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Category Archives: male vocal group

“The Beatles Penny Lane”

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“Penny Lane” is a song by The Beatles.[5] It was written by Paul McCartney but credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. The song was created in response to John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever”, and its lyrics refer to a real street in Liverpool, England.

Recorded during the Sgt. Pepper sessions, “Penny Lane” was released in February 1967 as one side of a double A-sided single, along with “Strawberry Fields Forever”. The single was the result of the record company wanting a new release after several months of no new Beatles releases. Although the song did not top the charts in Britain, it was still a top ten hit across Europe. The song was later included on the band’s US album, Magical Mystery Tour, despite not appearing on the British double EP of the same name.

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “Penny Lane” at number 456 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[6]

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“BLUE MAGIC – SPELL”

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Blue Magic is an American R&B/soul music group, and one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Founded in 1972, the group’s original members included lead singer Ted Mills with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith Beaton, and Richard Pratt. Their most notable songs included smooth soul ballads such as “Sideshow”, “Spell”, “What’s Come Over Me”, “Three Ring Circus” and “Stop to Start.”

Origins

Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972 when former member of The Delfonics Randy Cain brought in singer-songwriter Ted Mills to do some writing with the Philly-based WMOT production company to create a new band. A short time later the group Shades of Love, featuring Keith Beaton, Richard Pratt, Vernon Sawyer and his brother Wendell, came in to audition. (According to Marc Taylor in his book ‘A Touch of Classic Soul of the Early 1970s’,[1] “although the group performed admirably, they lacked a standout lead singer”.) The execs decided to replace the Toppicks, the act Mills recorded with. They inserted Shades of Love (which they owned contractually) with Ted Mills and retitled the group Blue Magic. They were signed with Atco Records through WMOT in the same year.

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“The Stylistics ~ You Make Me Feel Brand New

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You Make Me Feel Brand New” was a 1974 hit by the Philadelphia soul group The Stylistics. The song was written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed.[1]

An R&B ballad, it was the fifth track from their 1974 album, Let’s Put It All Together[2] and was released as a single and reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for 2 weeks.[1][3] In addition, it climbed to #5 in the Billboard R&B chart.[3] Billboard ranked it as the No. 14 song for 1974.[4]

“You Make Me Feel Brand New” also reached number #2 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1974.[5] The Stylistics’ recording sold over one million copies globally, earning the band a gold disc[1] The award was presented by the RIAA on May 22, 1974.[1] It was the band’s fifth gold disc.[1] The track first appeared on the Stylistics’ 1973 album, Rockin’ Roll Baby, in a longer five-minute version.[1]

This song was also used in TV advertisements for Australian department store Myer in the late 1980s.

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“Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (Official Video)”

“Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (Official Video)”

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“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the band’s 1975 studio album A Night at the Opera. It is a six-minute suite,[6] consisting of several sections without a chorus: an intro, a ballad segment, an operatic passage, a hard rock part and a reflective coda.[7] The song is a more accessible take on the 1970s progressive rock genre.[1] It was the most expensive single ever made at the time of its release.[8]
When it was released as a single, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became a commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks and selling more than a million copies by the end of January 1976.[9] It reached number one again in 1991 for another five weeks when the same version was re-released,[10] eventually becoming the UK’s third best-selling single of all time.[11] It topped the charts in several other markets as well, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and The Netherlands, later becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. In the United States the song originally peaked at number nine in 1976. It returned to the chart at number two in 1992 following its appearance in the film Wayne’s World, which revived its American popularity.

Although critical reaction was initially mixed, “Bohemian Rhapsody” remains one of Queen’s most popular songs and is frequently placed on modern lists of the greatest songs of all time. The single was accompanied by a promotional video, which many scholars consider ground-breaking.[12] In 2004, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[13] In 2012, the song topped the list on an ITV nationwide poll in the UK to find “The Nation’s Favourite Number One” over 60 years of music.[14]

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“It’s A Shame”

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“It’s a Shame”

is a song co-written by Stevie Wonder, Syreeta Wright and Lee Garrett and produced by Wonder as a single for The Spinners on Motown’s V.I.P. Records label. The single became the Detroit-reared group’s biggest single on the Motown Records company since they had signed with the company in 1964 and also their biggest hit in a decade.

The lineup of the Spinners include original members Pervis Jackson, Henry Fambrough, Billy Henderson and Bobby Smith and lead vocalist G.C. Cameron. The quintet recorded the single in 1970.

The song, which is about a man who complains about a lover’s “messin’ around” on him, became a huge hit for the group reaching number-fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-three on the R&B singles chart, making it their biggest hit to date. The song was the first song Wonder produced for another act by himself.

