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EVERY Billboard #1 rhythm & blues hit discussion thread

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

  1. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Now, here is one Arista act replacing another on the top of the R&B charts. Sort of like within the C&W chart where one RCA act (The Judds) replaced another set on the same label (a Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton duet) round this same time.
     
  2. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Arista - after a few kinda fallow years - was absolutely on fire now.
     
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  3. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Well, on the pop charts, yes. But Arista did quite well on the R&B chart in the early 80s, as they acquired the GRP catalog in 1982 that was under their distribution.

    In the early 80s, Arista had R&B artists:

    Raydio/Ray Parker Jr.
    Aretha Franklin
    Dionne Warwick
    Tom Browne (acquired from GRP Records)
    Angela Bofil (acquired from GRP Records)
    Gil Scot-Heron
    GQ
    Phyllis Hyman

    Jermaine Jackson was signed in 1984.
     
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  4. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Yeah, they had a really strong R&B roster. Didn't do them a ton of good on the pop charts in the early '80s, apart from Dionne Warwick and maybe Ray Parker, Jr. But with the post-Michael Jackson R&B explosion at the middle of the decade, it put them in a great position to prosper during the second half of the decade.
     
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  5. torcan

    torcan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Love this song. I didn't get the LP for a few more months yet, but this song really made me take notice.
     
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  6. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Well, for the pop side, they had the Thompson Twins and The Alan Parsons Project. And, Dionne Warwick was a pop artist, not R&B. Clive Davis also turned those R&B artists into pop artists. The only one he couldn't change was Aretha Franklin.
     
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  7. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Parsons was fading after '82 or so, though. Arista's cash cow in the '70s had been Barry Manilow, and he flamed out by 1980. Thompson Twins did alright, but were largely a second-tier act and fairly short-lived on the pop charts. Dionne had kept going strong into '83 with Heartbreaker, but after that dropped off dramatically. Air Supply might have been their biggest act during the early '80s - they were big (Lost In Love went double-platinum) but declining fast by '85 (they had their last Top 20 single this year).

    Arista's Jive imprint was having some success but none of those acts (like A Flock Of Seagulls) blew up to be truly huge. Ironically they originally had Simple Minds but the band left them after 1980 for Virgin. Whoops! Similar story with Stray Cats, who were on Arista in Europe where they enjoyed some success in '81 with their first two records, but they really blew up in America in '82...where they were on EMI America. Whoops! Arista lost $12 million in '82.

    I might be missing someone else really big commercially, but I don't think so. They had The Dead, who were at least reliable sellers, but they stopped even going gold after '78.

    It looks to me like Arista were really hurting by the time Billy Ocean, Aretha and finally Whitney rolled along to save them in '84 and '85. Ironic that a label which had made so much painfully whitebread music would get rescued by two black women and a black guy from Trinidad.
     
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  8. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Indeed . . . it was because of Arista being such a low ebb in 1983 that Clive Davis and/or Ariola (which took over the label in 1979 from Columbia Pictures) sold 50% of the label to RCA. It was around that time Ms. Houston was first signed, and after that that Mr. Ocean began to make his imprint on the charts on a regular basis.
     
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  9. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    The TT lasted until the end of the 80s.

    Warwick's last top 40 hit was in 1989.

    You mean like Billy Ocean?o_O

    A&M Records for the U.S..

    Whoops! Similar story with Stray Cats, who were on Arista in Europe where they enjoyed some success in '81 with their first two records, but they really blew up in America in '82...where they were on EMI America. Whoops! Arista lost $12 million in '82.

    Jermaine had success on Arista, too. Daryl Hall/John Oates managed to get one hit album and three singles on the Arista label.

    The thing about Clive Davis is that he didn't really understand R&B music. He signed a lot of R&B artists in his career, but he was wise to let them do their thing instead of meddle with them much. His expertise was firmly in pop music. Remember he was the guy who signed Santana, Chicago, and Earth, Wind & Fire.
     
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  10. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Gotta remember that Jive was distributed by BMG in the U.S., as it was a U.K.-based label. Jive had an impressive roster in the 80s, and most of it was in pop and rap music. We're jumping ahead and straying from R&B in late 1985, but their roster included:

    A Flock Of seagulls
    Kool Moe Dee
    D.J. Jazz & The Fresh Prince
    Billy Ocean
    Britney Spears
    Samantha Fox
    Rick Astley

    Really, not too much in the R&B world, which brings us to...

