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.
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!!
Song: When You Are Who You Are
Artist: Gil Scott-Heron
Another forgotten phenomenal musician! Well, perhaps forgotten in the mainstream world, but in the world of Funk and Jazz, I think he’s well remembered. In my opinion, in terms of musical status (or popularity if you will), I considered him among the same ranks as Jimmy Hendrix. Keep in mind, I mentioned “popularity,” not meaning to infer that their music are similar. I think their paths were obviously very different.
Gil Scott Was Very Politically Conscious!
The late Mr. Gil was very politically conscious. Growing up, none of my family (that I can recall) had any of his music. However, if I heard him on the radio or on TV I savored the moment and just enjoyed what I heard. I was too young to fully understand half the sh*t he said, but some how I knew there was some serious messages in his music. I admired him so much because he wasn’t just a politically conscious Black musician, he was one of the few well known music figures that actually went in to the communities and literally showed you the challenges of the Black communities. Very few musicians I can think of right now that were that passionate about educating the Black community. The only person that comes to mind at this moment is James Brown. And even then I wonder? Mind you, not saying James did nothing for the community, but there’s a difference between showering the Black community with money, and actually being in the Black community. Not to disrespect the late entertainer, but the more I reflect as I get older, I felt that James was motivated by pure fear (after the assassination of MLK) rather than “helping the community.” Fear in a selfish way. After the assassination of MLK, I felt that he was more concerned that it would have effected his ability to perform in the Black neighborhoods. I could be completely wrong about that, but….. Just my opinion.
Well, enough of my soapbox. During America’s political climax of the 60s-70s in regards to Black Americans, probably (I think) the most well known song (or perhaps technically not really a song) was called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1971).” I know some of my young readers may not like to pay attention to lyrics, but I do recommend that you take the time to listen to that song. It is a true direct representation of what Blacks were going through in the seventies, and in many ways still going through. Shifting the topic a little, there’s a song Gil did that became one of my favorites, and it’s called “When You Are Who You Are.” I think what attracted me to this song was, lyrically speaking, it was one of the very few songs I’ve heard where the male artist sings loving someone for who they are, and not having the need to try so hard to impress him. The lyrics are just beautiful, as well as the music being nice and funky!
Song: So Much Love
Artist: Laurel Aitken
😜 Wow!! This is obscure. I so love rediscovering obscure artists, it’s almost like discovering buried treasure! To think that today’s artist was dubbed “King Of Ska.” You know, I look at music history very different. I think one of the biggest challenges with getting younger folk to be open enough to listening to classic music, is with young people it seems like there must be some sort of prerequisite. If they can’t twerk to it, or do a nasty dance, or sound “modern enough,” it’s not good music. I also thought about social pressure. Not wanting their friends to know they like “old music.” But, “good music” in terms of old school isn’t just about dancing, it’s also about feeling, and how the music can talk to your heart. Unfortunately, this is not the way we connect with music today.
Finding Obscure Music, Is Sometimes Like Finding Buried Treasure!
The late Mr. Laurel Aitken was born in Cuba, and was a descendant of Jamaican family. He was bilingual, but he mostly sang in English, as the majority of music he produced were ska music. You know, it’s interesting how a genre, ska, was so huge even in America, and today it’s been reduced to an acquired taste. Even a lot of old school reggae lovers would probably be more likely to listen to rocksteady before they’d pick up a ska album.
There Was A Time When Ska Music Was Almost Preferred Among Many Black Music Lovers!
One of my rare favorites from Aitken, is a song called “So Much Love (c.1970).” A very nice reggae love song. I just love these lyrics, “I’ll never turn my back on you.” Those are words you don’t hear in songs anymore. My only gripe is that the song is just way to short (I think). Aitkens also made outstanding cover songs in my opinion. Checkout some of my favorite covers from him, starting with “Why Can’t I Touch You,” “Groovin’,” “You Send Me,” and “(Sloop) John B.” Here are some of his other hits, “Baby, I Need Your Livin’,” this one has a some sick beats “Three Dogs Night,” and “I Can’t Stand It.”
Song: Take A Message
Artist: Remy Shand
Album: The Way I Feel (2002)
Genre: Neo Soul
As I sift through my collection, my eyes pop wide open. I completely forgot about Remy Shand! Actually, I’m sure a lot of people forgot about him too. It’s such a wonderful thing to have a way to save our memories in digital form, otherwise we’d forget about all this shit. No matter how good of a memory we have. As far as I’m concerned, Remy was one of those explosive one hit wonders, then we never hear from them again. You know, sometimes I think when these guys get too famous, the attention is too much for them. Next thing you know, they’re “low key,” like writing songs in the background, or specializing on the mixing board.
Remy’s Music Is An Acquired Taste Tho!
I have to say that a lot of Remy’s music is an acquired taste. In fact, to be honest, I haven’t met too many people who are genuinely into Neo-Soul, unless you’ve been exposed to different music growing up. The one and only song that hit the American Billboard charts was “Take A Message.” Unfortunately, my favorite song out of the whole album only reached #89th position. However, in Canada, the album itself did very well, it actually reached #1. Go figure?
Remy Won For Best Album Of The Year In Canada 2003!
I really love his almost Curtis Mayfield & Marvin Gaye style in his music. Personally speaking, I think he should have stayed along those lines. To my understanding he’s still actively performing, but hasn’t really made a good album in a really long time. A couple of songs I want you to checkout. Listen to “Rocksteady,” and I also like “The Mind’s Eye,” which is a relaxing instrumental piece.
Song: Various Songs
Artist: Various Artists
Wow, I didn’t realize it’s been ages since I’ve put together a playlist for you guys. Well, this album was pretty much inspired by “The Big Chill Movie Sound Track.” Remember that movie? Let me tell you, “The Big Chill (1983),” not only became a cult classic, the sound track was amazing! The sound track was jammed packed with the most popular classic sounds!! The music that was chosen for this movie was so good, when I first watched this movie, I almost couldn’t pay attention to the movie, cause all I could think about was the music I didn’t hear for a long time! 🤣
I have the original sound track on cassette, but I didn’t know about what appears to be some sort of second “extended” album? It’s called “More Songs From The Original Soundtrack Of The Big Chill 15th Anniversary (1984).” Keep in mind that the Internet wasn’t even widely known about back then. So, as far as I knew, I had the one and only sound track on cassette. By the way, there are a lot of great hits on that album as well!
Many of the songs on today’s featured album are truly indeed obscure by today’s standards I guess. However, to people from my age group this music still feels like yesterday! In total, my playlist consists of 12 amazing original recordings. Unfortunately, about half of these Motown recordings have been forgotten. However, in this particular case, I think they’ve been forgotten not because the music was mediocre; I actually think it was because other huge hits these same artists had over shadowed the music on this album.
Some of those forgotten gems include “The Happening,” by The Supremes. To my understanding this was actually #1 Top 100 Chart in 1967. Another forgotten gem is by Mary Wells, called “You Beat Me To The Punch.” That was an amazing song by her, unfortunately, I think her other hit “My Guy” was so huge, it just destroyed people’s memory of “You Beat Me To The Punch.” And then there’s “Hitch Hike (1963),” by Marvin Gaye. When it comes to Marvin Gaye’s music, “Hitch Hike” is as obscure as it comes. I doubt a whole lot of people remember it. Well, I hope you guys enjoy this playlist. it’s one of my favorite classic albums. Just FYI, one of the songs on this sound track was not by Motown. Can you guess which ones? 😄 If you want to hear the first original sound track, it’s here.