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5 Albums Celebrating Milestones in 2016/Philly Edition

In week five of Philly Mixtape’s ‘5 Albums Celebrating Milestones in 2016,’ we’re keeping it musically real in the City of Brotherly Love by reminiscing on landmark albums from some of Philly’s most recognizable music artists, including Hall & Oates, Boyz II Men, Joan Jett, Will Smith, P!nk, and of course, Mr. DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Hall & Oates/Private Eyes/35 YO Although the legendary local music duo had hit the upper reaches of the Billboard charts prior to Private Eyes with ’70s hits, “She’s Gone,” “Sara Smile”, and “Rich Girl,” they didn’t return to major mainstream success until the early ’80s–and it was this album that helped put them there.

Loaded with that smoothly undeniable Hall & Oates sound, which was all over singles, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” the album’s title track (both songs also hit #1) and “Did it in a Minute,” Private Eyes eventually went platinum and helped the Philly music gentleman onto one hell of a career path in the ’80s and beyond.

It should also be musically noted that “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” also spent a week at the top of the R&B charts, which was a rare accomplishment for a white band. It’s all another reason to celebrate what a landmark album Private Eyes truly is, and you can bet that Hall & Oates will be celebrating their ’80s breakthrough record when they hit the stage at the BB&T Pavillion this upcoming July 10th. 

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts/I Love Rock and Roll/35 YO The second studio album by Joan Jett and the first to feature her backing band The Blackhearts, I Love Rock and Roll would not just make the whole entire music world fall in love with the legendary rock goddess, but the electrified title track would go on to become a karaoke staple around the globe.

The album became Ms. Jett’s most successful album to date with over 10 million copies sold, which was largely due to the success of the title track, which was released as a single soon after the album was released. What you may not know is that the original “I Love Rock and Roll” was written and recorded by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker of Arrows, and after Jett saw them perform the juke box anthem live, she was was taken away by it and it quickly became a staple of her set list for 7 years before the album was even recorded.

Judging by how many times you’ve screamed it out at your local karaoke night, we’re so glad she did, and of course, so is Ms. Britney Spears, whose own version of “I Love Rock and Roll” has been playing on in her just rebooted Britney Piece of Me Las Vegas residency. 

Boyz II Men/Cooleyhighharmony/25 YO The harmonizing debut album from one of Philly’s biggest music success stories, Cooleyhighharmony was met with rave reviews upon its release a-quarter-of-a-century (!) ago. Written by group members Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman with production by ’90s super producer, Dallas Austin, the album went on to sell nine million copies worldwide thanks to thunderous lead single “Motown Philly,” which would help push follow-up their follow-up record, II, to even greater heights on the Billboard album charts. 

The album also came out at the peak of the early ’90s New Jack swing era, as fellow R&B acts like Bell Biv Devoe and ABC (hey, “Iesha”), we’re already dancing all over the charts. The Boyz’ Grammy winning set was truly the icing on the cake in a time for music that no one will ever forget anytime soon.

And you know what else we will never forget? That time on Full House when Ms. Stephanie Judith Tanner tore the roof of the place with her choreographed take on “Motown Philly.” Absolutely priceless. #soon 

Dj Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince/Homebase/25 YO Whenever we think of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s & The Fresh Prince’s fourth studio set, there’s truly only one track that comes to mind–the Grammy award-winning lead single, “Summertime.” The perfect blend of Mr. Smith’s on point rap delivery mixed with that  Kool & The Gang “Summer Madness” sample, Ms. Perry’s “California Gurls” can take a seat to this one-of-a-kind sun-kissed anthem. 

If you’ll also remember, Will Smith was already flying high when “Summertime” hit the airwaves in ’91 as his NBC Monday night comedy, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, had just wrapped up a stellar first season. As we all know, Smith would eventually become one of the biggest movie stars on he planet in the mid ’90s, with the breezy, catchy flow of “Summertime” becoming another accomplishment that helped him get his star on the rise. 

