After watching Rick James documentary a couple of days ago, I was inspired to share one of my favorite forgotten songs by one of Jame’s proteges; The Mary Jane Girls! Their song was called “In My House.” This song was the jam back in the day. A lot of people didn’t think they were gonna last. They were thought of as a novelty rather than a group with true latent. They can really sing! And if you don’t think so, check out another old song called “You’re My Heaven.”
I just heard this song on internet radio today. “Bless You,” by, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas! I love this group, and for the life of me I can’t remember hearing this song growing up. Well, it only speaks to the vastness of talent, that we can’t possibly and humanly hear them all!! Great stuff.
You’ve got to be pretty up there in age for my followers to remember this song from the legendary Paul Anka, Puppy Love.
Oh my goodness! I must had put this song on repeat 10-15x yesterday!! They don’t make music like this anymore. I will truly miss Olivia. She dropped some amazing music through out her career. Today’s generation of musicians don’t know how to make music like this… I honestly Love You.
You know, by today’s standards, the late John Denver’s music is probably way to mellow for most people. However, I used to love a lot of his music. It was simple, yet, comforting and from the heart. His music came from an era that unfortunately we can never go back to as a culture (at least I don’t think so). This was from a time when music really was good…
It’s been awhile since I’ve heard anything from Herbie Hancock. The song “Stars in Your Eyes,” released in 1973, and then re-released digitally in 1980. I’d say the song was a moderate hit in my neighborhood. Not a super-favorite, however, it’s a great chill-out song to play for small get together with others, if you’re in that Black nostalgic mood. The song highest peak was #8 across internet streaming platforms. Check it out!
There aren’t too many hip hop songs from back in the day, where I considered them one of my most favorites. However, this song happens to be one of them. “Teach Me, Tease Me,” by Foxy Brown, Case and Mary J. was legendary in my opinion. I don’t know if I can say the song was the greatest of all times, but, certainly I feel it’s a song worthy of adding to any musicophile’s playlist. It peaked #14 on the Hot 100 Billboard Chart. I can’t stand Foxy Brown, but, I got to admit, her voice worked for this song. Then again, there were two other talented artist on the song that sort of made up for her lack of vocal talent. Just my opinion guys. It’s an easy listening type of hip hop that most can enjoy!
After that whole scandal/tragedy of Jam Master Jay’s murder, for some reason, I haven’t thought much of Run DMC. Not that I felt some kind of way… Perhaps we all sort of neglected them. I mean, when you listen all these hip hop documentaries talk about who was a GOAT, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention Run DMC. This was a damn shame, because Run DMC actually made history, as they were the first hip hop artists to merge hip hop and rock with their hit “Walk This Way,” featuring Aerosmith. Young people today don’t know how huge that song actually was in the 80s. Also, another rock inspired hit they had was a song called “Rock Box.” Just before Jam Master Jay’s murder, Run DMC recorded an album called “Crown Royal” some time in 2001. It was around that time I stopped listening to mainstream radio and got more into music streaming, so I can’t recall if this album was promoted or not. This has some really good tracks in it. I love the fact that they continued to kept their same distinct Run-DMC style. It’s old school yet their sound is modern. Same flow, yet relevant. Check out “Queens Day” feat. Nas & Prodigy, “Ay Papi” feat. Fat Joe, ” and “Simmons Incorporated” feat. Method Man.
You know, I hadn’t realized just how stunningly beautiful Aaliyah was until after her death. The media showed lots of candid photos I never seen before. We tragically lost an artist that could have been just as large as the late Whitney Houston maybe? But, because this is of a different generation from mine, a lot of her music I didn’t connect with. However, there are a few songs I feel are worthy mentions. I really liked the song she did for the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack called “Are You That Somebody,” and I also liked “More Than A Woman.”
Song: Star Search
Album: CBS Productions (1983-2003)
Genre: TV Show
Hi guys!!! Today, I thought it would be fun to write a little ’bout a forgotten talent show called “Star Search.” To be honest, I forgot what channel I used to watch it on, but, it had to have been either channel 5 or 7 in NYC. This show was on way longer than I realized. I remember watching it in the early 80s, however, the show lasted until about 2003. Star Search was a show similar to the Apollo; the only difference was that Star Search’s format was a lot more formal, and appeared to be more structured. The show was hosted by a number of people throughout the seasons, including Arsenio Hall (believe it or not). But the host I remembered the most was the late Ed McMahon. Mr. McMahon literally became a house hold name back then; in fact, I dare to say his popularity could be compared to the legendary sports announcer, the late Howard Cosell. They both had very distinctive voices. You knew immediately who they were the second you heard their voices. In fact, Ed McMahon was so popular, he often appeared on the late Johnny Carson Show just to hangout.
Truthfully, I Only Remembered Two Performers On The Show That Became Mega Famous!
