All About Love
Genre: Sweet Reggae
This was probably my most difficult handpicked playlist yet!! ? I know it seems like I say that all the time, but it really is true. These days, it’s really hard to find a good cover song. Because either the artist’s voice don’t fit the song, or the musical arrangements are just terrible. I much prefer the 80s covers and older. I know a lot of artist feel like they can sing and do anything the want. However, as a fan of music I beg to disagree. I think a true artist is honest enough to know when a song doesn’t suit them, and if you try to force sing it, it only makes it sound worse. I think the most problem I usually have is with the musical arrangements, particularly today’s cover songs from certain countries. Many cover songs today (both Reggae and some American songs) appear to have a distinct sound; tunes that sound as though the artist purchased their first Yamaha keyboard (earlier models) with artificial drum beats and other electronic “push button” flat sounds that try to mimic other natural instruments. These kind of equipment makes the end product sound outdated, karaoke*ish, and sometimes like an amateurish live performance. Therefor, I’m extremely particular about the covers I listen to.
I’m Extremely Particular About The Covers I Listen To!
So, now that I’ve aired out my pet-peeve, I’d like to draw your attention to a great female reggae artist known by one name, Fiona. Fiona recorded a few covers, but my most favorite cover she did is a song called “You Don’t Know My Name,” which was recorded by Alicia Keys. It was upsetting to know this got so little plays on the streaming platforms, because in my opinion this song is freakin’ amazing! So much great music overlooked. I guess the young people aren’t interested in true love songs anymore; they’re only interested in what they can jiggle their ass to. Another amazing cover I highly recommend you check out, is a female artist known as Natty Bong. She released a cover called “Royals,” which was written and performed by Lords. Natty Bong’s cover got over 5.5M plays from just Spotify alone. It’s a really great song! Check it out!
Enjoyable Cover Songs Are Harder To Find These Days!
Let’s go back a little further in time. 1961 to be exact, when the late Peter Tosh released his cover of a song called “Here Comes The Sun.” The late Peter Tosh recorded this song with the legendary reggae band, The Wailers. “Here Comes The Sun,” was originally written and performed by The Beatles (if I’m not mistaken). I’m shocked as to how many reggae musicians done so many covers by them. Then again, I forget that their are a LOT of British reggae performers.
The Most Shocking Was Bob Marley’s Cover!
I have to say, I think the most shocking cover I ever heard was by the late Bob Marley, when he recorded a song called “Sugar Sugar,” which is the original theme song for the 1968 TV cartoon, The Archie’s. The reason why Bob’s cover shocked me was because, of all the diverse American covers made in to reggae, I just never pictured someone like Bob Marley to do this kind of music. Perhaps it’s because my mind associated his music with political messages, and cartoon themes just wasn’t on my radar. Today, I could see it, but not then. Check out my playlist, I have plenty more surprises in it. I hope you enjoy!
Artist: Hanson & Davis
Album: Can’t Stop (c. 1988) (2010)
O-M-F-G!!!!!! Talk about obscurity!!! ? These guys were thrown into obscurity like a Barry Bonds’ fast ball!!! Then again, let’s be honest… The whole freestyle genre kind of died along with it’s cousin disco (shortly after). I don’t think that enough credit has been given to the freestyle genre. Perhaps this was because this music was predominantly produced by the poor Black & Latino communities. Make no mistake, freestyle was a money machine. Yet, you’d never know it in the 80s, because mainstream news never really gave it the time of day (unless there was no other news to report).
Great Memories Of Being In The Record Shop!
Listening to freestyle music gives me many fond memories of spending hours upon hours in the record shop. Shit, I remember being in the record shop for so long, I had back pain a many of times, because I was slouching over looking for that “gem” of a record. Back then, shop owners would play a record for you before you bought it. Some record shops even had multiple turntables with their own headphones, as each customer had an opportunity to play the music before they buy. That whole experience made music so personal, and I really really miss that. Now, vinyl records are not only a luxury, but a rare specialty that costs music fans significantly more.
I’m Dumbfounded That These Guys Aren’t In Any Greatest Freestyle Hits Album!!
I’m really devastated and shocked that these guys do not appear in any of the classic freestyle compilations. Well, at least I have never seen any. Their song “Hungry For Your Love,” was so popular! I literally don’t understand why it did not register anywhere on the top 100 charts, or even the top 200. I heard this on the radio ALL the time! Talk about overlooked talent! There was a category I didn’t even know existed, called “U.S. Club Plays,” which I guess it was the equivalent of poor people’s dance music, or music that wasn’t considered “real mainstream music.” In this category, the song reached #16th position. Other than that, they got no real recognition. The duo broke up after only about 3 years.
Song: Fast Car
Artist: Tracy Chapman
Album: Tracy Chapman (1988)
Genre: Modern Folk
I’m pretty sure that anyone under 20 years of age has never heard of Tracy Chapman. As far as I’m concerned, I most definitely consider her a classic music legend. I also consider a huge legend of the LGBT community as well. For someone of the LGBT community to receive such a positive and accepting response globally was and is still very rare. Only a handful of LGBT icons have reached mainstream level. Perhaps the most widely known are Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, K.D. Lang, and Boy George. They’ve all made music that is literally timeless! We can listen to this kind of music in any point and time, and never feel their music sounds “dated.” Artists today just don’t have that kind of skill anymore. This is what happens when your career is purely driven by money, and not by the art of music.
I Always Thought She Was A Handsome Young Man! LOL
I was about 21 years old when her album called “Tracy Chapman (1988)” came out. I think I heard her smash hit on the radio “Fast Car,” then I went around begging my friends to tell me who that person was singing on the radio. Back then, cassettes was still the preferred way to consume music. When I first saw her picture on cassette, I said to myself “wow, that’s a cute guy.” Now, keep in mind, guys still had “Tracy” as a first-name, and sometimes both guys and girls would spell it the same way. So I still had no idea he was actually a she at first. LOL I really didn’t care to be honest, I was just digging her music. “Fast Car,” reached #6 on the billboard charts. Pretty impressive for a new LGBT artist on the scene at the time.
It’s Unfortunate That Her Peak Success Only Lasted Her Second Album!
