Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast, in which Thomas Inskeep and Mike Joseph listen to and discuss the songs that hit #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Hot Black/R&B/Soul Singles chart during the ’80s, five at a time.
Uh…make that six at a time. We’ve deviated from the 5 songs format quite a bit over the last several episodes (which you can listen to if you click this link), and in this particular installment, we do six songs to get all of our Thriller conversation out of the way. Why? Because three of the first six songs to top the R&B charts in 1983 came from Michael Jackson’s behemoth LP. The six tracks we discuss, in order, are…
“The Girl Is Mine” by MJ & Paul McCartney
“Outstanding” by The Gap Band
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
“Atomic Dog” by George Clinton
“Candy Girl” by New Edition
“Beat It” by…you get the picture.
We get the three Michael songs out of the way consecutively, so I guess you could say this is the first episode in which we don’t totally go in sequential order. And now for some show notes…
-Clearly, 1983 belonged to Michael Jackson. For goodness’ sakes, the man got a BEATLE to top the R&B chart. Stevie couldn’t even do that!
-Someone might actually have a soft spot for will.i.am’s McCartney-less 2008 remix of “The Girl Is Mine”.
-The yacht rock conversation rears its head again; not only due to McCartney’s involvement, but because the members of Toto are all over “The Girl Is Mine” and the rest of Thriller, for that matter. Our friends over at the Beyond Yacht Rock podcast recently dedicated an entire episode to “yacht soul”, and they also discuss Toto’s connection to the Quincy Jones/Jackson family.
-If we’re talking about Michael Jackson and Toto, a conversation about the Grammy Awards can’t be far behind. Thomas sidebars into a discussion about the NARAS voting policy, which used to allow for singles and albums to be nominated in the same category (and doesn’t anymore).
-We take a few minutes to pay tribute to the great Rod Temperton, who contributed mightily to Thriller and who sadly passed away about a week before this episode was recorded.
-Memories of Motown 25 and Michael
inventing introducing the Moonwalk to Middle America.
-Shout out to Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar.
-“Beat It” might have been the hardest rocking track to chart #1 R&B, a tribute to Michael Jackson’s momentum at that time. MJ was such a hot commodity at that point that Eddie Van Halen (who infamously played the guitar solo on “Beat It”) found himself with an R&B chart single barely a year after playing on Michael’s session.
-We could do an entire podcast listing songs that have sampled The Gap Band’s “Outstanding”, and this segment cements the Wilson Brothers as the entity we’ve discussed the most in the first several episodes of this series.
-We could also do an entire podcast listing songs that have sampled George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog”, which was not only the P-Funk mastermind’s sole solo #1 hit, but also his only R&B Top Ten as a solo artist.
-Going long on Clinton, the late ’70s reign of Parliament/Funkadelic and all of Clinton’s satellite projects are discussed. As is the fact that the first charted recording of a former Miss America (and future multi-media megastar) named Vanessa Williams came as the result of a Clinton session.
-“Candy Girl” introduces Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike and Ralph to the world and also becomes the first R&B chart-topper to feature a rap segment.
-If it wasn’t for New Edition, there wouldn’t be a New Kids On The Block. As much as NKOTB gets derided, they do have an R&B chart presence as well, although some of us would rather forget this golden moment with rappers Nice and Smooth.
-Thomas saw New Edition live a few years ago, and he has a story to tell about it.
(We also acknowledge that a) there are some audio fidelity issues with this podcast that will be fixed next time around and b) this episode runs slightly longer than usual. We appreciate you listening!)
Oh right! The opening and closing tracks in this episode are, respectively: “I.O.U.” by Freeez, and “Block Party” by Stacy Lattisaw with Johnny Gill.
You can listen to this episode in the player below, or you can stream it on Liberated Syndication. Of course, you can also download the episode directly to your device, and/or you can subscribe to us on iTunes. Enjoy!