Classic Groove Music
Song: It’s Mashed Potato Time
Artist: Dee Dee Sharp
Genre: Dance Grooves
Shamefully, although I remember this artist as though her music was out yesterday, however in the music world today, she has drifted towards the vacuum of obscurity. This woman was once one of the hottest acts of the 60s! She could have easily been another Mary Wells as far as I’m concerned! Her biggest hit came during the 50s-60s dance craze era. The song was called “It’s Mashed Potato Time!” The song was released in 1962, and became an instant hit! It reached #2 on the Top 100, and #1 on the R&B charts, making it the biggest song of her career! This song was so popular, she had the nerve to come out with another song called “Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes).” Now that I think about it, it was completely hilarious.
Mashed Potato Time, Was The Biggest Hit Of Her Career!
Now, just think about it for a minute. This song was released more than 5 years before I was born, and remembering hearing this song even as a very young boy, tells me just how majorly popular this song was! Come to think of it, I never did learn how to do “The Mashed Potato.” Even if I wanted to, there were just too many dances goin’ on to keep up with all of them anyway. These dance crazes were so important for the Black community back then. It was one of the very few things that helped us deal with the massive racism.
I Never Did Learn How To Mash Potato! ?
Despite her big dance hit, I think she was also extremely underrated as far as her other music. Dee Dee had an incredible voice! I am just dumbfounded that (at least when I examine the music charts) music lovers only responded to her dance music and not her ballads. I guess it is possible that fans were so moved (hard) by her dance music, they really didn’t want to hear any other type of music by her. However, I highly recommend that you check out some of her ballads. She’s made some incredible covers too!
I Highly Recommend That You Check Out Her Ballads!
One badass song I think you should check out, is a song called “I really Love You (1965),” the musical arrangements for this song was perfect! As far as I’m concerned, this was an ignored gem, barely reaching #78 on top 100. Also listen to her cover of Jerry Butler’s 1958 hit “For Your Precious Love (c.’60s),” a lot of people refuse to believe we are losing our culture; her cover of this song doesn’t appear to be listed anywhere on Wikipedia. Even on discogs I had trouble finding (had to use advanced search! WTF?). So sad, it’s an amazing song. Listen to her cover of 10CC’s 1974 hit “I’m Not In Love (1975),” you know the way she sings this song, she reminds me a lot of the late Nancy Wilson. Lastly, check out her cover of Jackie Wilson’s 1958 hit song “To Be Loved (1963).” At the age of 74, she is still performing!
Song: Beautiful And Dangerous
Artist: Desmond Dekkar
Genre: Sweetest Reggae
You know, I’m not trying to brag, or make myself better than any other classic music blogger. We all celebrate the classics in our own personal way. However, I just want to say what makes my blog special from 85% of blogs in cyberspace, is that it IS a music history blog! Not a collection of random YouTube videos grabbed by a query some lazy programmer written. There’s truly a difference between an automated “blog,” and a blogger that handwrites his or her articles, and shares his/her memories. I am literally telling you a story and sharing my childhood with my readers. I’m pretty sure that at least more than half of what I’ve written, no other popular blogger is writing about. Except for, those stupid and pointless “happy birthday” photo posts on Facebook. And even then they still don’t know shit, if they need to find birthdays.
The Late Desmond Is A Forgotten Reggae Legend Now!
Again, unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any sort of billboard information to share with you. All I can do is share some of the most popular music I remember growing up. Desmond had recorded a LOT of music, and all the so called “reggae fans,” doesn’t seem to have heard of Desmond. When in fact, I remember his song “007 (Shanty Town) (with The Aces)” to have been his most popular single of everything he’s done in 1967! Actually, another song that was just as popular I heard growing up is “Israelites,” released in 1968.
I Loved Desmond’s Cover Of “You Can Get It If You Really Want!”
I really loved his cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” c. 1970s. Both versions are wonderful really. In addition to a lot of political songs, he performed some love songs too. Although the lyrics to “Beautiful and Dangerous” are a little confusing to me, I still love how the background music was done. It remains to be one of my many favorites. I do recommend that you take the time to skim through some of his albums. I know most reggae fans will find something of his they’ll enjoy.