    The next #1 R&B single:

    Cherish - Kool & The Gang Week ending September 14, 1985 1 week

     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2020
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  11. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I know the Thompson Twins were together, but I'm talking about commercial success in the '80 - '84 period, while Arista was at a particularly low ebb. They did alright but only had one gold single and one platinum album. And they were a real bright spot for Arista in the '82-'84 period along with Heartbreaker, until Billy Ocean and Aretha started generating hits. And Ocean's success dwarfed that of acts like Thompson Twins - he released two 2x Platinum albums in a row and had 3 pop #1 hits and 2 #2 hits starting in late '84.

    Yeah, but her fortunes plummeted after Heartbreaker. She certainly wasn't keeping Arista afloat.

    Ocean didn't break thru until shortly before Aretha's comeback and then Whitney. And I think he was their only big success in a couple of years. I was talking about their performance post-Mainlow and pre-R&B boom. They were definitely on life support there for awhile.

    One thing that really rescued the labels - including Arista - starting around '86 and running really thru the end of the century was catalog sales. Boomers started rebuying everything they once had on vinyl, 8-track or cassette on CD. The labels made literally billions off of that.

    You're right that Clive didn't particularly understand R&B and left those acts alone, which was probably a good thing. He did have a way of spotting talent though, cross-genres. He signed Janis Joplin after seeing her perform if memory serves, at a time when many would have considered her a fringe act at best. That certainly paid off. Whitney too he was able to cultivate, although she always straddled the border between R&B and Streisand-esque pop, the latter of which Clive did understand.
     
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  12. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    It's pleasant enough, but it's no "Fresh".

    This was their last big hit on the pop charts, where it got to #2 just like the (I think superior) "Joanna" managed in '83. They'd score a #18 and two #10 hits over there before 1988 before disappearing from the pop top 40 entirely. They didn't fare much better on the R&B charts, bowing out after 1989. Still though, not a bad run for an act who'd broken thru all the way back in '73 with "Jungle Boogie" and who'd survived some lean times on the pop charts during the disco era before roaring back at the end of the '70s and managing to be one of the few R&B acts to score massive pop hits during the great post-disco, pre-Michael Jackson backlash. And they did it without sacrificing their R&B cred or chart performance.
     
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  13. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Agree about the "pleasant enough" part, but . . . I prefer the (wholly different) Association song from '66 of that.

    But I think that there were two mixes (at least) of this record.
     
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  14. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    This is the R&B side, though. Aretha had been generating hits since she signed with Arista in 1980.

    That's What Friends Are For? Again, the R&B and pop charts were different animals, even though we have been discussing The Thompson Twins for the sake of discussion about Arista, whom, BTW, only charted once on the R&B Hot 100 in 1982. I'll have to pull it up and hear what it sounds like...Just listened to it. I'm shocked it even made it here when a couple of their their later pop hits sounded more R&B. However, #82 is nothing to brag about.

    Ah, remember that Arista acquired the GRP artists in 1982, and, they still had Ray Parker Jr. generating hits. Arista wasn't doing that bad in the early 80s. And, again, Clive Davis signed Jermaine Jackson in 1984, although they would have had a blockbuster single had Epic allowed them to release the duet with Jermaine's famous brother. I'm sure Jermaine and a lot of other people were shaking their heads in disbelief saying "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming".

    That didn't really start happening until the early 90s. many people were very slow to adopt the CD, still favoring the compact cassette. The R&B audience, as I recall, didn't really start buying CDs until they were forced to in the 90s. Some never did.

    Clive Davis was able to steer Whitney Houston into pop because she was brand new to the public. But, he knew the way to her fame was to build her Black base. That's why her first album had producers like Kashif, Jermaine Jackson, and Narada Michael Walden. Davis may be a lot of things, but he ain't stupid!
     
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  15. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    No, it's better! Fresh is boring. But, i'll say that "Cherish" by The Association/David Cassidy comes to my mind first. I even think of that future hit by that pesky blonde:) before I think of this one. I only recently started to like Kool & The Gang's song. I also finally paid attention to the lyrics a few hours ago! I thought it was a love song. It isn't. I like the bass line in their song.

