Today in Music History (May 28): The chart revenge of Gladys Knight & The Pips

May 28, 1983 – Gladys Knight and the Pips hit #1 with “Save The Overtime (For Me)”

After a tremendous run on Motown in the 1960s, and an even bigger set of hits on Buddah Records in the 70s, Gladys Knight and the Pips appeared to be entering the back end of their chart careers. They had had a decent hit in 1980 with the Ashford & Simpson gem “Landlord,” but there wasn’t much love from radio after that.

Enter, uber-hot producer Leon Sylvers, who had been burning up the charts with The Whispers, Shalamar and other stars of SOLAR Records for a half decade. He was enlisted to produce Gladys Knight and the Pips’ 1983 “comeback” album on Columbia Records, Visions, and he delivered an absolute gem that shot the group back to the top.

May 28, 1983 – Gladys Knight and the Pips hit #1 with “Save The Overtime (For Me)”

After a tremendous run on Motown in the 1960s, and an even bigger set of hits on Buddah Records in the 70s, Gladys Knight and the Pips appeared to be entering the back end of their chart careers. They had had a decent hit in 1980 with the Ashford & Simpson gem “Landlord,” but there wasn’t much love from radio after that.

Enter, uber-hot producer Leon Sylvers, who had been burning up the charts with The Whispers, Shalamar and other stars of SOLAR Records for a half decade. He was enlisted to produce Gladys Knight and the Pips’ 1983 “comeback” album on Columbia Records, Visions, and he delivered an absolute gem that shot the group back to the top.

Visions bore the distinct “Sound of LA” vibe, with hot dance beats and the distinctive funk bass that could be heard on such hits as Shalamar’s “A Night To Remember” and The Whispers' "Turn Me Out.” And it was led off with what became one of the great dance songs of the decade, the glorious “Save The Overtime (For Me).”

“Save the Overtime” moved the 39 year old Knight back into the dance clubs , and she tore the song up, turning the post-disco jam into an absolute gospel proclamation in a way that no SOLAR artist could. The song became an immediate R&B smash, and shot to #1 on May 28, 1983. Nearly four decades later, it remains one of Knight’s signature songs, and rightfully so.

Check out “Save The Overtime (For Me)” below. It sounds as hot now as it did in 1983.

By Chris Rizik

 

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