Monday, August 26, 2019

"Count Your Blessings" by Ashford & Simpson

Song#:  2872
Date:  09/27/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This husband and wife duo scored their biggest hit at Pop when their 1984 single "Solid" reached #12 (#1 R&B, #15 Dance, #34 AC). It would make their album of the same name become their fourth to go gold. Two years later they would return with their follow-up album Real Love. It would go on to become their ninth R&B Top 10 getting to #4. Unfortunately, the tune couldn't catch on at any other radio format and it stalled after a month on the Pop chart while missing AC completely. It would end up being the duo's final single to reach the Pop chart. Their next album, 1989's Love or Physical, would generate the #2 R&B hit "I'll Be There for You," but after the LP failed to sell it became their last major label effort. They would return in 1996 for an indie album, but not much came from it. Over the years the duo would continue to tour and perform while working on various other projects. In 2011, Nick Ashford died from complications stemming from throat cancer.

ReduxReview:  This reminds me of some of the hits the pair wrote for Motown artists back in the 60s/70s. I thought this was a terrific song. It seemed just right for Pop and AC, but for some reason it didn't get its due on those charts. I loved the ebb and flow of the tune along with the vocal trade off. I also like the hooky sections that are basically like two separate choruses. Where it lacks is production, which didn't need the 80s influences. I'd love to hear this in a more traditional Motown arrangement. I think the song would soar even more. This has always been an underrated gem for me.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Ashford & Simpson had been working together since the mid-60s and composed several major hits including two R&B #1's in 1968 for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" (#8 Pop) and "You're All I Need to Get By" (#7 Pop). Prior to stepping out and recording as a duo in 1973, Valerie Simpson attempted a solo career. She was signed to Motown's Tamla label and pushed out albums in 1971 and 1972. Only one of her singles did anything, 1972's "Silly Wasn't I," which got to #24 R&B and #63 Pop. With the solo career not taking flight, Ashford joined in and the duo released their debut album in 1973. They would remain a duo until Ashford's death in 2011. In 2012, Simpson released her first solo album in 40 years, Dinosaurs Are Coming Back Again. The songs on the LP were made up of tracks that were recorded earlier in the decade for a new Simpson solo effort. One of the songs, "Make It Up As We Go," was recorded in 2001 as a duet between Simpson and their friend, the legendary Nina Simone. Simone was living in France at that time and had been battling illness. Ashford and Simpson had written "Make It Up As We Go" and though it was a great fit for Simone. She agreed to singing and playing piano on the song, so Ashford and Simpson flew to France to get it recorded. It ended up being the last recorded vocal performance done by Simone. She was battling breast cancer at the time and ended up passing away in 2003. The tracks Simpson recorded ended up getting shelved and it wasn't until after Ashford's death in 2011 that they were unearthed and released in 2012.


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