Tag Archives: The O’Jays

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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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

It’s long overdue!


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It’s Keith Sweat and George Clinton’s Birthday Today And I Need To Dance!

IMAG0652

I received a message from a guy on OKCupid
He needed to tell me my screen name is stupid

He objected to my handle including the word “cute”
I looked at his photos; he isn’t a beaut

He ended his note with “Have a nice day”
And for a brief moment, I was done being gay

I chose to ignore his unsolicited advice
Me listen to you? Uh uh, no dice

Am I supposed to believe he’s an expert who knows?
The man is 45 and posing in Speedos

Will I now change my name? No way! Not a chance!
On another note, it’s Friday, and I need to dance!

Today’s the 55th birthday of Mr. Keith Sweat
“I Want Her”’s the tune that kicks off this set

It’s also the 75th birthday of the legend George Clinton
No relation to Hillary, who I’m voting for because Donald Trump is a fucking nightmare.


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It’s African American Music Appreciation Month And I Need To Dance!

On May 31, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring June 2016 as African American Music Appreciation Month. The designation has actually been around since 1979, when President Carter commemorated the cultural and financial contributions of music made by African Americans at a reception at the White House. Back then it was Black Music Month, an idea conceived by music industry executive and radio personality Dyana Williams and her husband, Kenny Gamble.

You may not know Gamble’s name, but you know his music. The co-founder of Philadelphia International Records with Leon Huff, Gamble and his music partner have written and produced hits for Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations, Dusty Springfield, the Jacksons, the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Jerry Butler, Archie Bell and the Drells, the Three Degrees, Joe Simon, MFSB, Billy Paul, the Soul Survivors, Teddy Pendergrass, the Intruders, Lou Rawls, People’s Choice and the Jones Girls.

Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party celebrates African American Music Appreciation Month with twenty dance floor packers, kicking off with a few of Gamble and Huff’s gems.


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It’s Rudy Isley’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Isleys
The Isley Brothers first hit the pop chart in 1959 with the classic “Shout,” later popularized in the 1978 movie National Lampoon’s Animal House. The brothers first hit the r&b chart in 1962 with “Twist & Shout,” a cover of the Top Notes single that later was a hit for The Beatles. The Isleys’ version went to #2 r&b and #17 pop, becoming the group’s first top twenty hit on both charts.

In 1975, the Isley Brothers scored their first single to go top twenty on the pop, r&b and dance charts. “Fight the Power” reached #4 pop, #1 r&b, and #13 dance. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party, as we celebrate Rudy Isley’s 77th birthday.


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It’s Philip Bailey’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Gravelly-voice rapper Ja Rule told Fox Business that while Jeb Bush is a good candidate for President of the United States of America, he plans on voting for Hillary Clinton.

This surprised me, as I thought Mr. Rule was still in prison or back in prison or somewhere where he couldn’t appear on Fox Business.

I figured with Ja behind bars it would be a while before I found out who his candidate of choice for President of the United States of America is. Finding out his selection in May of 2015 is a wonderful surprise, and I’ll sleep better because of it.

This is just one more excuse to dance. Today is the 64th birthday of Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire. We kick off our weekly dance party with that band’s “Saturday Nite,” which Bailey co-wrote.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I love jury duty. It breaks up my usual routine and gives me the opportunity to meet people I probably would not meet otherwise. I’ve served on juries four times. I’m very good at it.

Three of those times were for criminal cases. One was for grand jury. In grand jury, one goes to the courthouse every day for a month and hears a little evidence from plenty of lawsuits filed, in an effort to determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. We decided there was enough evidence for every single case we heard, and what doosies we were treated to! I don’t remember the details, but I recall it being a parade of nuts. Every day, one wacky witness after another, all in different cases, performed for us. A few of them were sober. To get paid to witness it was a treat.

The first criminal case I served on had to do with drug dealing and possession. The defendant was Latino. As we started our deliberations, we took a vote amongst the jurors to see which way everyone was leaning regarding the defendant’s innocence. Nine of us thought he was guilty. Three people, coincidentally the only three white heterosexual males, voted not guilty. I love that about New York! After a couple of days of deliberation we convinced those three that the defendant was guilty, even if he is Latino. We told the judge our verdict, which was relayed to the defendant’s attorney. The defendant didn’t hear it. He had already skipped town.

