Thursday, June 21, 2018

"Stand By Me" by Maurice White

Song#:  2441
Date:  08/31/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  50
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  White became a superstar performer, writer, and producer via the band he founded in 1970, Earth, Wind & Fire. By this point in 1985, that band had scored seventeen R&B Top 10's including seven #1's and seven Pop Top 10's (with one #1). Along the way he branched out to write and produce songs for many other artists including The Emotions, Deniece Williams, Jennifer Holiday, ABC, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Atlantic Starr. When Earth, Wind & Fire went on a break in 1984, White took the opportunity to do his own solo album. His self-titled debut would be preceded by this first single, which made it into the R&B Top 10 at #6. It was also a good hit at AC getting to #11. However, the track couldn't quite breakthrough to a wider Pop audience and the song stalled at the halfway point of the chart.

ReduxReview:  This moldy oldie certainly got a shimmering day-glo 80s update by White. Even though it's a classic song with a great message, I never really cared for it. In fact, there is only one version of the tune that I kinda like and that one is by singer Turley Richards. However, I don't mind White's take on the song. He actually does something different with it instead of doing a direct cover. After a billowy opening, the tune opens up into a dance track with all the 80s synth/drum machine bells and whistles. Although it probably pissed off some purists, White even added a bridge with new lyrics followed by an instrumental section. Overall, it's not too bad. Chalk me up as surprised. The only question I have is - why? White is a solid songwriter and works with other brilliant writers, so why did he choose to issue out a cover tune as his first solo single? Seems odd but it ended up doing rather well.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song co-written and originally recorded by R&B star Ben E. King. King's 1961 version reached #1 at R&B and #4 Pop. It would return to the charts in 1986 after the movie Stand By Me became a hit. On its second go 'round the song would get to #9 Pop and #10 AC. The enduring classic would end up being recorded by hundreds of artists. Over the years, eight artists, including White, would reach the Pop chart with their versions. The highest peaking cover version came from R&B singer Spyder Turner. Turner was known for being able to imitate the voices of popular R&B stars and when he recorded "Stand By Me," he mimicked the voices of other artists like Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and even King himself. Turner's 1966 novelty-ish single would catch on and reach #12 at Pop and #3 R&B. Turner wasn't able to capitalize on the hit and have others, but he did co-write "Do Your Dance," which became a #4 R&B (#39 Pop) hit for Rose Royce in 1977.


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