This section is for amazing artists from outside the U.S., and has broke international stardom.
On Billboard Hot 100 Chart, “Calm Down,” by Rema & Selena Gomez is at the #5th position. Now, I’m not sure if this song ever hit number one, but I do know that I’ve heard it played in my neighborhood at least about two months prior. This song has has a mixture of both African and Brazilian sounds. It’s a very catchy tune, and the rhythm is slow enough that people of all ages can dance and move their bodies too. It’s rare that I like music from artists this young. However, I think this song will satisfy people accross many generations. Take a listen!
Genre: Branches Of Rock/World Music
I really don’t have a lot of things to say about this band from Scotland. Other than “Magic (1974),” was written by two original band members David Paton and Billy Lyall and struck massive gold. The song had pretty much did fantastic around the world! Unless you lived through that time, it’s hard to measure just how popular this song actually was. On the UK chart it reached #11 and American Billboard ranked them at #5.
Sadly, Pilot Became A One Hit Wonder ?.
The song was so popular that Selena Gomez did a cover of the song for the Disney Movie “Wizards of Waverly Place (2009).” Granted I know most kids in that age group don’t know anything about Pilot, but it was sure cool to hear some of music histories greatest songs. There is another song they’re well known for (I assume the UK), it’s called “January (1974).” However, this song wasn’t nearly as successful as “Magic.”
Artist: Tom Gaebel
Genre: Contemporary Jazz
Ok guys…… The voice of today’s artist doesn’t exactly set me on fire. However, at the same time, I’m open minded enough to recognize that the song was put together very well. I find this song enjoyable. The almost Anthony DiNozzo Junior look-a-like (almost in swagger as well), hot tamale is from Germany, and has been around for a little more than 10 years. Although they’ve categorized him as “jazz,” or “contemporary jazz,” in my opinion, he more so borderlines “music standards,’ or Broadway sounds. This is the first time (I believe) I’ve listened to a singer where German is his native tongue, singing in English. I’m impressed. He’s got a sizable discography, very impressive for that genre. You know it’s strange, if I didn’t know his name or anything, and I just heard him on the radio, I would have sworn it was Classic IV. I must have a serious music passion, when I can relate almost any person, voice, or situation with a song. I’m pathetic… Yet, funny….. ? I guess it’s inevitable that I would be that kind of person.
But, guys… Seriously…. Sometimes it can be a problem when a song reminds you of another song, and you can’t remember, and you’re still trying to remember for weeks! ? I know I’m not the only one. But guys….. My Puerto Rican readers, tell me that the background instruments to this song “You Make Me Feel” doesn’t remind you of Bimbo Jet’s old classic El Bimbo?!?! ? I had the disco version growing up, and I played the shit out of that song. Another one that just kept ringing in my head like a darn commercial jingle. LOL. Although Bimbo Jet was actually French, it was huge in the Spanish community. Anyway, Tom’s music isn’t the kind of music I would gravitate to everyday. But, I did save this song to my library. If you like Broadway type music, go right ahead and look him up. By the way, the song was mixed by Dim Zach & Yannis. I’ve heard a lot of Dim Zach’s work, and he’s pretty talented in my opinion.
Song: Something About You
Artist: Level 42
Album: Level Best (1989)
Genre: Pop Music
Hi guys!! Do you guys remember Level 42? These guys had a couple of hits, however, as far as I’m concerned, they’re a one hit wonder (both in terms of American Billboard & as far as my personal taste goes). Level 42 is an English group from the UK. From my understanding they’re pretty popular in the UK. I wasn’t really in to their music tho. Unfortunately, when it comes to music from the UK, I can be extremely picky. Very few (relatively speaking) artists from the UK I can think of where I liked a LOT of their music.
They Were A One Hit Wonder, As Far As I Was Concerned!
I think their song “Something About You,” was one of the best UK crossovers that helped to close the end of another music decade. In 1986, the song peaked at #7 on the Top 100 Chart, and has became one of their most memorable songs. Now, there were a few other songs that made it on the billboard, however, from my understanding, they ranked better in the UK.
One example that did better in the UK, was their song called “Lesson In Love (1987).” The song peaked at #3 in the UK, however, it’s highest reach in the US was #12 on the Top 100. I was actually quite surprised how popular this song was in the states, I really never cared for this at all. Although technically their music is pop, at the same time, a lot of pop music from the UK sounds almost like a genre of it’s own. Listening to many groups from (then) the United Kingdom, were almost like listen to an eighties soundtrack similar to “Flashdance” type movies. ? By the way, please checkout this acoustic version of “Something About You,” it’s really really nice! I like that one.
