EVERY Billboard #1 rhythm & blues hit discussion thread

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

  1. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    As I've said, this song - which Whitfield wrote himself, having split with his collaborator since 1967, Barrett Strong - seemed to owe its title more to what he thought it was, rather than anything in the lyrics (yep, only an ego could title a song "Masterpiece" even though that word wasn't anywhere in the lyrics). As I've also said, I'm sure Hall & Oates nicked the horn chart towards the fade in the former's "No no no" vocals towards the end of another song way ahead of this.

    I.I.N.M., wouldn't the way-out guitar effects have come from Wah-Wah Watson who, around this time, moved his base of operations from Detroit to L.A.?
     
  2. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    A much better single.

    Never cared much for "Masterpiece". And this kind of thing is usually right up my alley.

    :shrug::shrug:
     
  3. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    Next #1 Billboard R&B single for 1973:

    Pillow Talk - Sylvia



    To this day, i'm still wondering how this song got on the radio and to the top of the charts in 1973. It was certainly embarrassing to hear it on the radio while your parents were around!

    Sylvia Robinson had always been known for her risque tunes, such as "Love Is Strange" by Mickey & Sylvia from the late 50s. Sylvia owned the Vibration and Stang labels with her husband Joe Robinson. They produced hits by The Moments (Love On A Two-Way Street), Shirley & Company (Shame, Shame, Shame), and her own records. They were known for their low-budget sound. After this hit, and , they went on to form Sugarhill Records, better known as the premier rap label in the early 80s. More on that in 1979.
     
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  4. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Apparently, she had written this with Al Green in mind, but he turned it down.

    There were two basic variants of this single. One was from Specialty Records Corp. in Olyphant, PA:
    [​IMG]
    Then, on the West Coast, Monarch Record Mfg., with label type by Stoughton Printing Co.:
    [​IMG]
    But there was one pressing entity that never pressed at all for the All Platinum labels at any time in its existence - I don't even think any albums they put out were available for Columbia House subscribers. In the past, RCA and Decca/MCA had spells pressing for All Platinum, Stang and Turbo. But one major that never did was Columbia. Below is a re-creation (with actual typesetting, painstakingly put together in digital graphics systems) of what Columbia pressings of this (at least, from Pitman, NJ) might have looked like:
    [​IMG]

    As for Sugar Hill Records, it was a miracle they got away with naming it that. That's because the prior year (1978), an entirely different record label of the same name, devoted to bluegrass and Americana music, was founded in Durham, NC by Barry Poss and David Freeman. That label, now based in Nashville, still exists; the one that is the focal point of this chart faded away in the mid-1980's.
     
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  5. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I don't have any memory of this one at all. Maybe Phoenix radio didn't play it much? I can hear how it was written for Al Green.

    Sylvia is a surprisingly important figure in the history of music - "Shame Shame Shame" was one of the first disco hits and helped to establish that genre, and of course Sugarhill Records popularized rap a decade later, which reshaped the pop charts for decades to come.
     
  6. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    This number did manage to make #3 on the Hot 100 . . .
     
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  7. Black Thumb

    Black Thumb Yah Mo B There

    Location:
    Reno, NV
    "Masterpiece" ... ever since I heard that the Temps said they felt like backup artists on their own record, the song has left me with an uneasy vibe.

    "Pillow Talk" ... I know this one never got play on the squaresville stations I was stuck with in grade school! Not that I would've known what Sylvia was cooing about.

    That Soul Train video is a trip. Love how she flashes her eyes when she gets to the title line. And that guy with the big 'fro looking like "how the hell do I dance to this?" ... Awesome!
     
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  8. drad dog

    drad dog Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    I think Pillow Talk was written with Marvin Gaye in mind and rejected. Who knows? It's peachy as hell.

    Wish I had been here before now! What I missed...
     
  9. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I had mentioned that she'd actually written this with Al Green in mind . . .

    Welcome aboard . . . where were you when we needed you during some of the dry spells where crickets were chirping on some of these #1's, especially those which are iconic?
     