Song: Sitting In The Park
Album: TWO (1980)
Another amazingly talented band that has been forgotten. Even when I’d visit 70s/80s parties, maybe once or twice I’ve heard their music played. This awesome band formed in the Bronx, New York, sometime in the late 60s. Their history is hard for me to trace, as they’ve performed under different names & different music labels. Their music genre was mostly disco. They almost had a Chic, sound to their music in my opinion.
They’ve Produced 2 Unforgettable Hits!
Most older folk would probably remember their monumental #1 R&B hit “Disco Nights (Rock Freak) (1979).” I used to dance the hell out of this song. One of the very few songs I’ve heard where R&B and Disco merged beautifully (in my opinion). You may also remember their cover of Billy Stewart’s 1965 classic “I Do Love You (1979).” Their rendition did very well, reaching #5 on the R&B chart. However, from that same year (I believe) there was another cover they did by Billy Stewart, and I don’t recall the song receiving a whole lot of buzz. It’s called “Sitting In The Park (1980).” They did a beautiful job with this song as well, and I appreciated how they kept the essence of the song in tact, without changing the song completely. It reached #9 on the R&B Chart. Unfortunately, the groups ended before 2000. Keith Crier (above, first left) passed away, and the remaining group members eventually went their separate ways doing other things. So sad.
Album: 112 (1996)
I’m sitting here grinding my teeth, as I am forced to consider that this song needs to be placed in the old school category. Not because I don’t feel this wasn’t an awesome song back in the day, but because it feels like only yesterday! It was 24 years ago this song hit the radio waves. Yet, how many 30 or 35 year olds are playing their music today? Well, I guess the reality is (like I’ve mentioned numerous times before), with the new age of music streaming, there’s just too much music we now have access to, and I believe this is at least 50% responsible for the loss of Black music history. In fact, just the loss of overall American classic music in general. The other half is households simply not playing enough classic oldies. We’re not so far in the future where no one possesses vinyl records anymore! Shit, I still own a lot of cassette tapes from my teenage years for goodness sake!
They’ve Made Many Collaborations!
Their song “Only You,” is probably my most favorite hit from the group. It reached #4 on the Hot 100 Chart. Personally speaking, I definitely feel this song has earned the right of being “barbecue cookout worthy!” 112 has done many, many collaborations with other artists/groups. However, I felt they were so talented, they really didn’t need to. This was probably my biggest pet-peeve when the 90s came along in regards to music. Every new and up coming artist was encouraged to collaborate with another to better promote themselves. I hated that because I saw how easily a group/person can become other artist’s “sidekicks.” Or even backfire, and be seen more of a backup singer, or an extra of some sort.
But, I’m happy to say that a lot of those hookups with other artists proved to be extremely beneficial. My most favorite song was a cover they produced along with a group called “Allure (remember them?).” That song was called “All Cried Out,” originally performed by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Man, I played this song so much, I’m surprised my CD did not turn in to dust. I was pissed to find out it only peaked at 18 on the Hot 100 Chart. I’m sure it had to have been at least #1 on the R&B chart. Spotify alone has it at 5.5M plays, and keep in mind this was long after streaming was even a thing.
Their Biggest Collaboration?
I’d have to say their biggest collaboration in my opinion has to be Puff Daddy, with the release of “Missing You (1997),” a tribute to B.I.G. Another huge hit by 112 you shouldn’t forget is “It’s Over Now (2001),” which reached #6 on the Hot 100 Chart. Over creative differences, the group left Puff Daddy’s label and signed with Def-Jam around 2002. But, I don’t believe these guys had repeated the same level of success under Def-Jam as they once did under P. Daddy’s label. Although they did have a top 40 hit called “Hot & Wet (2002)” featuring Ludacris, but that was about the extent of it (I could be wrong about that). Honestly, I think Puff had his hand on this song too. Puff really was the golden producer of his time. They should have stayed with Diddy.
Song: Seven Minutes Of Funk
Artist: The Whole Darn Family
Please forgive me. I don’t mean to annoy my readers by beating that same dead horse. But, this group is an example of why we can’t allow our music history to fade away! It’s such a disgrace that I could only find little information, or sometimes no information at all on these forgotten artist & bands that helped to change history. I am so darn pissed yo!! Black folk need to start blogging! For real.
