On this day in music history: March 24, 1990 - “All Around The World” by Lisa Stansfield hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on March 17, 1990, and peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on April 7, 1990. Written by Lisa Stansfield, Ian Devaney and Andy Morris, it is the first chart topping single for the singer and songwriter from Manchester, UK. Raised on R&B icons like Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, and steady musical diet of Motown and other soul music since childhood, Lisa Stansfield grows up aspiring to be like her musical mentors. In 1981, Stansfield lands a job as a presenter on the UK children’s television show “Razzmatazz”. During this time, she releases four singles Devil/Polydor Records, none of which are successful. While performing in a high school musical, Lisa meets musicians Ian Devaney and Andy Morris. The trio form the group Blue Zone, with Stansfield and Devaney also becoming romantically involved. In 1988, they release their self titled debut album on Arista Records that fails to attract any attention after placing two singles on the lower rungs of the UK charts. Things turn around for Lisa when the duo Coldcut ask her to sing on their song “People Hold On”. Released on Big Life Records in the UK and picked by Tommy Boy in the US, the single cracks the UK top 20 and top ten on the US Club Play chart. Arista signs Lisa to a solo deal, and gives the green light for her to a do full album. The idea for “All Around The World” comes while Lisa, Ian and Andy are sitting around the piano, with the chord changes and lyrics coming together quickly. The track including Stansfield’s lead vocals are recorded in a makeshift studio built behind her parents house. She actually performs her vocal in the bathroom, recording it on an old eight track multi-track tape machine. When they find that the original bathroom demo can’t be improved upon, it is transferred to a twenty-four track tape with strings and other overdubs added. Released in the UK on October 16, 1989, it is an immediate smash, racing to number one for a two week stay on November 11, 1989. Arista in the US releases “All Around The World” on January 15, 1990, and it repeats its overseas success, topping the R&B and Club Play charts as well as hitting the top five on the pop charts. The single receives a pair of Grammy nominations for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist in 1991. With the song being inspired in part by one of her idols, R&B legend Barry White, Lisa re-records the song with White, with that version appearing on White’s career retrospective box set “Just For You” in 1992. The accompanying album “Affection” is a major success also with the follow up singles “You Can’t Deny It” (#1 R&B, #14 Pop) and “This Is The Right Time” (#13 R&B, #21 Pop) also performing well. “All Around The World” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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On this day in music history: March 25, 1967 - “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 7 weeks, also peaking at #9 on the Hot 100 on April 15, 1967. Written by Ronnie Shannon, it is the first chart topping single for the “Queen Of Soul”. It is recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL on January 24, 1967. Producer Jerry Wexler had original intended for Franklin to record her entire first album for Atlantic in Muscle Shoals, but after Aretha’s husband Ted White gets into a drunken argument with one of the horn players, the sessions are aborted after only one day. Three weeks after the session, producer Jerry Wexler has acetates of the song sent to key DJ’s around the country. The reaction is immediate and overwhelmingly positive, with the public clamoring for the record. With the song on the radio and no completed B-side ready for commercial release, Wexler has to track down Aretha, and bring her to New York so she can record her lead vocal for the flip side “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”. Completed at last, it is rush released by Atlantic on February 10, 1967. The single rockets to the top of the R&B chart in just six weeks, immediately crossing over to the pop chart. “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 25, 1972 - “In The Rain” by The Dramatics hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 on April 22, 1972. Written and produced by Tony Hester, it is the biggest hit for the Detroit based R&B vocal group fronted by lead singers Ron Banks and William “Wee Gee” Howard. The track is cut at United Sound in Detroit, MI in mid 1971, and features a number of prominent Detroit musicians such as Michael Henderson (bass), and Funk Brothers Dennis Coffey (guitar), Johnny Griffith (piano), and Uriel Jones (drums) playing on the rhythm track. For the songs’ distinctive echoed guitar, Coffey uses a Maestro Echoplex pedal between his guitar and amplifier. The unit which creates the effect by recording the sounds put through it on a magnetic tape loop. A control knob allows the speed of the delay to be manipulated by varying the speed of the loop and distance of the playback head. Released in February of 1972 as the third single from their debut album “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”, it is another smash. Like title track, “In The Rain” quickly becomes a pop radio hit on the heels of its R&B chart success. “In The Rain” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.