To be honest, despite the fact that I did enjoy the show most of the time, I was an occasional watcher. Thinking back, I hadn’t realized just how many people Star Search has made famous! One guy that stuck in my head was a guy named Sam Harris. No disrespect, but…… If the late Patrick Swayze was gay, I think he’d look something like Sam Harris ? ?! Come on, you know it’s true! LOLOL.. The audience appeared to have fallen completely in love with Harris. The song that put him on the map, was his rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” You know, it’s funny, back then I thought he tore the shit out of this song. Now, 30+ years later, I think he put a lot of stress on his vocal chords. Then again, Star Search was the first of it’s kind, and perhaps that was what it meant for contestants to “give it their all.”
Some Of The Biggest Celebrities That Started Off On Star Search Didn’t Perform All That Well!
One of my all-time favorite contestant of the show was a woman named Linda Eder. She left such a huge impression on me. Listen to Linda sing her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream.” My jaw completely dropped to the floor when I heard her sing on the show for the first time. This was one woman I wish I could have saw perform live. Linda performs mostly Broadway tunes, and music standards. If you’re into this kind of thing, I definitely recommend you check her albums out. Sam Harris and Linda Eder are the only two performers that were prominent in my memory. However, below is a list of just a few contestants that became big names in their profession.
Beyonce, performed with a group called “Girls Tyme.”
Artist: Michael Sembello
Album: Flashdance (1983)
Wow! Talk about a ?hot? & hairy muscle bear! *Cough* *Cough* Anyway…. The 80s were filled with all types of muscle bears everywhere, and they were not afraid to show-off their hairy chest ?. Today, it appears that hairy chests are viewed as “unsightly,” and many men are encouraged to shave their chest hairs off ?. Could you imagine? Being made to feel ashamed of part of what makes a guy a man? Oh, brother! I digress! Anywayzzz.. When you think of the 80s…….. Does anyone think of Michael Sembello anymore? In terms of music, Michael Sembello was a “jack of all trades! Not only does he play several instruments, he is an incredible songwriter!
His Music Instantly Takes Me Back To The Dance Movie Craze Of The 80s!
Unfortunately, despite Michael’s talents, he was a “1 hit wonder” I have to say. It’s so disappointing when you hear the talent in an artist, and they just don’t get the overall recognition they deserve. Although, in Michael’s case, in my opinion he unfortunately fell in to a producer’s box that many talents are put in by the music industry. In other words, when Michael gave us his first and only massive hit, “Maniac (1983),” (by the way, he also co-wrote) the industry expected him to give us that same type of hits. “Maniac,” reached #1 in the U.S., #2 in Australia, and #6 in Germany. “Maniac,” was one of many songs selected to be on the “Flashdance Sound Track.” I think that the combination of “Maniac,” and Irene Cara’s “What A Feeling,” made the movie even more popular. Although, the entire album was great from beginning to end.
Was Michael Musically Typecasted?! ?
You know, sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to be “musically typecasted,” in the same way that many actors have been? It must hit musicians harder (I would imagine), because at least if you’re a well known actor, most have acquired the power to say no to certain roles. However, when you’re a songwriter, it’s impossible to know if something will become a hit, and if that hit could cause the industry to pigeonhole you into category of songwriters. The good thing is tho….. According to Spotify, he has roughly a little over 3M listeners a month. Not sure what the other streaming services are pulling in for him. But, that’s pretty good for a one hit wonder, and considering the fact that no one really speaks his name anymore. Have you heard of Baggallini bags before? They’re a little on the expensive side, but their really nicely designed. Check them out here.
Genre: Club Music & Remixes
I’ve been meaning to do this for a very long, long time ?! As I’ve said before, just as straight people have history, so does the LGBT community. We have a history that is unique to us as LGBT people. In addition, LGBT/SGL Black American and Boriqua/Hispanic American have our own unique sub-history within LGBT history. And like the straight community, we have huge generation gaps within our gay history. Learning about gay history is just as important as any other history, especially when it comes to Black and Hispanic gay culture. We are presented with our own unique challenges, and our ability to try and convey our stories largely depends on the gay generation you come from. It is unfortunate that it appears that there are more young LGBT people in politics, that aren’t connected to any part of gay history. This should not be, as understanding our journey gives you a deeper understanding and perspective of our diverse realities. Not only that, I’ve seen str8 hip hop videos where the dudes where actually vogueing. But because it’s hip hop, and you’re supposed to be “gangster,” it’s not seen as anything… No one bats an eye… Meanwhile, my gay brothers and sisters where beat-up and chased for our uniqueness back in the day, and straight people are allowed to steal and recycle something that’s been created by us, and been in our community for decades. Know your gay history MF. LEARN!! It’s important.
LGBT People Have Our Own Unique Music History!