Although only one song from this album was a hit, the entire album is quite good! I consider her music a “modern folk” type music. I haven’t enjoyed good folk music like that since Jim Croce. The entire album is relaxing, and it is playable from beginning to end. This is one of those “coming to age,” type albums. Come to think of it, that kind of music was very common for the 80s. You should check out “Across The Lines,” and “Baby Can I Hold You,” are two of my favorite songs from the album. Her next huge hit would be a song called “Give Me One Reason,” from her “New Beginning (1995)” album. The song shot up to #3 on the Top 100.
Song: Owner Of A Lonely Heart
Album: 90185 (Deluxe) (1983)
Well, today’s title should not be mistaken to mean “phenomenal,” I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a joke of this band’s name. YES. I know some heavy rock fans may hate me for this, but, this was not a favorite band of mine at all. Then again, I’ve also said many times before, rock music was never a significant genre I played a whole lot of. Although, I didn’t particularly care for their music at all, they produced one massive hit that became my one and only favorite by them.
There Was Only One Major Hit As Far As I’m Concerned!!!
This song was huge enough that I’m sure even the most mediocre music lover has heard of. The song was called “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.” The song reached #1 in America, and remains to be their biggest hit here. I should mention that they do have several hits under their belt, they’re just not in my taste. Songs such as “RoundAbout (1972),” and “I’ve Seen All Good People (1981).” Maybe I should also mention that this group comes out of the England/UK. I’ve always been really particular with music that comes from the UK. I like UK music almost as little as I enjoy rock music (in general). You know, I always used to get confused when I heard “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” on the radio back in the day, because this particular song reminded me so much of “The Police.” It sounds very much like the kinds of music The Police would do.
Song: Let Your Love Flow
Artist: The Bellamy Brothers
Album: The Bellamy Brothers (1976)
Of all the genres I’ve written about, this is probably about the second country band that fell in to the black obscure hole. Well, at least to those who may not be serious country fans. I think folk who like country music tend to have a better memory of obscure country artist than any other genre (I think anyway). I can’t say that I was really in to The Bellamy Brothers’ music very much. However, I do think they were talented tho. If I heard them on the radio I’d listen and usually enjoy, but I wasn’t moved enough to buy their records.
The Bellamy Brothers Where One Hit Wonders!!
However, I was hooked on one song they recorded called “Let Your Love Flow.” I was about 8 years old when this song came out. The song not only shot up to #1 on the American Billboard Top 100 Chart, it also did well in Canada and Australia. Spotify has them registered as over 61M plays. Understand (well, at least in my opinion) that that number is huge, when you consider there was no music streaming in the 70s or 80s.
Their Love Definitely Flowed Directly To Their Bank!!
There is no question that “Let Your Love Flow” was the song that catapulted their career (in my opinion). From the little information I gathered from the Billboard Charts, it looks like this was their only official number one hit. Only two other songs registered on the charts. A song called “Satin Sheets (1976),” which reached #75th position. And a song called “Hell Cat (1976),” and reached #70th position. All 3 were actually on the same album. “Hell Cat,” was actually a great song. It’s a shame it did not claim hire than it did.
Song: I Think I Love You
Genre: Young Pop
Wow, I guess I’ve been blogging and tweeting for so long, I can’t even remember if I’ve written about certain artists anymore ?. But, who cares? There will always be someone who didn’t see, and what you don’t see is still considered “new” in my opinion. I’m almost willing to bet that I can’t find at least 10 of my young readers who know about the legendary Partridge Family! Which is a shame, because although many young people today might not connect with classic music artists, kids in my era did watch a LOT of TV. You’d think that more young people would remember something of their parents playing or watching The Partridge Family.
You Should Remember The Partridge Family, We’ve Watched Too Much TV Not To!
You know, growing up, I never really liked guys with very long hair. But, I discovered that some are the exception to the rule (I guess). Perhaps it’s that “swagger” that my elders used to speak of? Some guys are born with a particular kind of energy that can get away with doing things that others can’t. David Cassidy’s swagger added to his sex-appeal, which is why he had hoards of female fans. I mean, girls screamed for him in the same way they did for Elvis. In the 80s, girls were still drooling over him. Back then, guys like him were called “Heart Throbs.”
David Cassidy Was The Group’s Bread Winner!!
If I remember correctly, none of The Partridge Family were actual professional musicians with the exception of David. In fact, David was the only one who knew how to actually play an instrument. Even the scenes with the young Brian Foster or Suzanne Crough (I can’t remember which) that played the drums on the show, all of that was fake. They did it in such a way that it looked realistic. I’m not sure of their singing though, since David has always been lead singer since I can remember. Sometimes it’s hard to figure those things out. For all we know, the family’s faces could be on the album purely to associate it with the show.
Only David Was The Real Musician!
As to whether these guys are legendary music artists is debatable. I guess depending on who you talk to, and which category you put them in, either actors or performers. Regardless, there’s no question that they’ve played a role in music history tho. Their biggest hit is a song called “I Think I Love You (1970).” I can’t find the billboard position for this song, but Spotify alone shows 15M streams just on this album. To my understanding, the song was so successful that almost immediately after, he started working on a solo albums. He did a cover of a song called “Cherish” which was originally recorded by a group called “The Associations.” It was very well done. It actually sounded a lot like the original. Another favorite of mine I think you should checkout, his song called “I Woke Up In Love This Morning.” I used to play this song all the time. Unfortunately, David died in 2017 of liver failure.
Hope all my readers are doing well. I decided to create a great playlist today, highlighting some of the most popular Black R&B hits of 1962! As always, this playlist contains a total of 20 handpicked extremely rare and hard to find hits! I think it’s safe to say that my young readers most likely never heard these songs before; but I do hope that you take a listen because they are all a part of our Black music history! The kind of music I think your parents would be proud that you’re now exploring ?
Forgotten Black Music For Sure!!
So, the first highlighted songs on this awesome playlist, is an extremely rare song called “Tear After Tear,” performed by the legendary Pattie Labelle and The Bluebells. They were recorded live at the Apollo, a time when the establishment was at it’s peak in popularity. They sang the shit out of this song! Now, you may say that their music in this era were no different than say, a Mary Wells type music, however, Pattie’s voice gave this song it’s own identity (sort of speak). I hadn’t been born yet when this song was recorded, and I hate to say I never saw Pattie perform live in person before. However, every person who told me they had seen these girls perform before, they’ve all said to me it was a sight to see!
