My Thang – James Brown – 1974

November 18, 2017

My Thang - James Brown - 1974 CoverWhat can you say? The Godfather of soul’s 1974 hit, My Thang…

james brown fax

  • Born in 1933, passed away in 2006; James Brown is called The Godfather of Soul because, for many people, he was the progenitor of soul and funk music.
  • Like many of his era, James’ career began as a member of the in the R&B gospel group, the Gospel Starlighters. During 1950s, they evolved into the Flames and James was the lead singer.
  • By the late 1950s they were known as The Famous Flames and began to find chart success with songs like Please, Please, Please and Try Me.
  • Many say James’ success was at its peak in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good), and It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.
  • It was during the late 1960s that he began to refine his style – a style which greatly influenced the development of funk music.
  • By the early 1970s, James was playing with his band, the J.B.s and funk was a real thing. During this time, he became known for songs which made commentary of social issues of the day – songs like the 1968 hit Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.
  • James holds the record for the most singles to reach the US singles chart without ever reaching #1 – 64 singles. He did, however, have 16 singles that reached #1 on the R&B charts.  Between 1959 and 2002, James released a phenomenal 66 studio albums and 15 live albums.
  • The closest James came to a #1 US hit was in 1965 when, I Got You (I Feel Good) reached #3.
  • James is an inductee into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • When Joel Whitburn analysed the Billboard R&B charts from 1942 to 2010, he placed James at #1 among The Top 500 Artists. He is also ranked seventh on the music magazine Rolling Stone’s list of its 100 greatest artists of all time. Rolling Stone also also cited James as the most sampled artist of all time.

my thang fax

  • My Thang was written and recorded by James Brown. From the album Hell, it was released in April 1974.
  • The song borrows lines from another of James’ songs, Funky Drummer. James often borrowed lines from his songs that did not chart to incorporate into a new song.
  • My Thang spent two weeks at #1 on the US R&B singles chart and reached #29 on the US singles chart.
  • My Thang is sampled on a number of Hip-Hop songs, including Brand New Funk by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
  • My Thang lyrics.

my thang – james brown – 1974 – video

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The Candy Man – Sammy Davis Jr – 1972

November 10, 2017

The_Candy_Man_Sammy_Davis_JrFrom the perennial Christmas movie… what would Christmas be without reruns of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on the tele? – The Candy Man which was a 1972 hit for Sammy Davis Jr.

sammy davis jr fax

  • Born into a show biz family, Sammy began his career when just three years old. He joined his father and Will Mastin to form the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally.
  • After WWII service – in which he was assigned to the Entertainment Special Services – Sammy returned to the trio.
  • Sammy’s solo career happened quickly. He became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at a West Hollywood bar after the 1951 Academy Awards.
  • He began his movie career in 1933, appearing as Rufus Jones in Rufus Jones for President, a short satirical musical. Sammy went on to appear in almost 40 movies, four stage musicals, and almost 30 television shows.
  • In all, Sammy released over 50 albums, with at least five different recording companies. Of his numerous singles, only two reached the US top ten; Something’s Gotta Give (1955) and The Candy Man (1972).  Two singles reached the UK top ten, Something’s Gotta Give and Love Me or Leave Me (both 1955).
  • The numerous awards won by Sammy include: a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Acheivement award (2001), a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and induction into the Internationcal Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
  • In 1954, Sammy was in a life-changing auto accident. In it he lost his left eye.  From the time on he had a glass eye.  A year before the accident, his friend, comedian Eddie Cantor, had given him a mezuzah. Instead of putting it by his door as a traditional blessing, Sammy wore it around his neck for good luck. The only time he forgot it was the night of the accident.  Taking it as some sort of omen, Sammy converted to Judaism in 1961.
  • Sammy was a member of The Rat Pack, a group of artistes prominent in the 1960’s. The Rat Pack was made up of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, with the three first mentioned being considered the leaders.
  • Sammy was a victim of racism throughout his life, particularly during the pre-Civil Rights era, and was a large financial supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. One day on a golf course with Jack Benny, he was asked what his handicap was. “Handicap?” he asked. “Talk about handicap. I’m a one-eyed Negro Jew.”
  • Sammy died of throat cancer on May 16, 1990, aged just 64.