Two years later, the group would leave Motown for a contract with Atlantic Records on the advice of fellow Detroit native Aretha Franklin, also an artist on that label. Cameron, who was having an affair with Gwen Gordy (sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy) decided to stay in Motown and the group hired Cameron’s cousin Philippé Wynne to replace him. Later, Cameron moved with the Gordys to Los Angeles, and stayed with Motown for over a decade.

Early recording years: 1961–71
The Spinners first hit the charts in August 1961 on Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records, with “That’s What Girls Are Made For”, peaking at number 27. Bobby Smith sang lead vocal on this track, coached by Fuqua. (Some sources report Fuqua sang lead vocal on this track, but both Smith and Fuqua have stated at various times that it was Smith.) The group’s follow-up, “Love (I’m So Glad) I Found You”, also featured lead vocals by Smith, although again some sources credit Fuqua. This track reached number 91 that November, but none of their other Tri-Phi singles charted.

The extent to which Fuqua became a member of the group during their stay at Tri-Phi is debated. Fuqua apparently sang on at least some of the records, and at minimum considered himself a Spinner, as made explicit by the credits on Tri-Phi 1010 and 1024—the artist credit on both these 1962 singles reads “Harvey (Formerly of the Moonglows and the Spinners)”. However most sources,[clarification needed] while respecting Fuqua’s contributions to the group, do not list him as an official member.

James Edwards’ brother, Edgar “Chico” Edwards, replaced Dixon in the group in 1963, at which time Tri-Phi and the entire artist roster was bought out by Fuqua’s brother-in-law Berry Gordy of Motown Records. The Spinners were then assigned to the Motown label.

In 1964, the Spinners made their debut at the Apollo Theater and won instant acclaim, a rare feat at the time.[citation needed] But with the exception of “I’ll Always Love You” (led by Smith), which hit number 35 in 1965, success mostly eluded them during the 1960s. After “I’ll Always Love You”, they released one single a year from 1966 to 1969 inclusive, but none charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and only their 1966 song “Truly Yours” (led by Smith) hit the Billboard R&B chart, peaking at number 16.

With commercial success virtually non-existent, during much of this decade the Spinners were used by Motown as road managers, chaperones and chauffeurs for other groups, and even as shipping clerks. G. C. Cameron replaced Edgar “Chico” Edwards in 1967, and in 1969, the group switched to the Motown-owned V.I.P. imprint. (The label name is somewhat ironic, given that V.I.P. was generally considered a substandard imprint behind Motown, Gordy, Tamla, and Soul).[citation needed]

In 1970, after a five-year chart absence, they hit number 14 with writer-producer Stevie Wonder’s composition (the Cameron-led) “It’s a Shame” (co-written by Syreeta Wright), and charted again the following year with another song Wonder wrote and produced, “We’ll Have It Made” (led by Cameron), from their new album 2nd Time Around. However, these were their last two singles for V.I.P.

Shortly after the release of 2nd Time Around, as Fambrough has stated in interview,[3] has it that Atlantic Records recording artist Aretha Franklin suggested the group finish out their Motown contract and sign with Atlantic. The group made the switch but due to his contractual obligations, Cameron was unable to leave Motown so he remained with Motown as a solo artist and suggested his cousin, singer Philippé Wynne, join the Spinners as Cameron’s replacement and the group’s new lead singer. However, original lead singer Bobby Smith also retained his lead position.

The hit years with Philippé Wynne Edit
When the Spinners signed to Atlantic in 1972, they were a respected but commercially unremarkable singing group who had never had a top-ten pop hit — despite having been a recording act for over a decade. However, under the helm of producer and songwriter Thom Bell, the Spinners charted five top 100 singles (and two top 10s) from their first post-Motown album, Spinners (1972), and went on to become one of the biggest soul groups of the 1970s.

The Bobby Smith-led “I’ll Be Around”, their first top ten hit, was actually the B-side of their first Atlantic single, (the Wynne-led) “How Could I Let You Get Away”. Radio airplay for the B-side led Atlantic to flip the single over, with “I’ll Be Around” hitting #3 and “How Could I Let You Get Away” reaching #77. “I’ll Be Around” was also the Spinners’ first million-selling hit single.[4]

The 1973 follow-up singles “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” (led by Smith), “One of a Kind (Love Affair)” (led by Wynne), and “Ghetto Child” (led by Wynne) cemented the group’s reputation, as well as further that of Bell, a noted Philly soul producer.

Following their Atlantic successes, Motown also issued a “Best of the Spinners” LP which featured selections from their Motown/V.I.P. recordings. They also remixed and reissued the 1970 B-side “Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music” (led by Smith) as a 1973 A-side. In the midst of their Atlantic hits, it crawled to number #91 US.