Limbo Rock, Was One Of The Biggest Global Ethnic Songs Ever Made!!
The song called “Limbo Rock,” was one of the most popular songs I remember growing up. It was so popular, it was almost as though, if you were a musician, and you did not perform things song, you weren’t shit! In fact, I dare to say that it was even bigger than what a lot of 30 year olds may remember a song called “The Macarena (1996),” that stayed on the charts for a whopping 60 weeks!! Herb Albert’s genre really isn’t R&B, he’s music is more along the lines of movie score type music. But, I really liked his interpretation of “Limbo Rock.” I think he pulled it off well, since it seems a lot of his music was inspired by Brazilian culture. I think Herb’s reinterpretation of this song was severely underrated. I love his piece because he sort of kept it’s original form. However, Chubby Checker recorded the first vocal version in 1962, and it exploded! Chubby’s interpretation hit #2 on the Top 100 Chart, and although it only stayed number two for only about 2 weeks, the song eventually became a household party novelty. That’s correct! “The Twist” wasn’t the only major hit Chubby was known for.
Limbo Rock, Eventually Became A Household Novelty!!
I love me some Esther Phillips, and “Release Me,” is probably my favorite of all her songs. I would consider her the queen of R&B personally speaking. When I hear her voice, she reminds me a LOT of the late Nell Carter, they both have that nasally type voice (but a good soulful sound rarely heard). You know when I hear songs like Esther’s “Release Me,” I understand why streaming services want to do away with genres, and more towards “mood music (if you will).” Because hearing this for the first time, I hear R&B, but in reality this is a country song. I think it was Ester’s unique voice that turned the song soulful. Check out my playlist. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Artist: William DeVaughn
Wow…. I wonder how many people remember this guy? When I was growing up, he had a massive unforgettable hit that invaded Black communities everywhere! I doubt anyone under the age of 40 has any knowledge of who he is (unless their parents were cultured enough to play music like his). William DeVaughn, now 73, is an R&B/Soul singer with a 50+ career in music. However, as far as my memory goes (and what I see in my research) he only had one hit within that fifty year time span. What an eerie and strange coincidence, that his one and only hit song was called “Be Thankful For What You Got,” as if to say the song itself is what he should be thankful for. ?
His Curtis Mayfield Like Grooves!
It is very clear that Curtis Mayfield had an influence. I’m not sure if that means he literally had a hand in it, or the song was inspired by Curtis’s music. What’s interesting is that he worked in government at the time, and paid almost $1,000 dollars for studio time to record the album. Various members of MFSB helped with background music. I think this is interesting because rarely have I heard about someone working in government, turned hit musician. I guess he also had connections on some level as well. Usually stories like these are told about celebs who were waiters, fast food workers, etc.
“Be Thankful For What You Got,” climbed to #4 on the Top 100 Charts, and #1 on the R&B Chart, as well as selling over a million copies. According to what I’ve read, Williams had another hit called “Blood Is Thicker Than Water (1974),” from the same album. The song reached #10 on the R&B Charts. I don’t remember ever hearing this song before, but as I listen to the song on YouTube, it sounds too similar to “Be Thankful For What You Got.” I really hate it when record companies used to force artists to literally recreate replicas of various songs. Not only does it actually cause the artist music to become boring after awhile, it becomes harder for fans to find their music, because we couldn’t figure which album to buy.
Song: Rum Is Macho
Artist: Mighty Sparrow
OMG ?! I can’t believe it! I NEVER expected Spotify to have this entire album! Like I’ve always said, this is why it’s a good idea to use a streaming service for your core music needs, instead of YouTube. The Mighty Sparrow was HUGE in Jamaica and throughout the West-Indies. I guess here in the United States as well; we had a large population that heavily migrated here during the 1990s. However, growing up, it appeared that I only heard Sparrow played among my elders. Despite Sparrow almost exclusively performing calypso, I can’t recall hearing too many young people (my age then) interested in Sparrow’s music. But, in the music world, Sparrow was just as important and influential to the Caribbean, as Tito Puente was to the Latin community! Sparrow was literally dubbed “The King Of Calypso.”
Sparrow Brought Back Huge Childhood Memories For Me!
This album brought back a flood of childhood memories for me. Now, I can rehear this entire album in all it’s digital 320 bitrate glory! This album represents the best times I had when both my grandparents were alive. I can literally still see them dancing, laughing, having fun, and not giving a shit about what’s going on outside their world. We really take for granted how impactful music is in our lives. Music is the one thing that helps one to forget family drama, even if it’s for a moment. I have to say though, I was shocked to shits when I heard my late grandfather say he hated Sparrow?! He said he only played his records because grandma liked them. LOL… I couldn’t understand why? However, to be honest, some of Sparrows music does kind of sound repetitive. That’s one of the downsides when record labels “keep that same money making formula.” Perhaps that’s what grandpa hated.
You Might Not Like His Music, But It Did Not Stop Him From Playing A Major Role In Caribbean Music!
This fabulous album is a 2 vinyl set. This is truly a Caribbean collector’s item. But, I was shocked that Amazon had this album for only $32 ?. But then again, I discovered that there exist 3 versions of the albums. The original Trinidad & Tobago version, and about 3 US versions that probably were more likely remixed. I know I have the original, and what’s in Spotify’s library is the original music as it was, so I’m not sure what are the differences that made the price so low. UPDATE: it was a used album on Amazon, so it more than likely was not in mint condition. “Rum Is Macho” was the one song that was played a lot in my family. Also, I remember “London Bridge,” and “Gu Nu Gu,” being a family favorite too. Check out this album when you get a chance. If you want to hear what REAL calypso was like when I was growing up, then listen to this album. ?
Song: Dance With Me
Artist: Earl Klugh
Album: Finger Paintings (1977)
Genre: Instrumental/Easy Listening
Wow… Not only do I think today’s artist was incredibly handsome (and still is), he is incredibly talented! Yet he is so very underrated. Very sadly underrated. He has done a beautiful job of covering some of my most favorite classic songs, reinterpreting them in such a way that his music forces you to just relax and enjoy! There aren’t many artists that has that kind of power today. His style is definitely uniquely his own. If I had to describe his music, I would have to say it’s like modern day Black folk music. But, despite the fact of how wonderfully talented he is, his albums ranked very low on the billboards. On average, most of his albums are below #100 position on the charts.
