Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Night with the Desert Queen

Madonna Communards
Peaches & Herb M
Clockwise: Madonna, Communards, M, Peaches & Herb.

A few weeks ago, I features Broadway songs that became dance hits. You can check out that post, Broadway Friday Night. So, as I was thinking about what to do tonight, I thought about changing that up just a little bit. What about dance hits that made their way into a Broadway show? Of course, I would pick Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a show that is currently running on Broadway. In fact, to find out more about the show, you can check out their official website here. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter. It has plenty of the great dance songs from the past few decades, but I will just pick four that the talented cast bring to life eight times a week, only I will feature the original artists performing the great songs. Although it is hard for me to believe this song has been around that long, first we will go to the Queen of, well, just about everything for Madonna's 1983 hit, Holiday. The song went to #16 on the Billboard Hot 100, and topped the US Dance Hits chart, her first #1 song of her storied career. So this is the song from 29 years ago, Holiday.

Way back in 1966, a young man named Herb Fame started singing with Francine Hurd Barker in Washington, DC, no one knew the long-lasting effects the duo would have on music. That would include the hit song they had in 1978. You might know the duo better by their professional name, Peaches & Herb. See, Francine had the nickname Peaches since she was a child. And in 1978, they released Shake Your Groove Thing, which made it to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and featured on the playlist of every DJ in the country.

Englishman Robin Scott had an interesting way of blending New Wave synthesizers, a quirk delivery, and dance beats to create his own special sound. In the late 1970s and early 80s, he recorded as the lead on a band called "M." The most successful of the releases was the 1979 hit Pop Muzik. The song went to #2 on the UK Pop chart, and #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Enjoy M giving you some Pop Muzik.

The final song the evening has a rich history, to be sure. Written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert, Don't Leave Me This Way was part of the Gamble & Huff legacy of music coming out of Philadelphia. It was first released by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in 1975. It was not the first hit for the group, nor was it the last. Have I mentioned yet that at the time, the lead singer of the group was the gifted Teddy Pendergrass. And he compounded the hits with the group with an amazing career of his own. Well, until he had the unfortunate auto accident in 1982. but nothing could halt the pure talent in the voice, which can most certainly be heard on this great song.

In 1976, the song had another go on the charts, when it was covered by the great Thelma Houston who took it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. And in 1986, there was another remake on the radio. The British band The Communards, featuring the brilliant vocals of Jimmy Somerville, and the amazing arrangement from Jimmy boyfriend and co-star in the band, Richard Coles. They were joined by by vocalist Sarah Jane Morris, whose deep and rich voice was a perfect counterpoint to Somerville's soaring falsetto. The song returned to Top 40 in the US Market, and once again topped the Dance chart. It went to #1 on the UK Pop chart, and was just a worldwide success. And now, the song is sung 8 times a week on Broadway, tempting the audience out of it's seats to dance.


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