The group’s 1974 follow-up album, Mighty Love, featured three Top 20 hits, “I’m Coming Home,” “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” and the title track. Their biggest hit of the year, however, was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, “Then Came You” (led by Smith and Warwick), which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming each act’s first chart-topping ‘Pop’ hit. The song also reached the Top 3 of Billboard′s R&B and Easy Listening charts.

The Spinners hit the Top 10 twice in the next two years with the Smith-led “They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play)” (Billboard #5) and the Wynne-led “The Rubberband Man” (Billboard #2). “Games People Play” featured guest vocalist Barbara Ingram (though producer Bell disputed this in a UK-based interview, claiming Barbara’s line was actually group member Henry Fambrough – his voice sped up[5]) and led to a nickname of “12:45” for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song.

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“The Cars – Drive”

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Drive

” is a 1984 song by

The Cars

, the third single from the band’s Heartbeat City album released in March 1984 and their biggest international hit. Written by Ric Ocasek, the track was sung by bassist Benjamin Orr[1] and produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange with the band.[2] Upon its release, “

Drive

” became The Cars‘ highest charting single in the United States, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; on the Adult Contemporary chart, the song went to number one.[3] It reached number four in West Germany, number six in Canada,number five (number four on re-entry in 1985) in the UK and number three (number five on re-entry in 1985) in Ireland.

The song is associated with the July 1985 Live Aid event, where it was used as the background music to a montage of clips depicting the contemporaneous Ethiopian famine.[4][5] Following the concert it was re-released in the UK and peaked at number four in August 1985. Proceeds from the sales of the re-released song raised nearly £160,000 for the Band Aid Trust: Ocasek presented the charity’s trustee Midge Ure with a cheque for the amount while he was in London in November 1986 promoting his solo album This Side of Paradise.[6]

In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco praised the song for being “a gorgeous ballad that matches heartfelt songwriting to an alluring electronic soundscape. The music reflects the lyrical tone with a lovely melody that rises and falls in a soothing yet sad fashion.”[7]

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“I ONLY MEANT TO WET MY FEET – The Whispers”

​The Whispers are an American group from Los Angeles, California, who have scored hit records since the late 1960s. The Whispers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003,[1] and were winners of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 2008.[2] By popular vote, the group was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com in December 2012.[3]

Career
The Whispers formed in 1964 in Watts, California. The original members included twin brothers Wallace “Scotty” and Walter Scott, along with Gordy Harmon, Marcus Hutson, and Nicholas Caldwell. After being invited to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1966 by Sly Stone, the group relocated to that area where they began developing a reputation as a show-stopping live act. Walter Scott was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War during that period for eighteen months, returning to the group in 1969 after discharge. After Harmon injured his larynx in a driving accident in 1973, he was replaced by former Friends of Distinction member Leaveil Degree. Scotty Scott’s fluid, melodic voice is featured on virtually all of their hits.

The group scored many hits on the R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and they hit #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart in 1980 with “And the Beat Goes On / “Can You Do the Boogie” / “Out the Box”. In 1987, they enjoyed a brief tenure in the Top 10 when “Rock Steady” became their first Top 10 success on the Hot 100, reaching #7, while also capturing the #1 spot on the R&B chart.

After a series of singles on Los Angeles label, Dore, the group signed to a small LA label, Soul Clock, run by producer Ron Carson, who was responsible for their breakthrough hit, “Seems Like I Got To Do Wrong” in 1970. Moving to the larger New York-based Janus label, they continued to be produced by Carson, before he sold all of his recordings to Janus with the group then recording mainly in Philadelphia in the mid ’70s. 

Since that period, most of their studio work has been done in Los Angeles. Their most successful period was in the 1980s with SOLAR Records (Sound Of Los Angeles Records), which was operated by their manager at the time, Dick Griffey. 

The Whispers later established their own production company, Satin Tie Productions, through which they released their independent 2006 album For Your Ears Only.

The group opened Game 2 of the 1989 World Series at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with their rendition of the National Anthem.
Marcus Hutson left the group in 1992 due to prostate cancer. According to the Whispers’ website, when Hutson died of it in 2000, they vowed to never replace him and started performing as a quartet.

Jerry McNeil resigned his position as keyboardist in the latter part of 1993 in order to spend more time with his family. In 2014, The Whispers was inducted into The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame.

The Philadelphia soul songwriter team Allan Felder, Norman Harris, Bunny Sigler, and Ronnie Baker provided several of The Whispers’ songs including “A Mother for My Children” and “Bingo”.
Nicholas Caldwell died of congestive heart failure at his San Francisco home on January 5, 2016.[4]

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