Today, I Consider Klugh To Be An Unexplored Gem!
I guess the reality is, he’s a jazz musician; and like it or not, jazz is a world onto itself. Billboard’s rating calculations do not reflect the true talents of a jazz artist. Reason being, they’re not mainstream, as in a comparison to a pop artist. As far as I can tell, the only instrumental piece of work he’s done that was received very well by music fans, was today’s pick called “Dance With Me.” “Dance With Me” is actually a song he covered by the band “Orleans.” When I heard Klugh’s reinterpretation, I kept playing it over and over again. It was so soothing and wonderful to listen to. He’s one of those few artist that at times actually appear to make his guitar “sing.” Almost as tho his guitar had vocal cords. I guess this is the difference between an artists that plays because he needs money, and an artist that feels the music as he plays. Big difference.
He’s One Of The Few Artists That Can Make His Instrument Sing!
Another great instrumental piece I love from Klugh happens to be on the same album. It’s called “Dr. Macumba,” which has a relaxing mixtur I e of African and Brazilian energy to it. Another amazing cover he did recently came from his 2013 album called “HandPicked,” which got absolutely no attention, was from the legendary Eagle’s massive hit “Hotel California (duet with Jake Shimabukuro).” If you haven’t heard already, I really think jazz lovers will really love “Wishful Thinking (2005),” from his “Lovers Only” album. If I understand correctly, this piece actually hit 1# on the Jazz Chart. Last one, check out his piece called “Living Inside Your Love (2005),” from his album “Living Inside Your Love.”
Song: I’m Not In Love
Genre: Easy Listening
The group 10cc is probably the biggest rock group of my time (in my opinion). Although they’ve been officially categorized as a rock group, their biggest hits of all time (with the exception of one) are technically in the real of easy listening. If you were into rock music, their name was easy to remember, and music that was unmistakably their own. I’ve often wondered why did they pick 10cc as a group name. There were many different reports, but the last one I’ve read, producer Johnathan King it came to him in a dream. Not to stereotype artists but…. It was a fact that most 80s rockers lived a particular lifestyle, and I think their name more likely came from the drug lifestyle. I suppose we’ll never know the real reason (if any).
They’re One Of The Greatest Rock Groups Of My Time!
10cc has gone through a lot of changes during their 40+ year career. Members came and gone, on and off again relationships. However, during that time they’ve managed to keep their fans. They’re definitely loved practically all around the world. One of their biggest hits I’m in love with, is called “I’m Not In Love (1975).” The song hit #1 in UK, Canada & Ireland; #2 in the US, #3 in Australia. This was a very, very popular song. I haven’t heard anything that was composed like it before. It sort of makes you want to listen to it because it’s so unique. But it’s also a beautiful love song, about a many who loves a woman so much that he can’t get his thoughts straight. Very well written if you ask me.
Collectively Speaking, They’ve Crushed The Music Charts!!
Just to give you an idea as to how huge “I’m not in love” was, as of today Spotify has this at 150M plays, I’ve only looked through a couple of YouTube plays and I stopped around 20M. Shazams has about 2.5 discoveries. I can’t find anything on iTunes, but I’m confident the numbers are around (if not more) that of Spotify. The fact that we’re living in a streaming culture where it appears a significant majority abandon the classics….. That’s freakin’ huge! Then again, to be fair, there is no way we can measure the people who are still faithful to their vinyls and cassettes. Decades later after they’ve released this song, there is no question that music fans still love them.
After 45 Years, Fans Are Still Grooving To This Song!
Some other great songs on their hit list you might remember is “The Things We Do For Love (1977),” from their “Deceptive Bends” album. This song hit #1 in Canada, and #5 in the US. A really, really great song that depicted our culture in the late 70s. Unlike the United States, the UK still has a strong reggae culture there. Songs like “Dreadlock Holiday (1978),” hit #1 in UK, Belgium, Ireland, and Dutch. However, in America it only peaked at #44 on the Top 100 Chart. There’s another reggae song called “I Don’t Like Cricket (I Love It) (c.2015).” Unfortunately, I don’t see any chart information for this song, but I remember hearing it quite a few times. It’s a remake, but it’s a great song nevertheless.
Song: I’ll Take You There
Artist: The Staple Singers!
I have to be honest, I didn’t listen to a whole lot of music from the Staple Singers (at least their earlier music anyway). I don’t think there was any particular reason for it (I think). Then again, when my elders played any sort of christian music, it tend to be more traditional music, whereas the Staple Singers’ music seemed more secular. Come to think about it, even @ the beginning of their early music carrier, some people may say it’s gospel, but a lot of the music I heard were more borderline hint of rock music. Almost comparable to a softer version of what Fats Domino would perform. That was a no no for many christian folk when I was growing up.
Their Music Commanded Your Attention!
Unfortunately, because I wasn’t really into a whole lot of christian music growing up, I really don’t have a feel for the scope of their success in the christian world. However, I would imagine they were pretty huge, because in the secular music world, they exploded like a megaton bomb! They would later produce songs with heavy funky beats that would not be ignored! There biggest hit that I remember growing up was a song called “I’ll Take You There (1972).” Fifty years after it’s vinyl release, and into the age of streaming, on Spotify alone they’ve racked up over 83 million plays. In my opinion, that is huge, especially since we’re in an age of short-term memory.
No Doubt, Their Music Has Immortalized Them, Even By Non-christians!
I mean, you either never heard their music before (if that’s possible), but remember their name; or you hear their music and get a rush of nostalgia! There’s just no way you can hear “I’ll Take You There,” and not get an urge to move your body. Even if you don’t like to dance, you will move your body just because of the sheer fact that the song played a major part of our history. At the Cash Box, R&B Chart, & Hot 100, all at #1 placement. In South Africa, the song reached #7. It is incredibly rare that a song hits #1 in so many categories. A christian song at that. Very rare indeed.
They’ve Also Produced A Hit Song To A Soundtrack!
