Shalamar – Make That Move (1980)

Make That Move by Shalamar is just one of the many great songs you’d hear on The Beat Chicago.    It’s also one of the many songs you’d hear on our Great Golden Grooves show every Sunday night from 7PM – 10PM where we play classic R&B, soul and the funk!

There’s enough stations playing rock n’ roll classics and the same 80’s songs from Bon Jovi, Journey, John Cougar, Elton John all day long and that’s all cool but, when you want something completely different?  When you want everything from Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Spinners to Stevie B, C+C Music Factory and more of the music that keeps you movin?  We’re it.

See, we’re all about the classics too…. Classic R&B and dance of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, freestyle and more.  For us, it’s not about how old a song is, it’s about how good it is and this is as good as it gets.

When I started DJ’ing in 1978, I went to a corner store called Trafficante’s, it was a drug store/convenience type store on the corner of Taylor & Western here in Chicago. At the front door, there was a bin of 12-inch singles so, me being the type of DJ looking to find new or cool stuff went through it and discovered this cool 12-inch single called “Uptown Festival” by a group called Shalamar.

Seeing as though it was on the Soul Train label, my thinking was it had to be good. Back in the day, as a DJ, you looked for producers, labels musicians who were on great songs to already prep you for a foray into trying that particular new song. It was like striking gold for mre. Uptown Festival was a discofied medley of Motown hits with full disco arrangements, orchestration and amazing vocals.

They had something special and I could hear it. Obviously so did millions of others who would go on to love the Grammy-winning trio.

With the success of Uptown Festival, Griffey and Don Cornelius went on to replace the session singers they had used on Uptown Festival with popular Soul Train dancers Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel, to join original Shalamar lead singer Gary Mumford. Gerald Brown took over the spot vacated by Mumford for the group’s second album, Disco Gardens (1978), which featured the hit “Take That to the Bank”.

After conflicts over lack of payment from Griffey and SOLAR (short for Sound of Los Angeles Records), Brown left the group and Howard Hewett replaced Brown in 1979.

The group was joined up with producer Leon Sylvers III in 1979, signed with SOLAR, and scored a US million-seller with “The Second Time Around” (1979). The classic lineup of Hewett, Watley and Daniel would be the most successful.

In the UK, the group had a string of hits with songs such as “Take That to the Bank” (1978), “I Owe You One” (1980), and songs from the Friends (1982) album: “I Can Make You Feel Good” (1982), “A Night to Remember”, “There It Is”, and the title track “Friends”. The album, which crossed the genres of pop, disco, and soul, was also a big seller in the UK in 1982.

The band’s record sales in the UK increased when Daniel demonstrated his body-popping dancing skills on BBC Television’s music program, Top of the Pops, which had premiered the Moonwalk on television for the first time.

Michael Jackson was a fan of Shalamar, in particular, Daniel and his dance moves, after watching him on Soul Train. Jackson and Daniel met afterward, and Jackson took his then 12-year-old sister Janet to see Shalamar perform at Disneyland. Daniel and Jackson co-choreographed Jackson’s “Bad” and “Smooth Criminal” videos from the album Bad (1987).

The “classic” lineup of Shalamar (Hewett, Watley, and Daniel) scored a total of three gold albums in the US with Big Fun (1979), Three for Love (1980) – which eventually went Platinum – Friends (1982) which also went Platinum.

The group took a knock when Watley and Daniel separately left the band over conflicts within the group, and other issues with Dick Griffey and SOLAR.

With a mid-1980s line-up change, adding Micki Free and Delisa Davis, Shalamar returned to the US Top 20 in 1984 with “Dancing in the Sheets” from the Footloose soundtrack. The song peaked at #17, and the group won a Grammy for “Don’t Get Stopped In Beverly Hills” from Beverly Hills Cop in 1984.

While there were major differences that set Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniels and Howard Hewitt into their own very successful directions, Shalamar is one of those vocal groups near and dear to all old schoolers’ hearts.

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Sal Amato