P!nk/M!ssundaztood/15 YO Hard to believe, but it was fifteen years ago this year that P!nk gave her La Face record label boss, Mr. L.A. Reid, the middle finger after she wanted to stray away from the R&B influence of her debut record, Can’t Take Me Home and venture into more rock pop territory with her sophomore set. Lucky for us, Mr. Reid listened (did he really have a choice?) and she delivered not just one hell of a career defining album, but one that sold more than three times it predecessor. 

Led by the rousing, “Get the Party Started,” M!ssundaztood was a hit straight-out-of-the-music gate that was packed full of P!nk’s prowess alongside collaborations with 4 Non Blondes Linda Perry, who beautifully helmed most of the record.  Along with “Party,” three more top 20 singles were released from the set, including “Don’t Let Me Get Me” “Just Like a Pill” and “Family Portrait.”

M!ssundazstood would not only prove that Ms. Moore knew how to put out one hell of a slaying pop music moment in time, but that she knew what the f#$k she was doing when it came to following and trusting her music instincts. Because really, that’s why we still love her so much. 

 

 

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5 Albums Celebrating Music Milestones in 2016

Before you reminisce like Mary on this list of 5 albums celebrating music milestones this year, there’s a little backstory that goes along with this new column. Originally, Philly Mixtape was set to run a piece called 20 Albums Celebrating Music Milestones in 2016 and was just going to serve them all up to you at once. But after a meeting of the writers the other night, naturally, another list of twenty was formed. Because, you know, albums back in the day were known as…albums. 

With that being said, we’re still going to dish out all 40 records, but it will be over the course next eight weeks. So you can really think of this as a “winter column.” But what a column it will be as over the rest of the (ugh) winter, you will no doubt have reactions to your favorite albums really being that old, but you will also get to take a fabulous stroll down music memory lane with all of these albums as they most likely are ones that most likely hold many delightful memories for many of you out there. 

In round one, we’re going to celebrate the Philly life that’s laced throughout the dearly departed David Bowie’s Young Americans set (which will be 40 this year), as well as Paula Abdul’s Spellbound, the Romeo+Juliet soundtrack, No Doubt’s Rock Steady, and last but certainly not least, Spice by the Spice Girls which is celebrating a major milestone this year. 

David Bowie/’Young Americans’/41 YO Starting this list with just a touch of local music love, Bowie’s brilliant set showcases Philly music truth at its very finest and boldest. Recorded at the City of Brotherly Love’s famed Sigma Sound Studios during breaks from his Diamond Dogs tour, Young Americans was helmed by legendary local music producer Tony Visconti and was recorded “about 85% live” with Bowie’s full band playing perfectly alongside his delightfully spaced out vocals, with each of the tracks being recorded in single continuous takes.

In order to create the authentic Philly Soul sound and style, Mr. Bowie brought in a range of musicians from the funk and soul music world, including an early career Luther Vandross and Andy Newmark, famed drummer of Sly and the Family Stone. The critically acclaimed record was also the first time Bowie worked with producer Carlos Alomar, and it from the Young Americans‘ sessions that the two would form a long-lasting collaborative relationship that would go on to span three decades.

However, it wasn’t exactly music love at first sight when it came to Alomar’s first meeting with Bowie. In a later interview about their first recording sessions, Alomar said that he never even heard of Bowie before their first session and also recalled that David was “the whitest man I’ve ever seen – translucent white” when they met.

However, any doubts soon faded once the productive pair got to work in the studio with Alomar later boasting about Bowie’s recording work ethic, “David always does the music first. He’ll listen for a while then if he gets a little idea the session stops and he writes something down and we continue. But later on, when the music is established, he’ll go home and the next day the lyrics are written. I’d finish the sessions and be sent home and I never heard words and overdubs until the record was released.”

There’s that Bowie music genius at full play.

