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Category Archives: r&b

“Destination: Anywhere” –  by The Marvelettes

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The Marvelettes were an American all-girl group who achieved popularity in the early to mid-1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson (now Schaffner), Georgeanna Tillman (later Gordon), Juanita Cowart (now Cowart Motley), and Georgia Dobbins, who was replaced by Wanda Young (now Rogers) prior to the group signing their first deal. They were the first major successful act of Motown Records after the Miracles and its first significantly successful girl group after the release of the 1961 number-one single, “Please Mr. Postman”, one of the first number-one singles recorded by an all-female vocal group and the first by a Motown recording act.

Founded in 1960 while the group’s founding members performed together at their glee club at Inkster High School in Inkster, Michigan, they eventually were signed to Motown’s Tamla label in 1961. Some of the group’s early hits were written by band members and some of Motown’s rising singer-songwriters such as Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, who played drums on a majority of their early recordings. Despite their early successes, the group was eclipsed in popularity by groups like the Supremes, with whom they shared an intense rivalry.

Nevertheless, they managed a major comeback in 1966 with “Don’t Mess with Bill”, followed by a few smaller hits. They struggled with issues of dismal promotion from Motown, illnesses, and mental breakdowns, with Cowart the first to leave in 1963, followed by Georgeanna Tillman two years later, and Gladys Horton two years later. The group ceased performing together in 1969 and, following the release of The Return of the Marvelettes in 1970, featuring only Wanda Rogers, disbanded for good, with both Rogers and Katherine Anderson leaving the music business.

The group has received several honors including induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, as well as receiving the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 2005, two of the group’s most successful recordings, “Please Mr. Postman” and “Don’t Mess with Bill” earned million-selling Gold singles from the RIAA. On August 17, 2013, in Cleveland, Ohio, at Cleveland State University, the Marvelettes were inducted into the 1st class of the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame.

The Marvelettes were nominated for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 and again in 2015.

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“Big Jay McNeely – There Is Something On Your Mind” 

“Big Jay McNeely – There Is Something On Your Mind” 

There’s Something on Your Mind (Part 2)” is a 1960 song by Bobby Marchan. The single was Marchan’s most successful release on both the R&B and pop singles chart. “There’s Something on Your Mind” made it to number one on the R&B charts and number thirty-one on the Billboard Hot 100.[1]

The song was originally recorded as “There Is Something on Your Mind” in 1957 by Big Jay McNeely and his band in a small Seattle recording studio, and leased more than a year later to Los Angeles disc jockey Hunter Hancock‘s Swingin’ Records label, where it reached #42 on Billboards pop chart and number 2 on the R&B chart in early 1959. The lead vocalist on this original recording was Little Sonny Warner. Though McNeely is listed as the song’s writer, he has freely admitted that he purchased the song from the Rivingtons‘ vocalist John “Sonny” Harris, who in turn had lifted much of it from a gospel song, “Something on My Mind” by the Highway QCs.

The song has been recorded many times since then by Big Jay McNeelyhimself with various collaborators, along with Freddy FenderB.B. KingAlbert KingEtta JamesGene VincentBaby Lloyd Stallworth (of the Famous Flames), the Jolly Jacks (who parodied the violence of the Marchan recording), and others.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2017 in blues, r&b

 

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“Eric Clapton Layla Original”

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Eric Clapton Layla Original:

Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE (born 30 March 1945), is an English musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time.[1] Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”[2] and fourth in Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time”.[3] He was also named number five in Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players” in 2009 [4]

In the mid-1960s, Clapton left the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton joined Cream, a power trio with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop”.[5] For most of the 1970s, Clapton’s output bore the influence of the mellow style of JJ Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” helped reggae reach a mass market.[6] Two of his most popular recordings were “Layla”, recorded while he was a member of band Derek and the Dominos; and Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”, recorded by band Cream. Following the death of his son Conor in 1991, Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven”, which featured in his Unplugged album.

