Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Eurythmics - "Here Comes the Rain Again"

Here Comes the Rain Again - Touch

(Debuted January 28, 1984, Peaked #4, 20 Weeks on the Chart)

It was pretty hard to miss The Eurythmics. In 1983, Their breakout song in the U.S. was "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," which was all over the radio and MTV as it went to #1. The memorable synth line mixed with the bright orange hair of Annie Lennox to make the song and video a reminder of that moment in time.

Personally, I found the duo's second Top 10 hit to be more interesting. While an actual string section shows up here (though I didn't pay any attention to that at the time), the song eschews a traditional verse/chorus structure for two distinct parts -- beginning "Here comes the rain again" and "Walk with me..." --  that are separated by short instrumental sections. Where "Sweet Dreams" seemed to be pushed because it was new or innovative, "Here Comes the Rain Again" seemed to me to be a better song. Its success proved that the duo wasn't just another act that came out with one interesting song or video and then just disappeared. Fortunately, they stuck around for several more hits.

There's an interesting back story behind The Eurythmics. Where some groups form during a pairing of the leads, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox were a couple first and became a musical act as their personal relationship broke up. As exes, they found the music had much more chemistry than it would have if they'd stayed together. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rodney Dangerfield - "Rappin' Rodney"

(Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted December 3, 1983, Peaked #83, 7 Weeks on the Chart)

There was no surer sign that rap music had "arrived" than the fact that it was added to a novelty record as a music bed to play behind some of the gems in Rodney Dangerfield's stand-up act.

Born Jacob Cohen in 1921, his early attempts at show business failed, so he became an aluminum siding salesman and was in his mid 40s before a last-minute chance on The Ed Sullivan Show made him a star. Dangerfield was at his peak in the early 1980s, with his appearance in the film Caddyshack, on the Johnny Carson TV show and in HBO specials from his comedy club. His onstage persona was the lovable loser, whose "I don't get no respect" schtick formed the basis of "Rappin' Rodney."

The song was part of his 1983 LP No Respect, the song was an early MTV favorite. Today, it may come across as simply Dangerfield's routine set to music, but it's also a time capsule to itself.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Extra: New Soft Cell Book

As an 80s music blogger, I often receive emails for stuff that is upcoming, and if they fit the format here, I'll share them with my audience. So, this past Monday I was sent an unsolicited email from Rhino. I'll say it again...this was unsolicited and sent to me because I was an 80s music blogger.

They had a new series of e-Books coming out that related to music from the 1980s, and would I mind helping them spread the word? So...I sent back my answer that I'll be happy to help them out, that I could run posts for three straight weeks, even sent the dates that I would run the posts. My response was rather abrupt: since I also do a 1970s music-related blog, I wasn't able to be given any assistance. Mind you, he sent me the email. Follow-up emails went unanswered, so I don't have five free copies to give to my readers. But, I'll keep my word and run this...and as you read on, please remember that it isn't Kurt B. Reighley's fault that his PR person was rude.

Reighley has written a book titled Say Hello, Wave Goodbye: The Fleeting Fame & Lasting Legacy of Soft Cell. While he goes through the explanation of the duo's rise from the late 1970s punk scene, their early 1980s "overnight" success, their quick stay at the top of the pop scene and their rather quick demise, he also delves into his own status as a fan. The funny thing...is the Reighley didn't gravitate to the band through "Tainted Love." As a person who avoided the Top 40 thing, that song was outside of his comfort zone (though he admitted that he did dig it in private). Actually, the song "Frustration" was played to him by a friend who taped it on Night Flight.

Finding something off the beaten path is something I appreciate, and Night Flight was one of my guilty pleasures. Here's the video that "ruined" Reighley for life:

The e-Book is available on iTunes and through Amazon. If you aren't "with it" enough to have a Kindle or an iPad like me, that's okay...you can still read it with a computer. Here's your links:

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye: The Fleeting Fame & Lasting Legacy of Soft Cell - Kurt B. Reighley

They're available for $2.49, with no delivery fees. What's even better, they're yours in a matter of minutes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The System - "You Are in My System"

You Are in My System Remix - Esp

(Debuted March 5, 1983, Peaked #64, 8 Weeks on the Chart)

Since beginning this blog, I've featured two songs by Robert Palmer, but none of the songs he covered. Today, I'll make amends for that, by tossing out a song that actually outperformed Palmer's version on the charts.