Song: Troubled Mind
Artist: Everything But The Girl
Genre: Easy Listening
“Everything But The Girl.” What a name for a group huh? I actually discovered these guys way back when I was on Napster. The moment I heard the song “Troubled Mind,” I loved it! The song and composition is just perfect with her voice. Really really relaxing music. A lot of their music really should be put in a “Modern Folk” category, but I’m not sure if that’s an official genre? Well, music has evolved so much (culturally) in the last 50-60 years, we can literally place music in any number of categories. Even hip hop has so many sub-genres it can get quite confusing if you ask me.
I Thought I Never Heard Of This Group Before!
If Joan Baez was in her 20s again, I think this is what her music would sound a lot like, “Trouble Mind” today. I played this song so much, and at first, I really thought I never heard of Tracy Thorn & Ben Watt before. But I was wrong. They’ve actually been around since the early 1980s. Not only that, they had another hit song I was totally unaware was them! The song was called “Missing (1994).” That song took this London singing duo to #2 on the American Top 100 Charts! Also, for whatever reason, it was strange that I didn’t remember hearing the original hit (or radio edit). The only version I remember hearing of the song was the legendary DJ Todd Terry’s remix of “Missing.”
Looks like I’ve really took these guys for granted. Sometimes that does happen when all of a sudden you have access to almost the world’s entire music collection on your smartphone it seams! It just never occurred to me at the time to seek out more of their music. Now, according to some sources, I’ve read that they stopped performing in 2000, but I saw a couple of albums re-released. Not sure what that means. Sometimes when albums get re-released it means a reunion shortly after. So far, it doesn’t appear that they’re doing anything (at least in the US). I’m going to flip through more of their music soon. Check out this nice smooth house mix they have called “Wrong.”
Song: Soul Makossa
Artist: Manu Dibango
Album: Soul Makossa (1972)
Genre: African Jazz
If you are lucky enough to own this album, you own a part of Africa’s forgotten history. This is my favorite album of all times from Manu Dibango! And in my opinion, this is his greatest master piece! You will play from beginning to end! Depending on where you go, there appears to be digital variations of this album. This may or may not be because the album was released in many parts of the world, including Japan, Brazil, and France. And from what I observed in situations like this, quite often I’ve noticed slight edits to original music for different countries. If you cannot open your heart to this kind of music, you can’t call yourself cultural, or even diverse.
Americans never heard of Manu before, much less his music. But that all changed in 1972 when he released “Soul Makossa,” from his 1972 album called (you’ve guessed it) “Soul Makossa.” This song (well mostly instrumental) was a huge international hit! Although it reached only #35 on the Top 100 Charts (I still consider that a huge accomplishment, since most Americans were not listening to this kind of music (let’s be real about that)), it hit #11 on the American R&B Charts. Just imagine how huge that was! This incredibly talented, badass saxophonist from Cameroon, located in Central Africa, managed to rattle many music cultures around the world with his brilliance! While at the same time, forcing people to listen to music they would have never listened to otherwise. That’s deep.
However, today’s featured album is called “Gone Clear (1980),” which has a piece called “Reggae Makossa,” which is a remix of his original afro-beat hit “Soul Makossa.” It’s just a more smoother dance groove. In my opinion, this album is worth searching for, especially if you’re in my age group from the Island. I know you’ll enjoy it. Spotify doesn’t have the original album, but they do have the original songs scattered through out his other albums. My very top favorites from this album are “Doctor Bird,” “Goro City,” and “Full Up.” Manu is now about 85 years young, and much to my surprise, he is still performing! That is a man that loves music. Very few people are this dedicated. Off the top of my head, I can only count on one hand artist with that level of dedication. Celia Cruz, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Orbison, and Tito Puente, all of those people practically performed until their last breath.
Song: Johnny Too Bad
Artist: The Slickers
Album: Johnny Too Bad (1971)
Genre: Sweet Reggae
Ok… I know, in general we shouldn’t judge people. But, I’m betting almost any amount of money that, unless you’re an old school Jamaican, or West-Indian (with age, or “seasoned” as we used to say), it’s likely you don’t know this group at all. The even sadder part is, there is so little written about this obscure group that there is little chance of discovery, unless you come from a family connected with reggae history. The Slickers was a Jamaican group that performed mostly rock-steady style of reggae. The Band’s career in music was extremely short (around 10 years give or take).
Only Well Seasoned Folk Would Know About This Group!