Clapton has been the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards, and the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004, he was awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music.[7][8][9] In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.[10]

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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in 1970s, classic music, male vocalist, r&b

 

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“Al Green-Lets Stay Together”

“Al Green-Lets Stay Together”


Early Career

Having noted that Al had been trying to sing like Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett and James Brown, Mitchell became his vocal mentor, coaching him into finding his own voice. Before releasing his first album with Hi, Green removed the final “e” from his name. Subsequently, Green released Green Is Blues, which became a moderate success. Green’s follow-up album, Al Green Gets Next to You, featured Green’s hit R&B cover of The Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You”, recorded in a slow blues-oriented version. The album also featured his first significant hit, “Tired of Being Alone”, which sold half a million copies and was certified gold, becoming the first of seven consecutive gold singles Green would record in the next couple of years.

Green’s next album, Let’s Stay Together, solidified his place in soul music with the title track becoming his biggest hit to date, reaching number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. The album became his first to be certified gold. His follow-up, I’m Still in Love with You went platinum with the help of the singles, “Look What You Done for Me” and the title track, both of which went top ten on the Hot 100. His next album, 1973’s Call Me spawned three top ten singles including “You Ought to Be with Me”, “Call Me (Come Back Home)” and “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)”. Green’s album, Livin’ for You, released at the tail-end of 1973, became his last album to be certified gold.

In addition to these hit singles, Green also had radio hits with songs such as “Love and Happiness”, his cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, “Simply Beautiful”, “What a Wonderful Thing Love Is” and “Take Me to the River”, later covered successfully by new wave band Talking Heads and blues artist Syl Johnson. Green continued to record successful R&B hits in the next several years including “Livin’ for You”, “Let’s Get Married”, “Sha-La-La (Makes Me Happy)”, “L-O-V-E (Love)” and “Full of Fire”. By the time Green released the album, The Belle Album in 1977, however, Green’s record sales had plummeted, partially due to Green’s own personal issues during this time and his desire to become a minister.[8] His last Hi Records album, Truth n’ Time, was released in 1978 and failed to become a success. Two years later, he left Hi for Myrrh Records and recorded only gospel music for the next decade and a half.

 

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“Teena Marie – Miracles Need Wings To Fly”

“Teena Marie – Miracles Need Wings To Fly”

Gordy era (1979–1982)

In 1976, Brockert (as the lead singer member of a band she assembled which included long-time friend Mickey Boyce) gained an introduction to Motown Records staff producer Hal Davis (best known for his work with Brenda Holloway and the Jackson 5). It led to an audition for a film about orphans being developed by Motown. The project was shelved, but label boss Berry Gordy decided to sign her as a solo act, impressed with her singing but having no need for a musical group. She recorded unreleased material with a number of different producers over the next few years, before being spotted by labelmate Rick James who was immediately impressed with her sound. Some of the earlier, unreleased material has since been made available on the compilation album First Class Love: Rare Tee. At the time, James, already established as a successful recording artist, was on tap to produce for Diana Ross but changed his mind and decided to work with Brockert. The result was debut album release, Wild and Peaceful. The album was, at one point, due to be credited to “Teena Tryson”, but ultimately was put out under “Teena Marie”, the name by which she would be known throughout her career. It scored Teena Marie her first top-ten R&B hit, “I’m a Sucker for Your Love” (#8 Black Singles Chart),[10] a duet with James. Neither the album nor its packaging had her picture on it, and many radio programmers assumed she was African-American during the earliest months of her career.[10] This myth was disproved when she performed her debut hit with James on Soul Train in 1979, becoming the show’s first white female guest (she would appear on the show eight more times, more than any other white act).

