While Shalamar doesn’t always get props for being one of the most consistent pop/soul groups of the early Eighties (and quite possibly one of the best prefabricated groups of all time-they were put together by “Soul Train”’s Don Cornelius and his business partner Dick Griffey), the catalog of albums recorded by their best-known lineup consists of almost all gems. Best-known lineup, you say? Well, let’s just say that Shalamar had quite the rotating cast. With five different lineups over the course of a decade, they were gunning for the Menudo prize for rapidly shifting personnel. However, most casual fans of the group are only aware of the iteration that included Jeffrey Daniel, Howard Hewett, and Jody Watley-the same lineup that recorded 1982’s bubbly “A Night To Remember.”
Celebration is the name of the game here, as Hewett and Watley portray a couple giving themselves a congratulatory pat on the back for their love. I’m sure it wound up being the first dance for many young couples walking down the aisle in the early Eighties, and remains the perfect song to kick off the weekend.
This song is notable for a couple of reasons. First off, this video is one hell of a head-scratcher. With a fairly advanced concept for 1982, this clip actually appears to tell a story. Hewett and Watley, as in the song, portray a celebratory couple (somewhat amusing if you’ve seen the episode of the documentary series Unsung that focuses on Shalamar, seeing as there doesn’t appear to be much love lost between the two.) Daniel plays a bartender, and then, in what might either be a challenging dual role or just an instance of a guy having too many jobs, turns out to be a room service attendant as well. Hewett and Watley have retired to their room for the night, and they’re continuing their celebration when…Daniel starts dancing with Watley! And then they all start bouncing on the bed together! I’m sure I’m not the only person who considers this one of early music video’s extreme “WTF?” moments.
Moving away from the fact that the video seems to be hinting towards some freaky Shalamar action, this song is also notable because of a performance on the hit British show “Top Of The Pops.” The song wound up being a solo performance by Daniel, as a pregnant Watley was unable to travel abroad (I’m not sure where Howard Hewett was in this whole thing.) During his performance, Daniel (a dance pioneer who was an early adapter of popping and locking) unveiled a move called the backslide. Later dubbed the moonwalk, it received attention on these shores when Michael Jackson did it during his performance of “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25 special less than a year later.
“A Night To Remember” was a success, hitting #8 on the R&B charts and #44 on the pop charts back in the days when pop chart positions really weren’t a barometer of a soul song’s real success. It propelled “Remember”’s parent album, Friends, to platinum status, and blew the band up in the U.K. In Merry Olde England, the album hit #6 and spun off 4 Top 20 singles, making the trio a phenomenon. Watley (who was one of only two American acts to perform on Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and Daniel (who hosted a version of “Soul Train” for a time there) both wound up making their homes there for a period in the Eighties.
However, all was not well in Shalamar land. Barely a year after “Remember” charted, Watley & Daniel had left the band amid financial issues and problems with a perceived pecking order in the group. Hewett stuck around with a different lineup before he himself split in 1985. The Shalamar name was finally put to bed in the early Nineties, although Daniel and Hewett have reformed on occasion. All three members have enjoyed some degree of success as solo artists-Daniel continues to dance and MJ apparently paid him back handsomely for “lending” him the moonwalk-he appears in several “Bad”-era videos. Hewett had a moderately successful solo career, dipping back and forth between R&B and gospel. He still performs and releases albums occasionally. Watley went on to a Grammy-winning solo career as an artist, scoring six top ten pop hits in the late Eighties and early Nineties. A fashion and music video icon (even if she doesn’t always get props for it), she’s preparing a new studio album for release.
While it doesn’t appear that a full-on reunion will ever be in the cards (although the three briefly reconvened to appear in a Babyface-led remake of their song “This Is For The Lover In You” circa 1997), one hopes that one of the three members will sit down with someone and explain what the hell is going on with this video someday!