Another song I really loved by them was a song called “Let’s Do It Again (1975).” It was a soundtrack to the movie comedy “Let’s Do It Again,” starring Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and Jimmy Walker. I was actually taken back by this song. When I listened to the lyrics and compared them to their other music, I would have never expected them to perform something like this. Both songs are super super secular. Another huge favorite of mine was “Respect Yourself (1971).” I loved songs like these growing up, because even back then, we knew the powerful effects that music had in our lives. If Black artists wanted to give a reminder to their fans about certain negative behaviors in our community, or just share political awareness, the best way to do it is put it in our music! “Respect Yourself” reached #2 on the R&B chart, and #12 on the Top 100.
Song: To Where You Are
Artist: Josh Groban
Album: Josh Groban (2001)
Genre: Easy Listening
Wow! ? Throughout my music listening life, I’ve been exposed to many, many different type of voices and singing styles. It is extremely rare that I discover beautiful male voices such as today’s pick. Sometimes you come across talent to where there are no other words to describe them, but to say “he has the voice of an angel.” Funny, because (at least in America) when we use phrases like that, it’s usually in reference to a female. Perhaps, indirectly, our attitudes about male culture has subconsciously effected the way most male performers perform.
Josh Possesses Incredible Vocal Control!
I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out who can I compare his music to, and he’s so unique that I just can’t at the moment. But, if I where forced to make one, he’s almost like what Barbra Streisand may have sounded like if she was born a male singer. In my opinion, I think that is a fair statement. When I first discovered Josh’s music, I was working in a very well known electronic retail store decades ago. Back then, many retailers had prerecorded paid advertisements that would play on the loud speaker, on a loop! Actually, it was more like listening to customized radio recordings designed to sell to the customer. The recordings were a mixture of commercials and new music (pre-release).
The First Time I Heard Josh’s Voice On Speaker…!
I completely forgot what I was doin’, but I’m pretty sure I was organizing store products on gondolas or something like that, when I heard Josh’s voice for the first time. The store was playing his then hit song “To Where You Are.” I said to myself, who the f**k is that? I fell in love with his music ever since. It was the only time I didn’t mind hearing the pre-recorded tracks on loop, because I looked forward to hearing his song again. Back then, music streaming really didn’t catch on yet, so I had no idea that he had quite a few albums before hand.
I’ve Heard Quite A Few Of His Televised Performances!
I’ve seen many of his live televised performances, and let me tell you, his voice is a force that cannot be reckoned with! Again, some of the best male performers I’ve heard don’t posses the vocal control he has. There is no question he has been classically trained. Some other songs I recommend you check out are, a duet with Barbra Streisand called “All I Know Of Love,” and a solo called “You Raise Me Up,” is a wonderful inspirational song (very heart felt). He also did a wonderful live duet with Celine Dione, with a song called “The Prayer.” Like I’ve always said earlier, I normally don’t like to listen to live recordings, unless I’m also watching it. But, they both did a wonderful job the this song. By the way, since I’ve mentioned Celine Dione, you should check out her duet with Andrea Bocelli, also singing “The Prayer.” Absolutely beautiful.
Genre: Various Pop Music
Coming at you with another diverse handpicked playlist. Lots and lots of great music we were exposed to during the year 1977; but only a fraction of those songs made it to my playlist! Oh, no! It wasn’t because I didn’t like the majority of them, it’s because I don’t believe in random song dumping!! You’re getting the best of my personal favorites from the year 1977, in an easily digestible playlist. As I was researching, I realized that 1977 seemed to have been a good year for Rock ‘N’ Roll music. Rock music that I actually liked! And I said before, I am very picky when it comes to rock music.
You know, 1977 Seemed To Have Been An Excellent Year For Rock Music!
A good example of some good rock ‘N’ roll hits that came out of 1977 was Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” The song peaked at #10 that year. Although the song was already a popular hit, I don’t think it really became more well known, until they hooked up with rap legends Run-DMC. It was a big deal, because Run-DMC became the first rap group to merge hip hop and rock. A year before, they had an even bigger hit I’m sure most of my readers remember, called “Dream On (1976)” that peaked at #6 on the Top 100 Chart. You know, a lot of people make fun of Steven Tyler’s looks. But, the fact of the matter is, that man has an exceptional voice that was made for rock music, and has pumped out a lot of hits for the band.
Run-DMC Was The First Rap Group To Merge Rock With Hip Hop!
The song “I Wanna Get Next To You,” by legendary band Rose Royce, in my opinion, is one of the most romantic and sexiest music that ever came from an all Black band. Back when I was growing up, we called this kind of music, “Baby Makin’ Music.” ? The song reached #10 on the Top 100. Yesssss!!! Surprise!! They’ve got other hits besides “Car Wash.” Although, it appears that their album “Car Wash,” seemed to be their one and only best album (comparatively speaking at least).
We Called It, Baby Makin’ Music Back In The Day!
Another great song I’ve added to this playlist is called “The Rubberband Man,” by the legendary group, The Spinners!! I’m not sure the hell why, but every time I heard this song, it always reminded me of The Harlem Globtrotters. The song has absolutely nothing to do with them, but I have no idea why my mind is associating this song to the legendary Harlem Globtrotters. Perhaps it was used during one of their games? Maybe, I don’t know ?. I loved The Spinners. They’ve had hits after hits, after hits. Highly recommend that you look up their music. I’ve chosen 20 amazing hits for this playlist. I do hope that it jars some memories for you guys. Enjoy!
Song: Love Come Down
Artist: Evelyn Champagne King
Album: Get Loose (1982)
She was once the queen of dance/funk music. But, today, people barely knows who she is. Perhaps they may vaguely remember hearing one of her tunes, because they heard their mother or father play it once, or maybe twice. It’s hard to accept that fact that there was a time her music burned across dance-floors in just about every club in NYC, and now, Evelyn who? Strange that I don’t even remember hearing her music in many 70s parties ?. In fact, she was one of the few music performers (along with perhaps the Mary Jane Girls) that helped to make hair beads extremely popular in the Black communities (med/late 70s).
She Was The Queen Of Dance, 70s and 80s!