My next case was a drunk driving arrest. I was an alternate juror, so I sat through the trail, but initially didn’t deliberate with the other jurors. I was needed in case the regular jurors couldn’t come to a unanimous decision and one of them couldn’t come back the next day to continue the deliberations. That is what happened. I was surprised. The defendant, who wasn’t Latino, was obviously guilty. It turns out there was one holdout, but her reasoning was very different from that of Jimmy Stewart’s character in Twelve Angry Men. Per this one angry woman, the arresting officer did not follow proper procedure to a t. She said in her job as a teacher, if she did not follow proper procedure to a t, she would be disciplined. Though she agreed the defendant was driving drunk, she felt we needed to send the police department a message about following procedures to a t. My fellow jurors told me things were heated during the previous day’s deliberations, but somehow I was able to calmly explain to the one angry woman that it is not the police department who are on trial here. She changed her vote to guilty.

The last jury I served on was for a case involving a double homicide. That was a rough one; I’m too sensitive for such ordeals. The trial lasted a month, during which time we were shown many photographs of the deceased. At least my fellow jurors were a great bunch of people. Despite the intensity of the case, everyone was professional and respectful during our deliberations, which lasted for several days.

I bring up jury duty because of Wonder Woman. While serving on the drug trial, I rode the courthouse elevator with TV’s Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, whose husband was on trial in the same building for a banking scandal. Unlike the defendant in my trial, Mr. Carter, who is actually Mr. Altman, was acquitted.

In February 1980, Lynda Carter, pro-choice and LGBT rights advocate and spokesperson for irritable bowel syndrome, guest-starred on The Muppet Show, where she sang “The Rubberband Man,” a song written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed about Bell’s son, whose schoolmates mocked him for being chubby, calling him “the fat man.” “The Fat Man” was Bell’s original title for the song, about a large man who knew how to get a party going with his dance moves. It was meant to uplift young Bell, to show that his weight wasn’t something that needed to drag him down. He had talents and abilities that people admired. I don’t think that was clearly conveyed in Carter’s performance.

Three years prior to Carter’s performance of “The Rubberband Man” on The Muppet Show, Tina Turner performed it on The Brady Bunch Hour, a TV variety series featuring the original cast of the sitcom The Brady Bunch except for Eve Plumb (figures, right?) serving us hilarious comedy sketches and memorable musical moments such as this one. Turner performs the song in front of a swimming pool in which four women do a non-strenuous water ballet. Every so often, the tape of audience applause fires up for no discernible reason, other than the producers’ realization of “Holy shit! That’s Tina Turner!“

The best version of “The Rubberband Man” is the original recording, the last top forty hit for Spinners that featured Philippé Wynne on lead vocals. Wynne joined the group in 1972 and left in 1977, the year after “The Rubberband Man” peaked at #2 on the pop chart. He died from a heart attack in 1984. Today Tunes du Jour celebrates Wynne’s birthday by kicking off our weekly dance playlist with Spinners’ “The Rubberband Man.”


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The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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A Soulful Christmas Playlist

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the first woman to hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 with a song she wrote herself?

ANSWER: Carla Thomas. She was 16 years old when she wrote “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes),” which hit #10 in 1961. Today she turns 72.

In 1963, Thomas incorporated the title of her first hit into a seasonal offering, “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas.”

“Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas” inspires today’s playlist – fifty great soul and r&b Christmas jams, with some fun extra treats thrown in.

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It’s Barry White’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Sometime in the 1950s, a man named Peter Sterling Radcliffe wrote a country song he called “You’re My First, You’re My Last, My In-Between.” For years he tried to get someone to record it but nobody was interested. Years later, Radcliffe was introduced to Barry White by arranger Gene Page. In the 1960s White was a session musician and producer who worked on records with The Bobby Fuller Four, Bob & Earl, Jesse Belvin and Viola Wills.

One Christmas when White was unable to buy Christmas gifts for his children, Radcliffe stepped in and bought toys for the kids. Relaying this story during an interview, White told the journalist “I was so grateful for that and said I would pay him back one day.”

In 1972, Barry White wrote, produced and arranged “Walking in the Rain with the One I Love” for a female trio named Love Unlimited. The record hit #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The following year White released his first solo album, I’ve Got So Much to Give, which produced the #3 gold single “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby.” The top ten single “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” followed in 1974.

Now a successful recording artist, White listened to his friend Radcliffe’s twenty-year old country song. Barry heard potential in the tune. “I changed some words, part of the melody and some of the title, but kept the chord structure.”

Ringo + Barry White 2014-09-11 13.53
“You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” appeared on White’s Can’t Get Enough album. The album’s first single, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” hit #1. The follow-up single, “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” went to #2, kept out of the top spot by Elton John’s version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

Pay it forward, people. You may be rewarded in more ways than the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone in their time of need.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Barry White’s birthday and I need to dance!

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