On this day in music history: October 24, 1981 - “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #33 on the Hot 100 on November 28, 1981. Written and produced by Luther Vandross, it is the first solo chart single and chart topping single for the New York born R&B singer and songwriter. It will be the breakthrough solo hit for the veteran commercial jingle and background singer, after years of trying and failing to secure a solo record deal, Following the success he has as a featured vocalist on Change’s “The Glow Of Love” and “Searching”, Luther will self finance the recording of the “Never Too Much” album, then shop the finished product around to record labels. Epic Records will sign him in the Spring of 1981, releasing the single in July. “Never Too Much” is the first of six number one R&B singles for Vandross.


On this day in music history: October 24, 1962 - “Live At The Apollo” by James Brown & The Famous Flames is recorded. Produced by James Brown, it is recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY on October 24, 1962 (midnight performance). Brown will record his live show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, against the advice of King Records chief Syd Nathan who believes a live recording with no new material will not sell. Undaunted, Brown will finance the recording himself, hiring a mobile recording unit (recorded completely live to 3-track tape with no post production overdubs) to capture the performance. The results will be undeniably electric, and upon its release in May 1963 it will create an immediate sensation. The album will break James Brown through to a wider audience beyond his loyal R&B fanbase, selling over a million copies in the US alone. In spite of its long standing popularity, the album will not be released on CD until 1990. The original stereo master tapes had been lost for many years between the time when ownership of Brown’s masters are transferred from King to Polydor Records. The only accessible tapes before then were second and third generation dubs deemed unsuitable for remastering. Jazz archivist Phil Schaap will find the missing tapes in the Polygram tape vault in Edison, NJ in early 1990, while doing research for another project. “Live At The Apollo” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998, and in 2004, the album is added to the National Recording Registry by The Library Of Congress, as being regarded as culturally and historically important. “Live At The Apollo” will peak at number two on the Billboard Top 200.


Sam Hunt Channels R&B, Steve Earle on ‘Montevallo’

Ava Luna - Electric Ball (2014)


>groovy/soulful post punk, R&B

[ Bandcamp | Download | Sample ]

Electric Ball is the third album from New York based ‘nervous soul’ and post punk group Ava Luna. It is one of the most refreshing and groovy and catchy things I’ve heard from this year.

The band describe themselves as Stax meets Kraftwerk, a sound I can sort of understand, but probably would’ve been better saying an early 60s soul band got Talking Heads album ‘77 shown to them, and were told “Here, play this”.

This is a rare album in which every track delivers something new and fresh, and where concepts aren’t simply doubled up a bunch of times to fill the required number of songs to fill an LP. There’s a great bunch of groovy post punk songs, a bunch of soulful R&B tracks, and all of them are of a very high quality and insanely catchy.

'Daydream' opens the album, and if you can manage to get the picture of Talking Heads out of your mind while listening, you have either never listened to Talking Heads or are a much stronger willed person than I am. It can only be described as the most David Byrne like singing I've ever heard over the most David Byrne like guitar lines I've ever heard. While this song really makes them sound sort of like the post punk version of Temples (a very good band that is note for note derivative), the rest of the album is varied and fun enough to make you see them as more than ripoffs.

Sears Roebuck M&Ms' is the second track, and it's so groovy that if you listen to it and aren't at least tapping your foot, you probably don't have a heart. Totally reminds me of a sort of cheeky trip hop/soul track that Yoko Kanno did for Cowboy Bebop, 'Chicken Bone’. It’s hardly a musical masterpiece, but it’s so fucking catchy and fun to listen to.

Moving more to the R&B sound, the tracks ‘Prpl’ and ‘Hold U’ are great examples of the softer side of the bank away from the funky goodness (also good examples of lame song titles). Prpl is a pretty straight forward R&B song with simple, beautiful vocals. Hold U follows it and features male vocals, and is half R&B and half ominous sounding rock, you expect something explosive to happen at any moment. 

One of the best albums of the year. It’s varied, fun, loud, quiet, easy to listen to, and just a huge breath of fresh air. The post punk and soul/r&b elements meet noisey rises, great pop melodies, and great vocals. You should listen to this.