Friday, January 17, 2014

Nicole McCloud - What About Me? (1985), Rock The House (1988/89), Love Town (1998) & So What? (2002) QUADRUPLE POST!!!!

Why not start the new year with our first QUADRUPLE post? I have been a fan of Nicole McCloud from the moment she emerged in 1985 with her breakout dance hit "Don't You Want My Love".  But not much was heard from her since her last album was released in 2002.  So imagine my surprise when I was switching through channels on TV late last year and saw a familiar face, looking almost as youthful as she did in 1985. She was on The X Factor US, and the voice was also familiar and amazing.  I waited to see her name, which was Lillie McCloud.  I was sure that it must be Nicole's daughter, but soon discovered after a second of searching online that it was indeed Nicole herself (Lillie is her real first name, while Nicole is one of her middle names)!  I was shocked that an artist who I followed and admired through much of her recording career was being presented as a new artist.  But I soon realized that, although she had a long career, she still remained unknown to the general public, and this was the best forum to bring her front and center and let the public experience what I already enjoyed about the lady.  Unfortunately she was eliminated on The X Factor in the fifth week, but not before she gained the admiration of the judges and an adoring new fan base.  While her heart is now in gospel music, she did eventually acknowledge her dance diva past after it was uncovered on the internet and created controversy.  Her past is now well-documented on the internet as a result, but I will give a bio anyway. ;) She was born in Rochester, New York, and after performing locally for years, finally got her big break in her 20s after meeting producer Lou Pace (who would go on to produce all of her albums).  Her amazing voice and looks got her a deal with Epic sublabel Portrait Records, who released her first single, a remake of Heatwave's ballad "Always And Forever," in 1985.  It was a minor R&B hit, but it was her next single, the upbeat "Don't You Want My Love," that would become her best known hit, reaching the top ten on the Billboard Dance charts and pop top 40 charts worldwide.  It helped that the song was featured on the soundtrack to the hit movie Ruthless People. (The song was also recorded by Isle postee Chantal Condor.)  It's success led to her debut album which, along with the previous singles, were released under the name 'Nicole' in most markets, though some releases used her last name as well.  Her next three singles, the Timmy Thomas duet "New York Eyes," "What About Me" and "Housecalls," were also minor R&B hits.  This led to her second album on Epic in 1988, Jam Packed.  The first single, "Jam Packed (At The Wall)," was again a minor R&B hit and the house remix brought Nicole back to the dance chart as well.  The next single "Rock The House" became an even bigger hit on both charts.  It's success led to Lou Pace re-releasing the album on his own label Oceana the following year under the title Rock The House, with different artwork and a reordered tracklisting.  The song re-entered the dance chart that year.  Despite the minor chart success, Nicole was dropped from Epic.  She wouldn't be heard from again until 1992, when she was featured on The Source's successful rave remake of "Rock The House".  The following year she appeared on three tracks on U.S.U.R.A.'s album Open Your Mind, including the single "Drive Me Crazy" (I had the album and always thought it sounded like her, but couldn't verify it was her at the time).  These collaborations led to the single "Runnin' Away," released in 1994, which became her biggest hit on the Billboard Dance chart thanks to the E-Smoove house mixes, reaching #3.  It would be re-released in many versions over the next four years, charting in the UK pop charts at #69 in 1996.  That same year she signed to Aureus Records and released a house version of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running," and it hit the lower end of the top 40 on the Billboard Dance charts. An album, Love Town, followed in 1998 (finally using her last name) and it was much more dance oriented than her previous albums.  It included "Runnin Away," "Long Train Runnin' (Without Love)" and "Rock The House", as well as "Stay In Love", which Isle postee Mona Q would have a Billboard Hot 100 hit with three years later.  Though two promo singles were released - "Missing You" and "I Ain't Crazy" - neither was a hit and the album went unnoticed.  Nicole kept at it, however, and joined Angel Williams and Simone B√∂hlhoff to form vocal trio Voices Of Freedom, who featured on dance singles such as "Lift Your Hands Up" in 1999.  In 2001, Nicole released "One Good Reason" on an indie Florida label, this time as Nicole J McCloud.  The song again hit the lower end of top 40 of the Billboard Dance chart.  An album, So What?, was released the following year and included remakes of some of her previous songs, as well as a version of "Tell Me Where It Hurts," previously a single by Isle postees Try 'N' Be.  The next single, "Search'n," brought Nicole back to the Billboard Dance chart top 10.  But she became discouraged with her music career, as she never wanted to be pigeon-holed as a dance diva, and it was not paying off financially.  Nicole left the industry in 2004 to raise her kids and moved to Slovakia with her partner.  Though she continued to perform and record occasionally, it wasn't until 2010, when she recorded the theme song for the Slovak version of Simon Cowell's Got Talent TV series, that she considered re-entering the music business full-time.  She moved back to the US and auditioned for the X Factor, and the rest is history (on an interesting side-note, another successful 80s based, Lou Pace produced diva, Donna Allen, competed on rival show The Voice the same year).  Now Lillie (she claims Simon Cowell called her by her first name after seeing it on her legal documents, so she continued to use it) is pursuing gospel music, and though that is not necessarily my fave genre, I am thrilled to have this versatile, underrated and amazing singer back in the spotlight where she has always rightfully belonged.

