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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
    Must've been the tone on his bass that threw me off, since you mention it. But it also speaks of how locked in the arrangements to these things have gotten in the years since the "wild and crazy" '70's, don'tcha think?
     
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  2. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    It also happens when you have ace studio musicians.
     
  3. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    This song is so not about the bass line, though.
     
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  4. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Repeating what I said on the #1 pop thread, where this one improbably rose all the way to the top on lingering Prince hysteria:

    "Oh Sheila" sorta came out of nowhere. It was their first pop hit although they'd had 2 R&B Top 10 hits prior to this with their first two singles, so they were clearly successful right out of the gate. Their first two singles were far less-obvious Prince ripoffs and more generic '80s R&B slow jams, as much MJ or DeBarge as Prince. Self-produced, so there's that. While the melody is clearly a rip-off of "Lady Cab Driver", I think overall the song reminds me more of the 1982 Prince vault track "Possessed". Enough to make me wonder if it somehow leaked:



    It feels like Prince might have missed the opportunity for a huge hit here, although I think "Possessed" needed a couple of tweaks and editing prior to release.

    I do wonder if having a massive hit with such an enormous Prince rip-off did Ready For The World more harm than good, ultimately. I did prove there was still an incredible appetite for that Minneapolis sound even as Prince was sort of evolving away from it. We'd see another pair of acts soon with their own take on that sound, one which would propel them to multiplatinum success as well.

    The song itself is alright, but the lyrics are generic - they weren't capable of ripping that aspect of Prince off successfully. The choice to deliver some lyrics in a faux-British accent is just bizarre. I guess that was another nod to the kind of random stuff Prince might do. It didn't work for them in the UK - they only got to #50 - but they did get into the NZ top 30, Australian and Irish Top 20 and to #1 in Canada.

    Shockingly, the parent album itself went platinum. Of course we were about to enter the CD era, where the number of platinum albums skyrocketed. People buying the same record twice for home use (CD or vinyl) and portable (cassette) was also really starting to inflate the numbers for albums. Looks like it might have been at least partially a digital recording as well - we were about to see even minor acts adopt digital recording. It was becoming almost ubiquitous, a huge change from just a year or two earlier.

    I liked the song alright but never realized it got to #1 pop. If it had better lyrics it might have been a minor classic and one of the better Prince ripoffs. As it stands, I'll have to give the nod to best Prince imitation to Shalimar's "Dancing In The Sheets". Which actually does have a halfway decent lyric, at least in the title.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2020
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  6. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I actually remember this one, but it's still pretty mid-'80s generic.

    :yawn:
     
  7. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    But, it's quality.
     
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  8. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Next #1:

    Part-Time Lover - Stevie Wonder October 19, 1985, 6 weeks??? :wtf:

     
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  9. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    His vocals especially sounded mechanical and unnatural at this point. Goes with the arrangement. Sometimes a little too much technology is not a good thing. And he seemed especially high on digital here.

    Again, I know he had to adapt to the changing R&B scene, for sure . . . but with this?! To be sure, there's none of the sappiness of "I Just Called To Say I Love You" . . . but still . . .
     
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  10. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    The entire album sounds cold and mechanical. I think that is partly what hurt Stevie in the 80s: digital recording. Even my favorite 80s song of his "That Girl" has a coldness about it. I could blame his chief engineer at the time Gary Ozblazal(sp?) for it, but Stevie loves technology.

    And the song's joy of cheating on your spouse vibe always rubbed me the wrong way.
     
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  11. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Stevie has super-acute hearing. I'm sure he loved the noiseless, distortion-free clarity of digital recording. I've been to plenty of concerts and digital recording sounds a lot more like live music than analog. So if that's what you're aiming for - reality - this is what it sounds like.

    Of course, I've always thought live music - especially rock and R&B, but even a lot of jazz - sounded a lot worse than recorded music. Often shrill, cold, harsh, clipped, tinny, etc. Engineers file down all of those unpleasant rough edges in the studio. In the analog era, the tape itself was very helpful in blunting the worst of it, providing its own natural saturation, rolloff of high frequencies and other magic to the mix. In the digital era, you have to bring all of that yourself and few engineers during this period even knew how to do all of that manually, let alone wanted to.

    The onrush of crisp digital synths, sub-16-bit samplers and all manner of early digital processing - reverbs, etc. - didn't help matters. That stuff would sound kinda harsh even on the sweetest analog deck. Especially using the dreaded '80s EQ.

