Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Juicy Fruit" by Mtume

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  1493
Date:  06/18/1983
Debut:  92
Peak:  45
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Funk, R&B

Pop Bits:  Percussionist James Mtume's career got a major boost when he began recording and performing with jazz great Miles Davis in 1972. After his association with Davis ended, Mtume set out to record with his own group. After a couple indie jazz releases, Mtume developed a funk/soul band that featured an old pal from the Davis days, guitarist Reggie Lucas, and vocalist Tawatha Agee. They signed to Epic records and issued their debut LP, Kiss This World Goodbye, in 1978. It didn't set the world on fire, but its follow-up, In Search of the Rainbow Seekers, got enough attention at R&B and Dance to call for a third album. Juicy Fruit would prove to be the band's breakthrough when this title track single would hit #1 at R&B. The song would stay at the top of that chart for eight weeks. Although it would end up being shut out of the Pop Top 40, the song would be popular enough to be certified gold.

ReduxReview:  I remember this being a huge R&B hit back then, but sadly I never got to hear it. Being from a small town where R&B was not one of the local radio formats, chances were slim I was gonna hear this song unless I caught it on TV somewhere or bought it. The group name and song title intrigued me, but I didn't pursue it. I didn't get to hear the song until years later. By that time it sounded like a lesser effort from Prince so I wasn't that hip on it. I do like the tune and recognize its influence, but it's not one of my favorites.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Before they hit big with this song, Mtume and Lucas were already Grammy winners. The pair wrote and produced the 1980 Stephanie Mills hit "I Never Knew Love Like This Before" (#6 Pop, #3 R&B). The song would win the Grammy for Best R&B Song.  2) While this song was riding high on the charts, Lucas was busy co-writing and co-producing an album for a new artist by the name of Madonna. He would have a hand in the hits "Lucky Star" and "Borderline," as well as four other tracks on Madonna's hit debut LP.  3) This song has been highly sampled over the years and was used in two other R&B #1 hits. The Notorious B.I.G. used the song in his debut single "Juicy" in 1994 and singer Keyshia Cole used it in her 2007 #1 hit "Let It Go."


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