An Album A Day #11: The Brothers Johnson LIGHT UP THE NIGHT [1980]

Mild-mannered junior high student HERC attended exactly two parties in 1980. The first one was a birthday party at the local roller-skating rink and the other was a basement party that provided HERC's introduction to what would become three of his favorite things: french kissing, "Rapper's Delight" and "Stomp!" by the mighty Brothers Johnson.

A game of Spin the Bottle led to Seven Minutes In Heaven which was basically teasing tongues and swapping spit with a cheerleader in the darkness of a laundry closet.  HERC's whole experience that night was portrayed realistically (although HERC physically resembled Sam more than Bill) on an episode of Freaks and Geeks some twenty years later entitled "Smooching and Mooching" (see clip above).  That night at the party, HERC must have heard "Stomp!" three or maybe four times because  whoever was standing near the record player when a song ended got to choose the next song to play from a stack of singles that were spread out on the console that housed the record player.

"Rapper's Delight" stood out because it was still in it's light blue jacket and it was a 12" single whereas all the other singles were the standard 7" variety.  (Plus it lasted almost 15 freakin' minutes.)  As it was a junior high boy-girl party relatively unsupervised with parents upstairs, not many kids were interested in standing by the record player so there were gaps and pauses between songs sometimes lasting as long as the songs themselves.  And some songs were repeated.  It was the second or third time that "Stomp!" played that HERC made his way to the console to ID the track as it was new to his ears and he really, really liked it.  REALLY.

Later that Summer around the same time he began conditioning and high school football practice, HERC picked up Light Up The Night, the parent album of "Stomp!"  The album version (below) of the song was a full 2 minutes longer than the single version and that was a good thing.  

Co-written by Johnson brothers Louis (bass) and George (guitar) along with Louis's wife, Valerie, and Rod Temperton, the songwriter/ former keyboardist from the group Heatwave, "Stomp!" was a monster on the charts topping both the R&B and Disco charts and reaching #7 on the Hot 100.  Produced by Quincy Jones, the song is vocally smooth and musically funky, especially when Louis (who was nicknamed "Thunder-thumbs") launches into his slappin' bass solo breakdown.

The album's titular second track was released as the second single and although it was #16 on the R&B chart it failed to crossover as 'Stomp!" had done.  It is a brighter and less funky track but danceable nonetheless.  HERC rarely listened past those first two songs yet he treasures this album and the memories associated with it.

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