The last successful act on the Curtom label was Linda Clifford, who was discovered by Stuart while she was performing in the Windy City’s top lounges. He signed her to a recording contract in 1977. She had a powerful voice that worked very well for disco music, the main rage at the time in the mid-1970s. Clifford’s first studio album for Curtom Records was produced by Gil Askey, who was originally a staff in-house songwriter and producer at Motown Records. He was recruited to the label because, according to Stuart, he did not believe that the then current in-house staff could produce disco music effectively to meet the demand of the market for dance music, both domestically and internationally.
The first album was simply titled “Linda” which created a lot of interest from several key regional markets within the United States. The first single released from her debut album was “From Now On”, which generated a tremendous amount of air play across America.
Her next album, “If My Friends Could See Me Now”, was co-produced by Gil Askey and Curtis Mayfield, and features the Jones Girls on background vocals, Keni Burke on bass guitar, with strings and horns conducted by Sol Bobrov. Guitar players on the session were Curtis Mayfield, Ronnie Vann and William Ross Traut. Calvin Bridges. Richard Tufo and Eric Hackett were on keyboards.
It was released in 1978 to a positive reception from industry critics across the world. The record sold over half a million copies in America. The album sales level was helped by two singles extracted from the album. First released was the title track “If My Friends Could See Me Now”, followed by “Runaway Love and Gypsy Lady” which spent a total of five weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Singles Chart, week ending April 29th 1978.
As a single, “If My Friends Could See Me Now” peaked at number one on Canada’s official dance chart the same year. The single “Runaway Love” also did extremely well by reaching the number three position on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles Chart the same week ending July 8th 1978.
In 1980 Clifford repeated her success with the single “Shoot Your Best Shot” from the “I’m Yours” album. The track went to number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Singles Chart along with the track “It Don’t Hurt No More”, which reached number one on the dance charts for four weeks, week ending November 15th 1980. The strings, horns and vocals on both the tracks were arranged by the late Isaac Hayes, who co-wrote the songs. The entire album’s vocals were recorded at the Curtom Recording Studios in Chicago and the rest of the album was recorded in the city of Atlanta.
After leaving Curtom Records and signing to Capital Records in 1981, Miss Clifford went on to have one more number one dance hit with “Don’t Come Crying To Me”, released from her 1981 Capitol Records album “I’ll Keep On Loving You”. The single peaked at number one week-ending April 10th 1982 (three weeks), accompanied by “Let It Ride”. The late Luther Vandross was responsible for vocal arrangements on five tracks on the album, which Included the two above-mentioned hit tracks.
Photo: Kira – Personal page at Flickr (Wikimedia Commons)