EVERY Billboard #1 rhythm & blues hit discussion thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by tomstockman, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    That thread is almost caught up, and I kind of wanted to start 1972 off with the new year. What do you think? Take a rest for the rest of the holidays, or just keep going?
     
  2. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I think that'd be a good idea, lay off a bit for the holidays and then resume after the clock strikes 12 on New Year's.
     
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  3. Manapua

    Manapua Forum Resident

    Location:
    Honolulu
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

     
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  4. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I do think, for the next week until the New Year, we should examine Billboard's Top 50 Soul Singles of 1971, if I may be permitted. And what a list:

    1. "Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight
    2. "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
    3. "Want Ads" by The Honey Cone
    4. "Tired Of Being Alone" by Al Green (peaked at #7)
    5. "Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin
    6. "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" by The Temptations
    7. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Aretha Franklin
    8. "Thin Line Between Love And Hate" by The Persuaders
    9. "Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Jackson 5
    10. "Make It Funky (Part 1)" by James Brown
    11. "Groove Me" by King Floyd
    12. "Trapped By A Thing Called Love" by Denise LaSalle
    13. "Don't Knock My Love - Part I" by Wilson Pickett
    14. "Stick-Up" by Honey Cone
    15. "(Do The) Push And Pull - Part I" by Rufus Thomas
    16. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" by Marvin Gaye
    17. "Smiling Faces Sometimes" by The Undisputed Truth (peaked at #2)
    18. "She's Not Just Another Woman" by The 8th Day (peaked at #3)
    19. "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" by the Dramatics (peaked at #3)
    20. "The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind)" by The Dells (peaked at #8)
    21. "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers (peaked at #6)
    22. "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You" by Wilson Pickett (peaked at #2)
    23. "Love The One You're With" by The Isley Brothers (peaked at #3)
    24. "Hot Pants Pt. 1 (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants)" by James Brown
    25. "I Don't Want To Do Wrong" by Gladys Knight & The Pips (peaked at #2)
    26. "The Breakdown (Part 1)" by Rufus Thomas (peaked at #2)
    27. "We Can Work It Out" by Stevie Wonder (peaked at #3)
    28. "If You Really Love Me" by Stevie Wonder (peaked at #4)
    29. "If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight & The Pips
    30. "Women's Love Rights" by Laura Lee (peaked at #11)
    31. "Mama's Pearl" by The Jackson 5 (peaked at #2)
    32. "Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone" by Johnnie Taylor
    33. "You're A Big Girl Now" by The Stylistics (peaked at #7)
    34. "(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People by The Chi-Lites (peaked at #4)
    35. "Your Time To Cry" by Joe Simon (peaked at #3)
    36. "Soul Power Pt. 1" by James Brown (peaked at #3)
    37. "She's All I Got" by Freddie North (peaked at #10)
    38. "You've Got A Friend" by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (peaked at #8)
    39. "You've Got To Crawl (Before You Walk)" by The 8th Day (peaked at #3)
    40. "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" by Marvin Gaye
    41. "Do Me Right" by the Detroit Emeralds (peaked at #7)
    42. "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)" by The Staple Singers (peaked at #6)
    43. "Funky Nassau - Part I" by The Beginning Of The End (peaked at #7)
    44. "I Know I'm In Love" by Chee-Chee And Peppy (peaked at #12)
    45. "Right On The Tip Of My Tongue" by Brenda & The Tabulations (peaked at #5)
    46. "Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling In Love)" by The Main Ingredient (peaked at #7)
    47. "I Likes To Do It" by The People's Choice (peaked at #9)
    48. "One Bad Apple" by The Osmonds (peaked at #6)
    49. "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" by The Stylistics (peaked at #6)
    50. "Precious, Precious" by Jackie Moore (peaked at #12)

    A few of them just missed making the top by that much (their peak positions when they were on the soul charts in parentheses). As we examined those that did make #1, I think it's fair Forumites who fondly remember the others should step up to the plate.
     