The System was the interracial duo of singer Mic Murphy and keyboardist David Frank. Their marriage of electronic music with soulful lyrics was dubbed "emotio-electro" by critics, but the duo was just happy to let the music speak for itself. Though "You Are in My System" topped out at #64, it was a Top 10 R&B hit and charted on the Dance chart as well. Palmer's version of the song came out the next year and brought it some new exposure, but only reached #78 in its own chart run.

By the way, I had one of those "Kiss This Guy" moments years ago. One night, I heard this song while scanning the radio dial and came across a Saturday night dance-oriented show out of Syracuse, New York. I didn't know the song then, but the words hit my ear as "you are in my sister." That certainly seemed odd to me until I found out the real title. That said, I'll never forget that alternate title as long as I hear the song.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

JoBoxers - "Just Got Lucky"

Just Got Lucky - Essential Boxerbeat

(Debuted September 10, 1983, Peaked #36, 15 Weeks on the Chart)

The story of the group JoBoxers begins in 1982, when Vic Goddard left the British punk band Subway Sect. The remaining group members teamed up with the expatriate American singer Dig Wayne and the resulting synthesis mixed the Northern Soul sound that was really big in the U.K. with the still-nascent New Wave sound (circa 1983). The group appeared to be on the verge of breaking out as 1984 dawned, but were done by 1985. They managed a few U.K.-based hits, but "Just Got Lucky" was their only Stateside hit.

On the surface, you wouldn't think a synthesizer-based tune would work with a Stax-styled brass section, but the two different sounds blend well on the record. The old-school rhythm section features a live bass player and drummer, and Wayne stays out front with his vocal, an American backed by singers who are blatantly British. It was a mash-up of old and new, American and British styles, and was a deserving hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a burst of adrenaline and the fact that it stood out in late 1983 was something special.

It's a shame it wasn't meant to last. Wayne started a solo career in the 1980s, but has since returned to the States and has focused on a career in acting as well as singing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stevie Nicks - "Stand Back"

Stand Back - The Wild Heart

(Debuted June 4, 1983, Peaked #5, 19 Weeks on the Chart)

If you want an example of a synthesizer-based 1980s song, you can never go wrong using this one. Influenced by Prince's "Little Red Corvette," Stevie Nicks was on her her way to her honeymoon when that song came over the air. She began humming the melody and soon wrote out some lyrics. She even managed to get His Royal Badness to come into the studio a short time later and lay down the synthesizer line uncredited. It was one of those songs that has a great deal of energy: from the moment it starts up, it just blows away anything in its path. And that has just as much to do with Nicks' performance as it does with Prince's.

A #5 pop hit, it managed to hold its own against the elements of age much better than many of the electronic-based synth tunes of its era. It has also become a concert staple by Nicks since its debut in 1983, as well as a frequent performance by her band Fleetwood Mac since 1987. It's become one of her signature tunes, despite the fact that it wasn't solidly in the general category of Nicks' library. In short, the driving beat is as solid as any she's ever fronted, and that says a lot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dionne Warwick - "Heartbreaker"

Heartbreaker - Heartbreaker

(Debuted October 9, 1982, Peaked #10, 21 Weeks on the Chart)

When the 1970s ended and gave way to a new decade, there was a shift in musical tastes that affected a lot of the artists who'd scored some really big hits in the old decade. While some artists adapted and managed to survive the changes (Donna Summer), there were others whose chart fortunes fell off considerably. And one of those acts was The Bee Gees. Well, that's partially true, and I'll get back to that point.

The change also allowed some acts to reappear after seeming to be gone from popularity for a while. One of the "comeback" acts was Dionne Warwick, whose reemergence came with a 1979 LP produced by Barry Manilow. When she recorded her 1982 LP Heartbreaker, she tapped the Gibb Brothers to produce it. Contrary to popular belief, the brothers were kept busy with other projects; the end of the decade didn't "kill" them as many have stated. Yes, their early 1980s material wasn't the chart material that the late 1970s produced, but their success led to a great deal of work behind the scenes. And if you think the dawn of the 1980s doomed their work, I'd counter that you just weren't listening closely.