the candy man fax

  • The Candy Man, sometimes called, The Candy Man Can, was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The soundtrack version of the song was sung by Aubrey Woods, who played Bill the candy store owner in the film.
  • When lyricist Anthony Newley heard Aubrey Woods’ version for the first time, he was so appalled by the performance that he wanted to record it himself. He was convinced the song could win an Oscar if it was sung and produced properly.  The producers of the record refused his offer so Anthony suggest he dub his own vocal and still market the record under Aubrey’s name.  Again, he was refused.
  • Anthony did, however, record his own version prior to Sammy Davis Jr’s version.
  • The Candy Man’s best-known version is by Sammy Davis, Jr. It appears on Sammy’s album, Sammy Davis Jr. Now.  Sammy always said he didn’t like the song.
  • The Candy Man was Sammy’s only #1 US hit. Despite Sammy having songs in the UK charts, The Candy Man did not chart there.  Billboard ranked The Candy Man as the #5 song for 1972.
  • BVs on Sammy’s version were provided by the Mike Curb Congregation. They had previously released their own unsuccessful version.
  • So closely associated with Sammy is this song that, later in his career, he was often referred to as The Candy Man.
  • In 2014, Sammy’s lead vocals from the original 1972 recording were sampled to create a virtual duet with Barry Manilow. It appeared on Barry’s album My Dream Duets.
  • The Candy Man lyrics.

the candy man – sammy davis jr. – 1972 video

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Don’t Leave Me This Way – Thelma Houston – 1976

October 26, 2017

thelma-houston-dont-leave-me-this-way-1976Singer, actress, Grammy Award winner – Thelma Houston had a 1976 #1 hit with Don’t Leave Me This Way.

thelma houston fax

  • Born Thelma Jackson in Leland, Mississippi, by the time she was 23, Thelma Houston was married, had two children, and was signed to Dunhill Records.
  • Her first album, released in 1969, was produced by Jimmy Webb.
  • In 1971, she signed with Motown Records with little success.
  • As well as singing, Thelma loved acting. In 1974 she featured in The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine, playing various characters during the show’s skits.  When the show was cancelled she worked on producing demo recordings and performing at small venues.
  • She also took acting lessons while working on her musical career. It was a slow climb for her: she recorded Do You Know Where You’re Going To which was set for single release when it was pulled and the song given to Diana Ross to serve as the theme song for the movie Mahogany.  She sang backing vocals for Jermaine Jackson on his album My Name Is Jermaine.
  • Then in 1976, Thelma Houston released her third album, Any Way You Like It. The first single from that album, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ 1975 song Don’t Leave Me This Way, went straight to #1.  It won Thelma a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance in 1977.  She never had another top ten single.
  • Thelma still performs, however. She recently toured with Nile Rodgers and Chic.
  • She has appeared in half a dozen films and a number of television programmes, along with being featured on a number of movie soundtracks.

don’t leave me this way fax

  • Don’t Leave Me This Way was written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert.
  • The song has charted three times, first in 1975 as a hit for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass – #3 in the US and #5 in the UK. Next in 1977 as a #1 US hit for Motown artist Thelma Houston in 1977 (peaked at #13 in the UK. Then a third time for British group the Communards in 1986 (#1 in the UK and #40 in the US).
  • Thelma Houston’s version was originally to be recorded by Diana Ross as a follow-up to Love Hangover. It was handed onto Thelma – some justice after she’d lost Do You Know Where You’re Going To to Diana.
  • Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Thelma’s version became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay male communities of the west.
  • The song appeared in the stage show, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and in the movie, The Martian (2015).
  • Cher has also covered the song in her live shows.
  • Don’t Leave Me This Way lyrics.

don’t leave me this way – thelma houston – 1976 – video

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Tell Me Something Good – Rufus (featuring Chaka Khan) – 1974

June 22, 2017

Rufus - Tell me something good 1974A band packed with great musicians, Chicago band Rufus is best known for launching the career of lead singer Chaka Khan.

