Sunday, November 11, 2018

Faze-O - Riding High (1977)

“Riding High” by Faze-O (1977)

Release Date: November 1977
Produced by Tight Corporation (Clarence Satchell)
Genre: R&B, Soul, Funk
Label: She Records (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records)

Chart Positions: #98 (US), #19 (US R&B)
Certifications: N/A
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: “Riding High” #9 (US R&B)
Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A

Best Tracks: ALL TRACKS: Solid album from start to finish

Trivia: “Riding High” is one of those classics that most people do not know exists, but those that know this album love it.

Dayton, Ohio band Faze-O released their debut album “Riding High” in 1977. They made their mark on the US charts reaching #98 on the US Top 100 albums chart as well as making it to #19 on the R&B albums chart. The lead single “Riding High” got them into the top 10 reaching #9 on the US R&B singles chart. Unfortunately, this success was not duplicated on their next two albums.

The album was produced by Tight Corporation which is actually the funk band Ohio Players lead by the production talents of Clarence Satchell.

Several of the songs on the album have a similar sound to Ohio Players’ signature sound such as “Funky Reputation,” “Toejam” and “Get Some Booty.”

"Riding High (1977)

The following is a user review I found on AllMusic:

Good ole dirty FUNK played like nobody's business, the album boasts the massive cut "Ridin High" which is their only huge hit and the album cuts Funky Reputation, Toe Jam, Get Some Booty & Test - This Is Faze-O. This album needs no introduction to the FUNK world as it was produced by the biggest FUNK band of the time "Ohio Players" now this is where we get to the reals, all these guys are great musicians in their own right and can throw down the FUNK but deeply listening to the sounds, one who knows their music can point out that they were deep rooted with the band who produced them. FUNK fans it's a must have but for newbies, this is the only one u need and ur good to go.

The following is a short review from Picadilly Records:

Having made an impact on the Billboard charts in 1978 with their most successful single “Riding High”, Faze-O stake their claim as masters of soulful, groovy funk music. Produced by Clarence Satchell of the Ohio Players, the whole album percolates with heavy guitar and a medley of fresh, funky keyboards.

The following is a review found on Funk My Soul:

A spacey soul classic with a sound that never gets old!
Faze-O will be forever remembered for their massive cut “Riding High” a stretched out slow funk jam that has amazing keyboards, floating guitars, and a super-dope groove that’s stayed fresh from the moment it was first set to wax back in 1977! This album’s the group’s first, and best — and it’s a really wonderful record that blends together funky fusion and heavy soul filled with killer cuts arranged by the Ohio Players, and with lots of great keyboards by the group! Includes, of course, the hit “Riding High” — plus “Toe Jam” and “Funky Reputation.

This group was produced by the Ohio Players and this album by these midwest funkers have all the earmarks of an Ohio Players production: deep and heavy drums and fills, funky ass bass, familiar horn lines, burbling keyboards, clavinets, and synths, and funky vocals. The track that gets the most attention from this album is “riding high”, an all time funk bomb! There wasn’t a time back in the late 70’s that you did not hear this cut on the radio or at one of your relatives or friends houses, especially at a late night party. This is a real mid-tempo smooth ride all the way until the end of the song. 2 songs on the album deserve special attention: the throbbing bass/synth funk of “funky reputation”, a blazing funk jam that you just have to blast out of your speakers on a hot saturday afternoon, and also “get some booty”(!) (yes, that is the title of this short,3 minute track! don’t worry, nothin’ nasty, just a fast paced funk frenzy with much emphasis on getting the boo-tay on the dance floor!). Other songs follow in the Ohio Player(s) style, but these 5 guys make a good funky sound all on their own.

The following review is December Decmber 3, 1977 issue of Billboard Magazine:

Five man disco/R&B group debuts on the new She label distributed by Atlantic. The sound is a cross between Slave and The Ohio Players who arranged all seven selections. Synthesizer, percussion, clavinet and guitar spark the instrumentals which range from out and out funk and R&B flavored mid-tempo ballads. Best Cuts: Riding High, Funky Reputation, Toe Jam.

The song “Riding High” is a classic R&B tune that is occasionally heard on the airwaves from time to time. Many consider it to be a Quiet Storm classic.