The song "Heartbreaker" has the Gibbs' hallmarks all over it. They sing backup, the backing music features their synthesized brass, and the drum rhythm is unmistakeably theirs. Three years after the brothers were supposedly "out," here they were in the pop Top 10 and #1 on the adult contemporary chart. They also went to #2 in the U.K. with the song. They weren't done, either...later in 1983, they created a country/pop record that would be a crossover #1 smash.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Plimsouls - "A Million Miles Away"

A Million Miles Away - Everywhere at Once

(Debuted July 30, 1983, Peaked #82, 3 Weeks on the Chart)

"A Million Miles Away" was the only Hot 100 entry for The Plimsouls, a Los Angeles-based quartet who'd been recording since 1978. Despite the lack of national success, they were quite popular around their home city, appearing on the local powerhouse radio station KROQ at the same time it was at its peak. Headed by Peter Case, the band mixed its interest in 1960s-era garage band rock with a newer New Wave sound to fit in perfectly with the L.A. scene at that moment.

When "A Million Miles Away" was included in the soundtrack to the 1983 film Valley Girl, it broke the band nationally.  Originally recorded as a single only, its appearance in the movie during a party scene helped it immensely. Unfortunately, the momentum failed to propel the band forward and they broke up soon after their next LP Everywhere At Once, hastily recorded to benefit from the single. They've reformed on occasion, but their one "big" song is all they're really remembered for nationally. Case has gone on to achieve some solo success, and that has helped keep the band's material alive for their fans.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Judas Priest - "You've Got Another Thing Comin'"

You've Got Another Thing Comin' - Screaming for Vengeance

(Debuted November 6, 1982, Peaked #67, 7 Weeks on the Chart)

Here's an irony...back in 1982, the same person who'd say to me, "you've got another thing coming" was the same person who normally told me to turn the volume down on songs like this one. But, that was part of what made the song so listenable to a generation of youth: the "us-against-them" attitude, mixed with the amped-up guitar riffs, the catchy, memorable chorus and the melody that was easy to sing along with.

Surprisingly, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" was also the only U.S. pop hit for Judas Priest, a British metal group that was one of the more popular in the 1980s. I know when I was in the weight room at my school's gym (I was on the football team...but not a good one, mind you), Judas Priest was on several of the cassettes that played during our workouts. The albums British Steel, Turbo and Screaming For Vengeance -- which included "You've Got Another Thing Comin'"-- were in fairly heavy rotation there. Those aren't bad choices when the desired result is to get the adrenaline pumping and teenaged boys are around.

Well, besides bringing in some of the cheerleaders. But that would have been counter-productive.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jackson Browne - "Somebody's Baby"

Somebody's Baby - Fast Times At Ridgemont High (Music from the Motion Picture)

(Debuted July 31, 1982, Peaked #7, 19 Weeks on the Chart)

Earlier this year, I mentioned that it was the 30th anniversary of the film The Last American Virgin, but I would be ashamed to forget that it's also the 30th anniversary of the film that has set the standard for the era's high school-based films: Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Given a bigger budget, the film launched several careers and had some memorable scenes. In some cases, the scenes were given new life in the future; in one familiar case, the Phoebe Cates swimsuit scene was appropriated to the video for Fountains of Wayne's 2003 hit "Stacy's Mom."

The biggest single from the soundtrack was also the highest-charting single of Jackson Browne's career. That might be a surprise to many, considering "Somebody's Baby" isn't usually the first song fans think of when hearing his name. However, the fact that the song was on the soundtrack (an not a Browne LP at the time) mixed with the fact that it was featured twice in the film to make it a big hit late in the summer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stevie Wonder - "That Girl"

That Girl - Number 1's

(Debuted January 16, 1982, Peaked #4, 18 Weeks on the Chart)

Stevie Wonder was able to put out a double-length greatest hits compilation of his material from 1971-1980 in 1982. Called The Original Musiquarium, the album contained 11 hit singles, plus "Isn't She Lovely," a popular song from Songs in the Key of Life that wasn't issued as a single. Broken into four sides, the set was given a new song at the end of every side, which gave the LP a sufficient amount of "new" material to keep Wonder in the public eye as he took a short break from recording.