It’s unclear to me why they disbanded. It’s a shame because their song “Johnny Too Bad,” literally catapulted their career in ways we could not imagine. I mean, they were in fact talented, there was absolutely no reason why their career could not continue. I couldn’t even find an original album for this song. Almost every work I found from the group have all been released as singles. Now, this could also be possible that if there were more albums, they may have been released only in the UK.
If after listening to this reggae gem, you still can’t remember, or figure out where you’ve heard this song from. “Johnny Too Bad,” was on the hugely successful soundtrack to the movie called “The Harder They Come (1972),” starring legendary singer Jimmy Cliff. You know, I’ll share with you something interesting about the movie soundtrack. Growing up, I’ve always assumed that Jimmy Cliff was the only artist that sung “Many Rivers To Across,” just because I never recalled anyone else covering it. However, while searching for more of The Slickers’s music, Lo’ and behold, they have an UK album called “Many Rivers To Cross (1976).” Wow, it was strange listening to someone else sing this song. I really like the Slickers’s version of “Many Rivers To Cross,” but, I don’t know, if felt a more emotional connection to Jimmy Cliff’s version. Maybe I’m just a little bias ’cause I love Jimmy’s music. What you guys think?
Artist: Spandau Ballet
Album: True (1983)
Genre: Pop Ballads
Ok, ok. If you told me that you never heard this song before; I would have said you’re lying (unless you’re under the age of 25-30)! This song was such a massive hit in the 80’s. It was a love song of all love songs back then. No matter if you were young, old, Black, White, everyone was singing this tune. This English group named, Spandau Ballet, took this song to #1 not just in the United Kingdom, but #1 in America (Adult Contemporary), #1 in Ireland, and #1 in Canada! Other countries such as France & Germany, the song was in the Top 10 range. “True,” remains to be one of my most favorite romantic songs ever! The song practically immortalized this group forever. This was their only massive hit of their career. Of all their works after the “True” album, only one song, “Gold,” made its highest peak at #29 in 1984.Vices Reserve
I have to tell yah……… The group “Free,” in my opinion, was one of the many most underrated rock bands in history. As someone who’s in to all kinds of music, I really felt that these guys could sing as a solid rock band. In London, 4 guys decided to come together and form phenomenal rock band; Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke, Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraiser. In 1968, these 4 guys became “Free.” It’s sad that they broke up within 5 years of getting together. It is unclear exactly why they broke up. I could only imagine it was probably about creative differences.
I guess in the end, it really didn’t matter, as two of the four members died as a result of poor health and drug issues (typical). Free struck gold, with their massive mega rock hit “All Right Now (1970).” The song peaked at #4 on the Top 100 Charts. The song was so popular, it not only made it’s way to a Burger King commercial, it also made Wrigley’s Gum commercial too. Interesting interview I’ve read with drummer Simon Kirke. He shared that “All Right Now,” was actually a song written after a bad gig one night. It was then that the group decided they must increase their tempo. Out of that meeting “All Right Now” was born.
I want to switch gears a little bit. As some of my long time followers may have already figured out, I also love listening to music of different cultures. I’d like to introduce to you a talented group named The Hygrades, from Nigeria. You know, as a whole, I normally don’t listen to a lot of Nigerian music, but when I do, I usually enjoy it very much. However, this group did not create traditional Nigerian music. From the 70s, 80s, and even perhaps the 90s popular Nigerian music had a unique sound that was unmistakably Nigerian. But, The Hygrades did not produce traditional Nigerian music. They made what they called Afro-rock.
Although, in my opinion, I hear more of funk infused with blues than anything else. Then again, 50s/60s rock wasn’t the same rock it is today; it was as though rock from that era deserved it’s own genre. The Hygrades made some good sh*t! Also, let me say, when it comes to music, I think every country/culture has their own specialty. Having said that, I always thought to myself, if you ever wanted to learn how to pick a stringed instrument, let a Nigerian teach you. Those guys can pick them some guitar, as though that guitar was a body part ?. It is extremely rare that we see American artists with this level of talent today. All the ones I can think of are all gone now! Like, the late Prince? Jimmy Hendrix? Or perhaps Bo Diddley? Not even them really, ’cause with the exception of Diddley, Prince & Jimmy strung a lot of long notes, whereas Nigerian strings are usually a consistent barrage of quick & complicated high pitched notes at the base of the guitar arm.