    That means they were big, despite us not being able to remember them. Apparently, a lot of people liked them. On this chart, they would have four more top 10 hits, one of them just missing the top spot. Jeez! I sound like Casey Kasem!:laugh:

    That's debatable...
     
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  16. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I know. I'm talking about Arista's commercial fortunes overall. Aretha was still moving some records on the R&B side, but not in "save the label" $$$ quantities.

    They were doing awful. Lost something like $40 million in '82 and got sold repeatedly. There was certainly talk of shutting the label down / merging it with corporate siblings. The industry as a whole was doing poorly but Arista was fairly small and particularly devoid of big-selling acts compared even to some other smallish labels.

    No, catalog sales exploded in the late '80s. I remember reading about it in Billboard circa '87-'88. The labels started making a fortune off of reselling old LPs on CD. And they loved it because there was virtually no expense beyond manufacturing. No promotion at all. Just press and deliver to the stores.

    And when the labels did spend money on promotion - like with the arrival of The Beatles on CD in early '87 - they made a fortune. The first four Beatles CDs debuted at #7 - #10 on the Billboard album charts, and the later CDs sold even better. Just initial shipments for the first 4 discs were estimated at $17 million, a whopping haul for a catalog release.

    After that it was off to the races for the next 15 years or so.

    That may be, but I'm talking about the industry as a whole here, tied into Arista's commercial fortunes. Arista was about to take off on the R&B charts tho in addition to the pop charts. With Whitney (and Billy Ocean, let's give him some credit during this period), they didn't need catalog sales to make a fortune. I think R&B acts absolutely saved the label from being folded.
     
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  17. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    That was Dionne And Friends, and it was a charity single like "We Are The World". Arista didn't make any money off of it.
     
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  18. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Sounds like you are still minimizing the significance of the R&B market. R&B helped keep some labels afloat, kept the bills paid.

    Well, Clive Davis did put too many eggs in the easy listening category...but, it paid off later on. Remember that the entire industry had suffered a devastating recession in the early 80s along with the rest of the American economy.

    I put that a few years later. In the late 80s, the effort was in gaining more CD pressing plants. It was around 1990 when the industry really started reissuing catalog on CD in a big way. CBS (Sony) and Polygram started right away, but it took a bit longer for EMI, RCA, Motown, and WEA. They had mostly been doing compilations at first.

    That was a major motivation for labels to start their album catalog reissues. I was an early CD adopter, so I remember it. Before The Beatles, if it wasn't comps, it was new releases. Older people tended to wait until it was assured the CD was going to survive as a format before they dove in.

    Yes. The Beatles were seen as the catalyst. The world was waiting to see how they would do.

    Indeed!

    Well, this is the R&B thread, and its concern is for the R&B consumer.
     
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  19. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    My point is that is was billed primarily as a Dionne Warwick song.
     
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  20. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Not at all, but while Arista was doing alright in R&B, I don't think it was enough to make up for the collapse of their pop business.

    Fortunately, that changed completely in '85.
     
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  21. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    And as for "Saving All My Love For You" - am I alone in thinking that the bass line, which sounds for all the world like it was synthesized, was a bit meh in certain parts of the number? Especially the constant "Saving all my love . . . " sections before the ending?
     
  22. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    According to the credits, Nathan East played bass on the song. I doubt they sampled it.

    One thing I didn't know before is that Whitney's version is a cover of a Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. song from the 70s.

    Since there aren't any more comments on "Cherish", let's move to the next #1:

    Oh Sheila - Ready For The World Week ending September 21, 1985, 2 weeks

     
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  23. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    And, since that was tackled on the other thread, i'll also post the next song after that:

    You Are My Lady - Freddie Jackson Week ending October 5, 1985, 2 weeks



    To me, this is one of his better songs, and one single I bought back then. But, one can't escape the similarity between Freddie Jackson and Luther Vandross in more ways than one.
     
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  24. pablo fanques

    pablo fanques Somebody's Bad Handwroter

    Location:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    This was good but give me 'Close the Door' every time
     
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  25. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    The chord structure and sequence of the bridge to this, and that of the chorus of another song from a year after this, would (to my observant ears, anyway) be snipped for yet another R&B hit of two years from now (in the timeline we're in). For obvious reasons (i.e. respecting The Process) I'm keeping 'mum' on the specifics. But it was just as synth-heavy as this one.

    As you can see by this, I am familiar with all of the above.
     
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