Sunday April 10th, 2005
New CD's this past week:
- Faith Evans – The first lady
Music news headlines this week:
Stevie Wonder Receives Diamond Award
Stevie Wonder has joined an elite list of artists who have earned a
diamond award from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The legendary artist's 1976 Motown two-disc album "Songs in the Key of
Life" was certified in March for shipments of 10 million copies to U.S.
retailers. (Note: According to RIAA rules, each disc of a multi-disc
release is counted as one unit.)
Among the most iconic in Wonder's catalog, the album found the artist
addressing social issues ("Village Ghetto Land," "Black Man") and personal
vignettes ("Isn't She Lovely," "I Wish") issues, as well as paying tribute
to the then recently deceased Duke Ellington (the No. 1 Billboard pop
singles chart hit "Sir Duke").
According to the RIAA, the title was never before audited by the
organization, therefore it had not been accorded the gold (500,000) or
platinum (1 million) designations for which it would have qualified along
the way. (Record labels or artists must request and pay for the RIAA's
independent audit of shipments, which are the basis of its certification
In fact, Wonder has just one other multi-platinum title: his 1985 set "In
Square Circle" (Motown), which featured the hit "Part-Time Lover," is
listed as double-platinum in the RIAA's database. He has four other albums
that have reached the platinum level.
As previously reported, Wonder will release "A Time 2 Love," his first
album of new studio material in nearly a decade, May 3 through Motown.
New Book On Gamble & Huff Chronicles Philly Soul’s Heyday
New in stores is the first full-scale biography chronicling the architects
of the '70s "Philly Soul" sound--Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell.
The nearly 400-page book, A House on Fire: The Rise and Fall of
Philadelphia Soul by John A. Jackson, tells the story of Gamble & Huff's
Philadelphia International record label, their ascent to fame and the
stories behind legendary productions for groups such as the Spinners, the
O'Jays, the Stylistics, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy
Pendergrass, the Jacksons and many more.
Jackson goes into great detail on how Gamble, Huff & Bell helped define
the sound of the '70s, providing each act with, as Jackson writes, "a
multilayered, bottom-heavy brand of sophistication and glossy urban rhythm
and blues, characterized by crisp, melodious harmonies backed by lush,
string-laden orchestrations and a hard-driving rhythm section."
Although Gamble & Huff refused to be interviewed for the book, dozens of
other key players in the labels' history recall their first-hand
experiences, including Bell, who worked as an independent producer for the
Jackson sets the trio's success story against the backdrop
African-American '70's culture writing, "(They) used their black
inner-city neighborhood as a metaphor for the struggle for human dignity
and developed a black-owned empire (helping America) to overcome the
country's racial divisions and make skin-color irrelevant."
Although the book tells a generally positive story, Jackson doesn't
whitewash some of Gamble & Huff's lesser moments, such as when they
dropped one of the label's biggest moneymakers, Teddy Pendergrass, shortly
after the 1982 car accident which left him paralyzed.
Gamble & Huff are responsible for writing and/or producing many of the
label's biggest hits, including he O'Jays' "Love Train," Billy Paul's, "Me
And Mrs. Jones," and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know
Me By Now."
Babyface Celebrated Birthday, New Best-Of CD On It's' Way
Producer/singer/songwriter Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds turned 46 this
Sunday, April 10th. A new best-of collection, called The Essential
Babyface, will be out this June, and will feature 14 tracks from his solo
career, including "When Can I See You Again," which won him his first
Grammy as a performer for Best Male R&B Vocal. Babyface said how his style
has evolved over his career: "I'm pretty calm and cool about things. I
guess I've always kind of been that way anyway. I don't know that I've
changed very much over the years, maybe just got a little wiser over
things, but I just learned more. I don't know that I'm much different than
I was in the beginning. It's a challenge still to try to write music that
can be inspiring and not necessarily on the negative side."
Babyface was born in Indianapolis. As a teenager, he played in local R&B
bands, eventually landing a gig with Bootsy Collins -- who gave him his
With his partner Antonio "L.A." Reid, Edmonds produced and wrote hits for
Pebbles ("Girlfriend"), Bobby Brown ("Every Little Step"), and Karyn White
("The Way You Love Me"), as well as many hits for his protege Toni
Braxton. He also co-wrote hits with Whitney Houston ("I'm Your Baby
Tonight"), Madonna ("Take A Bow") and Boyz II Men ("End of the Road," and
"I'll Make Love to You").
Babyface produced and scored the 1995 film, Waiting to Exhale, starring
Whitney Houston. He also wrote nearly all of the songs, including
Houston's hit "Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)."