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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Don't Disturb This Groove

Let's talk about summer songs, shall we? 

I suppose it makes sense to talk about music in this post, since today is the Sunday Jukebox portion of the week.  And certainly, we have had a slew of summer favourites over the years from "Hot Fun In The Summertime" to "Summer Breeze" to "The Boys of Summer", and even "Summer in the City".

And while this week's song doesn't really have a whole lot to do with summer, it did manage to peak on the charts during the summer months.  As far as I'm concerned, that makes it a summer song!

The song was first released in the early weeks of 1987, and it was the biggest hit for a synthpop duo from New York City.  The group, which formed in 1982, was made up of vocalist/guitarist Mic Murphy and keyboardist David Frank, and the story behind how they got together is quite an interesting one.  But let's hold off on that for now.

In the meantime, let's take a listen to the song that helped get "The System" mainstream attention.

ARTIST:  The System
SONG:  Don't Disturb This Groove
ALBUM:  Don't Disturb This Groove
DATE RELEASED:  January 14, 1987

Now, when this song was on the Top 10, it happened right around the time I was not a kindergartener, not quite a first grader.  I probably didn't even know what the phrase "Don't Disturb This Groove" meant.  I didn't find out until years later when they played this very song on a radio program called "Backtrax USA" that I used to listen to as a teenager.

Regardless, it was a really hot track back then, and it's still a decent play today.  I can see why it not only peaked at #4 on the Billboard charts, but also became a #1 single on the Hot R&B Singles Chart.  It's a song that has passion, boldness, and just the right tone for two people who are madly in love to succumb to...well, you get the idea.

It did take the duo of Murphy and Frank half a decade to fine tune their "System" so to speak, but right from the very moment they met, they knew that they had the power to make beautiful music together.  But did you know that Madonna had an indirect hand in bringing these two together?

It's true!  Before Madonna hit the scene in the early 1980s, she was experimenting with her own sound, playing with several people and recording several duos.  Many of them can be found on an album called "Pre-Madonna", a collection of previously unreleased songs that Madonna recorded between 1980 and 1982, when she was trying to find an audience.

Anyway, one collaboration was an almost, but never quite happened was one that she was working on with David Frank.  The song was called "It's Passion", and Madonna was to feature on lead vocals.  But creative differences between the two caused Madonna to walk away from the project, and Frank teamed up with Mic Murphy to record the song instead.

By the way, here was the finished product.

Not a bad song, huh?  Very much a product of the early 1980s, but decent enough that it could have been played an a New York City dance club during that time.

Certainly the collaboration got the attention of Atlantic Records, who offered the duo a recording contract on the spot!  "It's Passion" became a huge radio hit in New York City, and within months, the duo released their debut album in 1983, entitled "Sweat".

Now, during the six years that the band was initially together (they parted ways professionally in 1989), the band released a number of singles that thanks to Frank's incredible knowledge and expertise in recording studio technology many believed were released ahead of their time.  Heck, when I first heard "Don't Disturb This Groove" on the radio, I thought it was an early 1990s hit, like from say 1992 or 1993!

And while it took the group several years to have a Top 10 hit, interestingly enough you may have heard some of their music in some of the world's most watched television programs and movies of the time.  Their single "The Pleasure Seekers" was played on an episode of "Miami Vice" in 1985, and their cover of Marc Benno's "Rock 'N Roll Me Again" was featured on the soundtrack for "Beverly Hills Cop".

And on top of that, the group was also working on other projects for Phil Collins, Chaka Khan, and Scritti Politti!  One thing you could say about The they heyday, nothing could ever really disturb their groove.

Even after they split, both men continued to work in the music industry.  Mic Murphy decided to go solo in 1991 and released a few singles, while David Frank became a respected songwriter and producer, and he was one of the people responsible for this breakout hit for Christina Aguilera.

But there was just something so special about the music that they did when they were together.  It was cutting edge, powerful, soulful, and quite modern for its time.  And although "The System" was only in place for such a short time, they certainly made the most of that time.

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