Week 21: Sweethearts
I’m back once again for week 21 with the debut album from Peaches & Herb from 1967 on Date Records. I recently found this LP in good condition for a really nice price and simply wanted to bring it to the 4 Brothers spotlight for its greatness. So here is a nice fresh rip for all who may have missed it. I hope that you enjoy it!
Soulbrotha and I were talking about this LP shortly after I had told him I picked it up from the record store. He brought to my attention that a classic commercial in the 80’s featured the song “Close Your Eyes” from this album right at the beginning. Some of you may remember the commercial from when growing up, or even own the collection called “Hey Love” (if a guest of your home didn’t permanently “borrow” it). Too bad they don’t offer compilations like this any more!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history of Herb & Peaches (all 5 of them), here is a little history lesson courtesy of Wikipedia…
Herb Fame (born Herbert Feemster, October 1, 1942, in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.), sang in church and neighborhood groups as a child. After graduation from high school, he worked in a local record store, where he eventually met record producer Van McCoy. McCoy agreed to let Fame audition, and decided to record him with Francine Barker, the lead singer of another group he was producing. The duo impressed McCoy so much that he released singles to local radio stations.
Francine “Peaches” Barker was born in 1947 in Washington, D.C. Before joining with Herb, Peaches started her own singing group, The Sweet Things. Peaches & Herb had a string of successful singles in the next two years with the songs “Let’s Fall in Love”, “Close Your Eyes” (a #8 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1967, and also their debut single), “For Your Love”, and “Love Is Strange”. Despite the duo’s burgeoning success, Barker chose to leave the duo because of the rigours of touring. During this time she also worked as a solo artist. One of their more popular tunes was “Angels in the Sky” released on Columbia Records.
Marlene Mack initially replaced Barker for touring, becoming the second of the five “Peaches”; however Barker’s voice remained on the albums. The new duo continued to chart with such singles as “Two Little Kids” and “When He Touches Me”. However their popularity began to fade. Depressed by the slumping prospects of his partnership with Mack, Fame chose to retire from the music industry in 1970, after which time he got a job at the Washington, D.C. police department.
“Peaches & Herb” lay dormant until Fame decided to re-enter the music business in 1976. In his search for a new “Peaches”, Herb again enlisted the assistance of Van McCoy , who suggested that Linda Greene would be suitable for the position. Fame met Greene and concurred, leading to the formation of the most successful of the “Peaches & Herb” incarnations.
Herb & Linda recorded seven (including the album released in Argentina) albums together the first album Peaches & Herb was recorded for MCA Records and produced by Van McCoy but it generated no hits. They switched labels to MVP/Polydor for the next four and released 2 Hot, which went gold. It contained the songs “Shake Your Groove Thing” which peaked at #5, on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1979, and “Reunited”, the follow-up single, which reached #1 on both the Hot 100 and the Billboard R&B chart. It was also a chart-topper in Canada. “Reunited” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1980. The final album they recorded together before going their separate ways was for The Entertainment Company a boutique label distributed through Columbia Records.
Unable to repeat the success of 2 Hot with their subsequent albums, Greene and Fame decided to retire their partnership in 1983.
Fame again chose to revive his entertainment career in 1990, with the help of a fourth “Peaches” – Patrice Hawthorne. She is now the bandleader of her own orchestra. Nevertheless, Fame retained his job with the police department. Although some suggested that Fame’s position with the police demonstrated a somewhat less than serious approach to his professional music career, his unstable financial situation was the result of unpaid royalties. In 2001, Fame and Greene hired Artists Rights Enforcement Corporation who introduced them to music industry attorneys Oren Warshavsky and Steven Ames Brown. The attorneys brought a lawsuit against MVP Records, which was, at that time, headed by Christine Perren. Under cross examination at trial by Warshavsky, Perren broke down in tears after Warshavsky pointed out a series of contradictions in MVP’s defense. The result was that Fame and Greene received royalties and were entitled to significant income, as well as reinstatement of certain rights. Fame was then able to leave the police and focus again on his music career.
If I had to choose a favorite song from this album it would have to be “Close Your Eyes”, previously a hit for the Five Keys. I am sure you all will distinguish a favorite track of your own as you listen to it – but this is definitely mine:
I am really glad I added this to my vinyl collection – and lucky for you, I found a couple of websites that have the album for sale for a reasonable price if you want to own it too! Try this one right here, or the copy lurking around over here – both for about the same price. This is without a doubt a memorable soul record that everyone is sure to enjoy!
Until next time…Peace!
(Ps. Oh yeah, if you know of the great Blogsportsoul blog, you may be aware that this album also was posted there back in September of ’08. He has a wonderful blog and you should check out his spot for a ton of great albums!)