The Hygrades were put together by a producer named Goddy Oku, based in Enugu, Nigeria. They were eventually signed to HMV/EMI records, and produced many popular hits. “Keep On Moving,” “Rough Rider,” and one of my hot favorites “In The Jungle (instrumental version).” Unless you’re already familiar with their music, you’d never guess where these guys were from. If it were not for Spotify (not YouTube), I would have never rediscovered this group.
I laugh every time I see this album cover. I don’t know why but, they remind me of one of those Sy-Fy movies where the alien is disguised as a human, just waiting for the right time to eat your brains while no one is looking! LOLOL. Even their music was sort of space-aged. The attitude these guys are giving in this photo is liken to that of “Men In Black (1997).” No doubt a dated photo ?. The group I’m writing about to day is called “Soft Cell.”
No Doubt, This Group Was An Acquired Taste.
They were a really popular, and yet awkward 80s group. Marc Almond & David Balls both are from the UK, and they mostly perform synth-pop and new wave music. Well, let me tell ya, no matter how hard they’ve tried, no one seemed to like their music, with the exception of one song that became an explosive hit! It’s really a shame that the public did not take to their music (including myself), because I think Marc had a really nice voice. Maybe his voice just didn’t fit with the kind of music David was putting together.
Record sales were so low that their record label wanted to break the group’s contract early. However, both the label and the group agreed on one last try. The decided to do a cover of an old 1965 song by Gloria Jones called “Tainted Love (1982).” The moment the recording was released, it shot up to #8 on the Top 100 Charts. The song turned out to be the one and only final hit of their career. They’ve tried create that similar formula in their later albums; but their albums never took to music fans. In fact, it was probably their “final nail in the coffin,” as every other album after their hit sounded too much alike. Here is the original 1965 classic from Gloria Jones “Tainted Love.”
Aaah! You know, when I was practically still a baby, I believe this was the first album I remember seeing of Mr. Belafonte. I’m sure I still have the album somewhere ?. I’m just going to come out and say it. In America, unless you came from the Caribbean, almost no one thinks of Caribbean music; unless you’re dating someone who happens to by Caribbean; or someone is talking about going to a NYC carnival/West-Indian day parade. So many things you could be writing about for Black History Month.
Let’s see now. What we can say about the incredibly multi-talented and then very handsome, Harry Belafonte? Well, he was born on 1927! That’s right guys! That makes him about 92 years old now ? ! BTW, he still looks healthy and amazing! Belafonte wasn’t just a singer & actor, he was also a heavy civil rights activist and a humanitarian.
Tally Me Banana!
I think it’s safe to say that, when people hear the name Harry Belafonte (and if they do actually remember him), they would most remember him for his “Banana Boat” song released in 1956; sometimes called the “Day-O” song. And that maybe because the younger generation heard it used in the then popular hit movie called “Beetlejuice (1988).” By the way, I should add that another one of his popular songs called “Jump In The Line (1961)” was also in the movie as well. If I’m not mistaken, there was supposed to be a reboot of Beetlejuice this year. Not sure if the project was cancelled or not.
Anyway, Harry was so much more than just a Caribbean performer. You know, in today’s political climate, the news media always take shots at how many people in office who’s been entertainers. In reality, this is nothing new. I’d say what is new (probably), is the lack of characters of the “once a celebrity” politicians, etc. Harry had intelligence beyond his years, an intelligence that America then and today were not ready to hear. He surrounded himself with great men in their own right; Sidney Poitier and Charlton Heston. And BTW, Charlton also fought fiercely for Black rights during the civil rights movement. Some how Charlton’s name always gets omitted in conversations of Black history.
Did you know that Harry was one of Martin Luther King’s very few confidants? Harry also helped MLK and his family financially, because king made very little money as a preacher in the beginning. Wow, that’s what you’d call a friend. Not many of those today (sorry to say). Did you also know that in the mid 80s, Harry helped to organize the whole “We Are The World Project?” Harry did so much for South Africa, especially when it came to the A.I.D.S. crisis. Africa had it really bad, there were no resources for them, neither was there education about the disease. Again, Harry Belafonte was, and still is, the last of his breed. He truly not only has a pure love for mankind, but sees the undying need to help each other.Diamond Hemp
Sorry guys for not having a post yesterday. My computer died on me. You know how that goes ? Yesterday, I heard a song I didn’t hear in ages! It was as song by the late Joe Cocker. First, let me start off by saying that Joe Cocker’s voice may be an acquired taste. However, I personally found a lot of his music to be very enjoyable; and relevant I may add. I’ve never saw him perform in concert live (other than television). My first impression of Cocker was that he was a raving lunatic, but had soul.
