BOOGIE AT MIDNIGHT – R&B Singles 1950-1952

The last time we opened up the History section of Celebrate Good Times, we looked at the Top 100 Soul Singles of 1963. This week’s blog ventures even further back into time and focuses upon the earliest era the book covers – the early Fifties. It is the pioneering black music champion Jerry Wexler who is credited with instigating the term ‘rhythm and blues’ when he was writing for Billboard magazine in the late Forties. Until then, black music had been known variously as race music, sepia music, Harlem music and other terms. Even though these terms originated in the black community, by the end of the Forties they were deemed to cause offence. So Wexler coined the term to rename the ‘race charts’ which for many years had identified the strongest selling black music records. In 1950, ‘rhythm and blues’ was still a relatively new term (also called R&B) but it stuck around for a couple of decades before finally being dubbed ‘soul music’ at the tail end of the Sixties. Basically used as a marketing concept by the record industry to encompass the many different kinds of black music which were popular at the time, it meant that ‘rhythm and blues’ featured different styles and strands of Afro-American music being recorded during this pivotal and important era. For a music nut like myself, investigating this particular era of the book has been particularly rewarding and satisfying. Having been particularly interested in vocal group music since my late teens, Continue reading

1977 – UK Soul Number Ones

The first issue of Black Echoes in 1977 was dated January 1st. In the Soul Singles chart, KC & The Sunshine Band were knocked off their Christmas top-spot by a group who had already had a few hits on the chart, including a No.1. The year saw a good mixture of bands, soloists, vocal groups and instrumentalists all make their way to the top of the chart. The chart-toppers were dominated by American acts – but a British band and a trio of French disco experimentalists broke through. Unusually, all the weeks at No.1 by all of the acts were consecutive. There were 22 records in all. Spin ’em: CAR WASH | Rose Royce | MCA 7 wks As a precursor to my personal insight on this particular single, please see the 2nd blog – 1976 Soul Number Ones. It gives you the initial lowdown on this essential disco cut. Suffice to say, this was the first No.1 soul single of ’77 and what a scorcher! Topping the charts for an impressive 7 weeks, it was the title-track to a comedy film starring Richard Pryor. Producer Norman Whitfield created the soundtrack which strongly featured the group. With its distinctive opening handclaps, the song (sung with soulful energy by lead vocalist Gwen Dickey) captured the imagination of everyone – topping the US pop charts along the way and reaching the Top 10 in the UK. This was the group’s second UK Soul Singles No.1 hit. DON’T LEAVE ME THIS WAY | Continue reading

1995 – UK Reggae Number Ones

As recorded in the very first blog, back in 1976 there were 19 records that topped the chart during the initial year of the UK Reggae 20. For the first few years of the reggae charts, most of the singles averaged one or two weeks at the top, with only a select few having a longer run. This meant that there were sometimes as many as 24 records hitting the top-spot (1979). By the mid-80s, the trend had reversed and fewer records were reaching No.1 but for much longer periods. In 1995 only ten records reached the top! The tunes are a mixture of lovers rock, bashment, ragga and roots. These are the hits – mostly, massive hits! As always, an asterisk signifies non-consecutive weeks at the top spot. PERFECT LADY | Peter Hunningale | Fashion 2 wks Peter Hunningale first topped the reggae charts in 1989 on his combination tune with Tippa Irie called Ragamuffin Girl. Dubbed Mr. Honey Vibes, his sweet singing style has firmly established him as one of the kingpin UK lovers rock vocalists. Perfect Lady is a slice of lovers rock perfection. I love the intro – the bleeps from Diana Ross & The Supremes’ Reflections is overlapped by Prince Jazzbo intoning “Sound to keep you movin’” before the ridim drops (Pretty Looks) and the song begins. This tune remains a true party classic. Most definitely one for the ravers. BABY PLEASE | Peter Hunningale | Saxon 1 wk From one ravers classic to another, Continue reading

1994 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

The soul albums chart kicked off 1994 with Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle clinging to the No.1 slot for a further two weeks into January – making a total of six weeks at the peak for the canine rapper. The following is a reminder of what came afterwards – with the exclusion of any album re-entering the No.1 slot from the previous year. The albums were mainly R&B and hip-hop but also included the odd house/dance album, a jungle compilation and a couple of UK offerings. As always, non-consecutive weeks are listed with an asterisk. These are the number one soul albums of 1994. Roll ‘em. DIARY OF A MAD BAND | Jodeci | MCA 4 wks Jodeci first came to prominence in 1991 with their debut album Forever My Lady. Comprising two pairs of brothers (known as K-Ci and JoJo/DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin) they made a huge impact on the soul scene in the US and UK with New Jack Swing tracks like Gotta Love, My Phone and their take on The Association’s 1966 smash Cherish. But their forté proved to be superslow slow-jams like Stay, the title-track and I’m Still Waiting. This LP continued the format – the first side containing ballads, the other more uptempo swingtings. Five singles were released from the album – slow-jam burners like What About Us, Cry For You, My Heart Belongs To U and the exquisite Feenin’.  Their track included in the movie Who’s The Man was big in the UK NJS clubs Continue reading