Saturday, October 27, 2018

Nancy Wilson - Now I'm A Woman (1970)

“Now I’m A Woman” by Nancy Wilson (1970)

Release Date: September 1970
Produced by Gamble-Huff Productions
Genre: Vocal, R&B, Pop, Jazz, Adult Contemporary
Label: Capitol Records

Chart Positions: #54 (US), #5 (US R&B)
Certifications: N/A
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: “Now I’m A Woman” #93 (US), #41 (US R&B)
Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: “Now I’m A Woman,” “Joe,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Real Me”

After an extended period of albums with producer David Cavanaugh, Wilson did this 1970 album with Gamble-Huff productions, featuring producers/arrangers including Thom Bell, Bobby Martin, and arranger-conductor Lenny Pakula. Cavanaugh did show up as executive producer.

Around this time the Philly production team was best known for their work with artists like Jerry Butler, Billy Paul, and the Delfonics, among many others. Wilson falls right into the production style.

The title track is a customary strong outing from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The beautiful "Joe" has the sound of a prime Thom Bell production, and Wilson gives an amazing performance and a particularly emotional note that might go through a listener. Wilson shines on "Lonely, Lonely" and "Let's Fall in Love Again"; both benefit from Bobby Martin's patently brassy and sweeping Philly production. “Now I'm a Woman” is an important album in Wilson's oeuvre and the Philly sound.

The release of Nancy Wilson's Now I'm a Woman album coincided with her distingué performance in an episode of Hawaii Five-O's third season ("Trouble in Mind") as the heroin-addicted jazz vocalist Eadie Jordan. In one scene, the no-nonsense Steve McGarrett confesses to being an Eadie Jordan record collector and fanboy.

The album’s only single, the title track, “Now I’m A Woman,” is a soul-stirring song that Wilson sinks her teeth into. The song about a woman reflecting on her past hurts, once as a baby, then as a lady, and now as a woman. Once again displaying their remarkable ability at song-tailoring, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff craft a beauty for Wilson, utilizing an understated rhythm section and stately, well-spaced strings. Wilson was as comfortable and compelling in contemporary settings as she was with jazz and more elaborately arranged sessions.

Now I'm A Woman (1970)

Album highlight, “Joe,” a Kenny Gamble/Norman Harris/Allan Felder song that the Philly innovators also recorded with Dusty Springfield; Nancy Wilson's quite comfortable in this contemporary setting and demonstrates her inherent ability to sing in perfect diction, making the availability of lyrics unnecessary. Trademark Philly horns provide a familiar opening, and Wilson's exquisite, longing enhances the lush track. She misses Joe badly; check out her sorrowful, womanly cry before the chorus, it catches you by surprise.

Other album highlights “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is a soul-stirring rendition that brings an aura to the song that is as moving as any other cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic. “The Real Me” is one of the three best songs on the album showcasing Wilson’s finesse with jazz and blues.

The following is a review of Nancy's album in the November 21, 1970 issue of Billboard Magazine:
A talent of consistent fine quality - that's Nancy Wilson. In this album, she demonstrates her versatility and professionalism with a selection of today's top hits "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Long and Winding Road," "Close To You" and "Now I'm A Woman."

The following review showed up in the Spotlight Singles section of the October 10, 1970 issue of Billboard Magazine:
Miss Wilson is at her ballad best with this beautiful Gamble-Huff material that should prove an Easy Listening and Soul smash and carry her over to the Top 100 as well. First-rate production work.

Nancy Wilson (1970)


Friday, October 12, 2018

Dean Friedman- Dean Friedman (1977)

“Dean Friedman” by Dean Friedman (1977)

Release Date: April 1977
Produced by Rob Stevens
Genre: Pop, Rock, Ballads, Adult Contemporary
Label: Lifesong

Chart Positions: N/A
Certifications: N/A
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: 
“Ariel” #26 (US), #19 (Canada, New Zealand), #47 (Scotland)
“Woman Of Mine” #52 (UK), #47 (Scotland)
Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A

Best Tracks: “Company,” “Ariel,” “Woman Of Mine,” “Humor Me”

Trivia: Dean Friedman is one of those artists that pretty much has gone unnoticed by the masses but has maintained a healthy enough audience to continue releasing albums into this current decade and perform a steady stream of concerts to this very day.

Dean’s popularity began with the hit single “Ariel,” it was the first of two hits from Friedman's eponymous debut LP, Dean Friedman. "Ariel," however, was his only hit in North America. It reached number 26 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, number 17 on the Cash Box Top 100 and number 19 in Canada. The song spent 22 weeks on the Billboard chart and 24 weeks on Cash Box.