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  5. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    "Smiling Faces Sometimes" is my favorite on that list, but it's a close race with "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, "Tired Of Being Alone" by Al Green, "Thin Line Between Love And Hate" by The Persuaders, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" by Marvin Gaye, "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, "If You Really Love Me" by Stevie Wonder and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" by Marvin Gaye all right behind it.
     
  6. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Wonder why the Osmonds track wound up on that list - the Rick Hall/Fame/Muscle Shoals connection? It did, however, foreshadow Hall's plunge into the poppier side of things.
     
  7. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    When we go through 1972, I think we'll start to see another shift in soul music.
     
  8. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    1971 was also the year that a production team out of Philadelphia, known as Gamble & Huff, started a label called Philadelphia International, distributed by CBS. The third catalogue release - which made Top 10 soul (I.I.N.M.) but missed the Top 40 pop - was a "lost classic" soul ballad, "You're The Reason Why" by The Ebonys:
    [​IMG]

    The label background originally was a shade of gold to go with the plum, before it was changed (on Pitman and Terre Haute pressings) to olive yellow to the point the color scheme resembled pimento olives (Santa Maria still used gold, with the "holes" in the logo plugged up, well into 1976).

    This is a label we will be hearing from again and again over the next few years . . .
     
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  9. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    The color scheme shown above is the one i'm most familiar with. Most All of my PIR pressings were thin vinyl and had that exact color tone and hue.
     
  10. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    1971 also marked the end of an era at Stax Records, where onetime house band Booker T. & The M.G.'s put out their last LP for the label under the "classic" lineup of organist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and drummer Al Jackson, Melting Pot. The title track, highly edited on 45, had some chart action from my recollection (as in #21 soul and #45 pop):

    It was indicative of the changes engulfing Stax that, according to some sources, this whole LP was recorded in New York City ("New York City?!?!" - given how much Jones had taken an aversion by this point to even so much as setting foot in Stax' own studios in Memphis, ditto for Cropper). Booker T. then struck out on his own in California, producing Bill Withers' debut album Just As I Am, marrying Rita Coolidge's sister Priscilla, and making a few records with her over the next few years.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  11. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    We can't really discuss it here, but i'll bet there were certain racial circumstances that led them to record in NYC.

    There was a Black militant gang that terrorized many people in the record and radio business in the late 60s and early 70s, both Black and White, and it resulted in a profound change in the way the business was run, and the change in the music itself. The gang went away, but it's effects lingered on for decades. Stax and Atlantic felt the biggest brunt of their intimidation tactics.

    Stax, still owned by Jim Stewart, handed over the reins to Al Bell and gave him part ownership, which, i'm sure, further caused a riff among some of the veteran people at the label, and i'm sure Booker T. & The M.G.'s were among them. Stewart became a silent partner. Al Bell did make the label stronger, and gave Stax a success higher than they ever had in the 60s. But, it was short lived, and all of it came apart when it was sold to CBS under Clive Davis in 1973.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  12. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I wasn't about to get into any of that subtext myself, that was why I skated around it the way I did. But yeah . . .
     
  13. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Well, it helps give a clue to those who wonder why Stax, and soul music in the 70s, experienced such a shift. Stax effectively became a Black-owned company. The thing is, the politics of the day didn't really come through their music. They had concerts and sponsored things, but that was identity politics. Not to say that was bad, but the music didn't reflect it. That distinction went to Philadelphia International Records. It just didn't experience the turmoil that Stax did. In a weird way, Motown avoided all of that, being on the west coast. I'm thinking that was part of Berry Gordy's intent in moving the company to Los Angeles. He avoided the racial meltdowns and politics going on elsewhere. But, once funk and disco became prominent, they would all ignore the politics of the day...except maybe George Clinton back in Detroit.

    Another reason Mr. Gordy moved Motown to Hollywood is obvious: he wanted Motown to branch out into the movie business. That's where the real money was, and it worked for a while. Cooley High, Lady Sings The Blues, and Mahogany. And, he already had a built-in movie star...or wannabe movie star in Diana Ross. And, of course, we know which direction Gordy tried to steer his ship: towards disco. That, along with creative control issues, cost him The Jackson Five and Diana Ross. We'll see it all play out in the years ahead.

