The music history books are vast and full of interesting bits of knowledge. “Big” Jay Sorensen gives you a recap of the biggest and most interesting music news from the week; something from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
For this week in history, Big Jay reminds you of the time you could Meet The Beatles, Barry White’s ascension to the top and Foreigner’s obsession with knowing exactly what love is.
It was 50 years ago last week that the Beatles recorded their first LP in London during one epic session. About a year later, pandemonium broke loose in the US, just as it had in England, with the release of their second album, which in America was titled Meet The Beatles.
This album replaced a novelty act, The Singing Nun, as the top LP in America this week in 1964. Even though the cover of this Capitol Records release exclaimed it was their first album, that was unquestionably false; but for virtually all American listeners and record buyers, Meet The Beatles was the real introduction to Beatlemania.
In the UK, a similar album was called With The Beatles. Oddly, Capitol had turned down releasing singles and the first album from the four guys from Liverpool. Their parent company, EMI (Parlophone), in London had attempted to get Capitol to release the singles “Love Me Do,” “Please Please Me,” “From Me To You” and “She Loves You.” They all ended up on other labels in the US, including Chicago-based Vee-Jay, Tollie (a subsidiary of Vee-Jay) and Philly-based Swan Records, without triumph. The A-side of the single from Meet The Beatles, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” was also the top 45 of the week in America backed with “I Saw Her Standing There” the opening track of their first album recorded in early 1963.
The week’s top charting single in 1974 was included on two different albums put together by “The Maestro” Barry White. He had produced “Love’s Theme” as the instrumental opening track for his all-female vocal assemblage, Love Unlimited, on the 1973 LP Under The Influence Of… Love Unlimited, and on the 1974 album Rhapsody In White as the closing track; all on 20th Century Fox Records.
The song was only number one for one week, displacing Barbra Streisand‘s “The Way We Were” which, in turn, replaced “Love’s Theme” within another couple of weeks on top of the chart. White’s song did get recorded with words by his publisher Aaron Shroeder (who wrote “Good Luck Charm” and other hits for Elvis Presley) for a later album by Love Unlimited called In Heat, which included the number one Soul single, “I Belong To You.”
White played piano on an early R&B/Rock ‘n’ Roll crossover hit “Goodnight My Love” by Jesse Belvin in 1956 when he lived in Los Angeles where he was raised. White (Born Barry Eugene Carter in Texas) died on July 4, 2003. He was posthumously selected to be included in the Dance Hall-of-Fame in 2004 and is considered one of the fathers of Disco/Dance music.
With all of their success in the US and abroad, “I Want To Know What Love Is” was Foreigner‘s only number one record on the pop singles chart in America and the UK. The Atlantic Records single featured the lead vocals of Lou Graham and the gospel backing vocals of the New Jersey Mass Choir. This was the initial single release from Foreigner’s album Agent Provocateur released in November of 1984; a concept album about a secret agent who sees things from both sides. The album sold in excess of three million copies in America alone.
Written by one of the co-founders of the group, Mick Jones (although singer Lou Graham claims he wrote 40% of the song without being credited), the single was the fourth biggest hit of 1985. Atlantic released a nearly six and a half minute 12-inch single version, and the New Jersey Mass Choir also released a comparable sounding version of the song, which charted on the Black Singles chart later in 1985.
Graham suffered from a benign brain tumor in 1997, but recovered adequately from surgery and continued medication and continues to tour with his own band singing Foreigner’s numerous hits. Graham and Jones haven’t spoken in years, as Lou claims he was just a subordinate and not a partner in Foreigner.
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