The first new single from the set was "That Girl," which went #4 pop and topped the R&B survey for nine weeks. The song featured one of Wonder's signature harmonica solos in addition to his distinctive phrasings and production. It would be sampled in the future, for 2Pac's single "So Many Tears" and on a remake version by Joe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

LeRoux - "Nobody Said it Was Easy (Lookin' For the Lights)"

Nobody Said It Was Easy - Last Safe Place

(Debuted February 13, 1982, Peaked #18, 13 Weeks on the Chart)

LeRoux were formed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1976. Originally called Louisiana's LeRoux -- a nod to their home state and region, as roux is a gravy used in making gumbo -- they scored a minor hit in 1978 with "New Orleans Ladies." Further hits by the band stiffed, and they were dropped by Capitol Records in 1980. A year later, they reemerged simply as LeRoux and embraced a more adult-friendly AOR sound. That  would show itself in "Nobody Said it Was Easy (Lookin' For the Lights)," the band's only Top 40 single.

The song's lyrics are obtuse enough to be applied to a wide variety of situations, from a search of brighter pastures to a breakup, but the song mentions a situation where somebody is off looking for whatever is calling him (or her) away. It featured a delicate melody and a blend of the group members' voices on the chorus.

Once again, further hits failed to generate and interest, and the band split for the first time in 1984. Last Safe Place, the album that contained "Nobody Said it Was Easy," would be the final set from the original lineup before the inevitable shake-up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Player - "If Looks Could Kill"

If Looks Could Kill - Spies Of Life

(Debuted January 23, 1982, Peaked #48, 7 Weeks on the Chart)

The group Player was a Los Angeles-based unit that came together in 1976. Exhibiting solid studio perfection, they had some hits that will be forever linked with the late 1970s, including the #1 smash "Baby Come Back" and the Top 10 hit "This Time I'm in it For Love." They had a knack for sounding like others; "Baby Come Back" sounded almost like a Hall & Oates song, and Steely Dan seemed to be channeled for "This Time I'm in it For Love." By the end of the decade, however, there was some internal dissension that caused some lineup changes.

In late 1981, the group came up with its fourth LP Spies of Life and "If Looks Could Kill" was tagged as the first single.  By this time, only singer/guitarist Peter Beckett was left from the group's 1970s hit lineup and the band didn't seem to have the knack for replicating more than a generic studio sound. On the surface, "If Looks Could Kill" has a definitive 1980s "sound," but when you scratch that surface, it doesn't have the hooks or sharp songwriting that marked their earlier hits. It would be the band's final Hot 100 entry before the group was retired. Player has reformed a few times over the years, once in 1995 and again in 2007. They're still recording today.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Producers - "What She Does to Me"

(Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted June 13, 1981, Peaked #61, 6 Weeks on the Chart)

The Producers were an Atlanta-based band that started out as a Beatles cover band called Cartoon. They soon changed direction and espoused a power-pop style that was really suited for the 1980s but really couldn't break out on a larger scale. Despite one Billboard Hot 100 single and some MTV success, the band was unceremoniously dropped by Portrait Records after two LPs. They split up in the early 1990s, but still get together from time to time to play a show.

The bridge of the song mentions a lady named Diana. Since 1981 was the same year that Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles and instantly became a worldwide celebrity, the timing was perfect on this song. Although I'm certain that Diana wasn't the same person, the association definitely didn't hurt.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Neil Diamond - "Hello Again"

Hello Again - The Jazz Singer (Original Songs from the Motion Picture)

(Debuted January 31, 1981, Peaked #6, 16 Weeks on the Chart)

As one of the three Top 10 pop singles from Neil Diamond's soundtrack to The Jazz Singer, there are two ways to look at it. That was Diamond's biggest-selling LP, so the three hits represent the artist at his peak. To some, however, it's the moment he decided to drift toward an adult contemporary style after spending a decade and a half flirting with other sounds. I guess it depends on which type of fan you are to figure out which side of the coin you take on that.

To my ears, however, "Hello Again" is a great ballad even if it's a safe performance. It's used in a dramatic scene in the movie, but in my own life there have been a few situations where I happened to find myself in places and situations I'd left behind as I moved on with my life (or, as the line goes, "I put my heart above my head").  But, in the end, when I come back, it's always great to have an open set of arms. It's that feeling that makes me so nostalgic about this particular song. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gino Vannelli - "Living Inside Myself"

Living Inside Myself - These Are the Days

(Debuted March 21, 1981, Peaked #6, 20 Weeks on the Chart)

"Living Inside Myself" was the third and final Top 40 U.S. pop hit of the career of Canadian singer Gino Vannelli. On the surface, it shares many similarities with his biggest hit, 1978's "I Just Wanna Stop," but when you give it another listen, it is actually a deeper and richer song.

