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Shalamar Tag

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Glad you stopped by for the third week of artists whose names begin with the letter S, as we continue looking at the bottom three-fifths of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s.

S-Express
“Theme from S-Express” — 1988, #91 (download)

S-Express totally baffles me. The group name is actually pronounced “S Express” rather than “Sex Press,” which would make much more sense considering the soundscape of this track and that their second record is called Intercourse. But that silliness nonwithstanding, “Theme from S-Express” is one of the first tracks to use sampling this heavy with the main sounds being from Rose Royce’s “Is It Love You’re After” and “Situation” from Yaz.

Paul Shaffer Paul Shaffer
“When the Radio Is On” — 1989, #81 (download)

I admit that I just don’t get Paul Shaffer. I find him annoying and quite lame usually, so there’s no doubt that I think this song is ridiculous. To me, this is such a poor attempt at trying to fit in that it’s almost unlistenable to me. The Fresh Prince does a fine job with his rap, but everything in between, from Paul’s rap to the tone-deaf chorus, screams out lameness to me. And I just read that the album from which this came, Coast to Coast was nominated for a Grammy. Wow.

(Here’s the thing. I’m leaving the paragraph above in its original form and I stand by my comment that I still think it’s a ludicrous song. But it’s bugged me since I wrote it a while back. Everyone seems to like this song. A few friends were excited the track was going to show up and our own Will Harris recently did an interview with Shaffer where he mentioned how much he enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because people just absolutely love the guy and everything he does. I don’t know, and I don’t claim to get it. And I’m not saying my opinion is wrong, but I thought sharing the other side was appropriate in this case since the other side appears to have an extremely strong opinion on the track).

Chartburn Logo

Mainstream Rock: The Black Crowes, “Remedy” (1992)

David Lifton: It’s easy to mock them, but the Crowes were a good gateway drug if you didn’t know their influences. Those first couple of records had some good songs on them, regardless of how derivative they were. They were unabashed music fans, and had really good taste. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Beau Dure: Really a pretty song and not a bad band, even if Chris Robinson always looked like he’d blow away in a mild breeze. And Kate Hudson, for the record, could surely do better. How many years can you really stay in a serious relationship with a dude whose first love is always going to be herbal?

Scott Malchus: Great rock and roll song. Plenty of swagger and southern blues. Talk about a band that had a good thing and imploded. I wish this song got as much airplay as that damn remake of the Otis Redding song, I’m sure the Robinson brothers feel the same way.

David Medsker: When I first heard the riff to this song, I couldn’t believe that it hadn’t been written yet. It just sounded like something knocking around classic rock radio since 1972. I’ve still never heard a Crowes record in its entirety. I don’t hate them or anything. They just don’t excite me.

Will Harris: I listened to this album a thousand times upon its initial release if I listened to it once, thanks to working at a record store at the time, which would probably explain why I’ve still never gotten around to buying it. But that doesn’t explain why I’ve never bought any of their other albums. Listening to “Remedy” now, however, I think I’ve figured it out: I just don’t really like the Black Crowes very much.

A TOUCH OF SHALAMAR

Singer, songwriter, and producer Jody Watley first boogied her way to fame at the age of 14 as a dancer on the legendary music program Soul Train. In 1976 the group Shalamar was created by Soul Train‘s booking agent, Dick Griffey, and R&B producer Simon Soussan. After a group of session musicians recorded the original hit “Uptown Festival” in 1977, Jody and her male counterparts took over as the official version of the group. For seven years Shalamar was a solid-gold hit machine, spinning off a string of disco, soul, and funk classics.

The group’s longest-lasting and most popular lineup consisted of Jody and singers Howard Hewett and Jeffrey Daniels: their success began when they signed with SOLAR Records and joined forces with producer Leon Sylvers III. Shalamar’s run of chart success kicked off with 1979’s “Take That to the Bank,” which reached #20 on the UK pop chart. Numerous pop and R&B hits followed, including “A Night to Remember” (#5 pop in the UK), “This Is for the Lover in You,” and “Friends,” and 1980’s million-selling smash hit “The Second Time Around” soared all the way to #1 on the U.S. disco and R&B charts and #8 on the pop chart. The album Friends achieved platinum status in 1982 by crossing over and reaching fans of pop, disco, and soul.

Shalamar kept the dance floor full through the early ’80s. However, problems behind the scenes with their record label led Jody and Jeffrey to dance their way out of the group by 1982; it was a new version of the group that recorded the hit dance groove “Dancing in the Sheets” for the Footloose soundtrack album in 1984. Meanwhile, Jody found her way to London and began recording demos with the Art of Noise before being asked by Bob Geldof to appear on Band Aid’s 1984 charity record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” She was soon ready to walk the runway to her own solo career. Hasta la vista, Shalamar!

Shalamar began life as a studio project by Soul Train booker Dick Griffrey, but after the success of their first single, "Uptown Festival," Griffrey had to put some faces with the voices quick. Looking to the Soul Train dancers, he recruited pop/lock empresario Jeffrey