I can honestly say that for most of us, the music we listened to literally kept many of us alive, both in our mind and spirit. The club scene allowed us to escape from our deepest emotional pain; as well as escape from abusive relationships. The pressures put on LGBT people to be straight was immense. I don’t think I could find the words to even begin to explain to a straight person what that’s like, and the damage they’ve caused for many LGBT people. When I was growing up, for many straight people, having a Walkman and headphones was simply optional. However, for most gay people in the poorer communities, owning a Walkman or CD player was a necessity. It was the only effective tool we had to use that helped to block out negativity and devastatingly hurtful words.
Most Music Played In Gay Clubs Were Str8!
I’m not sure if there was a reason for this, or perhaps it just happen to be the way it was back in the day, but…. You’d think in the clubs we’d hear our own music made by gay artists. However, for whatever reason, there just wasn’t that many. And when I came out, RuPaul hadn’t emerged yet. Actually, there was only one prominent gay performer producing his own recordings. That was performer’s name was Kevin Aviance. The best way to describe Keven was, he was almost like a male version of Grace Jones ?. Unfortunately, I only liked one song he produced, and that was a song a called “Cunty (1999).” Yeah, I know, some of you may take issue with the title song; however, this was what the gay culture was back then. For many LGBT people, embracing words that would normally be considered inappropriate, were used to take back our lost power in defiance. The power that was lost due to living in a predominantly oppressive hetero society. I love this song because it had a fierce vogue-able dance beat in it’s background.
Back Then, In The Black/Hispanic Gay Club Scene, Our Music Was Very Much Underground For The Most Part!
One reality that wasn’t talked about in regards to underground music; gay clubs played a significant role as to whether or not an underground song/beat would be successful or not. Also, let me just say that, back then, I think it’s safe to say that if a song/beat was not vogue-able, it would be a guaranteed flop! I knew so many people who refused to go to certain clubs if the music played were not vogue-able (hissy-fit and all). It is also interesting that a lot of underground str8 music played in gay clubs, were usually not heard in str8 clubs unless the song went mainstream. It is also true that a lot of good Latin club music would not be heard in a predominantly gay Black establishments either. This not only baffled me, it frustrated me too. This was an era where both Black and Hispanics done the most music collaborations. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why in this aspect, we appeared to be separated. Unfortunately, if we wanted to hear Latin club music in the 80s, we needed to go to specific places, such as an establishment called “Escuelita.” Escuelita has been closed for about 5-6 years now I think. To be honest, I hated that club, because if I remember correctly, they functioned like a lot of the str8 clubs did. That being, they used to pick and choose who gets to enter in the club. I’ve been in too many situations where many of them that operate like that, didn’t live up to the hype (once you finally get in).
Some Of The Biggest Club Mixes Where Dirty As F***!
So, this is the largest playlist I ever made for pubic consumption. It has a whopping 101 major gay anthems I could remember growing up in the gay clubs. This isn’t even all of them. I may consider doin’ a part 2 in the future, I’ll think about it ?, I darn near popped a brain cell trying to remember all these greats! One of my many most memorable favorites was, “Break 4 Love.” You know, it was funny, although this was one of my most favorite club mixes, I was frightened to play this around family back then. For me, I felt it was way too raunchy, and was not appropriate to play for family. At times I kind of felt embarrassed. However, when I started hearing it played on the radio, I was like, f** it, I’m gonna play it too. LOLOL
Today, EDM Appears To Be The Replacement Genre For What Was Once The Greatest Club Music Of My Time!
Another dirty song I used to like a lot was a song by a performer named, Sweet P**** Pauline.” She had a song out called “Work This P****.” Unfortunately, this was one of those songs that was so popular, there were like a million remixes for it. It seems that Spotify doesn’t have the original (or at least the most popular one I remembered), but, I think the one I found on YouTube is ok, because it contains full lyrics. This song was hilarious!!!! Other favorites on this list is “I Can’t Get Enough,” by Liz Torres; “Work That Muth*****,” by Steve Poindexter; “The Party,” by Kraze; “Magic Carpet Ride,” by Mighty Dub Katz. We also vogued to a lot of traditional classic oldies, such as Diana Ross’s “The Boss,” and many music by Salsoul Orchestra. I hope you enjoy your trip through memory lane.
Album: Playlist: 37 Awesome Reggae Covers (2021)
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!
Song: Hungry For Your Love (Club Version)
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: I Think I Love You
Artist: David Cassidy & The Partridge Family
Album: The Definitive Collection (1974)
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.
Song: Be Thankful For What You Got
Artist: William DeVaughn
Album: Be Thankful For What You’ve Got (1974)
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
Album: 25th Anniversary (1979) (2019)
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: 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
Album: Trojan Records: The Obscure Hits (2020)
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!!