Tue, 11 October 2016
Get your big suit on and join me, Dr. Z and Michael Parr for the latest episode of the Blerd Radio podcast. In this installment, the three of us are talking about 1983's Speaking In Tongues, the most commercially successful studio album by new wave legends Talking Heads. A million-seller, Tongues was an MTV favorite that spawned the quartet's only top ten pop single, "Burning Down The House". It also spawned a host of warmly remembered songs that have become classics in the ensuing decades; the funky "Girlfriend Is Better", the shuffling groove of "Slippery People", and the tender "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)".
This podcast acknowledges the relatively commercial bent of Speaking In Tongues (relative to Talking Heads' earlier work) and explores how the album's sound combined with the band's visual presentation to ensure success. We also talk about the Talking Heads-related side project Tom Tom Club (featuring band members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth), and how that album's unexpected success paved the way for Tongues. We shout out P-Funk keyboard legend, the recently deceased Bernie Worrell (who played a huge role in Tongues), and explore the album's foray into funk, further assisted by LaBelle's Nona Hendryx and The Brothers Johnson's Alex Weir. Props are given to the Staple Singers (who covered "Slippery People), Dave Matthews Band (who have covered "Burning Down The House" live on several occasions), and a ton of artists who have covered "This Must Be The Place", a song that deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame of love songs.
If you'd like to enjoy this and other podcasts in the Blerd Radio family, you can listen in the player below. You may also stream the podcast on Liberated Syndication, or download the audio directly to your device. Of course, we'd love it if you checked us out on iTunes and subscribed! No matter how you decide to listen, we hope you keep coming back for more!!
Thu, 29 September 2016
Greetings listeners! Me and Thomas Inskeep are back with the 10th episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast. Before we get started with this new episode, what say you backtrack and listen to the series' other episodes, which you can find here and here.
While most of our episodes focus on songs that hit #1 on Billboard Magazine's Hot R&B Singles chart in the '80s, this is one of those "very special" episodes focusing on the #2 singles of 1982. We've got nine tasty treats for you this episode, so we run just a tad longer than usual. But I can virtually guarantee that you'll enjoy every second!
Here are the nine songs covered in this latest episode:
"Truly" by Lionel Richie
"Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club
"You Dropped A Bomb On Me" by The Gap Band
"Mirror, Mirror" by Diana Ross
"Do I Do" by Stevie Wonder
"The Other Woman" by Ray Parker Jr.
"Mama Used To Say" by Junior
"Circles" by Atlantic Starr
and "777-9311" by
Along the way, we discuss:
-How schmaltzy is too schmaltzy, even for Lionel Richie? And why might Laura Branigan have harbored a grudge against Lionel?
-Did Tom Tom Club's success take their original band, Talking Heads, to the proverbial "next level" commercially?
-"Mirror Mirror"'s co-writer, Michael Sembello, who not only fit perfectly in with the "bear" archetype, but was no stranger to camp himself.
This single cover. Discuss.
-Is it me, or does "The Other Woman" give you the "Jessie's Girl" feels? (not discussed in the podcast: do you think Michael Jackson and John Landis saw this video before they made "Thriller" or nah?)
-Ray's smoldering sex appeal and general caddishness.
-British soul arrives in the '80s courtesy of Junior, although it really didn't. Billy Ocean hit the Top 5 with this classic first. Oops.
-Atlantic Starr's revolving door of female vocalists.
-Why "777-9311" might be the best punk/funk single ever recorded, and Morris Day's legacy as a "pussy hound"
and so much more.
You can give a listen to this episode via streaming on LibSyn. You can also listen in the player below, download the episode directly to your device, or subscribe to the Blerd Radio family on iTunes.
Please leave comments, tweet at us, and ask questions! If you have a question about '80s R&B, hit us up and we may read your question on the air! Enjoy!
Mon, 26 September 2016
It’s time to get sexy with a brand new episode of the Blerd Radio podcast!
This episode takes you back to 1996. The “neo-soul” genre was just getting a foothold in the marketplace, and an Afro-ed, mysterious singer/songwriter named Maxwell showed up on the scene. His sound was both familiar and exotic, old and new. He seemingly emerged from nowhere, but he was talented enough to attract collaborators like Motown composer and producer Leon Ware and Sade’s Stuart Matthewman on his acclaimed debut, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite.