You May Not Know, But You Know.
Well, despite the fact that I can’t find virtually squat on this treasured forgotten group called “The Whole Damn Family (which is a hilarious name for a group),” luckily, I have some sort of recollection from my childhood. Although, I have absolutely no idea where their song “Seven Minutes Of Funk,” fell on the billboard charts, I was old enough to know that almost every single young Black home was playing this beat. This groups was as funky as you could get back in the day!
This song came out when a was about 9 years old. My little feet used to groove to this song to almost every barbecue party I ever been to! Despite the huge popularity, to be honest I didn’t think that most of my elders like this beat. There still existed major generation gaps even back then too. Perhaps the music was so unique and different, my then elders didn’t quite know how to dance to it? Unless you’re a lover of funk music, I’m gonna boldly assume that most of my readers don’t remember this group. However, you do know their music.
The First Cover Release.
How am I sure you know their music? Because If I’m correct, the first rap group to sample their music was Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, with their hit “Superappin’ (1979).” GFTFF’s sample rap version was played all over the place, every corner you walked in the hood, they were playing “Superappin’.” Next sample was done by EMPD in their rap called “It’s My Thing (1987).” I have to be honest, I think this is my most favorite rap out of all the samples done! Lastly, Jay-Z sampled this in his rap “Ain’t No Nigga (1996).” Now, we’ve got 3 different major artists that sampled the band’s music; yet, I can’t seem to find any trace of any of these on the Billboard’s chart! And nothing really written about the band on the net. Now, either google (or perhaps Billboard) has a conspiracy to bury certain Black music history, or the Black community has simply allowed it to be wiped out of our memories. Shame on you guys!! ?
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: Safety Dance
Artist: Men Without Hats
Album: Rhythm Of Youth (1982)
Ok. This is when I know I must REALLY love to blog, when almost every time I say to myself, “I need a little rest,” I windup needing to blog about something still! LOL. Oh well.. I’d rather be addicted to blogging, instead of being addicted to drugs or something worse.
“Men Without Hats” is a Canadian synth-pop group that had a really popular hit song in the early 80s. Now, according to Billboard, they only had 1 Top Ten hit, and 1 mediocre hit. I don’t know what their numbers in Canada are like, but as far as America is concerned, they’re a one hit wonder.
The song they’re most known for in America is called “Safety Dance.” I’m not sure why, but for some reason, every time I hear this song, it almost always remind of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus (1985).” Remember Falco? His song was another huge 80s hit too. Maybe it’s just because the 80s were a fun time in terms of music. Almost every major genre had so much creativity in the lyrics and composition. Today’s music is literally night and day. But, I digress. “Safety Dance,” hit #3 on the Top 100 Charts. It was insane how much the pop radio stations were playing this song.
Song: Light My Fire
Artist: Jackie Wilson
Album: Do Your Thing (1968)
Ok.. Jackie Wilson is another perfect example of what I call a musically complicated singer. Care must be taken for artists like Jackie (in regards to music choices), because he doesn’t have a common singing voice. I liken his voice similar to singers such as Boz Scaggs, or actually, his voice probably sounds closest to Chubby Checker. In fact, when I was little, I used to confuse their voices quite a lot because they were so similar.
This Song Did Not Fit His Voice
Don’t get me wrong, Jackie had a phenomenal voice that allowed him to produce quite a few successful hits! However, at the same time, he had one of those voices that sounded like he was sort of singing from the back of his neck. The problem with that was, if the right song wasn’t picked for him, he can easily windup sounding like Warner Bros.’s Marvin The Martian. ? It may sound a little petty, but, I’m very particular about the quality of music I listen to.
Now, “Light My Fire, (if you don’t know)” was originally recorded by a legendary rock group called “The Doors” sometime in 1966. It seemed as though every artist on the planet covered this song. In 1967, The Doors not only took this song to #1, it stayed number one for a whopping weeks! So, I never really liked Jackie’s voice on this song, I just never thought it was a good fit for him. However, I decided to share this song with you guys anyway, because in terms of the musical background arrangements, I think it’s hot!! They literally converted this rock song in to a heavy soul beat. I would have played the sh*t out of this if it were only instrumental.