If you were a teenager at basement parties in the 1980’s or making slow jam tapes off the radio at the time, you know what it is.
Sandwiched in between the Isley’s Brothers‘ and Minnie Riperton’s subtle sexual lyrics on “Between the Sheets” and “Inside My Love“, along with Prince‘s explicit 1989 B side “Erotic City“, was an underappreciated group from Flint, Michigan that made a lasting impact in the early to mid ’80s with a few R&B and slow jam hits that still bang today.
Ready for the World came on the scene in 1983 with their hit, “Tonight,” where they moaned and groaned while cutting straight to the chase with the opening lyrics.
If you were a teenager present at basement parties at the time, or fond of listening to the Quiet Storm on the radio to record the hottest joints for your latest slow jam tapes, you know what it is.
“It’s getting late. Why are you still here, girl?
Have you made up your mind? You wanna make love tonight?
I want you to hold me!I want to be for real, girl, plee-ee-ee-ease tonight…”
Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America Tonight · Ready For The World Ready For The World ℗ 1985 UMG Recordings, Inc. Released on: 1985-01-01 Producer: Ready For The World Author, Composer: Melvin Riley Author, Composer: Melvin Riley, Jr. Author, Composer: Gordon Strozier Music Publisher: Songs of Universal, Inc.
And they punctuate all that pleading at the end, after a mean guitar solo, while signing off with, “Don’t you worry ’bout a damn thing, Giiiiiiirl, No!!!”
The song, written by band members Gordon Strozier and Melvin Riley when they were in 9th grade, was an instant hit in their hometown of Flint. Detroit WJLB radio personality – The Electrifying Mojo – got it on the radio in Detroit and it eventually became a smash hit around the country.
Their ode to cougar-dom “Love You Down”, where they declared, “It never really mattered to me/that you were just too damn old for me,” would become their second hit slow jam rising to #9 on the pop charts.
Music video by Ready For The World performing Love You Down. (C) 1986 Geffen Records
Men in their 50’s today who were teenagers back then with a suffocating crush on an older woman still get goosebumps as they croon,
“Remember when I drove you home from work?
I loved the way when you kissed me bye.
All your friends think I’m just too young for you,
You tell ’em, I can do what guys their age can do.
Oh baby, Let me love you down.
Even if it takes all night.
Let me love you down.
You know it’s got to be so right.”
Their dance hit, “Oh Sheila,” would become the first single to hold the #1 spot on all three charts – R&B, pop, and Hot Dance Club play – simultaneously.
Music video by Ready For The World performing Oh Sheila. (C) 1985 Geffen Records
Ready For The World has a new single out, “So Much Life” with the full album slated for spring 2019 along with a tour being headlined by Charlie Wilson.
Four of the original members sat down with The Shadow League to reminisce and talk about what’s on the horizon.
The Shadow League: How did “Tonight” move out of Flint to become such a smash hit?
Ready For The World: That was one of the four original tracks we recorded. After Gordon and Melvin graduated they took their money from the graduation and we all pitched in.
I (Willie Triplett) only had ten dollars to my name at the time, but we went into the studio and cut four records and “Tonight” was one of them. Gordon had the idea to take the record to the biggest deejay in Detroit at the time, Mojo.
They went down there and waited in the lobby, came across Mojo and took him to the studio and he played the record and the phones lit up. That was the start of our career.
We did release that record on our own independent label. Mojo had some attorneys who he turned us onto, and through him we released that record on our own label.
TSL: How old were you? And you had all met in high school, right?
RFTW: Yeah, we met each other competing against one another in high school. After one particular talent show, John Eaton, who was the bass player at the time, he gathered us all up.
Gordon Strozier and Melvin Riley had guitars and amps that we didn’t have. We kind of piece-mealed the band together. Gerald Valentine went to college. I (Willie) was getting kicked out of the band at one point because my father didn’t want me to play at clubs. We went through a couple of changes at the beginning, but that’s how the band started.
TSL: What was the inspiration to start your own label at that age?
RFTW: We were 17, 18, we had tried to get a deal with several labels and were turned down, so the attorney decided it would be a good idea to just release the record ourselves. We had pressed up and starting selling the record out of the trunk of our car and taking it to different record stores throughout the midwest region.
TSL: For us as teenagers at the time, “Tonight” and “Love You Down” were the first basement grind session slow jams we heard with racy lyrics. Talk a bit about creating those two songs.
RFTW: They were about my (Gordon) first sexual encounters. Melvin and I wrote “Tonight” in the 9th grade at my house.
TSL: Did you get any flak for the lyrics at the time? Or the moaning?
RFTW: Yeah, we got flak about it. From radio and our parents.
TSL: What did the radio say about it?
RFTW: Some of the stations didn’t play the song, but because the biggest deejay in the region in Michigan played it, and we were knocking MJ and Prince off the charts, everybody else had to join in.
TSL: You were competing against so many balladeers at the time –Anita, Luther, Prince, etc.
RFTW: Yeah, the labels had the ballads put out in the wintertime and the fast stuff was put out in the summertime. We always felt like we could do that better than what was being played on the air — that competitive nature that we had, competing against each other initially and then competing against the world, is probably what gave us our drive
TSL: Who were you musical influences?
RFTW: Cameo, Ohio Players, Jackson Five, Sly Stone, Parliament, Prince, The Time, Isley Brothers, whoever could deliver the funk and the ballads.
Two years after us, music had changed to New Jack Swing and rap was very heavy. Keith Sweat, Guy, Heavy D, were playing in the clubs, and gangster rap. We were able to do all kinds of music, but some of us weren’t paying attention to what was happening.
TSL: Do you feel in any way that you guys helped lead the way to the New Jack Swing era?
RFTW: I think to some extent we did keep up with that trend and we lost the priority at the label. The single, “Lot of Body” had that New Jack Swing feel but it wasn’t released.
TSL: You disbanded in 1992, what led to that?
RFTW: The lead singer went solo, the record label dropped the group and that’s pretty much how we disbanded.
TSL: What brought you back together?
RFTW: We had been writing all along. Now we are going around the country doing spot dates and we’re getting good feedback. Why not kick this thing off again? I consider it a reboot.