Monthly Archives: January 2014

It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

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When I was twelve years old I joined the KC & the Sunshine Band fan club. They’re the first band I remember loving. Their hits were so much fun – “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty,” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “Keep It Comin’ Love,” “Boogie Shoes.” Even the ballad, “Please Don’t Go,” was a good song (and their fifth #1 single). I still love all of these.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 64th birthday of KC. Do a little dance and get down.

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My Lisa Lisa Promotional Athletic Socks (Continued)

Found them!

Lisa Lisa socks

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A Beginner’s Guide To Pharrell

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Perhaps while you were watching the Grammy Awards this past weekend you asked “Who is this cute guy with great hats who sings “Get Lucky?” He is Pharrell Williams and he has been having hits for more than twenty years.

He first hit the Top 40 as one of the writers of Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker,” which hit #2 in 1992. Since then he has co-written and co-produced hits for many pop and hip hop superstars. He has also performed as a member of N.E.R.D. Today’s playlist is a sampler of his work. You may be surprised as to how many of his hits you already know.

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Get To Know Lucinda Williams

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Over the course of her career, Lucinda Williams has been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards. She’s won three, each in a different genre – rock, country and contemporary folk. Her breakthrough album, 1998’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, topped the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for that year and made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all-time.

In addition, I’m a fan, and that should be reason enough for you to check out her work if you’re not already familiar.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 61st birthday of Lucinda Williams.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + C + C

Every Friday Tunes du Jour presents a dance playlist to get you into the weekend spirit. Today we kick off with C + C Music Factory’s “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…” in memory of David Cole, who with Robert Clivillés were the C + C of the Music Factory. Besides their own group’s hits, Cole and Clivillés produced/remixed tracks for Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Chaka Khan, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Mariah Carey, Cover Girls, Seduction, Martha Wash and, um, Jim Carrey. Cole died on January 24, 1995 of complications of spinal meningitis brought on by AIDS. He was 32.

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My Favorite Country Group – The Pointer Sisters

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At the 1974 Grammy Awards, the award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or a Group went to The Pointer Sisters. Their recording of “Fairytale,” written by sisters Anita and Bonnie Pointer and also nominated for Best Country Song, bested recordings by Willie and Tracy Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, Bobby Bare and Bobby Bare Jr. and The Statler Brothers. (Only family acts were nominated that year.) That same year The Pointer Sisters became the first African-American vocal act to perform at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

Country wasn’t the only genre at which the sisters excelled. They’re best known for their many pop hits, r&b hits and dance hits. They also performed and recorded jazz, bebop, gospel, funk and rock.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Anita Pointer with a small sampling of tracks on which she sang lead.

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Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World

Winston + Sam Cooke

I started getting into Sam Cooke in 1978. That year, Art Garfunkel had a hit with his version of “Wonderful World,” while Sam Cooke’s original version appeared on the soundtrack to the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House. I was familiar with Cat Stevens’ hit version of “Another Saturday Night” and Dr. Hook’s hit version of “Only Sixteen.” I bought Sam Cooke’s Greatest Hits to hear the original versions of these songs.

Starting his career by singing gospel music, Cooke moved into the secular market in 1956. The Soul Stirrers, the gospel group for which Cooke was singing lead, were signed to Specialty Records. The label’s head, Art Rupe, didn’t like the secular music Cooke was recording, so in 1957 Cooke left for Keen Records, where his first single was the classic “You Send Me.” It went to #1 on the pop and r&b charts. Cashing in on this success, Specialty released a single of one of the Cooke recordings they had in their vault, “I’ll Come Running Back to You.” It also went to #1 on the r&b chart and went top 20 pop.

In 1960 Cooke moved to RCA Records. As Specialty did before them, Keen looked through their vaults to find a Cooke recording to release as a single. They found “Wonderful World.” Like many of his hits, Cooke wrote the song, this one with Lou Adler and Herb Alpert. The composition initially was credited to Barbara Campbell, Cooke’s fiancée, as Cooke was engaged in a dispute with Art Rupe about publishing royalties.

The song wasn’t recorded to be a single. It was done at an impromptu session. Cooke’s regular drummer wasn’t there, so he recruited the sixteen year-old nephew of one of the other musicians to play on the track. Lou Rawls was in the studio with Sam, singing the last word of each line with Cooke in the same mic.