Now, as far I can tell, Evelyn never had a number one hit on the Top 100 List. However, on the dance categories she has had 2 number ones, and 6 Top 10 hits. Perhaps her biggest and most memorable hit (I think) was a song called “Love Come Down (1982).” Despite the fact that I haven’t personally heard any classic radio station play her music since the mid 80s, fans continue to show her support on streaming services. “Love Come Down” alone accumulated over 40M streams! That’s pretty cool considering the major culture shift America has been undergoing for years.
Evelyn Had More Hits Under Billboard’s Dance Category!
Another huge favorite of mine was “I Don’t Know If It’s Right (1979).” I was surprised to find out it reached only #25 on the dance chart. I played this record on practically every family party back in the day. It had an unusual (and still distinct) recognizable beat. Another hit I used to shake my ass too was “Shame (1978).” This song was my sh*t back in the day! This was one of those songs that sounded so good, you didn’t care how crazy you looked on the dance floor ?! One last song for ya. Check out her #1 dance hit called “I’m In Love (1981).” I totally forgot about this song. This was my sh*t too. I highly recommend you skim through her music. She’s totally worth investigating! Seems that Evelyn (now in her 60s) hasn’t come out with a new album in quite some time. But, according to wiki, she is still actively performing.
Artists: A Variety
Genre: Ska & Rock Steady
Since playlists are so incredibly important, I decided to do another one this week. Today, I want to focus on a forgotten music label called Trojan Records. Coming from a family of heavy music lovers and performers, growing up, I can safely say that Trojan Records for reggae artists was the equivalent to Motown for Black American artists. In terms of the hits they pumped out, and the tremendous contributions they’ve made to Black music in general. I really don’t think, not just Americans, but other countries around the world would have ever known what reggae was, if it were not for labels like Trojan Records.
Trojan Played A Pivotal Role In Reggae Music!
Like Motown, Trojan employed many hit makers such as Toots & The Maytals, Bob Andy, Peter Tosh, John Holt, Marcia Griffiths, are just a very small fraction of the very talented people they had on their raster. Trojan is actually a British label, that was formed some time in 1968. As far as I know, the label has strictly dedicated itself to ska & rock steady type of reggae. To be honest, I can’t even recall ever hearing calypso from Trojan (at least when I was a young boy anyway). Today I’m not really sure if the label is producing new music. I can’t really find a whole lot of new stuff, with the exception of re-releases of their old music. Traditional reggae is such beautiful music! It just hurts my heart that it’s become “an old fad” in America. Almost never to be listened to again, as if it ran its course. Huh! Again, just like Motown! When Berry Gordy sold Motown, when last have you heard any advertisement for anything Motown? They had no interest in keeping the memory of Black music, only to own the value of it’s name.
Trojan Is Actually A British Label!
Trojan is now under Sanctuary Records. It doesn’t appear that Sanctuary has produced a lot of (or if any) new reggae under their name either. Please think about this for a moment. Trojan was affiliated with more than 30 other Black reggae labels (which I’m sure Sanctuary also owns or have license to), and I’m having difficulty finding new Black reggae music from them. However, they’re offering imports of their old music for extraordinary amounts of money. Another reason why music streaming is so important! So that poor people who can’t afford that kind of money for those rare reprints/originals, still have another way to access our history for practically free!
Reggae Music From Trojan Records Almost Feels Extinct!
Ok, a little about my new hand-picked playlist?! The process of putting together this playlist was sort-of difficult. Because it is not an American label, I can’t find chart information as easily as I’d like. Most if not all don’t even have chart information. I had to really rely on my childhood memories, my mom’s vinyls and my late grandpa’s reel2reel tapes and vinyls, and pretty much start diggin’ through several hundred music streams ?. Out of about 800 Trojan tunes I’ve curated, I’ve narrowed them down to 40 treasures for this playlist. I really think people from the Island around my age will enjoy this list most definitely; and hopefully it will jar some memories for you too! Yes?
After Hours & Hours Of Listening, I Made The Perfect Classic Trojan List!
Soooo, some of the great artists I have on this list includes the great Desmond Dekker & The Aces, with their hit called “Shing A Ling.” This wasn’t Dekker’s biggest hit, but I loved this song anyway. You’d probably are more familiar with one of his bigger hits, such as “007 (Shante Town) (1967).” By the way, I wish I was able to find more information about the above photo with Dekker in it. I noticed the sign in the photo mentions Byron Lee (not pictured (although I’m sure it’s the guy with his head turned the other way, but I’m not certain)). My late grandfather absolutely loved Byron Lee. Byron was HUGE in the reggae world. In my opinion, he was like the reggae version of Tito Puente ?. Speaking of Byron Lee, he was also on the Trojan label. One song by Byron my late Grandpa used to play a lot was called “Only A Fool (with Sparrow)(1977).” Ahhh, this was such a beautiful record. Byron also had another huge hit called “Tiney Winey,” and I believe it was released in 1984. Now, I know I said early in this article that I hadn’t heard any calypso music out of the Trojan label. But here’s the thing, with songs like “Tiney Winey,” artists often change labels, sometimes labels get taken over, sometimes they’re also under sub-labels that specialize in a specific genre. It’s really hard to know what’s what.
Byron Lee Was Almost Like A Reggae Version Of Tito Puente!
Next, I have the legendary Millie Small, who many Americans would be shocked to find out she was actually from Jamaica! Unfortunately I never considered her to have a really talented voice. However, she exploded in the music scene when she released her one massive hit “My Boy Lollipop (c.1964).” The song hit #2 on the top 100 American Billboard. Unfortunately, Millie past away in early 2020, at the age of 72. A lot of famous artists on the Trojan label also made some awesome covers of American music. “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” by John Holt; “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” by my girl Marcia Griffiths; “Don’t Play That Song For Me,” by Derrick Morgan; and plenty more on this playlist. I hope you enjoy!!
Genre: A Variety
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve made a playlist, huh? I think I need to make more of an effort to create them. Putting together a quality playlist can be just as much work as writing an article (believe it or not) ?. It takes a lot of thought, research, and knowing how to blend songs that go with one another. Anybody can copy and paste random stuff; but a bloggers playlist is the one you’re more then likely to enjoy. I’m not quite sure why I picked the year 1984 for today’s playlist. However, it happens to be one of the best years for memorable pop music. It’s funny, the 80s has made such an impact for many of us of this era, but I can’t even remember what I was doin’ when each of these songs came out.
