Wednesday, February 11, 2004

"Mr. Telephone Man," New Edition (2/2/85)
Surprisingly sad and wistful, imbued with the weight and pain of adolesence while still managing to speak to any/everyone. The best single of their teenage run. B+

"Gotta Get You Home Tonight," Eugene Wilde (1/26/85)
Reagan II: Electric Boogaloo began with this song representing black America - fitting, as we were on the cusp of the Quiet Storm epoch. Wilde was a perfectly fine smooth R&B singer who had a great year in '85 (we'll see him again), and then seemingly vanished. But the artifacts he left are fine ones, particularly "Tonight," which not only gave us the basis of a Foxy Brown single 11 years later, but is itself a lovely piece of relaxed, sexy R&B purely of its time. B+

Monday, February 09, 2004

”Operator,” Midnight Star (12/22/84)
The last gasp of true ‘80s funk came as the last #1 of ’84, precisely halfway through the decade. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer workmanlike funk ensemble, either. Ignore the fairly silly lyrics – those have never been the point of the funk, anyway – and just submit to the groove. B+

”Solid,” Ashford & Simpson (12/1/84)
Well, it was certainly about damn time. After writing scads of R&B hits for other artists (most notably Miss Ross), Nick and Valerie finally got their just reward, their own (and only) charttopper. They were Womack and Womack with thinner production and not-quite-as-strong voices, but better – far better – tunes, if you think about it. A-

”Cool It Now,” New Edition (11/24/84)
Not as mediocre as “Candy Girl,” not as good as “Mr. Telephone Man.” B-

”I Feel For You,” Chaka Khan (11/3/84)
Greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s really sayin’ somethin’. Grandmaster Melle Mel on the rap, Stevie Wonder on the harmonica (and in a very cleverly-used sample from “Fingerprints Pt. 2”), written by Prince (for which he won the Best R&B Song Grammy, a mere four years after it first appeared on one of his albums), and vocalized by the incomparable Chaka. Her strike rate, in terms of ‘80s #1s, was 100%. Good enough to make your head hurt. A+

"I Just Called To Say I Love You," Stevie Wonder (10/13/84)
The last in an amazing run of 5-count-'em-5 consecutive songs which topped both the R&B and pop charts, an all-time record. And, sadly, Where It All Went Wrong for Mr. Stevland Morris. I will forgive Stevie many things, because he’s Stevie fucking Wonder, and he’s a genius. But even genius doesn’t excuse wedding-song claptrap like this. D

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Oops... no downloads until next month, due to bandwidth issues. Sorry 'bout that.

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