In 1980, her second album, Lady T, would have her portrait on the cover upon its release. It’s also noted for having production from Richard Rudolph (the widower of R&B singer Minnie Riperton). Teena Marie had asked Berry Gordy to contact Rudolph and secure his input as Rick James was unavailable and she felt unprepared to be sole producer of her own material. Rudolph intended for the song he penned, “Now That I Have You”, to be sung by his wife, but it was later given to Teena Marie.[11] Rudolph also co-composed the single “Behind The Groove”, which reached number 21 on the black singles chart and No. 6 on the U.K. singles chart in 1980.[10] The song would also be included on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the Fever 105 soundtrack.[12] Another notable track, “Too Many Colors”, featured Rudolph’s and Riperton’s then 7-year-old daughter, Maya Rudolph, who became Teena Marie’s god-daughter.

Also in 1980, Teena Marie released her third LP, Irons in the Fire, for which she handled all writing and production herself, including the horn and rhythm arrangements of her band and all backing vocals, all considered rare at the time for a female artist.[10] The single “I Need Your Lovin'” (#37 Pop, No. 9 Black Singles) brought Teena Marie her first top 40 hit. This single also peaked at No. 28 in the UK chart. That same year, Teena Marie appeared on James’s hugely successful album, Street Songs, with the duet “Fire and Desire”. In an interview, Teena Marie said she had a fever at the time yet managed to record her vocals in one take. After the session, she was driven to a hospital. The two would perform the single at the 2004 BET Awards, which would be their last TV appearance with one another as Rick James died later that year.[13]

Teena Marie continued her success with Motown in 1981, with the release of It Must Be Magic (#2 Black Albums Chart), her first gold record, which included her then biggest hit on R&B, “Square Biz” (#3 Black Singles). Other notable tracks include “Portuguese Love” (featuring a brief, uncredited cameo by James, No. 54 Black Singles), the title track “It Must be Magic” (#30 Black Singles), and album only track “Yes Indeed”, which she cited as a personal favorite.[citation needed]

In 1982, Teena Marie got into a heated legal battle with Motown Records over her contract and disagreements about releasing her new material.[14] The lawsuit resulted in “The Brockert Initiative”, which made it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material for that artist. In such instances, artists are able to sign and release with another label instead of being held back by an unsupportive one. Teena Marie commented on the law in an LA Times article, saying, “It wasn’t something I set out to do. I just wanted to get away from Motown and have a good life. But it helped a lot of people, like Luther Vandross and the Mary Jane Girls, and a lot of different artists, to be able to get out of their contracts.”[15] She left Motown as the label’s most successful white solo act.

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“De BARGE – ALL THIS LOVE”

“All This Love” is a single by DeBarge, released on October 17, 1982. The song was released as the third and final single from their second studio album of the same title on the Gordy label. The single would help DeBarge rise to R&B stardom. The cover version of the song was recorded by Patti LaBelle on her 1994 gold album Gems. The video for her version was also filmed.

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“Tower of Power – You’re Still A Young Man”

“Tower of Power – You’re Still A Young Man”

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Rick Stevens, Lead Singer – You’re Still A Young Man

In the summer of 1968, tenor saxophonist/vocalist Emilio Castillo met Stephen “Doc” Kupka, who played baritone sax. Castillo had played in several bands, but Castillo’s father told his son to “hire that guy” after a home audition. Together, they became the backbone of Tower of Power. Within months the group, then known as The Motowns, began playing various gigs around Oakland and Berkeley, their soul sound relating to both minority and rebellious listeners.

Castillo really wanted to play Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, but he realized he would never get in with a name like The Motowns. So, on a break from recording in a little studio in Hayward, Castillo was sitting on the studio owner’s desk, and right in front of him was a long list of weird band names. He looked through it and saw Tower Of Power and thought “Yeah, that describes us.” The band agreed so the name stuck.