Can You Remember What You Were Doin’ When These Songs Came Out?
Now that I think about it, in the 80s I considered myself a club kid. So, I can associate dance music with a club I might have went to back in the day (because I was physically there). For all other music genres, perhaps I was listening to them during mundane activities ?. Well, I didn’t realize there were a LOT of hits that came out of 1984. However, I had to narrow them down to 30 amazing songs in this playlist. Pretty mixed genres in this new playlist (you know how I do).
I Just Know That Most 80s Babies Will Love This Playlist!
So, let me talk a little bit about what’s on this playlist. One 1984 song that was an absolute must for this playlist, is a song by one of my most favorite 80s pop band. The Miami Sound Machine’s “Dr. Beat,” a wonderful mix of disco infused pop! By the way, did you know that Gloria Estafan has a new album coming out? She released a single for the album called “Cuando Hay Amor.” It is a Brazilian inspired album. According to an article I’ve found, the full album is expected to be released on August 13th. Another great song I have on this playlist is “Careless Whisper,” by the late George Michael. I’m telling you, with all the hits that man pumped out, I think “Careless Whisper” is the one song people will forever remember him by.
Side Note: Gloria Estefan Has A Brand New Album Coming Out Soon!
Then I have “It’s Raining Men,” by two vocal powerhouses called, The Weather Girls!” Marsha Wash, and the late Izora Armstead, were hot in the 80s. “It’s Raining Men,” was not only a great and fun song, it seemed to appeal to everyone! Whether you were young, old, gay, or straight, on any given day you can usually catch someone singing this song while walking down the street! Another favorite of mine on this list is a song from Elton John, it’s called “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” You know, Elton is the only performer I can think of, that can turn a song that would normally be sad as hell, and make it upbeat and desirable to listen to. He truly has that gift of music. For more songs, click on my playlist above, and enjoy!!
Song: I’m Dreamin’
Artist: Christopher Williams
Album: New Jack City (1991)
Genre: Hip Hop/New Jack Swing
Girls!! Girls!!!!!! To simply say that today’s old school artist was just “good looking,” would be an extreme understatement. This dude was foooinnneeee!!! OMFG!! ?? One thing is for sure, if he did not make it in the music industry, I’m pretty confident he would have made it as a model for one of those high class magazines or something!! Unfortunately, Christopher Williams is another forgotten artist. Even during the prime of his career, I felt he was extremely underrated. In many ways, he reminded me a lot of Johnny Gill, in that their voices doesn’t match how they actually look. One thing that unique about his music, there wasn’t too many artists that possessed a soulful voice performing New Jack Swing type of music. New Jack Swing music (in my opinion), seemed almost exclusive to young males, dancing & harmonizing kind of groups.
Can You Guess Who Christopher Williams Is Related too?
Al B. Sure, and Christopher Williams are actually cousins! Come to think about it, they look so much alike they can actually pass for brothers in my opinion. However, Al B. Sure did not have Christopher’s soulful voice! I don’t see a whole lot of current information concerning Christopher, yet alone his relationship with Al B. Sure. At this point I think it’s safe to say that Christopher just feakin’ lost it. And when I say lost it, I don’t mean that figuratively either. If you’ve ever seen recent pictures of Christopher, he has totally lost whatever good looks he had left. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that he is on drugs. Please note, I’m not being judgemental per-say. Anyone who has lived in the hood knows, street drugs accelerates the aging process, and does f*cked up things to people’s faces. Now that he is older (52), he looks horrible! Absolutely horrid. Sh*t, he was married to Stacy Dash for a couple of years, that alone could have screwed his life. ?
Christopher Williams, Busted!!
My suspicions of his drug use was further confirmed, when he was busted and arrested for stealing a $100 headphone! And because I know automatically, most of you will not believe me, check out TMZ‘s article. This happened ruffly about 3 years ago. What a damn shame!! A voice like that; a man that was reported to have a net worth of about 5 million; caught stealing a $100 JBL headphone. WTF?
Sadly, Christopher Lost The Magic That Made All The Girls Go Wild!
It appears that the last album that Christopher recorded was in 2001; the album was called “Real Men Do.” I gotta be honest, although I can still hear the talent in his voice, I think he lost that 90’s magic he had. I just don’t hear it anymore. However, he did release a couple of singles in the recent past. There’s one I really like called “Proud 2 Long (2018).” I think “Proud 2 Long” is a really nice song, and is probably the best we’re gonna get out of Christopher (compared to his heydays). Well, despite never having a number one hit, or at least a Top Ten on the Hot 100 category, he most definitely had a #1 voice.
Song: Back Together Again
I’m pretty sure I remember writing extensively about the late Donny Hathaway on my old blog. However, I don’t believe I shared one of my biggest favorites by him. His amazing duet with Roberta Flack “Back Together Again,” was a megaton hit as far as the Black community growing up. This song was “Black barbecue” worthy music! Released in 1980, the song reached #8 on the Top 100 Charts. Interesting that (according to the billboard chart) the song also reached #8 on the R&B charts as well. I thought this should have been number one, as the song practically became an anthem in the Black community.
Duets Seemed To Have Been Her Specialty!
You know, in my opinion Roberta Flack is amazingly talented (at least in the studio, I’ve heard quite a few of her live performances and they were boring as hell (sorry to say)). However, I couldn’t help but to notice that about after her third album, a lot of her well known hits seem to have been duets. And she’s done quite a few of them! I find that interesting as well, because she must have had good professional relationships with people in the industry. Artists normally don’t get to do duets with huge names unless you’ve been in the industry for decades (with more than one or two major hits under your belt). I guess her three #1 singles “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face (1969),” “Killing Me Softly (1973),” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love (1975)” were big enough to make everybody want to work with her! LOL Although, it doesn’t appear she’s written any of those 3 songs.
I’d Say, Roberta Has Sung Some Of The Most Romantic Music Of Her Time! Without Any Exaggeration!
You know…. Even today, when I listen to Donny’s old music, I’m still in complete shock that he lived with mental illness all those years! Performed for millions and millions of people, yet he was mentally impaired. In someways it’s fascinating to me how as an artist he was able to access the creative side of his brain, yet separate the mental illness (or at least kept it at bay for as long as he could). We truly lost a phenomenally talented man in my opinion. Imagine if medicine knew then what it knows now, I think he’d still be a live. No reason he wouldn’t be.