"Ariel" has been described as a "quirkily irresistible and non-categorical pop song about a free spirited, music loving, vegetarian Jewish girl", from Paramus, New Jersey, where Friedman grew up. The lyrics describe the young girl from "deep in the bosom of suburbia," who sang "mighty fine," with "'Tears on My Pillow' and 'Ave Maria'" perhaps implying that he was Roman Catholic. It describes the girl Ariel, "standing by the [since dismantled] waterfall at Paramus Park", one of the many shopping malls in Paramus. The quarters she was collecting for "the friends of BAI" refers to the New York radio station WBAI, and their listener association, while the song also makes reference to "channel 2," which refers to local CBS affiliate WCBS-TV.
Chicago radio superstation WLS, which gave the song much airplay, ranked "Ariel" as the 60th most popular hit of 1977. It reached as high as number four on their survey of August 20, 1977.

Lifesong, the record label which produced "Ariel" insisted Friedman change the song's second verse, which refers to the eponymous Ariel as "a Jewish girl", believing that radio stations might use it as an excuse not to play the record. The third verse was also removed to make the single shorter for radio. The management company received threats from the Jewish Defense League protesting against the edit and, at Friedman's insistence; the original version was put on the album.

"Ariel" (1977)

“Woman Of Mine” a more serious adult contemporary tune was Friedman’s first chart appearance in the UK reaching #52 and also scored on the charts in Scotland at #47. The song combines acoustic guitar with a super-smooth classic rock styled electric guitar solo in the middle of the song. Many that have heard this song have felt the song should have been a top ten hit.

“Humor Me,” an album standout is described by Dean Friedman as a love song for hopeless romantics. The song blends an irresistible combination of acoustic guitar and electric keyboards with an understated backing vocal chorus. The song is somewhat similar to a Michael Franks tune.

Here's a little lesser known trivia... Tony Levin, who is best known for playing electric bass with famous musicians such as King Crimson and Peter Gabriel as well as contributing to more than 500 albums for artists such as Paul Simon, Cher, Alice Cooper, Bryan Ferry, Seal, James Taylor and Carly Simon, also performed electric bass on Dean's first two albums.

Dean Friedman 1977


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Rose Royce - Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom (1977)

“Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom” by Rose Royce (1977)

Release Date: July 29, 1977
Produced by Norman Whitfield
Genre: R&B, Soul, Quiet Storm, Disco, Pop, Ballad
Label: Whitfield

Chart Positions: #9 (US), #16 (Canada), #18 (UK), #1 (US R&B)
Certifications: Platinum (US), Gold (UK)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: 
“Do Your Dance” #39 (US), #30 (UK), #66 (Canada), #20 (US Dance)
“It Makes You Feel Like Dancin’” #16 (UK), #20 (US Dance)
“Ooh Boy” #35 (Canada), #46 (UK), #72 (US), #3 (US R&B)
“Wishing On A Star” #1 (France), #3 (UK), #14 (Belgium), #15 (Netherlands), #101 (US), #52 (US R&B)
 Singles Certifications: “Wishin’ On A Star” Silver (UK)
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: All Tracks – “Wishing On A Star,” “Ooh Boy,” “Do Your Dance,” “Fun Factory”

Trivia: “Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom” is the 1st true studio album by Rose Royce. Their first actual album was the Original Soundtrack album for the film “Car Wash” from which they achieved two major hit singles “Car Wash” and “I Wanna Get Next To You.” “In Full Bloom,” though it did not have any major hits in the US was a bigger hit than “Car Wash” in the US and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. This was their only platinum in the US.

The album is solid and is full of dance and quiet storm hits. “Ooh Boy” one of the albums rhythmic ballads gives us a Michael Jackson sort of feel.

“You’re My World, Girl” not released as a single is very similar to “I Wanna Get Next To You.” Most of the songs on the album feature the lead vocals of the incomparable Gwen Dickey but “You’re My World, Girl” features the vocals of Kenny Copeland as does “I Wanna Get Next To You.

“Do Your Dance” and “It Makes You Feel Like Dancin’” both follow in the same vein as “Car Wash” both made it to #20 on the US Dance/Disco charts. “Do Your Dance” made it to US #39, becoming Rose Royce’s 3rd US top 40 hit out of four total.

The album highlight “Wishing On A Star” ironically was not a hit in the US. It only made it to #101 on the US singles chart and #52 on the US R&B chart. As time has gone by the song though has become a classic in the US. In other parts of the world, the song was a huge hit reaching #1 in France and #3 in the UK. The song was certified Silver in the UK.

"Wishing on a Star" was written by former Undisputed Truth member Billie Rae Calvin. The song was covered by several artists and was finally a hit in the US in 1992 by the Cover Girls but it is the original version by Rose Royce that is now most recognized in the US and around the world.

