Two icons of the eighties soul era are coming right to our doorstep. We take a look at some of their greatest hits ahead of the Ultimate Christmas Party at London’s Indig02.
It’s already nearly the end of summer, and what does that mean? Well, it means that Christmas is coming around again of course! At TFSR the highlight of Christmas is quickly becoming the annual Ultimate Christmas Party at London’s indigo2, the smaller and better venue music at The O2. Last year we were treated to the double whammy of British soul icon Kenny Thomas (who possesses one of the most underappreciated voices in soul music, in our opinion) as well as the incredible talent that is Jocelyn Brown. It was the perfect way to spend the last Friday before Christmas, with both performers doing full sets with full live bands.
This year the organisers have upped their game further by securing the talents of Cheryl Lynn and Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, two icons of the eighties soul era, particularly here in the UK (For those who were expecting to see King perform this Saturday as part of the Carnival Soul Weekener, this has been cancelled and replaced by this. Further details can be found here). This promises to be one of the most exciting shows of the year, and ought to be the perfect way to begin the Christmas festivities!
In anticipation of this year’s Ultimate Christmas Party, we’re taking a look back at some great music from these greats.
Another legend of the late-seventies, early eighties soul scene is Cheryl Lynn, an equally talented vocalist and performer. Her first, and biggest, hit came in 1978 with the classic ‘Got To Be Real’, a song that almost everyone who loves this soul era instantly recognises. The song was co-written by Lynn with David Paich of the band Toto, as well as the upcoming writer and producer David Foster. Today it remains a favourite amongst soul music fans, as well as fellow artists and producers, with the song being sampled frequently (check out Alexander O’Neal’s sample of the song ‘Lord’, the Bah Samba mix).
Following the success of her first hit and album, Lynn was paired with Ray Parker Jr. (of Ghostbusters fame) to record the 1981 epic ‘Shake It Up To Night’, a particularly funky tune that allows Lynn to once again demonstrate her incredibly powerful voice.
A year later someone had the vision to pair Lynn with none other than the hottest force in soul music at the time, none other than Luther Vandross. Vandross produced and sang with Lynn on her next single, a cover of the classic Motown duet ‘If This World Were Mine’, a cover of the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell classic. Both Lynn and Vandross give Terrell and Gaye a run for their money, slowing the song down somewhat, whilst almost doubling it’s length.
In 1984 Lynn released her last major single, the epic ‘Encore’, written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of Tabu Records fame. The song is classic eighties groove, and surely one attendees to this year’s Ultimate Christmas Party will be grooving away too come December.
Cheryl Lynn remains one of the favourite artists of the late seventies/eighties soul scene. Rumour had it that she was preparing to release an album of duets (reportedly to be called Duets With Divas) but this turned out to be a hoax, with an individual claiming to be Lynn on Twitter promoting the claims. Lynn’s publicist has successful shut down the account. Nevertheless, we’re pretty excited that this icon will be returning to London!
Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King
Born in New York but raised in Philadelphia, Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King was one of the top artists to emerge during the post-disco era. Her first major hit ‘Shame‘. from her debut album Smooth Talk released in 1977, which was a trans-Atlantic dance smash, hit the UK Top 40 as well as the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #9. The song marks the beginning of the groove era, emerging from the ashes of the disco period, and remains remarkably fresh and exciting today.
Four years later King would release what is arguably her finest recording, the incredible ‘I’m In Love’, a true eighties groove classic featuring that wonderful bass-synth, and produced by the groove icon Kashif. Judging by the reaction of the last time she performed the tune in London nearly five years ago, the song remains a fan favourite.
After the success of ‘I’m In Love’, moving away from the disco-oriented sound of ‘Shame’, King released arguably her finest album a year later in 1981 which produced her last major single ‘Love Come Down’, a true groove classic. The song went to #1 on the US R&B Charts, as well as #7 on the UK Singles chart, reflecting her growing popularity on the UK soul scene.
The album the sing was taken from, entitled Get Loose is arguably one of the finest of her career, with the title track itself being a piece of mid-tempo groove brilliance.
Since then, King struggled to reach similar commercial success, nonetheless releasing some brilliant music. In recent years she has collaborated with her disco contemporaries Linda Clifford and Martha Wash as the ‘First Ladies of Disco’, and earlier this August King released a wonderful new song in collaboration with Johnny King entitled ‘Dance All Night’. If you’re looking for some new groove music, this is it.
The Ultimate Soul Christmas Party takes place Friday 19th December at London’s ingido2 at The O2. Tickets are on sale here.