Archive for the ‘Sugarhill’ Category

Eric B. & Rakim

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Move the Crowd / Eric B. & Rakim

Move the Crowd / Eric B. & Rakim

Listen: Move The Crowd / Eric B. & Rakim 05 Move The Crowd.mp3

There’s just something about a hip hop track when it’s on 7″ vinyl. Luckily, the 45 configuration was still pretty prevalent during the 80′s but far from the format of choice for the genre. Therefore, very few were manufactured, and even fewer sold. Now, not unlike Jazz singles, they’re fairly collectable and are almost like novelty items. I, for one, stock piled them all: Sugarhill, Def Jam, Wild Pitch, Rock-A-Fella, Tommy Boy etc. So yeah, really appreciative to have the Eric B. & Rakim stuff on 7′s.

In the day, these guys were usually hanging around the Island offices on 4th & Broadway, when the company was located above Tower Records. It was a pretty fun location. All the latest releases one floor down, and Keith Richards living in a duplex at the top – a constant hub-bub of activity. Island seemed to be a place the artists liked to visit, and milling about, sometimes all day. It was not uncommon to have say, Melissa Etheridge and Etta James talking in the hallway, or like one memorable afternoon on my office couch, Chris Blackwell with Phranc, Marianne Faithfull and Julian Cope.

Eric B. and definitely Rakim were often playing records in Kathy Jacobson’s office. Rakim in particular was a mensch, polite, humble and really smart.

I have played ‘Move The Crowd’ hundreds and hundreds of times. It sounds great in the car, on the headphones, definitely on the jukebox, seriously everywhere.

Shirley & Lee / Slade

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Listen: Let The Good Times Roll / Shirley & Lee ShirleyLeeGoodTimes.mp3

There’s nothing like an original pressing and company sleeve when it sounds like this. There are probably a heap of accurate adjectives that apply here, like juke joint, chitlin circuit or barrelhouse RnR. I hope so, cause that’s how I hear it.

This being Shirley & Lee’s biggest hit (#1 RnB / #20 Pop: 1956), it was a drastic change from their earlier sweetheart, call and response sound and releases. Indeed, they were for a while coined as ‘Sweethearts Of The Blues’.

Years later, Sylvia Robinson, who went on to start Sugarhill Records, signed Shirley Mae Goodman and together they had a massive hit with ‘Shame Shame Shame’ as Shirley & Company on her All Platinum imprint.

Listen: Let The Good Times Roll / Slade SladeGoodTimesRoll.mp3

Covered by many: The Righteous Brothers, Barbra Streisand, The Searchers, Joe Strummer, Harry Nilsson, The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Freddy Fender, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Animals, Fishbone and George Clinton, my favorite version clocks in via a working class glam rendition by the almighty Slade.

I sure hope Shirley Mae Goodman and Leonard Lee, who also wrote their biggest hit, got the publishing.


Monday, December 14th, 2009

SylviaPillowUS, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

SylviaPillowUKA, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

SylviaPillowUK, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

Listen: Pillow Talk / Sylvia SylviaPillow.mp3

Sylvia Robinson, owner and creative force behind Sugarhill Records, where rap began according to many. Makes sense she’d be the Lil Kim of her day. Every track was sexually provaocative. ‘You Sure Love To Ball’ (now there’s a long lost term: ball), ‘Had Any Lately’, ‘He Don’t Ever Lose His Groove’ and not forgetting this one, ‘Pillow Talk’, the hit (#3 Pop / #1 RnB). Word is she’d originally written ‘Pillow Talk’ for Al Green, who apparently turned it down for being too risqué, and against his religion.

I wish I could scan the PILLOW TALK album sleeve, it’s almost as good as James Gilstrap’s LOVE TALK for bad photography and complete lack of visual appeal – making both essential art. Google them.

An early example of prototypical disco, the vocals are replete with moaning and heavy breathing, predating Donna Summer’s orgasmic inflections on ‘Love To Love You Baby’. Although the album version of ‘Pillow Talk’ runs about a minute longer, fear not – the simulated climax is included on the 7′ ending as well. Even so, this was all over pop radio in spring ’73 – believe it. I was insatiable for it. By summer it had reached the UK, so I got to hear it constantly all over again.