Monday, March 20, 2017

"17" by Rick James

Song#:  1979
Date:  07/14/1984
Debut:  75
Peak:  36
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  After James scored his second #1 R&B album with 1983's Cold Blooded, it seemed like a good time to take a break and issue a hits compilation. The single LP Reflections collected up seven of James' hits and combined them with three previously unreleased songs. Of course, at minimum a couple of these new songs would be released as singles to help promote the album and the first one out of the gate was this tune that has James contemplating whether or not to have sex with an infatuated underage girl in his hotel room. Despite the disturbing premise, the song was a hit that got to #6 on the R&B chart. It even did okay at Pop getting just inside the Top 40. The album's second single, "You Turn Me On" didn't impress folks and it stalled early at R&B (#31) while missing the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Back at a time when Tipper Gore was about to get all fired up about song lyrics, it really surprises me that this song kind of slid by under the radar. There's no foul language here of any kind, but the subject matter is kind of dicey and he even mentions "jailbait." It's definitely not "Darling Nikki," but I'm sure it had to have raised an eyebrow or two. Perhaps it slipped by because it wasn't all that noticeable. Yeah, it was a hit at R&B, but it wasn't one of James' best efforts. The tune wasn't all that different from what he had been pumping out previously. It just seemed he was resting on his laurels instead of pushing forward, which just makes me shrug my shoulders and say, "meh."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Call it saved by a hangover. In the late 60s when James was trying to get his career going, one person he met along the way befriended him and wanted to invest in his music. Later on, the guy invited James and his girlfriend to a party and they had plans to go. However, the night before James partied way too much and was so hung over that he couldn't go. He and his girlfriend had to skip the party. It ended up being a wise decision. The guy he met was celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring and the party he was supposed to go to was the one at Sharon Tate's house the night of the Manson family murders in 1969. This gruesome (and apparently very lucky) tidbit was part of Rick James' memoir that was published after his death in 2004.


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