Music On Vinyl in 2013, and as a limited edition blue vinyl pressing by Friday Music in 2014. The CD is remastered again in 2015 as part of the box set “The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983)”, with nine additional bonus tracks. “3 + 3” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number eight on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum by the RIAA.