rufus fax

  • Starting life as “Ask Rufus,” the band Rufus had their beginnings in pop band, The American Breed. Ask Rufus formed in 1970 and, by 1972 Chaka Khan had joined.
  • 1972 saw the band sign with manager Bob Monaco (Minnie Riperton was signed with him also).
  • Bob persuaded ABC Dunhill records to stump up some cash to pay for a demo record. In two days, the band had recorded 11 songs and signed a long-term recording contract.
  • With their first album receiving moderate success, Rufus hit the studio again to record their follow-up album Rags to Rufus which included the Stevie Wonder song, Tell Me Something Good, and a song by Ray Parker Jr. and Chaka, You Got The Love – both songs became smash hits.
  • Rufus was a band blighted by in-fighting and inner-tension, partly because of the rise in fame of Chaka ahead of the rest of the band. Such was the power of Chaka’s performing that the record company began billing the band as, Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan.  Often, at photo shoots and the like, only Chaka was photographed and her image alone was used in magazine articles and stories.
  • It wasn’t long before Chaka was releasing solo albums and finding great success; Rufus released an album without Chaka and it bombed.
  • By 1983, Rufus band members sensed that their tenure was over. They agreed to split on the terms they release one last live album to commemorate the occasion.  Chaka agreed to appear at their final concert performance which was filmed by Warner Bros.  The band then went their separate ways for good with Chaka becoming one of the most revered R&B artists of her generation with the release of the single I Feel for You cementing her reputation.
  • In all, Rufus released 11 albums and 30 singles in the time they were together.
  • The band won two Grammy awards: 1974: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Tell Me Something Good, and 1983: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Ain’t Nobody.

tell me something good fax

  • Tell Me Something Good was written by Stevie Wonder and recorded by Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan in 1974.
  • The song peaked at #3 on the US singles chart.
  • Tell Me Something Good is one of the first songs to use the guitar talk box effect – it was played by Tony Maiden.
  • Rufus won the 1975 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for Tell Me Something Good.
  • Cover versions of Tell Me Something Good have been performed live and/or recorded by artists including Pink, Dave Matthews and Stevie Wonder.
  • The song has appeared or been referenced in the US comedy shows, Everybody Loves Raymond, Will and Grace, and That 70s Show. Note that the captioning to the Will and Grace episode incorrectly credits the song to Sly and the Family Stone.
  • Tell Me Something Good lyrics.

tell me something good – rufus featuring chaka khan – 1974 – video – slower version

tell me something good – rufus featuring chaka khan – 1974 – video – faster version

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Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – 1970

April 2, 2017

The Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - 1970Music by Stevie Wonder – how could you go wrong?! Smokey Robinson and the Miracles had a #1 hit in 1970 with, The Tears of a Clown.

smokey robinson and the miracles fax

  • The Miracles formed in 1955 and soon became the first successful recording act for Motown Records.
  • Well, actually, they began life as The Five Chimes, then became the Matadors, and then the Miracles.
  • And Motown wasn’t their first tilt at stardom. They auditioned for Brunswick Records but were turned down.
  • They toiled away for five years until 1960 saw them record their first hit – Shop Around, which peaked at #2 on the US Charts.
  • 26 Top 40 Pop hits followed. Sixteen reached the Top 20, seven reached Top 10, and one -The Tears of a Clown – went all the way.
  • In 1965, the band became Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. That lasted until 1972 when Smokey (and his wife Claudette Rogers) left the band.
  • With a couple of breaks, the Miracles have reformed and split again twice. 1980 – 1983, and 1993 – 2011.
  • The genius of the band is that they wrote many of their own hits. They also took on other roles within the Motown company.  In 1964, Smokey became Motown’s vice-president.
  • The band were, in 2011, named at #32 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all Time. They have a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame and were, in 2012, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The induction was surrounded in controversy because, Smokey had been inducted as a soloist in 1987, an act that even he expressed surprise about.
  • The legacy of the Miracles is huge. Stevie Wonder once said,

Without the Miracles, there would be no Stevie Wonder.

  • Barry Gordy said,

Without the Miracles, Motown would not be the Motown it is today.

the tears of a clown fax

  • The Tears of a Clown was written by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby.
  • It was recorded by in 1966 by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles for the Tamla Records label subsidiary of Motown.
  • First appearing on the 1967 album Make It Happen, it was re-released in the UK as a single in July 1970, and went straight to #1. That prompted Motown to release the song in the US where it also went straight to the top.
  • The Tears of a Clown was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012.
  • Stevie Wonder and Hank Cosby wrote the music for the track and gave it to Smokey to see what words he could come up with. Thinking the music had a circus motif, Smokey wrote about a clown and, the rest is history.
  • Cover versions have been released by several artists including: Petula Clark, Phil Collins, Michael McDonald, Marc Cohn, and Boyzone.
  • The Tears of a Clown lyrics.

the tears of a clown – smokey robinson and the miracles – 1970 -video

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September – Earth, Wind & Fire – 1978