Paula Abdul/Spellbound/25 YO Prior to the ’91 release of Spellbound, Ms. Abdul was certainly on top of the music world. The pint-sized pop princess had just signed a multi million dollar deal with Diet Coke, married the man of her dreams, Mr. Emilio Estevez, and her debut set, Forever Your Girl  danced all over the Billboard charts and gave her four number one singles–the title track, “Straight Up,” “Opposites Attract” and “Cold Hearted.” So, naturally the pressure was on for Ms. Abdul to release a smashing follow-up–and that’s just what she did, well, sort of. 

While Spellbound‘s first two singles, “Rush, Rush” (which producers didn’t want as a lead single because it was a slow jam. Keanu Reeves fixed all that, didn’t he? ) and “Promise of A New Day,” gave Abdul another pair of number one singles, the album quickly lost chart steam, despite the fact that follow ups singles “Blowing Kisses in the Wind,” “Will You Marry Me?” and of course, “Vibeology” achieved moderate success. It also didn’t help that Paula was plagued with a major court battles (and a rapidly changing early ’90s music industry)  involving her and a backup singer who claimed that Paula had lifted her vocals and used them as her own. As if. 

However, Spellbound still went on to sell five million copies and Paula did record a follow-up, the vastly ignored, Head Over Heels, and it would be just a few years later when she rightfully owned her judges chair on Fox’s once red-hot American Idol. Let’s face it, the Paula and Simon years were like no other. And so were the days when Paula Abdul had us all rushing to be by her music side. 

Spice Girls/Spice/20 YO Let the 20th anniversary celebrations begin because this album. Served up in September 1996 by Virgin Records (thank you, Mr. Branson), Spice was and always will be a monster pop record with killer hooks, ’90s flair and gigantic helpings of straight up girl power. An immaculate set that contains elements of dance, R&B,hip hop and pop, there’s no denying that this album became the pinnacle of ’90s music and is one of those few albums that changed the music landscape…forever. 

Spice was a huge worldwide commercial success pretty much straight out of the music gate, fueled by singles, “Wannabe,” “Say You’ll Be There,” “2 Become 1” (are you a little bit wiser now?), and their ode to Mr. Big Stuff, “Who Do You Think Are.” The Girls’ high kicking record would go on to peak at number one in more than 17 countries across the world, as well as becoming certified multi-platinum in 27 countries, that by the time it finally hit stateside in February 1997, we were more than ready to get our headphones and our lives on it. 

While their lyrics never make any sense (think about it), it didn’t matter because even if you hated them, you’ve seen Spice World at least once, and there’s been at least one time in your life where you wondered if you were Scary, Sporty, Posh, Ginger or Baby. 

Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack/20 YO Where do we truly begin when it comes to the buzz worthy ’90s music brilliance supplied on the accompanying soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio starring remake of Romeo + Juliet? Locked and loaded with a feast of music artists who were all pretty much showcased on MTV’s 120 Minutes at the time, the soundtrack quickly became bigger than the film itself, thanks to contributions by Garbage (#1 Crush), Radiohead (“Talk Show Host”), Everclear (“Local God”) and one little ditty called “Lovefool” by The Cardigans that we still can’t get out of our heads even twenty years later. 

But..sigh…if there’s one song on this classic soundtrack that has destroyed our souls since we first glanced at Leo through the fish tank (hey, Mr. Rudd), it’s “I’m Kissing You” by the gorgeous Des’ree. Not only did this become the love theme for the film, but it became the love theme for our lives. If you’re not reaching for a Kleenex after one listen, you truly don’t have a soul and should just adopt all of your cats now.

Adele’s “Hello” can have all the seats compared to Des’ree’s booming piano kissed ballad.  Sigh….here comes that middle breakdown again.

No Doubt/Rock Steady/15 YO Let’s face it, before Rock Steady was served up fifteen years ago, No Doubt’s music was in a bit of a tough spot. While their previous album, the aggressive, Return of Saturn, fared well with critics and (some) fans, it struggled to achieve the same stature of its ten-times platinum predecessor, Tragic Kingdom. (No need to fire up “Don’t Speak,” this is about Rock Steady).

