Flashback Friday – Two Tons O’ Fun/Weather Girls

Two Tons O' Fun
They don’t need these dresses
They don’t need no jewelries’
They don’t their hair
These women can sing!

– Sylvester

My first exposure to Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes Armstead was when they were singing background vocals for Sylvester on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in the wee small hours of the morning back in 1978. They were all in flowing frocks with glittery head pieces. I remember their powerful background vocals on Sylvester’s hits “Dance With Me in the Disco Heat” (especially Izora bellowing “Get on your feet and dance to the beat and jam…”) and “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real.” I remember sitting on the porch late at night, listening to the quiet storm radio, and listening to Martha sing her heart out on “Taking Away Your Space.” Yet, it was in 1983 when I really got to know the music of Two Tons O’ Fun. A friend let me borrow a cassette of their 1979 self-titled album. This is back when the early Sony Walkman cassette players were all the rage. I nearly wore out the cassette listening to the lyrics of “Earth Can Be Like Heaven”:

Life is a see-saw
Up and down
It spins and it turns on
Like a merry-go-round
What you do comes back to you
To yourself always be true, cuz…
Earth can be just like Heaven
When you know you’re truly livin’
Life can be just like Glory
When you don’t tell a story
Always follow the golden rule
Do to others
As you’d have them
Do to you
Give a little, take a little
Put a little back
We’re all brothers and sisters
And that’s a fact, cuz…
Earth can be just like Heaven
When you know you’re truly livin’
Live and share with one another
Love each man as your brother

The words from “Earth Can Just Like Heaven” still ring true today. It will always be my favorite of all their music. The lyrics were meaningful and infectious without being gimmicky and if you heard it on a big dance floor, you could have your own slice of heaven. “Make Someone Happy Today” was another feel good song. “Taking Away Your Space” was a quiet storm hit and showcased Martha as a solo balladeer and “One-Sided Love Affair” speaks for itself with it driving beat and signifying lyrics. We flip over to Side A and it opens with the catchy dance classic “Do You Wanna Boogie, Huh?” followed by another favorite, “I Got The Feeling” which featured Izora on the lead. “Just Us” was always the song you heard near the end of the night in the club. It was mellow with a nice rhythm. “Gone Away” gave Martha the opportunity to soar like a beautiful sparrow. There was church in their sound with Martha high up in the rafters with her angelic voice while Izora could shake the ground from under you with her husky, pot-liquored tones. I also learned that Izora was also a classically trained pianist and sung arias.

Martha and Izora did one more album, Backatcha, as Two Tons O’ Fun before going to Columbia Records as The Weather Girls. They recorded albums, Success(1983), which yielded their biggest hits, “It’s Raining Men” and “Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas”), Big Girls Don’t Cry(1985), and The Weather Girls(1988). Their last two albums produced a few small hits but never captured the magic and production savvy of their earlier albums. Martha later pursued a solo career and Izora continued the Weather Girls with her daughter, Dynelle Rhodes.

I had the pleasure of seeing The Weather Girls in concert in 1986 at the the Vic Theatre in Chicago for $10. They gave a spectacular performance and it was definitely a fun concert. In recent years, I was always hoping for a Two Tons O’ Fun/Weather Girls reunion tour or recording. Unfortunately, Izora passed earlier this year. She will be greatly missed but her sound with live on forever.

Enjoy your music.

P.S. If you are looking for Two Tons O’ Fun/Weather Girls music, please check out the listings for Two Ton O’ Fun and Weather Girls on www.gemm.com.

5 Responses to “Flashback Friday – Two Tons O’ Fun/Weather Girls”

  1. ej says:

    Ironically, I moved to Chicago that year and only really started to understand The Weather Girls AFTER Martha Wash went solo…then I had to start backtracking to hear some of their earlier stuff.

  2. Casey says:

    Wow, what a flashback! I saw Two Tons o’ Fun open for the Thompson Twins in about 1982. The crowd of teenyboppers had no idea what to make of them at the time. But yeah, those women sure could sing!

  3. Bernard says:

    See… now I have to go home and pull out the Sylvester cds…. Izora singing on “You Are My Friend” still sends a good chill through me.

  4. Doug E. says:

    “You are my friend”, the live version. No one has EVER sung like that, ever.
    Those girls can SAAANG, ya’ll!!!

  5. eddie hall says:

    Love those girls!! Rest in peace, Izora.

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