Wishing On A Star (1977)


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Tanya Tucker - TNT (1978)

“TNT” by Tanya Tucker (1978)

Release Date: November 1978
Produced by Jeff Goldstein
Genre: Country, Country Rock, Rock, Pop
Label: MCA

Chart Positions: #54 (US), #52 (Canada), #2 (US Country, Canada Country)
Certifications: Gold (US, Canada)
Awards: Nominated for the “Best Female Rock Performance” Grammy Award (Donna Summer won the award that year)

Singles and Chart Positions: “Texas (When I Die)” #3 (Canada Country), #5 (US Country), “I’m The Singer, You’re The Song #6 (Canada Country), #18 (US Country), #25 (Canada Adult Contemporary)
 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: “Not Fade Away” #70 (US)
Best Tracks: “Not Fade Away,” “Lover Goodbye,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Bown Eyed Handsome Man,” “Texas (When I Die)”

“TNT” was Tanya Tucker’s 9th studio album and was her first to be certified Gold in both the US and Canada. The album also received a Grammy nomination in the category of "Best Female Rock Performance." This was Tanya's third of 10 Grammy nominations. She has yet to win a Grammy.

With “TNT” Tucker made a bold departure from her classic country music style to do a more rock-flavored album – but for good measure kept a slight hint of that country there for her longtime fans. The departure proved to be extremely successful for Tucker as the album is her second highest charting on the US Country chart and her highest charting on the Canadian Country chart. The album was also her highest charting on the US Billboard Top 200 albums chart reaching #54. Only 1991’s “What Do I Do With Me” and 1992’s “Can’t Run From Yourself” have charted higher reaching #48 and #51 respectively. IN Canada “TNT” is Tucker’s highest charting album on the pop charts reaching #52. It was also her first album to make it onto the Canadian Country charts.

Because of the success of “TNT” Tucker followed the album with 1979’s “Tear Me Apart,” another rock-influenced album but captured much less success and by 1980 returned to her country music roots.

Featuring a playful somewhat flirtatious exuberant attitude from Tanya, "TNT was in many ways her coming of age album. She had just turned 20 a month before it's release and was ready to prove she was more than just a cute country music sweetheart.

The album opens with Phil Everly’s synth drum rocker “Lover Goodbye” and sets the mood for the album. Her remake of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” is a beautiful southern rock ballad. Prine wrote and recorded this song for his 1971 debut album “John Prine.” Seals and Crofts helped on backing vocals on the ballad “The River and The Wind.”

The album’s first single “Texas (When I Die)” was the only true country number on the album. The song peaked at #5 on the US country chart and with time has become one of Tucker’s signature songs.

Tucker’s rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” is a real scorching treat. The song was released as the b-side to “Texas (When I Die).” Receiving a fair amount of radio airplay and fan requests it ended up charting on Billboard’s Top 100 Singles chart reaching #70, making it the third highest charting pop single of her career.

Not Fade Away (1978)

Easily one of the album highlights is her rockin’ rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” why they did not release this as a single is a mystery to me. Tucker puts in a flavorful rockabilly rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.” The song was originally released on Chuck Berry’s 1957 debut album “After School Session” and was used as the b-side to his 1956 single “Too Much Monkey Business.”

Often "TNT" sounds as if Tanya's aim was to crack the AOR radio format and would have done well alongside the queens of AOR such as Pat Benatar, Linda Ronstadt and Anne & Nancy Wilson (Heart).



Sunday, August 26, 2018

Barry White - Can't Get Enough (1974)

“Can’t Get Enough” by Barry White (1974)

Release Date: August 6, 1974
Produced by Barry White
Genre: R&B, Disco, Soul, Pop, Quiet Storm
Label: 20th Century

Chart Positions: #1 (US, Italy), #2 (Canada, France), #4 (UK, Austria), #5 (Germany), #9 (Norway), #28 (Australia), #1 (US R&B)
Certifications: Gold (US, UK)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions:
“Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe” #1 (US), #2 (Canada, France), #3 (Italy), #8 (UK),  #12 (Netherlands, South Africa), #13 (Belgium), #23 (Australia), #25 (Germany), #1 (US R&B), #26 (US Adult Contemporary)
“You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” #1 (UK, Italy), #2 (US, South Africa), #3 (Brazil), #4 (France), #5 (Canada), #6 (Ireland, Belgium), #7 (Australia, Austria, Switzerland), #9 (Germany), #13 (Netherlands), #1 (US R&B), #2 (US Dance)
 Singles Certifications: “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe”  (US Gold), “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything”  (US Gold, UK Silver)
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: All Tracks – Solid Album from start to finish

“Can’t Get Enough” is Barry White’s third album and his first to crack the top five in the US and in many other parts of the world. This was Barry’s breakout, the one that launched him to worldwide superstardom.