August 31, 2016

EWF September 1978Originally The Salty Peppers, Maurice White’s band, Earth, Wind & Fire went on to huge success which included the 1978 hit, September

 earth, wind & fire fax

  • Rolling Stone Magazine declared Earth, Wind & Fire to have “changed the sound of black pop”.
  • Founded in Chicago in 1971 by Maurice White, Earth, Wind & Fire grew out of a previous band with the very uncool name of The Salty Peppers.
  • EWF 1aOther band members included Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn, Al McKay and Andrew Woolfolk.
  • Earth, Wind & Fire has received 20 Grammy nominations, winning six awards.  Maurice and Philip have won Grammys as individuals.  The band has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • With over 100 million records sold, the band is one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time.
  • But it doesn’t stop there, incredibly, five band members, Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Larry Dunn and Al McKay, have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • Throughout the ‘70s and early ‘80s, Earth, Wind & Fire had a number of funk/disco hits, including: Shining Star, Devotion, Can’t Hide Love, September, Boogie Wonderland, and After the Love Has Gone.  Despite a plethora of hits, the band hit the #1 spot on the US singles charts only once – with Shining Star in 1974.  September was their highest charting UK hit (#3).
  • Earth, Wind & Fire have influence many artists with three in particular, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, and Dionne Warwick, heaping praise on the band.
  • Maurice passed away in February 2016 but the band continues to perform with Philip Bailey still leading the vocals (which he previously shared with Maurice).EWF 2

earth, wind & fire trivia

  • Earth, Wind & Fire was the first African-American act to sell out Madison Square Garden.
  • President Barack Obama invited Earth, Wind & Fire to perform at the White House for the first social event of his administration.

september fax

  • SEWF 1eptember was released as a single by Earth, Wind & Fire on November 18, 1978. 
  • It was written by Earth, Wind & Fire members, Maurice White, Al McKay, and Allee Willis.
  • It was recorded during the I Am sessions and featured on the band’s The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1.
  • September reached #1 on the US R&B chart, #8 on the US singles chart, and #3 on the UK singles chart.
  • The song was also later released as December.  Chord changes andmelody remained identical, with the lyrics re-written for the “…Twenty-fifth of December…”
  • September has been covered and sampled by numerous artists and appeared in dozens of movies and television programmes.
  • September lyrics.

september – earth, wind & fire – 1978 – video


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Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor – 1970

July 23, 2016

R. Dean Taylor Indiana Wants Me 1971Quite an unlikely Motown artist/producer, Canadian and white, R. Dean Taylor was once described as “one of the most underrated acts ever to record under the Motown aegis.”  R. Dean had two big hits – I Gotta See Jane (1968) and 1970’s Indiana Wants Me.

r. dean taylor fax

  • Richard Dean Taylor was born in Toronto, Canada back in 1939.  He began his music career in 1961 and still works in the music business today.
  • R. Dean Taylor 1R. Dean in the US and UK for his three hits, Indiana Wants Me, Gotta See Jane (later covered by Golden Earring, and There’s a Ghost in My House.
  • Taylor began his career in Toronto before moving to Detroit in 1964, where he was hired by Motown Records as a songwriter and recording artist.
  • R. Dean’s first Motown single (on their V.I.P. label), Let’s Go Somewhere was Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, who had already produced five No. 1 scoring songs for The Supremes. In 1968, Taylor’s self-produced single Gotta See Jane, (co-written with Brian Holland), hit #2 on the UK singles chart. 
  • In the late 60s and early 70s, R. Dean found success as a Motown songwriter.  As part of the Motown writing and production team known as The Clan he wrote material for Diana Ross & the Supremes (Love Child), The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Four Tops, Jackie DeShannon, Marvin Gaye, La Toya Jackson, Graham Parker and Rick Danko.
  • In 1970, R. Dean signed to Motown’s subsidiary Rare Earth, which was dedicated to Caucasian artists.
  • R. Dean Taylor 2His first Rare Earth single, Indiana Wants Me, became a #1 hit in the US and Canada.
  • After a break from the music industry, R. Dean attempted a comeback during the early 1980s but found little success.
  • He owns his own record company, Jane Records.

indiana wants me fax

  • Indiana Wants Me was written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter R. Dean Taylor.
  • R. Dean wrote Indiana Wants Me after watching the movie Bonnie and Clyde.
  • The single features a police siren at the beginning.  Thes was removed from some copies supplied to radio stations after complaints that drivers hearing the song on the radio had mistakenly pulled over, thinking that the sounds were real.
  • Released in August 1970, Indiana Wants Me was a #1 hit in both the US and Canada.  It was R. Dean’s only US hit and his biggest hit in the UK where it peaked at #2 in May 1971.
  • Indiana Wants Me lyrics.

indiana wants me – r. dean taylor – 1971 – video

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