By 1970, the now renamed Tower of Power (including trumpet/arranger Greg Adams, first trumpet Mic Gillette, first saxophone Skip Mesquite, Francis “Rocco” Prestia on bass, Willie Fulton on guitar, and drummer David Garibaldi) signed a recording contract with Bill Graham’s San Francisco Records and released their first album, East Bay Grease. Rufus Miller performed most of the lead vocals on this debut album. The group was first introduced to the San Francisco Bay area by radio station KSAN, which played a variety of artists such as Cold Blood, Eric Mercury and Marvin Gaye’s album “What’s Goin On” in its entirety before the bay area’s soul and R&B stations became aware. Dusty Street of the Flying Eye Radio Network’s Fly Low show and Sirius XM radio was a DJ there in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The single “Sparkling in the Sand” received airplay on famed Bay Area soul station KDIA.

Augmented by percussionist/conga/bongo player Brent Byars, Tower of Power was released from their San Francisco label contract and moved to Warner Brothers Records. With Rick Stevens now singing lead, 1972’s Bump City gave the band their first national exposure. This album included the hit single “You’re Still a Young Man”, which peaked at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was Stevens’ pinnacle vocal performance before leaving the band. Emilio Castillo, who, along with Stephen Kupka, co-wrote “You’re Still a Young Man,” told Songfacts that the song was based on a true story concerning a former girlfriend who was six years older. Though not a big hit single “Down to the Nightclub” received heavy airplay on West Coast FM stations and several AM stations. Both songs still get substantial airplay on oldies radio and remain fan favorites.

Tower of Power, released in the spring of 1973, was the third album for the band. It featured Lenny Williams on lead vocals and Lenny Pickett on lead tenor saxophone. Bruce Conte replaced guitarist Willy Fulton and keyboardist Chester Thompson also joined the band during the recording of the album. This was the group’s most successful album. It peaked at #15 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and was RIAA certified as a gold record (for sales in excess of 500,000 copies). The album also spawned their most-successful single “So Very Hard To Go”. Although the single peaked at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100, it landed in the Top 10 on the surveys of many West Coast Top 40 radio stations, hitting #1 on many of them. The album also charted two other singles on the Billboard Hot 100, “This Time It’s Real” and “What Is Hip?” The latter is possibly their most enduring song.

1974’s Back to Oakland spawned another hit, “Don’t Change Horses (in the Middle of a Stream)”, that reached #26 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Time Will Tell”, which charted at #69.[4]

On some of their releases in the mid-1970s, such as Urban Renewal (1974), the band moved more toward funk than soul; however, they continued recording ballads as well. Williams left the band in late 1974, and was replaced as vocalist by Hubert Tubbs. Though the band remained popular, their days of chart radio airplay declined. During the late 1970s they briefly tried recording disco-sounding material. Leader Emilio Castillo said in an interview that the band’s brief foray into quasi-disco was at the request of Columbia Records, who had the band under contract at the time.

Tower of Power still tours extensively today, although there have been many changes in personnel over the years. At least 60 musicians have toured or recorded with the band over their 40-plus-year existence. These include current Saturday Night Live musical director/saxophonist Lenny Pickett, drummer David Garibaldi, bassist Francis “Rocco” Prestia, organ master Chester Thompson, saxophonists Richard Elliot and Euge Groove, and guitarist Bruce Conte. Conte’s cousin, BALCO founder Victor Conte, also played bass guitar in the band from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Former lead vocalist Rick Stevens (real name Donald Stevenson) was sentenced to life in prison on three counts of first-degree murder for crimes committed after leaving the band. Stevens was paroled on July 20, 2012 after 36 years in prison.

Bruce Conte rejoined the band in 2006, replacing veteran guitarist Jeff Tamelier. He departed after slightly more than a year, citing personal recording projects and health issues. Following Conte as guitarist was Charles Spikes (while auditions for a permanent player were held), then Mark Harper. The band’s current guitarist is Jerry Cortez.

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Rick Stevens, Lead Singer – You’re Still A Young Man

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Original Tower Of Power band and singing group

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