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 These kind of equipment makes the end product sound outdated, karaoke*ish, and sometimes like an amateurish live performance.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: 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.
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: 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.