Tag Archives: Labelle

You Know Their Songs: Kenny Gamble And Leon Huff


You may not know their names, but you know many of their songs. Individually, but more often as a team, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote and/or produced a lot of timeless classic songs in the soul music genre. They were the pre-eminent rhythm and blues architects of the first half of the 1970s, and their production style paved the way for disco, before that genre got watered down. Plenty of their records found their way to the top of the pop charts as well.

Today is Kenny Gamble’s 75th birthday. To celebrate, Tunes du Jour presents a playlist of twenty great Gamble and Huff sides.


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Throwback Thursday – 1975

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
You gotta get out while you’re young

New Jersey does not have an official state song. There have been attempts to adopt one since at least 1939, when the state’s Board of Education held a contest to find a suitable number. They named Samuel F. Monroe’s “The New Jersey Loyalty Song” as the contest’s winner, but it was not good enough to be the official state song.

In 1972, the state legislature proposed that Joseph “Red” Mascara’s “I’m from New Jersey” be the state’s song, but Governor William Cahill vetoed the measure, stating succinctly about the song “It stinks.”

In March of 1980, radio d.j. Carol Miller started a petition to have “Born to Run,” written and recorded by New Jersey’s favorite son, Bruce Springsteen, be named the state song. Three state assemblypersons drafted a resolution declaring “Born to Run” “as the unofficial *rock* theme of our State’s youth.” I’m confused to as to how an official resolution can name an “unofficial” theme, just as the state’s senate was confused as to how a song that includes the lyrics that open this post expresses pride in where one’s from. The bid died.
The song also includes these lyrics that tickle my friend Audrey so: Someday, girl, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go.

Oh, that place!

By the way, I got out of New Jersey when I was 24.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights some of the best tunes from 1975, kicking off with what is unofficially New Jersey’s unofficial state song, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

“If disco had stuck around, we don’t how much less terrorism we might have in the world now.”
– Gloria Gaynor

Recently, Bono, the singer with U2, made headlines when he suggested that to fight ISIS we send comedians to entertain them, which is his stupidest idea since foisting U2’s most recent album on unsuspecting people by automatically including it in their iTunes libraries. Talk about a sneak attack!

To her credit, Gloria Gaynor didn’t go as far as suggesting we deploy KC & the Sunshine Band to the Middle East. She merely wondered aloud if more disco equals less terrorism.

She may be onto something. Case in point – I listen to a lot of disco, and I’ve never killed anyone.

Do you need more evidence? I’ve gone to many a classic disco night, and I’ve yet to witness a single beheading.

People have claimed that playing heavy metal albums backwards reveals satanic messages. You know what happens when you play a Village People album backwards? It sounds exactly the same!

To do my part in fighting terrorism, I present to you some of my favorite disco tunes of all time, with “all time” meaning the years 1975 thru 1979. To show how serious I am in this fight against evil, today’s playlist includes twenty-five songs instead of the usual twenty. You’re welcome.


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25 Things You Don’t Know About Me (+ It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!)

25 Things You Don’t Know About Me:
1. I never wear flip-flops in public, except on the beach.
2. The first time I met Chaka Khan, I said to her “You are the ultimate sex goddess of life.” Her mouth said “Thanks.” Her eyes said “SECURITY!!!”
3. I have two eyes and two ears, but only one nose.
4. I can name every letter of the alphabet.
5. I sleep in a bed.
6. I can bench press over 18 pounds.
7. I eat solid food.
8. I’m an American citizen.
9. I know every word to the theme from S.W.A.T.
10. I celebrate my birthday once a year.
11. I’m always listening to music, except when I’m not.
12. I can recite the Pledge of Allegiance by heart.
13. Some of my best friends are gay.
14. I know how to say hello in English.
15. Everyone in my family is a homo sapien.
16. I’ve never met Barack Obama or Millard Fillmore; however, I did meet Jermaine Stewart, the guy who sang “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.”
17. I’ll often wear the same jeans two or three times in a given month.
18. I’ve never gotten high, drunk, or a legendary engram.
19. I have no idea what a legendary engram is.
20. I am 5’9½” tall, though I was shorter at the time of my birth.
21. If I’m outside in the rain and I don’t have an umbrella, I usually end up getting wet.
22. I’ve never been pregnant.
23. I’m unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
24. I was not in the movies Star Wars, Rear Window or Beethoven 2.
25. I don’t know what a slide rule is for.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our party kicks off with Sade. Sade, the lead singer of Sade, turns 56 today, which reminds me: 26. I once rode in an elevator with Sade, the lead singer of Sade.