Sooooo Many Covers Of This Great Song Was Done!
“Back Together Again,” was such a great song, unless you had absolutely no talent, there was no way you could have messed up this song! ? So many covers by so many different artists it was not funny. Check out some of my favorite cover versions by Maxi Priest, Tony Mombrelle & Chantae Cann, Tony’s house remix of this song is hot too! Also check out the legendary Freddie Jackson, and finally, listen to this smooth jazz cover by Gordon James.
Artist: Michael Martin Murphey
I don’t know guys, I may or may not turn you off with today’s selection? But, like I’ve always said, my tastes are extremely diverse, and that quality is one of the reasons why I decided to start this blog ?. If you asked me which “go to” genre I loved the most, that would be a really difficult question. Perhaps that question would be easier answered, if I broke them down by era. My primary genres really depended on the decade I was in. I think in the 70’s I was drawn to more “easy listening” type music, which included country. I may be bias, but in my opinion, I think the 70s yielded some of the best love ballads of all-times.
A Love Song Between A Man And His Horse!
Now, let me give you some real context. A male country artist (in the 70s) can write a song about his love for a pony, and become a successful hit! I can’t even remember anywhere in time, any American has a song about any animal (not even a dog, and Americans love dogs) and became a massive hit ?! I don’t believe this could be done today, even with the most ardent country music fans.
His Song Made High Scores On The Billboard!
Murphey’s song “Wildfire (1975),” hit #1 in Canada. In the U.S., it hit #1 on Easy Listening, and #3 on the Top 100 Charts. It’s still a beautiful song tho. Very calming, as well as a beautiful story behind the lyrics. Murphy has had quite a few hit songs after “Wildfire.” About 11 Top 10 Hits to be exact. He also one a few awards for some of his albums. However, I’m sorry to say that I only loved “Wildfire.” Not that I thought his music was bad, I just wasn’t drawn to it. If I were to be honest, I think it probably was because he performs traditional country, whereas my country tastes are a little more modern than that. So, I can’t say he’s a “one hit wonder,” just only loved one song. Today, Mr. Murphey is around 75 years old.
Song: Sexy Eyes
Artist: Dr. Hook
Genre: Soft Rock
To my small young readers, I know that today’s group is most likely waaaaay before your time, and perhaps out of your league. ?? I know these guys probably look like a bunch of winos by today’s standards. However, don’t let looks fool you! These men where very talented, and produced quite a bit of hits under their belt. You know, it was kind of confusing…. Growing up, I’ve always assumed that the lead singer at the time, Ray Sawyer (the one with the eye patch), was Doctor Hook. Turns out I was wrong. The band’s name was actually “Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show,” but it was later shortened to just Dr. Hook.
This Group Had Natural Soul!
This band had a natural soulful sound that I really liked. By looking at how they looked, I would have never pictured in my mind how good they sounded. They produced several of my favorites for the 70’s/80s era. One of those biggest favorites is “Sexy Eyes (1980).” I still love to play this song on occasion. The song did very well on the charts. Canada & New Zealand had this song at #1, U.K. was at #4, and in the U.S. it reached #5. It’s such a great song. If you meet someone new, and you needed a song to try and court that person, this song would be perfect I think ?. You know, despite this song being fully obscure, I mean, I haven’t heard any radio station play them in about the last 10-15 years. The song managed to racked up almost 19M streams on Spotify alone (perhaps more). That’s pretty damn good for an artist that’s been forgotten by many music fans.
Sadly, The Group Only Stayed Together For Barely 16 Years!
Unfortunately, for various reasons, the group did not stay together long. Although, I guess some people would say 16-17 years is still a long time to have enjoyed their music. By the time 2010 rolled along, two members have died from complications of their illnesses. Even Dennis Locorriere had his own battles with cancer before he eventually left the group (if I understand correctly). Update: Just saw an article that Ray Sawyer just past-away last year. Now, according to WIKI, the band discontinued some time in ’85. However, I found Dr. Hook’s website that kind of looks like their still active, practically made up of entirely new people (with the exception of Dennis Locorriere).
Two More Great Songs!
I would like to end my blog post with two more great songs. I think “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman (1979),” was their biggest and most memorable hit in my opinion. It received even more streams, over 28M plays! The song did very well around the world, ending with the U.S. on the top 10 charts! Another huge favorite of mine, and was also hugely popular “Sharing The Night Together (1978),” with 28M streams under their belt. This is the kind of great music I grew up with as a child.
Artist: Carla Thomas
Album: Gee Whiz (1961)
Genre: True R&B Music
Oh my goodness. Today’s artist appeared to be sooooooooo underrated. Well…… Maybe underrated isn’t the word I’m looking for. Perhaps the word I’m looking for is unacknowledged. Carla definitely had the gift of voice in my opinion. She appears to have a tenor voice with a wide key range. The beautiful thing I loved about Carla’s voice was that, she simply sang. She wasn’t one of those artists that tried to do a bunch of acrobatics with her vocal chords. She just simply sang, and her soul poured out.
She Has Phenomenal Tenor Range!
Her hit song “Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes) (1961),” was her biggest hit of her career. This was such an amazing song. Although she had other songs that did well on the Billboard Charts, this was her most notable, ever. The song shot up to #10 on the Top 100. She sang the shit out of this song, and I really think it should have been #1 instead! But, in the end it doesn’t matter, because that song still immortalized her forever (among my generation). If I am not mistaken, this was actually from her first album. She was signed to Atlantic Records, which was just as an important label for Black artists as Motown was back in the day.
Carla is also known for her many hit duets with the late Otis Redding. Songs like “Tramp (1967).” By the way, I don’t know how many remember, but Salt -N- Pepa sampled “Tramp” on their 1986 album called “Hot, Cool & Vicious.” She had another hit duet with Otis, it’s actually a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood,” which they’ve recorded in 1967. I was delighted to discover that her music has not been forgotten. Her 1966 hit song B-A-B-Y was included in the soundtrack for the movie “The Baby Driver (2017),” co-starring Jamie Foxx. By the way, did you know that the late Isaac Hayes written “B-A-B-Y?” Yup, he sure did. He was truly a hit maker.