Norma Jean Wright, who sang lead vocals on Chic’s first smash single “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” was born on this date in 1956 in Ripley, Tennessee, which is not far from the town of Nutbush, from where Tina Turner hails. Wright’s dad attended the same church as Tina. Besides her work with Chic, most notably on the aforementioned single and its follow-up, “Everybody Dance,” Wright has released solo records and sang backup on albums by Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Luther Vandross (who sings backup on “Dance, Dance, Dance”) and Sister Sledge.
Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Norma Jean Wright with a playlist that includes her two biggest hits with Chic.
In his excellent autobiography Le Freak, Chic’s Nile Rodgers writes how his group’s record label wanted to capture the magic Rodgers and his music partner Bernard Edwards brought to their group to other acts on the Atlantic Records roster, such as The Rolling Stones and Bette Midler. Nile turned down the acts that were firmly established, as with them less attention would be paid to the song’s writers and producers. He wanted to work with a lesser known act. Atlantic Records president Jerry Greenberg suggested a group of sisters who “stick together like birds of a feather,” and so it came to be that Rodgers and Edwards wrote and produced the We Are Family album for Sister Sledge. I think you know what happened next.
Today’s playlist celebrates the birthday of Sister Sledge lead vocalist Kathy Sledge by including several tracks from that classic album.
Today’s playlist celebrates the November 26 birthdays of The Supremes’ Jean Terrell, Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie, Tina Turner, Garnet Mimms, DJ Khaled, Hashim, Rhythm Heritage’s Michael Omartian, The Fendermen’s Jim Sundquist, and Tom Archia; and the November 27 birthdays of Jimi Hendrix, The Streets’ Mike Skinner, Das EFX’s Skoob, 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady, Jam & Spoon’s Mark Spoon, Teri DeSario, Dozy, Eddie Rabbitt, and Ed O.G.
Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist revisits the music of 1975. Each of the 30 songs below made the pop top 40. I miss the days before radio became so segmented and one could hear Eagles rubbing up against Minnie Riperton next to Bob Dylan followed by Labelle with Bruce Springsteen’s first hit playing with The Captain & Tennille’s first hit on deck. It satisfies the musical omnivore that I am.
Nineteen eighty wasn’t a game changing year on the US pop chart. It wasn’t 1964. It wasn’t 1991. For the most part it was music business as usual. The death of disco was greatly exaggerated. Just ask any member of Lipps, Inc., should you have any idea what any member of Lipps, Inc. looks like. Seventies hit makers stayed on the charts. Paul McCartney. Diana Ross. Stevie Wonder. Barbra Streisand. The Captain & Tennille did it to us one more time, it meaning having a hit single. A few outsiders snuck into the top 40 with sounds unlike the rest – Devo hit with “Whip It,” Gary Numan with “Cars,” and The Vapors with “Turning Japanese.” In the coming years more such weirdos would make their presence known.
While many of 1980’s hits were great singles, many classics were born outside of the mainstream. Releases such as Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Redemption Song,” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Peter Gabriel’s “Biko,” Prince’s “When You Were Mine,” David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes,” and Funky 4 + 1’s “That’s the Joint” are often referred to as classics these days. In 1980, not a single one of them troubled the US Hot 100. Change was on its way. In 1980, rap wasn’t a fixture on the top 40, though its influence was heard in Queen’s #1 smash “Another One Bites the Dust.” The next few years saw #1 hits from Peter Gabriel, Prince, David Bowie and a rap song, plus a top ten reggae song.
Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist shines a spotlight on 1980.
This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist focuses on 1976. It’s easy to remember some of the cheesier songs to make the pop chart (I’ve included examples of those), though there were a lot of great hits as well. Disco was still growing in popularity and having an influence on r&b and pop music. Punk rock was now on major labels, though it wouldn’t influence the pop chart for a while. Pick out the gems of 1976’s output and you’ll have a nice selection of tunes, as evidenced below.