Every Tuesday, the Analog Kid blog goes back in time and features five groovy R&B/soul songs from a specific year. Warning: by R&B/soul, I also mean disco. I could go Gloria Gaynor on your ass at any given moment, so just be ready!
Today, we go back to the year 1979. The disco backlash was beginning, but there were still plenty of great songs to make you shake your groove thing!
Raydio: “You Can’t Change That” (Ray Parker, Jr.)
From the album Rock On
Arista Records, 1979
“You Can’t Change That” randomly popped into my head one day in the summer of 1995. I don’t think I had heard the song in almost fifteen years, but I was able to find it on a soul compilation CD that I ordered on this new-fangled thing called the internet. When the CD arrived, I found that I remembered (and liked) every single song on it. My love for ’70s R&B/soul had been rekindled, and I haven’t stopped digging through the genre since.
“You Can’t Change That” went to #9 in the summer of 1979, and band leader Ray Parker Jr. would go on to write a large number of hits, both for Raydio and as a solo artist. Some of them even managed not to rip off “I Want A New Drug.”
Shalamar: “Second Time Around” (William Shelby/Leon Sylvers III)
From the album Big Fun
Solar Records, 1979
When your album cover features Jody Watley riding bareback on a killer whale, you set expectations pretty high. “Second Time Around” delivers on those expectations– it has one of those naturally infectious melodies that sticks in your brain. It sticks in your brain for 24 YEARS.
Don Cornelius put Shalamar together from his troop of dancers on Soul Train, a show that had already made Watley semi-famous for her moves and fashion sense. “Second Time Around” went as high as #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the only Top 10 single for the group. Of course, Watley went on to enjoy tremendous success as a solo artist in the ’80s. Based on my wife’s excited yelps whenever “Looking For A New Love” comes up on shuffle, I may just have to devote an entire blog to her solo career in the near future.
Ray, Goodman & Brown: “Special Lady” (Harry Ray/Al Goodman/Lee Walter)
From the album Ray, Goodman & Brown
Polydor Records, 1979
Ray, Goodman & Brown had been making records as The Moments for over ten years, but a contractual obligation forced them to adopt a new moniker. They hit #5 with “Special Lady,” an old-school slice of early-’70s soul that almost equaled the success of “Love On A Two-Way Street.”
Sister Sledge: “Lost In Music” (Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards)
From the album We Are Family
Cotillion Records, 1979
Vinyl rip courtesey of the Analog Kid
If “Lost In Music” sounds like a great lost Chic track, that’s because it basically is a Chic track. Like the rest of Sister Sledge’s We Are Family, the song was written and produced by Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards. The Bee Gees get all of the credit for dominating the pop music charts in the late ’70s, but Nile & Bernard weren’t far behind. “We Are Family” went as high as #2 in late 1979, and earlier that year Chic’s “Good Times” made it all the way to #1.
“Lost In Music” only reached #35 on the R&B charts in the United States, but it’s a great cut from a fantastic album. Sister Sledge are often written off as a one-hit wonder, but their entire catalog is excellent (notation made for another future blog entry).
As for Nile Rodgers & Chic, the band is once again deservedly nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame this year. Anyone who questions their inclusion should not be reading the Analog Kid blog.
GQ: “Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)” [Single Version] (Emanuel LeBlanc/Herb Lane/Keith Crier/Paul Service)
Original version from the album Disco Nights
Arista Records, 1979
GQ stands for “good quality,” and this classic dance track from 1979 is indeed quality stuff. “Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)” went as high as #12 on the Billboard Top 100, and it topped the R&B chart.
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
Huey Lewis & The News: “I Want A New Drug” (Huey Lewis/Chris Hayes)
From the album Sports
Chrysalis Records, 1983
Ray Parker, Jr.: “Ghostbusters” (Ray Parker, Jr.)
From the original motion picture soundtrack Ghostbusters
Arista Records, 1984
Jody Watley: “Looking For A New Love” (Andre Cymone/Jody Watley)
From the album Jody Watley
MCA Records, 1987
The Moments: “Love On A Two-Way Street” (Sylvia Robinson/Burt Keyes)
From the album A Moment With The Moments
Stang Records, 1970
Sister Sledge: “We Are Family” [Single Version] (Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards]
Original version from the album We Are Family
Cotillion Records, 1979
Chic: “Good Times” (Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards)
From the album Risque
Atlantic Records, 1979