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  10. drad dog

    drad dog Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    I heard it was Marvin.

    I'll have to go back. My god I missed the best of it. IT's just about over for me. I go up to Harold Melvin - Bad Luck or so. That's like it for me. It was just about over for top 40 too as early 70s became mid 70s.
     
  11. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    Either that, or your parents didn't allow you to hear it because of the lyrical content. The small Arizona town I grew up in sure played it at prime-time during request time.

    Same here! And, it does sound like they are the backup artists. I mean, c'mon! It's about ghetto strife, and the song's called "Masterpiece"??? All you remember is the elaborate musical production and score.

    I was 10 years old by then, and knew exactly what she was singing about. That's why it was so awkward if the song came on while your mom was around. Back then, Black families would gather 'round the TV whenever Soul Train came on. I don't quite remember my family watching this particular episode with Sylvia on, though.

    We have discussed stuff like this on the forum in the past about how some radio stations around the country censored or refused to play various songs for whatever reasons. I consider myself quite fortunate to have grown up in a place that played controversial songs all day long without the censorship. Well, they did play the "bull-blank" version of The Isley Brothers' "Fight The Power" for obvious reasons. Can't afford a fine from the FCC!

    Well, why don't you do a little catch-up reading and post your thoughts? It's cool. "Bad Luck" would be in the spring of 1975, so you have a year left. I think you'd still want to stick around after that point because that's when Earth, Wind & Fire, The Isley Brothers, The Manhattans, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Candi Staton, Johnnie Taylor, Stevie Wonder, and a whole lot of other great stuff in on the top 40. Is it all coming back to you yet? Bobby "Blue" Bland was still hitting the #1 spot. It wasn't about disco, but that's what so many people seem to remember. Even on the pop chart. Not everything was disco, but that is the current perception. Remember, in the world of soul, veteran artists weren't one-hit wonders. As with the country genre, the veterans stuck around for years.
     
  12. drad dog

    drad dog Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    You are 100% right. I was thinking about it a second ago. What happened after Bad Luck? and why don't I know? Disco is too easy an answer, and there scholarship lies.

    Not everything made #1 though. Maybe I could get in on a thread with the other stuff like that from the beginning.
     
    Grant likes this.
  13. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I was four, so I was listening to whatever my uncle listened to when it came to soul. He was no prude, so either it wasn't getting play during the day (possible) or he hated it for other reasons and turned the channel.

    Or I just don't remember it because I didn't like it at the time and "tuned it out".
     
  14. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    I don't even hear "Pillow Talk" as R&B. I hear it as pop. To me, it also sounds more like the cheap background music they used to play in those porno films. I think that was Sylvia's intent.
     
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  15. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Given Sylvia's background influence on two genres, she's another of those so-called "one-hit wonders" who loomed large "behind the scenes" - right behind Johnny Nash ("I Can See Clearly Now") who did much to spur the rise of reggae.

    But given how each had other "hits" along the way, you could see why I used the term "so-called."
     
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  16. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Well, Shirley had several hits, didn't she?
     
  17. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    No. Just that one: "Shame, Shame, Shame". One hit wonder.
     
  18. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    As Shirley & Company. She was once one-half of Shirley & Lee who had a big hit back in the '50's: "Let The Good Times Roll." In the "bid'ness," she went as far back as Sylvia herself.
     
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  19. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Sylvia wasn't a "one hit wonder" either - "Love Is Strange" got to #11 on the pop charts. I mean she was half of a duo on that one, but her name's on it, so...
     
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  20. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    My point, exactly.
     
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  21. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    I forgot about that one!
     
  22. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    I never said that she as a one-hit wonder.
     
  23. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I didn't say you had. It was WB who called her a "one hit wonder", but he did it in quotes, apparently to emphasize that she wasn't. It just wasn't clear in that post.
     
  24. W.B.

    W.B. Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    That was what I meant, both had more than one hit in either era ('50's and '70's).
     
  25. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Yeah I was thinking you'd just quoted the term "one hit wonder" as a phrase, not as an indication she actually wasn't a one hit wonder...
     

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