    As for "Part Time Lover", it was a welcome comeback for Stevie after the atrocious "I Just Called To Say I Love You". I really enjoyed the song. It sounded pretty dated a decade or so ago, but with the big revival of '80s production tricks it doesn't sound nearly as dated today. Funny how trends play out.

    The best song by far from In Square Circle though was the beautiful "Overjoyed". It's telling that was a leftover from Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants, though... A slew of people have covered it since, including Mary J. Blige and Celine Dion, in a duet with Wonder himself:

     
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  12. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Not if you record in a small or dead room. Thing is, all that music was created in a computer with no natural ambiance. In many cases, it had to be added.

    I've been to digital vs. analog tape demonstrations, and I picked the digital recordings too. But, in Stevie Wonder's case, I doubt they were thinking of naturalness. I think Stevie was thinking of speed and convenience over all else.

    We, or, I mentioned this very thing in another thread. We were talking about CD, and how it supposedly captures all the natural dynamics we need for most music. That isn't true, but, in this case, engineers absolutely tame the dynamic range because the end-listener couldn't handle it, and neither could their stereos., and that is if and including the gear itself reducing that dynamic range.

    Totally agree! Just listen to his digitally recorded "Hotter Than July" album on vinyl, CD, or even hi-rez. Even altering with tape plugins doesn't help much.

    It sounds very dated to me. Also, the recently-discussed "Money For Nothing" song on the other thread was also digitally recorded. It gets constant praise, but it still sounds dead to me, soundwise. Too clean. And, Sheena Easton released her "Do You" album that was produced by Nile Rodgers and also digitally recorded. Again, there is a certain coldness to the sound. About the only digital recording during this period I can think of that sounds good is "Lovin' Every Minute Of It" by Loverboy.
     
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  13. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Gary Olazabal. Whose surname to my ears and eyes sounds a bit too similar to that of Tears For Fears ("Everybody Wants To Rule The World," "Shout," "Head Over Heels") member Ronald Orzabal. How many in the '80's confused the two, anyway?

    One does have to wonder why he chose that as a topic to make into a song . . .
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
  14. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    I could have easily looked up the spelling but was too lazy. I know: disrespectful. I doubt many confused the two, as the only people who pay attention to engineering credits are other engineers and geeks like us.


    Probably because it's such a tried and true song topic. Cheatin' songs are as American as chicken and waffles.
     
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  15. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Next #1:

    Caravan Of Love - Isley Jasper Isley November 30, 1985, 3 weeks

     
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  16. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    And the chorus of this, plus the bridge of Freddie Jackson's "You Are My Lady," sound like they were lifted for another song a little over a year from this.

    In other words, oh am I familiar with this record from after both factions of The Isley Brothers split.
     
  17. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Isley Jasper Isley were a big thing for a couple of years. They sounded more like the classic Isley Brothers than the original three ever did. It proved that there was still a healthy demand for the Isley sound. And, the reason Isley Jasper Isley broke up later on was more of a family matter.
     
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  18. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Wow! This really does sound just like an R&B & pop #1 from '86. I guess it was so nice it hit #1 twice!
     
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  19. pablo fanques

    pablo fanques Somebody's Bad Handwroter

    Location:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    I seem to recall an a capella version of this being a hit for The House Martins not long after. Maybe only in Britain but it crossed my radar
     
  20. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Actually, The Housemartins' version made #1 there . . .
    Every UK #1 Single of The 1980's Discussion Thread.
     
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  21. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Wow. I would have thought there would be more comment on this Isley Jasper Isley tune since the Isley sound was so popular. Again, this forum never ceases to amaze me, and that's not in a good way.

    Next #1, and the way we say goodnight to 1985 on the R&B chart:

    Don't Say No Tonight - Eugene Wilde Week ending December 21, 1985 3 weeks



    Meh.
     
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  22. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Wow, painfully mid-'80s. Sports that (I assume) Yamaha DX7 sound that rapidly came to drench everything from '85 thru to '90.
     
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  23. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Hearing this one (which I don't really remember), I'm just as baffled as to why "Caravan Of Love" (which I very much remember) didn't get any other comments aside from myself and one from @sunspot42.

    But there are likewise crickets chirping on my country #1's thread at this point (apart from the occasional 'like' of one or more posts), so . . .
     
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  24. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    A monument to the massive budget cutbacks for recording, especially in the R&B realm, that followed in the wake of the early '80's sales slump. Also, wasn't this were many of those records were beginning to sound alike, or something?
     
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  25. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Yeah, I just don't get it. "Caravan Of Love" was very popular on MTV too. They had it in heavy rotation.

    I don't even get notices for it anymore, so I didn't even know it was still active.
     
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