Me (Mike Joseph), Michael Parr and Dr. Z revisit Urban Hang Suite on its 20th anniversary. We discuss the album’s place in the neo-soul canon and the misguided comparisons to D’Angelo. We explore the air of mystery that’s surrounded Maxwell since day one, the subtle UK influence on his work, and his surprising connections to R. Kelly and Santana’s “Smooth”. We also discuss Urban Hang Suite’s narrative arc, Maxwell’s killer live performances, two remixes that extended the album’s life, and touch on the catalog of albums he’s released since, up to and including the recent release blackSUMMERsnight. We also share the news that Urban Hang Suite will be receiving its first release on vinyl later this year.
Mon, 19 September 2016
Last week, Sony/Legacy announced a deluxe reissue of George Michael's second solo album, 1990's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Coincidentally, when that announcement was made, the Blerd Radio team was putting the finishing touches on a podcast episode devoted to that particular album.
While not as commercially successful-or anywhere near as pop friendly-as its predecessor, Listen Without Prejudice has become a classic. It boasted the #1 smash "Praying For Time" and the Top 10 smash "Freedom", a song that has become iconic thanks to its stylish video and universal message. With these songs, George shrugged off his pretty boy pop star image, and aimed to be taken seriously as a songwriter and vocalist. By refusing to appear in his own videos or do interviews, George incurred the wrath of his record label and set the stage for a years-long court battle that remains a tentpole event in the fight for artists' rights.
We also discuss Listen Without Prejudice's debt to '60s pop and '70s soul, George's coming out and how it may have affected the promotion and lyrical content of the album, the Cover To Cover tour George embarked on in early 1991, and much more.
Mon, 29 August 2016
We're ringing out 1982 in the latest episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast. Me and Thomas Inskeep decided to deviate slightly from our 5-songs-at-a-time format last episode so as not to end on a bad Richard "Dimples" Fields-related note. In the interest of...symmetry (I guess?) we decided to complete the year we started in Episode 8, and deliver the last 7 number 1 R&B tracks of the year.
Before we jump ahead, have you listened to our previous episodes? No? Well, check out every JCC podcast thus far and catch up!
The songs we discuss in this episode are:
"Let It Whip" by The Dazz Band
"Early In The Morning" by The Gap Band
"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" by Jennifer Holliday
"Dance Floor" by Zapp
"Jump To It" by Aretha Franklin
"Love Come Down" by Evelyn King
"Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye
And now for some show notes...
-The Dazz Band, like so many funk bands from the '70s and '80s, hail from Ohio. We stop to marvel at how that state spawned so many great soul and funk acts, and give props to two of our favorite (but not funky) Ohio natives, Annie and Matt.
-Is it us? Or do the intros to "Let It Whip" and "Beat It" sound somewhat similar?
-The second chart-topper by The Gap Band causes us to once again wax rhapsodic on the genius of Charlie Wilson, and we also give props to "Heaven's Girl", which unites Uncle Charlie with his direct descendants R. Kelly and Aaron Hall. There's also a little Ron Isley in there.
-"Early In The Morning"'s excellent B-side, "I'm In Love", which many folks recall from a Mary J. Blige cover version.
-The saga of Dreamgirls, and how the musical was a phenomenon not unlike Hamilton is today. We also give props to the other women in the cast with Jennifer Holliday, including Sheryl Lee "Moesha's Mom" Ralph and Loretta Devine, who appears to have acted in everything except a show in the Law & Order family.
This stunning performance from the 1982 Tony Awards.
-How "Jump To It" revived Aretha Franklin's career, thanks to the production touch of Luther Vandross. Given their egos, it's not much of a surprise that Aretha and Luther didn't always see eye to eye.
-"Champagne", and how it was a much better nickname for Evelyn King than her original pet name, "Bubbles".
-Genius author/biographer (and co-writer of "Sexual Healing") David Ritz, who both of us had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year.
-Marvin's genius string of '70s and '80s albums, and how they've been given proper justice with remastering and repackaging. We give special shouts to his underrated classics I Want You and Here, My Dear.
...and a lot more. Given the quantity of songs we discuss, this episode runs slightly longer than usual, but we hope you stick with us to the end!
-Of course, we should also give props to our opening and closing songs-Stacy Lattisaw's "Attack Of The Name Game" and Ashford & Simpson's "Street Corner"-songs that didn’t hit the top of the charts, but are definitely near the top of our hearts.
Thu, 18 August 2016
Ladies and gentlemen-the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast is back! Join me and Thomas Inskeep as we discuss all the songs that hit #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart in the 1980s; 5 at a time. Well...make that 6 at a time.
