Friday, February 10, 2012

Dance Party • 1975

O'Jays Silver Connection
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes Shirley & Company
Clockwise: The O'Jays; Silver Connection; Shirley & Company; Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.

Well, well, well, wasn't this a long time ago. Way back when, in 1975, I was turning fifteen, and attending Smyrna High School. While I remember it as a much simpler time, when I really give it some thought, I know that is far from the truth. I was a teen in search of so much - my identity, my place in the world, what I was going to do with my life, what I was going to wear, how to do my hair... You know, the general teen angst material. And to escape it, I did what many other teens did when we could, and that was to go to the Teen Dances at the VFW from time to time. A group of us could go, forget the worries that plagued us for the rest of the week, and just get on the dance floor, and work up a sweat. And i certainly remember doing just that to the song Shame, Shame, Shame by Shirley & Company. The bouncy song was #1 for four weeks in the beginning of the year. The groups was fronted by Shirley Goodman, and the "Company" was Jesus Alvarez, Walter Morris, Bernadette Randle, Seldon Powell, Jonathan Williams and Clarence Oliver.

And how could a teen growing up in Delaware not dance to great songs by Philadelphia's own Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes back then? Nope, it wasn't possible, for the group was recording with the great Gamble & Huff, And while you might think that Harold Melvin was the most famous member of the group, you would be mistaken. From 1972 to 1977, the group had a different lead singer, once you might know. He was Philadelphian Teddy Pendergrass. Yes, I thought you'd remember him. In 1975, the group had the #1 song on the dance chart for eleven weeks, from March until May. Give a listen to Bad Luck, a song reportedly written as a commentary about the Watergate scandal, which unfolded in the few years before.

The next song held the top spot on the Dance chart for three weeks in the fall. The Silver Convention was a trio of ladies brought together by Munich-based producers/songwriters Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze. Linda G. Thompson, Penny McLean, and Ramona Wulf lent their talents to the recordings, including for Fly, Robin, Fly. This might be most memorable for the fact the song utilizes only six words for the length of the song, Fly, Robin, Up, To, The, Sky. But the baseline, that was something else.

Finally, the O'Jays were a group that began in 1963, laying down some very old school R&B. They were perhaps best known for their 1972 hit Backstabbers, or the 1973 #1 song Love Train, in 1975 they had a great song by Gamble & Huff that finished out the year on top of the Dance chart. I Love Music held the #1 position for eight straight weeks at the end of the year.

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