The song was written by Vannelli, and produced by him and his brothers Joe and Ross. It begins with an electric piano, but it doesn't take much time for Vannelli's voice to take center stage. It is raw and emotional, as if he's in physical pain over his situation. Before Vanelli's later flirtations with electronic music, he's content to simply allow his own voice to tell a story, which he does superbly. In fact, there are backing singers here but it's hard to tell unless you really listen for them; that is how much his voice takes command here.

"Living Inside Myself" was also the only Vannelli song that charted higher in the U.S. than it did in his native country. In Canada, it only reached #13. It also peaked at #5 on the U.S. adult contemporary survey.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stanley Clarke & George Duke - "Sweet Baby"

Sweet Baby (Album Version) - George Duke Greatest Hits

(Debuted May 2, 1981, Peaked #19, 20 Weeks on the Chart)

George Duke and Stanley Clarke are both renowned as jazz artists, but "Sweet Baby" doesn't sound so much like a jazz composition. It is pure pop, and lodges itself firmly in the head of the listener after the song is over (I mean that in a good way).

Clarke is a member of the jazz fusion group Return To Forever and a well-known bass player who's developed a distinctive style of picking and popping. As for Duke, he's well-known as a jazz musician but has evaded being pinned down by the genre. He's been a keyboardist, a singer, a composer and producer. He used all those talents on the collaborative LP The Clarke/Duke Project, and "Sweet Baby" went higher up the charts than anything they did solo. While those who are jazz fans often bemoan this fact (they feel that the LP didn't let the pair bring out each other's strengths), it is a nice pop composition that is rarely heard any longer.

In a way, that's a shame..."Sweet Baby" would fit in well as an AC song.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Gap Band - "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)"

Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me) - The Gap Band III

(Debuted February 28, 1981, Peaked #84, 8 Weeks on the Chart)

I'm going to come right out and say it...The Gap Band is much better than many of us realize. For 43 years (1967-2010), they laid down a righteous path of funk and really didn't get a lot of appreciation for doing it. Instead, the band -- made up of the three Wilson brothers from Oklahoma -- received a great deal of respect among the R&B/hip hop crowd but were better known by pop fans as the originators of Robert Palmer's "Early in the Morning" as well as for "You Dropped a Bomb On Me."

After three singles "bubbled under" the pop charts, "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" finally placed them in the Hot 100. It was also their first #1 R&B hit. It lays down a classic funk groove and rides it for the full five and a half minutes of the song. There's a video below. Click it and see if you're not ready to hear some more when it's over.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Kurtis Blow - "The Breaks"

The Breaks - Kurtis Blow

(Debuted September 6, 1980, Peaked #87, 6 Weeks on the Chart)

In the 1990s, a singer could string together a list of bad luck and call it "Ironic." In the 1980s, hard luck was just the way it was. Hence, they were "The Breaks," a song that was humorous, but like most good humor there was a pang of truth to the lyrics. While borrowing money from the Mob is a bad idea...the lines about getting stuck with a large phone bill or dating a man that turned out to be married wasn't far-fetched.

Kurtis Blow was the first rapper signed to a major label (Mercury) after the sound exploded at the beginning of the decade. "The Breaks" was his first single and its lyrics played with several meanings of the word "break": the song's style is a direct influence on its title. There are six breakdowns (seven if you count the spoken intro). The words "the breaks" are heard no fewer than eighty-four times in the album version.

Although its groove has been lifted for a number of rap and hip-hop songs over the years, on "The Breaks" it was entirely original.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Captain & Tennille - "Do That To Me One More Time"

Do That to Me One More Time - Ultimate Collection: Captain & Tennille

(Debuted October 20, 1979, Peaked #1, 26 Weeks on the Chart)

I once had somebody explain to me how "Do That to Me One More Time" was dirty because it basically bringing up the subject of sex. It seems that the person who was telling me this was under the impression that people didn't have sex (or that it was an activity best kept behind closed doors). That's what is so neat about music; the listener can -- and should -- be free to draw their own conclusions about what they hear. As for me, I still hear the line "kiss me, like you just did...oh Baby, do that to me once again," which indicates that's the activity being sung about. Besides, Toni Tennille was singing about her husband...and even if it was about sex, that's the one person she should be singing to.