In our last episode, we closed out 1981 with Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove” (before taking a break to talk about some of the #2 hits of 1980 and 1981). Episode 8 brings forth a new year, and new songs. However, one of those songs is patently awful, and would’ve ended the episode if we kept our 5 songs at a time theme. So, Thomas proposed that we add an extra jam to the show, and I happily complied.
Here are the six songs we discuss in this episode:
“Turn Your Love Around” by George Benson
“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” by Daryl Hall & John Oates
“Call Me” by Skyy
“That Girl” by Stevie Wonder
“If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Another” by Richard “Dimples” Fields
“It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” by Deniece Williams
Drilling down a bit, here are some of the sub-topics we talk about during the show.
-Of course, we should also give props to our opening and closing songs-Shalamar’s “A Night To Remember” and Junior’s “Mama Used To Say”-songs that didn’t hit the top of the charts, but are definitely near the top of our hearts.
Tue, 19 July 2016
...and now, for something a little different.
Thomas Inskeep and I have spent the last six Jheri Curl Chronicles episodes discussing the #1 R&B songs of the 1980s in chronological order. Episode 6 closed out 1981 with an Earth, Wind & Fire-sized bang.
Before we get into 1982, however, Thomas and I wanted to take an episode to chat about the runners-up, the songs that didn't quite lift into the top spot. So, we devoted an episode-this episode specifically-to all of the #2 R&B songs of 1980 and 1981. We don't discuss them in order, and some songs get a passing mention while others get discussed more in depth. This podcast has a bit more of a loosey-goosey feel than our regular episodes, and we hope you enjoy it just as much as you have the others.
And now, here are some show notes for you:
-First song up is "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. Believe it or not, this was the first big hit record by a Minneapolis musician in the 1980s. And, yes: Lipps, Inc's Cynthia Johnson does have a Prince connection. We also dredge up memories of this awful cover, which hit the pop top 10 barely 7 years after the original.
-Leon Haywood figures twice in this episode; as the performer of "Don't Push It, Don't Force It" and as the writer of Carl Carlton's monster smash "She's A Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked)". You can say Mr. Haywood, who was just one of 2016's many musical departures (so far), had a way with song titles.
-How did the guys that made "Bohemian Rhapsody" score a #2 hit on the soul charts? Well, take a lot of Chic, a suggestion from Michael Jackson, and voila. History made. Did you know that Wyclef Jean remade "Another One Bites The Dust" with a little help from a future BET VJ?
-Speaking of MJ, he and his brothers had a pair of #2s during this period, including the immortal "Heartbreak/This Place Hotel". Despite not having a #1 from either of their most highly regarded albums (Destiny and Triumph), The Jacksons more than made up for it by virtue of near-constant play on dance floors. This trend continues today.
-Teddy P. is in the house! He scored a #1 towards the end of the decade, but "Love T.K.O." was arguably his most smokin' 80s jam. It was so good even Bette Midler couldn't ruin it. We also talk about T.P.'s chemistry with frequent duet partner Stephanie Mills, and the convoluted family tree of the Cooke/Womacks, two of whom wrote "Love T.K.O."
-Teenager Stacy Lattisaw found love on a two-way street, and found her biggest hit of the decade in the Moments' catalog.
We'll be back to our "regularly scheduled program" in the next episode, but we certainly hope you enjoyed this little diversion through some songs that were almost as big (and in some cases, more fondly remembered) than the tracks we normally cover.
Wed, 13 July 2016
Ladies and gentlemen out there in podcast land, Thomas Inskeep and I would like to welcome you to the SIXTH episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast. Yes, folks, we’re taking you down memory lane for a discussion about songs that hit #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Hot R&B Singles chart in the ’80s.
If you’ve missed an installment, never fear. You can find them by clicking on the link for each respective episode.
We're up to Episode 6! This installment finishes out the year 1981 with a bang, as we go through the final five chart toppers of the year.
The songs featured in this episode are:
"When She Was My Girl" by The Four Tops
"Never Too Much" by Luther!
"I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Pt. 1" by Roger
"Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)" by Kool and the Gang
"Let's Groove" by Earth, Wind & Fire
And here are some show notes/secondary topics brought up as these songs are discussed.
-The Four Tops' brief resurgence on disco label Casablanca Records, which was on its last legs at the time.
-The insane amounts of love we have for Mr. Vandross and his sterling career, although we argue that he never topped "Never Too Much", his debut solo single.
-The lengthy history of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", which hit #1 R&B for the third time thanks to Roger's rendition.