I’m Thinking…. What The Hell Am I About To Hear!
I remember seeing an old live 70s performance he did on TV for the first time (I think it was one of those PBS specials); out walks Cocker, almost looking like a mini version of Andre The Giant (with the wild hair and all). Never in a million years would I have ever thought this man was a singer. However, the moment he opened his mouth, and I heard him sing what later on became my favorite song of his “You Are So Beautiful (1974),” I was absolutely stunned!
Let me tell you guys something. Generally speaking, you may not like his music, but the way that man performed that song, there is no question that he put all his heart and soul in to that song. After I heard him sing this, he earned the right to be called “Blue Eyed Soul.” I remembered my mom had his album on 8-track tape, and I used to sit down on the floor, and repeat track 4 over and over again. Mind you, 8-track tapes where not like the cassettes most people are familiar with today; there was no such thing as rewind (that I could remember).
Believe it or not, “You Are So Beautiful” was written by the legendary Billy Preston, and Bruce Fisher. Billy released this song on the B-side of one of his singles. That same year, Joe Cocker released his cover version, and the song hit #5 on the Top 100 Charts. It remains to be one of his most memorable hits of his life. By the way, check him out performing this song live with Patti Labelle. You may also remember him for another huge hit called “Up Where We Belong (1993),” featuring Jennifer Warnes. This song peaked at #3 on the Adult Contemporary Charts. Another hit was “With A Little Help From My Friends (1969).” This song reached #8 on the “Hot Rock Songs” category. You know, it’s interesting. Cocker abused his body so much with drugs, that I don’t think that it was no coincidence that he chose to cover this Beatles song.
Ok Rita, I’ll be nice for this post, and out of respect for your late husband. I wasn’t ever a fan of Rita Marley, wife of the late Bob Marley. But I guess I have to give her credit for her one hit. Well, sort of hit. “One Draw,” became a major hit in both the Black and reggae community. It was the only song I ever liked from Rita. It was a catchy tune, but unfortunately it only reached #48 on the dance club category. Despite my strong dislike for Rita, I think this song should have ranked much higher than this. Sometimes I wonder if the song being about weed had something to do with it. In the 80s, marijuana was an unbelievably huge debate.
At Age 72, I Think That’s It For Rita!
My late grandfather loved “One Draw.” The 12 inch single had what appeared to be a funny improvisation towards the end of the song. Kids talking to their teacher while smoking marijuana. Personally, I thought it was hilarious! I thought that was the best part of the song. So, I think this is pretty much it for Rita. She’s about 72 now, and I can’t see her making any fierce comebacks (if any). But, then again, she doesn’t need to. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Rita is valued at $50 million as a singer. But let’s be honest, her late husband, and her late husband’s estate had a lot to do with that. No one was taring up the record shops looking for Rita’s music. But you know, according to Modern Ghana, Rita’s house/recording studio was burned down in c. 2010. The article states that there was about 20 million dollars in damages.
You know, Bob Marley left an unbelievable legacy to the world, I’m just so sorry how his story ended. You really get to see the true colors of people when it comes to money; especially after a loved one dies. When Bob died, people wasted no time taking his estate to court, claiming unpaid royalties. Or even claiming birthrights. It was disgusting! Even The Wailers! The Wailers has been with Bob Marley since forever; why would they claim Bob cheated them after he dies? If The Wailers were such talented writers, how come I don’t see any new music on the charts since Bob’s death? It is not logical for anyone to work for a considerable amount of time for someone, knowing they’re missing substantial payment. Why would you do that? For charity? I digress. I’m sure the fact that Bob messed around with a lot of women did not make things easier either. Money turns a men in to animals.25% off Presidents Day Sale using code : Presidents25
Now, judging from the kinds of music I’ve posted in the past, many of my readers may be quite surprised to know that I love “Blinded By The Light,” recorded by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1976. I’m not sure what was it about this rock song I loved so much. Maybe it was the mixture of rock & space age sound effects? Sometimes I wasn’t sure whether or not I was listening to actual music, or listening to an actual alien invasion! 😀 This was their only major hit throughout their career. “Blinded By The Light” hit #1 on the Top 100 Charts in 1977, and stayed at #1 for a week. People still love their music tho. On Spotify, this song reached 20.5M plays, 2.2M Shazams, and about 16M additional plays throughout YouTube. By the way, did you know that “Blinded By The Light” was actually a Bruce Springsteen song, released in 1973 (I believe)? Wow, they almost sound like two completely different songs.