In any case, it was the final Top 40 hit the duo would have, as the decade's change symbolically shifted musical tastes as well. As relic of the late 70s, they were essentially cast aside as a "new" era dawned...despite the fact that their adult-leaning compositions were well-suited to fit in. However, "Love Will Keep Us Together," "Lonely Night (Angel Face)" and especially "Muskrat Love" led them to be cast out. They managed two more Hot 100 singles, but that was all.

But I'll go on the record and say this much: Daryl Dragon (The Captain) is one lucky guy. Here's his wife letting millions of people know that he's a stud in her book. And the way she half-sings just how great he is, I wish I can eventually find a lady who can purr like that. Well played, Sir.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

George Benson - "Give Me the Night"

Give Me the Night - Give Me the Night

(Debuted July 5, 1980, Peaked #4, 23 Weeks on the Chart)

(The next paragraph is for the benefit of this blog's foreign readers. According to my stats, there's more of them than you'd realize.)

For my readers here in the U.S., it's July 4th -- Independence Day -- and a custom of the holiday is a celebratory nighttime fireworks show. With that in mind, here's a song about the night...and an upbeat, joyous tune as well. While it's missing the bombastic and patriotic qualities of John Phillip Sousa's best work, it is a great modern song to play while fireworks are going off. 

George Benson made his name as a jazz guitarist and an interpreter of songs. At the time, he also worked as a session artist and built up a rapport with many of the finest artists in the business. Though he was an instrumentalist, he eventually performed on his records as a singer as well. By 1980, he was being produced by Quincy Jones and having ex-Heatwave keyboardist Rod Temperton write songs for him. The two had just worked with Michael Jackson for Off the Wall (and would do the same for Thriller), so Benson was getting top-notch assistance. He also had help from noted studio musician Lee Ritenour and Patti Austin, who provides a great deal of the backing vocals on "Give Me the Night."

With that kind of talent behind him (not to mention that Benson was incredibly talented on his own), it's hard to imagine that the result would have been bad. And "Give Me the Night" certainly didn't disappoint.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stacy Lattisaw - "Let Me Be Your Angel"

Let Me Be Your Angel - Let Me Be Your Angel

(Debuted August 9, 1980, Peaked #21, 23 Weeks on the Chart)

First of all, I need to make an apology. Back in April, I mentioned here that Glenn Mediros was one of series of teenaged singers who hit in the last half of the 1980s. That was true, but I also mentioned that no teenaged solo singers made the Top 40 in the 1980s until 1986. That little nugget was placed into my head by Casey Kasem, who mentioned it on one of his shows. And here I am looking at Stacy Lattisaw, who was under 20 and had two Top 40 hits (and a string of R&B hits) in that time frame. That said, it might have been easy to forget her age, since she wasn't treated like a teenybopper when it came to recording.

In 1980, Lattisaw's first Top 40 hit was "Let Me Be Your Angel," where the 13 year-old showed that -- while she was still growing into her range -- she was willing to explore the full limits of her voice. What's really interesting is that the album the song appeared on wasn't even her debut. That came in 1979, when she was 12 years old and recorded Young and in Love with Van McCoy. Sadly, McCoy passed away that year, so Narada Michael Walden took her under his wing as a producer and co-wrote many of her songs (including "Let Me Be Your Angel."

Under Walden, Lattisaw's career blossomed. Despite her age, she wasn't given the typical bubblegum-flavored fare. That's one of the reasons that "Let Me Be Your Angel" is impressive once you realize that it's a 13 year-old singing it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vaughan Mason & Crew - "Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll"

Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll - Roll Bounce (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

(Debuted March 22, 1980, Peaked #81, 3 Weeks on the Chart)

Here's a song that has lived on in perpetuity thanks to its inclusion in a number of rap samples over the years. While the song was built upon the bass line from Chic's 1979 song "Good Times" -- to be fair, so were "Rapper's Delight" and "Another One Bites the Dust" -- the "rock skate, roll bounce" chant has taken on a life of its own. It's remained visible through exposure on classic "old school" R&B radio and even gave the 2005 film Roll Bounce a title despite the fact that it wasn't around during the 1978 setting of that movie.

There's not a lot of info out there about Vaughan Mason or his Crew. Evidently, the East Coast band was active from 1979-'82, the lead singer was actually Jerome Bell and their later singles flopped. However, the groove they established with their one hit (which went #5 on the R&B chart) has kept them around for years.