“Wonderful World” became another hit for Cooke on the pop and r&b charts. In all, he had 29 top 40 pop hits and 34 top 40 r&b hits. In addition to singing and writing hit songs, he started SAR Records in 1960, producing recordings for Billy Preston, Bobby Womack and Johnny Taylor, in the process becoming one of the first African-American entrepreneurs in the music business.

Sam Cooke died on December 11, 1964, from a gunshot wound. He was 33.

Today Tunes du Jour remembers the great Sam Cooke on what would have been his 83rd birthday.

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King Holiday

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was first celebrated as a national holiday in the United States on January 20, 1986. To commemorate this, a group of popular urban music acts of that time collaborated on a single entitled “King Holiday.” The song was written by Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Phillip Jones and Bill Adler. Appearing with Blow and Melle Mel on the record are Run-D.M.C., Whitney Houston, Lisa Lisa, Full Force, James “JT” Taylor (of Kool & the Gang), Teena Marie, Whodini, Fat Boys, El DeBarge, Stephanie Mills, New Edition, Stacy Lattisaw and Menudo.

A bill to turn King’s birthday into a national holiday was first introduced to the House of Representatives in 1979, but it didn’t receive enough votes to pass. The following year Stevie Wonder released “Happy Birthday,” a song calling for the holiday, and organized a rally in Washington DC for the cause. Soon, a petition was circulated calling for the same. Six million signatures were collected. Though President Reagan was initially against the holiday, he later signed the bill authorizing it.

Senator John McCain of Arizona was against the holiday, as was that state’s governor, Evan Meacham. New Hampshire didn’t acknowledge Martin Luther King Day until 1999. South Carolina made King Day a paid holiday for state employees in 2000. Prior to then, employees could choose between observing King’s birthday or one of three Confederate holidays.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton

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In 1967 country music superstar Porter Wagoner invited Dolly Parton to co-host his TV series. The duo went on to record twelve albums together. The television exposure helped Dolly score several solo hits as well, including the classic “Jolene.”

She left the series in 1974 to focus on her solo career. As a goodbye and thank you to Wagoner she wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You.” The record went to #1 on the country music chart but it didn’t crossover to the pop charts.

After he heard Parton’s record, Elvis Presley wanted to record a cover of the tune. Dolly was open to this until Presley’s manager told her she would have to turn over half of the publishing royalties to Elvis in exchange for him making the song a hit. She declined.

In 1975 Linda Ronstadt recorded a cover of the tune for her Prisoner in Disguise album.

In 1982 Parton re-recorded the song for her film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The new version also went to #1 on the country chart. It reached #53 on the pop chart.

Ten years later Whitney Houston recorded her version of the song for the soundtrack to her film The Bodyguard. The plan was for Houston to cover “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” but that song ended up being used in another film released in 1991. Kevin Costner, Houston’s co-star in The Bodyguard, was familiar with “I Will Always Love You” from Linda Ronstadt’s recording of it. He suggested it to Whitney, who loved it. Clive Davis, the head of Whitney’s label, Arista Records, wasn’t sure about having his soul diva cover a country song, but Costner insisted. You know how this story ends.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 68th birthday of Dolly Parton by laughin’ and drinkin’ and havin’ a party and presenting a playlist of some of her best.

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You Should Know David Ruffin

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The Temptations already performed and recorded before David Ruffin joined the group in 1964. Lead vocals were usually handled by Eddie Kendricks or Paul Williams. Smokey Robinson, who co-wrote songs and produced tracks for the group during this period, heard something in Ruffin’s voice that told him he could be more than a background singer.

Challenging himself to come up with this perfect song for Ruffin to sing, Smokey delivered what became the group’s first #1 record on the pop and r&b charts. The song was “My Girl,” the first of several classic Temptations sides on which Ruffin sang lead.

Ruffin wasn’t with the group for very long. He was fired in 1968 after missing performances. He had a couple of solo hits after leaving The Temptations but for the most part, his hit-making days were behind him.

Ruffin died at age 50 in 1991. On today, Ruffin’s birthday, Tunes du Jour presents a playlist of some of Ruffin’s best work. It’s amazing how many great tunes he sang lead on during his brief tenure with The Temptations.

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