The album topped the R&B albums chart, his third to do so. It also topped the US Billboard 200 and peaked at #4 on the UK Albums Chart as well as #1 in Italy and #2 in Canada and France.

Barry White wrote all the songs on the album as well as producing, arranging and engineering the album. White was a super talent well worth the recognition he received throughout the 70s and into the 90s.

Despite featuring two of his biggest career hits the album is a solid work with every song worthy of having been a single release.

“Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe” was released as the first single from his album Can't Get Enough in 1974, the song topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts and was a big hit throughout much of Europe. It was his second U.S. chart-topper, after "Love's Theme". The song is a pop-soul track with lush string arrangements and a disco-influenced beat behind it.

Barry White fell in love in 1973 with Glodean James, who was one of the members of his Love Unlimited backing trio of singers. He wrote, “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe” for her one night when he had troubles falling asleep. Barry and Glodean married in October 1974 and for a time were one of the best-known couples in showbiz. The pair separated in 1988 but never divorced and remained good friends for the remainder of White's life.

“You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” has gone on to become Barry’s biggest career hit and was the second single from the album. The song was White's fourth top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, reaching #2; it spent a week at #1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart. The early disco classic made it to number two on the disco/dance charts. In the UK Singles Chart, it fared even better, spending two weeks at the top in December 1974. It was also #1 in Italy, #2 in South Africa, #3 in Brazil, #4 in France and #5 in Canada and reached the Top 20 in another dozen countries around the world.

"You're The First, The Last, My Everything" (1974)

White's friend Peter Radcliffe started writing this as a Country song called "You're My First, You're My Last, My In-Between," but he couldn't get it recorded for 21 years. White recorded this as a Disco song, keeping most of the structure and two-thirds the title, but he rewrote the lyrics.

The album was a big winner at the 1974 NAACP Awards, which were presented in January 1975. White won Album of the Year ("Can't Get Enough), Male Vocalist of the Year and Producer of the Year. He attended the awards ceremony with his (then) wife Glodean.

The following review appeared in the July 20, 1974 issue of Billboard Magazine in the Top Single Picks section:
"Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe"
"Short talking intro leads into strongest vocal Barry has come up with in some time. Most uptempo thing he's done in a while, which includes his usual strong production work and distinctive beat which should be perfect for discos. Could cross easily into pop."

Barry White 1974


Thursday, August 9, 2018

J. Geils Band - Sanctuary (1978)

“Sanctuary” by J. Geils Band (1978)

Release Date: November 1978
Produced by Seth Justman, Joseph Wissert
Genre: Rock, Classic Rock
Label: EMI

Chart Positions: #49 (US), #53 (Canada)
Certifications: Gold (US)
Awards: N/A

Singles and Chart Positions: 
“One Last Kiss” #6 (France), #35 (US), #58 (Canada), #74 (UK)
“Take It Back” #67 (US), #94 (Canada)
“Sanctuary #47 (US)

 Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: “One Last Kiss,” “Take It Back,” “Sanctuary,” “Wild Man,” “Just Can’t Stop Me”

“Sanctuary” was J. Geils Band’s 8th studio album (10th album overall including live albums). It was their first to have 3 songs make it on to the US singles chart. After having achieved success with Atlantic Records, J. Geils Band switched over to EMI to produce their three most successful albums of their career.

“Sanctuary” was the band’s tightest sounding record in years. They produced a leaner and cleaner sound as they play up the keyboards more than in their past albums, giving the album an overall contemporary sound.

The first single release “One Last Kiss,” although not their highest charting hit, received a fair amount of airplay and put J. Geils Band in the minds of music listeners across the US. The hooky hit single was their first Top 40 since 1974’s “Must Of Got Lost.”

The second single “Take It Back” hints at what was to come in 1981 when J. Giles Band entered the realm of commercial pop and had their biggest hits with “Centerfold” and “Freeze Frame,” “Take It Back” was a very distant prototype for those songs.

“Sanctuary,” the album’s third single just barely missed the Top 40 making it to #47 on the US chart. The song sports a Rolling Stone feel that is inescapable. This may have been a good direction to further explore.

Stand out track “Wild Man” continues with that Mick Jagger Rolling Stones vibe and begins with a dramatic keyboard opening. “Just Can’t Stop Me” brings in a glam feel with it’s “Rebel Rebel” sounding opening working into a rough jam band sound.

J. Geils Band