In 1983, Irish rock band U2 released War - their third album, and their most political album. The album opens with Sunday Bloody Sunday, and it is followed by Seconds, which is followed by New Year's Day. The album and it's title were inspired by the global unrest in 1982, and the looming threat of a nuclear war. U2's War album was the band's first number one album in the UK, achieved after knocking Michael Jackson's Thriller off the top of the charts. War only reached number 12 on the US charts, however it was their first gold-certified album there. The song Seconds marked the first recording of The Edge singing lead vocals - which he only does for seconds on the first verse of the song. Not only was it unusual for The Edge to sing lead on the verse - "it takes a second to say goodbye" - it was also unusual that The Edge wrote the lyrics for that line. The rest of the song was written by Bono, as usual, who had asked The Edge to help on this song. U2 has not performed the song live in concert in almost 40 years - since July 7, 1985.
In April 1967, soon after being signed to Stax Records, Tennessee-based instrumental funk band the Bar-Kays released their first single - Soul Finger. The song peaked at number 3 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, and the B-side Knuckelhead hit number 23. Within a few months the band was back in the studio recording nine more tracks that, along with their first 2 songs, would complete their debut album. The first song on the album gave the album it's name - Soul Finger. During the time their debut single and album were released, the band had just begun working as Otis Redding's backup band. On December, 10th 1967, while on tour with Otis Redding, four of the band members died with Redding in a tragic plane crash. The only survivor of the crash was trumpeter Ben Cauley. The only other surviving band member was bassist James Alexander, who had flown separately because the was no more room on Redding's plane. Soon, the band was re-formed by Cauley and Alexander, and they continued working as a backup band for Stax Records, recording on dozens of classic Stax releases. Soon after Cauley left the band in 1971 the Bar-Kays changed direction musically, and they went on to build a solid reputation as a hit-making funk band. In 1974, when Alexander had a son, he named him Phalon - named after Phalon Jones , the group's saxophonist who died in the 1967 plane crash. Today, his son Phalon is better known as rapper and producer Jazze Pha.
In 1959, Belgian singer songwriter Jacques Brei released his biggest hit - Ne Me Quitte Pas (translation: Do Not Leave Me). The famous French cabaret performer was well known for his very emotional performance of this song, which he had written while breaking up with his pregnant mistress Suzanne "Zizou" Gabriello. At the time he wrote the song, Brel was refusing to acknowledge that he was the father of the child Zizou was pregnant with. Ultimately, she had the pregnancy aborted, and in response to the song Zizou declared "this is not a love song, but a song about the cowardice of men." Brei's heart-wrenching hit song borrow's a part in it's melody straight out of the Romantic Era with a piece of Franz Liszt's classical composition Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6. The song has been performed by countless artists and in dozens languages. The English version of the song, known as If You Go Away, was recorded by Nina Simone for her 1965 album I Put A Spell On You. On the recording, Simone's vocal hits the note E2 - it is considered the lowest voice recording by a woman. In more recent years the song has been covered by Cyndi Lauper, Celine Dion, Lauryn Hill and others.
In 1968, French pop icon Serge Gainsbourg released his notorious gangster ballad Bonnie and Clyde. The song is an interpretation of a 1930's poem titled The Trail's End, written by Bonnie Parker. The poem was written by Bonnie weeks before her and her outlaw partner Clyde Barrow, were famously gunned down. Gainsbourg's provocative hit was performed with Bridgette Bardot, and in 1968 it was released on two albums, on a solo album by Gainsbourg and on the compilation album he released with Bardot (which featured just two tracks performed together). Bonnie and Clyde was recorded early on in the pop icon and sex symbol's short-lived love affair. This song, and his signature hit Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus, were written by Gainsbourg as an effort to impress his new love. After an unimpressive first date, Gainsbourg was determined to write the "most beautiful love song ever" for Bardot - and so he did. By mid-1968 Gainsbough left Bardot after falling in love with singer and actress Jane Birkin. Their relationship would last 10 years. In 1969, Gainsbourg and Birkin released an album together, and in 1976 Birkin starred in Gainsbourg's controversial film Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus.
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