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Your Bastille Day Playlist

Paris001
In seventh grade we were given the option of taking Spanish or being expelled. I opted for the former. I did well in Spanish class. When I moved on to high school in ninth grade, we had a foreign language requirement, our options being Spanish, French or Swahili. I stayed with Spanish.

Through music I was able to pick up bits and pieces of other languages. I picked up some French phrases from Labelle and Talking Heads. I learned some Japanese from The Police and Robyn. The Rolling Stones and Dusty Springfield recorded Italian-language versions of a couple of their hits, and The Beatles recorded “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” in German.

Limited as it was, this knowledge of foreign languages served me well when I moved into Sony Music’s International division. I could converse with our affiliates and licensees around the world. Sure, all I knew how to say to the folks in our French office was “Would you like to go to bed with me tonight?” and “What is it?,” but that’s all I needed to say. They appreciated the effort.

As today is Bastille Day and this blog has a French name, I created a playlist to help you with your French and your French kissing. Amusez-vous!

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It’s Quincy Jones’ Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Quincy 001
Twenty Things You Should Know About Quincy Jones:
1) He’s had a record 79 Grammy Award nominations. He’s won 27.
2) He arranged the Frank Sinatra/Count Basie version of “Fly Me to the Moon,” which astronaut Neil Armstrong played when he first landed on the moon.
3) Jones produced the soundtrack of the motion picture The Wiz. He later said he hated working on it, as he didn’t like most of the songs nor did he like the film’s script. However, on the set on The Wiz he got to know the singer who played the scarecrow, Michael Jackson. Jackson asked him to recommend a producer for his next album. Jones threw out a few names and also offered to produce it himself. Jackson took him up on his offer, though his record label thought it was a bad idea. The album, 1979’s Off the Wall, went on to sell 20 million copies and won Jackson his first Grammy Award.
4) While widely known as the producer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Bad and Off the Wall albums, Jones is also the producer of the hit records “We Are the World” by USA for Africa; “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry” by Leslie Gore; “Angel” by Aretha Franklin; “I’ll By Good to You,” “Stomp” and “Strawberry Letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson; “One Mint Julep” by Ray Charles; and “Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)” by Donna Summer, among others. He also worked with Bono, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Little Richard, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Chaka Khan, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, James Ingram and Patti Austin, plus plenty more.
5) “Quincy Jones is one of the most versatile and potent figures of popular culture….When you listen to his impressive and monumental body of work, it’s easy to understand how and why he’s touched such a broad audience of music lovers. He’s done it all.” – Michael Jackson
6) Time magazine named him one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century.
7) In the early 1960s he became the Vice President of Mercury Records, the first African-American at a major record company to reach that executive level.
8) His middle name is Delight.
9) Along with Bob Russell, he became the first African-American to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for “The Eyes of Love” from Banning.
10) With seven Oscar nominations, he is tied with sound designer Willie Burton as the African-American with the most Oscar nominations.
11) Jones produced the film The Color Purple, his first foray into film production. He asked Steven Spielberg to direct it, which he did. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards.
12) Among his 33 movie scores are the ones for The Color Purple, In the Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
13) He has a daughter with actress Nastassja Kinski as well as six other children.
14) He’s the father of actress Rashida Jones. She’s pretty.
15) In 1988 he formed Quincy Jones Entertainment, who produced the television program The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
16) He never learned how to drive.
17) Among the charities Jones supports are American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR), Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), MusiCares, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Rape Foundation, UNICEF, NAACP, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, and Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.
18) In 1974 Jones suffered a brain aneurysm. He was given a 1 in 100 chance of surviving. Family and friends, including Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye and Sidney Poitier, planned a memorial service for him, which he got to attend.
19) Today he turns 81 years old.
20) “The thing is to find your lightning – and ride your lightning.” – Quincy Jones

As Friday is dance day at Tunes Du Jour, we’ll kick off today’s playlist with Q’s #3 club hit of 1981, “Ai No Corrida.”

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