    1972 will see a somewhat lackluster year for Motown, but a great one for Stax and PIR. It is when Motown became just another record company with a roster, and a more disciplined PIR took its place as a hit machine with an in-house power band. Along with Stax, they became a voice of a movement, an identity that Motown and Atlantic lost. Atlantic became a rock/pop label with a small Black music division after it started out as a major Black music label that predated the others.

    In the 70s and 80s, Black music became all about the whims of whatever president, vice president, CEO, or A&R person was in charge at a given time. The music became corporatized. There were still lots of indie labels and corporate labels putting out great soul music, but they were gradually getting eaten up by corporate buyouts and mergers. Suddenly, by the late 70s, the shareholders were guiding the repertoire.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  14. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Gordy's decision to shift Motown from Detroit to L.A. had another ripple effect: It was one factor in RCA's decision, on April 26, 1972, to close its Chicago studios which by then were in "The Loop" on Wacker Drive. Only a few months later, Curtis Mayfield moved his Curtom operation there and made them his entity's studios. The Wacker studio (branded the "Mid-America Recording Center") was actually RCA's second in the Windy City, having moved there in April 1969 from previous facilities on Lake Shore Drive in the Navy Pier district. RCA had a relationship with Motown dating to 1961 when The Miracles recorded some tracks there (with Riley Hampton as arranger), and cut the bulk of lacquers for Motown from mid-1962 to the end. After the Chicago studio shutdown, whatever RCA Custom matrix numbers were on Motown releases came from the Hollywood studios (which themselves would close, along with their Nashville studios, in January 1977). Two of the Chicago mastering engineers went elsewhere - Randy Kling to Nashville, and Don Holden to Hollywood.
     
  15. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    It is December 31, but since I will be out celebrating new years tonight, i'm going to present the first #1 R&B single of 1972 now:

    Let's Stay Together - Al Green



    This song started out my 1972 right! It was the first week back at school after the Christmas break, and I came home to find my sister had beat me home. She had the afternoon off for a doctor's appointment, but afterward, she went to the PX and bought this single, and "Sugar Daddy" by The Jackson 5 together. We played these two songs repeatedly for two hours until mom got home from work. I really enjoyed the two songs. No, "Sugar Daddy" didn't hit #1, but it was new product from the group, and, it was a single that was included on their new Greatest Hits album. In fact, both of these songs are in mono. "Sugar Daddy" is a unique mono mix. But, back to Al Green...

    This was the first song I ever heard by him at the time. I was impressed. The singing, the phrasing, the soulful music, especially the Wurlitzer organ, and especially, the loud drums (producer Willie Mitchell's signature sound) amounted to soulful bliss. We would hear a lot more great stuff from Mr. Green for the next three years.

    This record also hit #1 the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, but first, they have to get through their first #1 of the year.

    Note to @W.B.
    The 45 in the clip above is the exact styrene pressing I have.
     
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  16. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    "Let's Stay Together" also started off 1972 on the good foot in another way: It ended up being the Number One R&B / soul single for all of 1972. And for all the reasons mentioned. But as for that drum beat, apparently it was courtesy ex-Booker T. & The M.G.'s drummer (and song co-writer) Al Jackson, in combination with whatever percussive effect that sounded almost like a horse's hooves marching to a combo 8th/16th beat.

    I've no doubt @Grant had the Monarch of this (label type unknown), simply on the basis of geographics alone. For years I've sworn by CBS Pitman for their typesetting. And on this, too, they delivered:
    [​IMG]
    (This is the variant that, for more than three decades, has been in my collection. For East Coast boys and girls, it was either that or Shelley Products where the 'Hi' appeared more purplish magenta in comparison.)

    It could be argued that Al Green propelled Hi to new highs (ha-ha) not seen at the label since the heyday of Bill Black's Combo, Jumpin' Gene Simmons (no relation to a certain tongue-sticking bassist for a certain rock band), and even Mitchell himself when he was putting out such instrumentals as "20-75" and "Soul Serenade." With James Brown a common presence on the charts, Mr. Green's ascendency was the beginning of a phase of the "Artists of Many Colors" [name-wise] we'll be getting to down the road a piece.
     