-Thomas's somewhat inexplicable and intense dislike of Creedence Clearwater Revival (they also covered "Grapevine") and the somewhat dubious chart record they hold.
-The era of sampling and how it kept Zapp's legacy alive, even though they were pretty much a one-trick pony.
-Robert Palmer's slick cover of "Take My Heart", which you'll hear a snatch of at the conclusion of this episode (our opening song is Teena Marie's 1981 jam "I Need Your Lovin'."
-We compare and contrast the legacies of Kool & The Gang and Earth, Wind & Fire while giving props to the recently departed Maurice White.
-Why waste an opportunity to talk about "Easy Lover"?
There are a variety of ways you can enjoy this podcast. You can listen in the player below, download the mp3 file directly to your computer or device, stream the show on Liberated Syndication, or you can subscribe to the Blerd Radio family of podcasts on ye olde iTunes. Enjoy!
Wed, 6 July 2016
Here's something a bit new and different...we're adding a wrinkle to the O.G. Blerd Radio podcast. The team (including me (Big Money), Dr. Z, Michael Parr, The Packet Man, and announcing the return of Mike Duquette) have decided to devote certain episodes to specific albums. So as not to confuse you, the listener, even further, we've decided to not re-name the series (because there are enough offshoots of Blerd Radio as is). That said, the first album we've decided to spotlight is De La Soul's 1989 debut, 3 Feet High And Rising. This podcast features Big Money, Dr. Z and Michael Parr.
3 Feet was wildly successful, especially by 1989 hip-hop standards. It topped Billboard's Black Albums chart, the single "Me, Myself & I" became only the second rap song to top the Black Singles chart, and the album was eventually certified Platinum. It topped critics lists internationally, placing at #1 on the esteemed Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll. It ushered in a new, creative way to approach sampling, backing away from the prototypical funk and disco loops (with a big exception for the Funkadelic-sampling "Me, Myself & I") and utilizing Steely Dan, The Turtles and French instructional records. De La had their own language-a few steps removed from hip-hop's hard, "street" aesthetic. The influence of 3 Feet can be found in not only the music made by the rest of the "Native Tongues" posse (which, in addition to De La, consisted of A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Black Sheep, Chi-Ali, and more), but also in more recent music by Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Kanye West and others.
3 Feet High & Rising : incredibly musical, ground-breaking, and influential. So influential, in fact, that it cast a shadow De La Soul has been running from for a quarter century-plus. This is despite the fact that Pos, Dave and Maseo have put together one of the most consistent catalogs in hip-hop history. We discuss all this and more in the podcast.
Fri, 24 June 2016
Ladies and gentlemen out there in podcast land, Thomas Inskeep and I would like to welcome you to the FIFTH episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast. Yes, folks, we're taking you down memory lane for a discussion about songs that hit #1 on Billboard Magazine's Hot R&B Singles chart in the '80s.
If you've missed an installment, never fear. You can find them by clicking on the link for each respective episode.
In this episode, we're firmly planted in the year 1981. The five smashes we discuss during this episode are:
Chaka Khan's "What Cha Gonna Do For Me"
Rick James' "Give It To Me Baby"
Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus"
Diana Ross & Lionel Richie's "Endless Love"
And here are some show notes/secondary topics brought up as these songs are discussed.
-The origins of "What Cha Gonna Do For Me", which was written by Hamish Stuart (of the Average White Band) and California singer-songwriter Ned Doheny, whose name we have lots of trouble pronouncing. Thankfully, the Chaka video above demonstrates how to pronounce "Doheny" properly.
-This Chaka soundalike single by Tata Vega, also written by Ned Doheny.
-Chaka's longtime producer, the esteemed and continental Arif Mardin.
-"Give It To Me Baby"'s kinship with the title track to the biggest selling album in history.
-Rick's excellent (and scandalous) autobiography, co-written with the amazing David Ritz.
-Was "Double Dutch Bus" an early example of a "viral" hit like "Watch Me Whip" and "Teach Me How To Dougie"? Also, why did Raven Symone cover it?
-Kashif and Morrie Brown's assistance with Evelyn King's transformation from teenage disco queen to mature artist, and "I'm in Love"'s status as one of the first all-synthesized songs to top the R&B charts.
-Our girl Janet knew what time it was when she sampled "I'm In Love" back in 2004.
-Diana's parting gift to Motown with "Endless Love", which she recorded and released on her longtime label, even though she'd just signed with another record company.
-Did you know that the movie Endless Love marked the movie debut of Tom Cruise?
-...and of course, we bring up Luther and Mariah's karaoke cover.