All About Love
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.
Song: Try Jah Love
Artist: Third World
Album: You’ve Got The Power (1982)
I can’t even attempt to find the words to explain how much of an impact this album has made around the world. How many Americans even remember the group Third World? You’ll probably think long and hard for a good half our thinking about their name, until you hear this song! This song is so unique, I still have trouble figuring out an appropriate category. You know it’s has a Caribbean element to it, yet some times it sounds more like American club music. Some might even dare to say it borderlines disco. Maybe this is one of the many complex mysteries of what makes this song not only so awesome, but attract so many people of all walks of life!
This Awesome Song Was Co-Written With Stevie Wonder!
Kind of by accident, I found out that the song was co-written along with Stevie Wonder. Stevie was inspired to write this song shortly after the heartbreaking death of the late Bob Marley. The song became an instant hit. Without knowing any stats, there is no doubt in my mind this turned out to be the biggest global hit of Third World’s career! It truly put them on the map. Probably, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it made them the most famous in America, in terms of reggae bands are concerned (next to the Wailers, and even then, most American people remember Bob Marley, and never think about the band playin’ in the background). Now, unfortunately, I think Billboard is tryin’ to charge $10 a month for Billboard Chart info (not gonna happen with me). So, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, “Try Jah Love,” supposedly reached #42 in the UK and #101 on the Top 100 Chart. That sounds wrong to me, I remembered that this song was just too popular in the Black community for those numbers to be right. Black clubs played this all the time, I heard this song throughout the streets of NYC. Those numbers can’t be right.
Again, I don’t mean to hop on this all the time, but it’s true. I’ve heard very few professional reggae performers or bands, were able to fuse their reggae culture with other styles of music and come out successful like this. If never before, this song certainly immortalized them, don’t you think? It’s a shame Spotify doesn’t have this original album, it has some good stuff in it!! If this album doesn’t spark any one of your memory cells, perhaps you’ll remember them for another hit about 4 years before called “Now That We’ve Found Love (1978).” Man…………….. If you don’t at least move your hips to either one of these songs, you’re just a deadbeat dancer. Straight up deadbeat. ?