UPDATE:  Amazingly, Miss McCloud herself wrote me in praise of this post and more!!  Here is her message.  So VERY honoured! :) 

"Hello cool Angel,  Thank you for you kind words and your overview of my career...You have certainly did your research on my career quite thoroughly.  I would like to speak more about my recordings and experiences in Slovakia such as The TV Show (Show Dance and the song or recording Show Dance) and the TV Show (Slovakias Got Talent) and the song Slovakias Got Talent ) which I wrote the lyrics and melody along with partners who wrote the music. I also sang the lead vocals and background vocals. At the time of these recordings I had no knowledge about The X Factor. Such shows were not of interest  to me. I want to make it clear that I've never collaborated with Simon Cowell or the X Factor in any way prior to season 3. This was one of the rumors along with a few others which did bother me a bit but ofcourse not any more. 

I'm very proud of both  recordings in Slovakia and television shows. 

All the best to you my friend. 

Lillie McCloud
AKA Nicole J McCloud"

Live performance of Don't You Want My Love

Live performance of New York Eyes

 Download What About Me?

1 Don't You Want My Love
2 New York Eyes
3 Housecalls
4 What About Me
5 Always And Forever
6 Why You Take My Love
7 Ordinary Girl
8 Shy Boy
9 It Happens Every Night
 
 Download Rock The House

1 Rock The House
2 Desire
3 Let's Talk About Love
4 So Lost Without Your Love
5 Jam Packed (At The Wall)
6 Two Hearts Are Better Than One
7 Everlasting Love
8 Throwdown
9 He's So Romeo

 Download Love Town

1 Stay In Love
2 Runnin Away
3 Missing You
4 Love Town
5 Thinkin' About You
6 Live Your Life
7 I Ain't Crazy
8 Rock The House
9 Maybe Next Time
10 Try My Love
11 Dreamin'
12 Pray For Love
13 Long Train Runnin' (Without Love)
14 Missing You (R&B Mix)
 
Download So What?

1 One Good Reason
2 Search'n
3 Get Your Hands Off My Man
4 This House Is Not A Home
5 Lessons Of Love
6 Get The Hell Out Of Here
7 Why Should I
8 Tell Me Where It Hurts
9 Missing You
10 Stay In Love
11 Your Love Is King To Me
12 If You Come To Me
13 One Good Reason (Megamix)
14 Damn I'm Pretty
15 Don't You Want My Love 2002
16 Search'n (Remix)

4 comments:

  1. I love it when I'm introduced to a new "old" dance diva with a killer discography. Now I'm probably going to start tracking down her CD albums and singles. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for plucking these divas out of obscurity and placing that back in the public eye where they belong. Your work is much appreciated. <3

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  2. Nice post. I always liked her song on the Ruthless People Soundtrack. I had no idea it was also on her own album.

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  3. thank you!!
    i´ve been looking for this for a long time!!,
    and great post!

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  4. The live performance of Don`t you want my love is from a Dutch pop/rock show called Countdown. It ran from 1978 till 1993. Nicole was a guest on it because Don´t you want my love was a top 10 hit here in The Netherlands. It stayed in our top 40 for 9 weeks and reached #9 as peak position.

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