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  17. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Yes, I know. Some artists and producers of the 70s and 80s favored a close-miked, loud drum kit, was part of their signature sound. Two artists and producers who used loud drums as a sound signature were Barry White and Keith Sweat.
     
  18. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I see you inadvertently gave away one of the other names among the '70's "Artists of Many [Name] Colors" who were atop the soul charts in that period . . . :winkgrin:
     
  19. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Well, followers of soul music know they are coming anyway.
     
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  20. W.B.

    W.B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I know, but . . . I jest.

    But in all seriousness, this was no "overnight success" for Mr. Green. The year before was the buildup to this moment. Early in the year, if not the year before, he had a moderate hit with a 6/4 ballad version of The Temptations' "I Can't Get Next To You." But it was with his "Tired Of Being Alone" that people began to sit up and take notice. Despite it peaking only at #7 soul (and #11 pop), it was a portent of things to come. I had mentioned where it placed on the year-end soul Top 50. It was the first of Al's singles to bear CBS Pitman label type:
    [​IMG]
    To my eyes, the label type was more a compliment to the smooth grooves laid by Mr. Green, the Hi house band, and the backing singers, than other pressing variants. And this was true for his other records to come, as well.
     
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  21. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    This one really established Al Green as a superstar, and the distinctive sound of his productions you could practically trademark. Tina Turner would begin her solo superstar comeback in the '80s with a fantastic cover of "Let's Stay Together", so the composition proved to have staying power as well.

    The birth of one icon, the rebirth of another. Landmark song. Legend.
     
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  22. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Certainly! But, "Let's Stay Together" was my, and i'm sure, a lot of other people's introduction to Al Green. I didn't hear "I'm Tired Of Being Alone" until after LST was a hit. And, again, I heard TOBA on Soul Train long after the fact.
     
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  23. Manapua

    Manapua Forum Resident

    Location:
    Honolulu
    Let's Stay Together. What an absolute knockout of a song! I'd wager you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who does not like it. And it's not even my favorite Al Green tune! Tired Of Being Alone was my intro to Mr. Green, probably because of American Top 40 more than anything else. That one was alright but LST kicked off a string of 6 excellent singles and just like that, Al Green was the man. Of course, he continued to make good music well into the 70s but the formula begin to wear a bit thin for me and I eventually lost track of his music though a late '76 single (which we'll get to) was a favorite that veered from the formula.
    Green's first Pop Chart hit came in late '67 and was billed as Al Greene & The Soul Mates. Just shy of the Top 40 (#41), it lacks the trademark Al Green/Willie Mitchell sound but is interesting historically if for no other reason.



    The original label was Hot Line, which I've never heard of but could have been a sub of Bell where he ended up before HI.
     
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  24. WLL

    WLL Active Member

    ....
    Is there something somewhere about this " gang " so that I may read up on if?







    post: 17806453, member: 91"]We can't really discuss it here, but i'll bet there were certain racial circumstances that led them to record in NYC.

    There was a Black militant gang that terrorized many people in the record and radio business in the late 60s and early 70s, both Black and White, and it resulted in a profound change in the way the business was run, and the change in the music itself. The gang went away, but it's effects lingered on for decades. Stax and Atlantic felt the biggest brunt of their intimidation tactics.

    Stax, still owned by Jim Stewart, handed over the reins to Al Bell and gave him part ownership, which, i'm sure, further caused a riff among some of the veteran people at the label, and i'm sure Booker T. & The M.G.'s were among them. Stewart became a silent partner. Al Bell did make the label stronger, and gave Stax a success higher than they ever had in the 60s. But, it was short lived, and all of it came apart when it was sold to CBS under Clive Davis in 1973.[/QUOTE]
     
  25. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona

    And, at the risk of jumping ahead, here's a good time as any to mention that Bell Records issued "Guilty" in 1972, probably to capitalize on his fame.
     
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