Saturday, February 1, 2014

Shannon - Let the Music Play

Today (February 1st) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Let the Music Play, the debut album from free-stylist Shannon. Born Brenda Shannon Greene in Washington, D.C., she was involved with the New York Jazz Ensemble before starting her recording career. This 1984 release went to number 52 in the UK, number 50 in New Zealand, number 47 in the Netherlands, number 35 in Germany, number 32 on the US Billboard Album chart (thirty seven weeks on the chart), number 30 in Switzerland, number 29 in Canada, and number 11 on the US Billboard R&B chart (thirty two weeks on the chart).

Shannon provides the lead vocals on the album, but she had some studio help too. Chris Barbosa and Rob Kilgore did the drum programming, Tony Bridges played bass, Rob Kilgore and Curtis Josephs were on keyboards, Ed Palermo was on saxophone, and the guitar duties were shared by Carl Sturken, Charlie Strut and Rob Kilgore.

Side one opens with the single edit of “Let the Music Play”. As the lead single which was released in late 1983, it went to number 62 in Australia, number 25 in the Netherlands, number 23 in Switzerland, number 14 in the UK, number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 5 in Germany, number 2 in New Zealand and on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance chart. This track warmed up those cold winter nights of late 1983 and early 1984; it was a very popular track at many of the floor parties on campus and by deejays out at the clubs I frequented. The energetic beats remind me of many good times, dancing the night away. This one is a five-star tune in my library.

The mid-tempo “Sweet Somebody”, the fourth single, hit number 46 in Germany and number 25 in the UK. It is about making a connection with someone new when you are feeling down. The synths are uplifting and Shannon's vocals are reassuring.

“Someone Waiting Home” is a duet with Herley Johnson Jr., and it was released on the B-side to the third single. This slow ballad tells of those lonely souls who long to have someone with whom to share their life.

“Give Me Tonight” was released as the second single. It hit number 46 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 26 in Germany, number 24 in the UK, number 6 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance chart. The cascading synth-line up front always energized me. Then Shannon comes in on the vocal in a mysterious sultry way before breaking into the yearning chorus line.

Side two begins with “My Heart’s Divided”. As the third single, it went to number 48 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 3 on the US Billboard Dance chart. It tells the tale of romantic indecision, backed by a strong beat.

Things slow down once more "It's You", a realization of finding that perfect soul mate.

The up-tempo "One Man" shows the changes that being in love can bring about.

The album closes with the six-minute long “Let the Music Play (remix)”.

I got my copy of Let the Music Play on vinyl the month it was released, very possibly around my birthday of that year. The two hit singles were an integral part of my listening as I was preparing for a night out; they always put me in the mood to go dancing. The songs were so strong that they remained popular on the clubs for a number of years later, and they still are recognized as key tracks to the mid-80’s dance music period. With my vinyl long gone, it was really nice to revisit this one after so many years.

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