So, what does No Doubt do? Get back to their dancehall roots and cook up an easy, breezy pop album that boosted their career in all the right ways. Because, really, when this Grammy nominated set came out, Ja Rule and Ashanti were ruling the music charts, so it was refreshing to hear No Doubt serving up a sound that was different from what was on mainstream radio at the time. 

Although more pop than were used to from Ms. Stefani and her merry band of rock misfits, the group delivered a solid set that was armed with plenty of punch, as well as giving them the biggest hits of their Billboard career, including “Hey Baby,” “Hella Good” and “Underneath it All.” Other tracks on the album including “Detective,” “Making Out” and “Platinum Blonde Life” also added to the robust mix, keeping Rock Steady plenty fresh through the years. 

 

 

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5 Albums You Should Be Listening to Right Now/TBT Edition

Throwback Thursdays are certainly that day of the music week where the most groove truth lives on…

Let classic (and sometimes forgotten about) records by Garbage, Missy Elliot, Tom Petty, Destiny’s Child, and the Unbreakable diva herself, Ms. Janet Jackson, make all of your #TBT music dreams come true. 

Garbage/Self-titled

Do you remember the first time you laid your eyes on ginger rock queen Shirley Manson twenty years ago?

Hard to believe, but Garbage’s miraculous self-titled debut is now two decades old. But lucky for us, each of the Butch Vig produced numbers still sound as delightfully moody and murky as they did back then. From start to finish, there’s not a hard, yet somehow easy hitting track on the set, including singles “Vow,” “Queer,” “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains,” a track that to this day still remains everyone’s favorite rainy day anthem.,

Sorry, RiRi, but Ms. Manson was here first.

Missy Elliot/Under Construction

Throwback Thursdays just simply wouldn’t exist without a little Missy, especially the throwback gems that get to work on her ’02 Grammy grabbing Under Construction set.

Album singles, “Work It,” “Gossip Folks,” “Pussycat” and “Take Away,” (miss you, Liyah) always get the M-I-double S-Y E job done, as well as the Method Man assisted (and Biggie sampling)  “Bring the Pain,” and the Jay Z co-starring “Back in the Day,” which will always gets the British Knights music party started.

Destiny’s Child/The Writing’s on the Wall

Since the music news broke that Beyoncé Knowles father, Matthew, is teaching another class on how to be that superstar like his daughter, another round of Destiny’s Child’s ’99 set, The Writing’s on the Wall, is absolutely necessary.

Besides the late ’90s Darkchild truth that lies in singles, “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Say My Name,””Jumpin,’ Jumpin'” and “Bug-a-Boo,” album cuts “Hey Ladies,” “Temptation,” and the winning, “So Good,” always make for a Tina Knowles worthy DC music time.

All served with a side of “thou shall not think you got it like that,” of course. 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers/Greatest Hits 

If there’s one rocker whose created music that’s perfect for any fall music TBT occasion, it’s Mr. Tom Petty and his merry band of Heartbreakers.

Their ’93 Greatest Hits set has all the old school rock truth you could ever want, including the classics, “Free Fallin,'” “I Won’t Back Down,” “American Girl,” “Refugee” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

Pass the Tom Petty music dutch, please.

Janet/20 Y.O. 

Musically sandwiched in between 2004’s Damita Jo (which followed “Nipplegate”) and ’08’s Discipline, (her last album before her hot,  just released Unbreakable set) 20 Y.O is a Janet album that tends to get lost in the shuffle.

Now, is it her best studio effort? Not exactly, but the old school Janet flavor just flows in tracks like “Show Me,” “Get It Out Me,” “This Body” and lead single “So Excited,” which brings the dance heat with its balls-y breakbeat and timeless sample of Herbie Hancock’s scratch-alicious “Rockit” record. 

Pure Janet bliss.