Song: Ohh Baby, Baby
Album: Uptown Festival (1977)
Wow! This goes to show you just how much good classic music exists. I have been a long time fan of Shalamar, and I don’t recall ever hearing their cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Ooo Baby, Baby,” c 1965. What was an even bigger shame was that, according to one source I’ve read, the song actually reached #1 in the US. Not sure what chart that was on, but I’m banking on the fact that it had to have been at least the R&B category. Unfortunately, sometimes categories could make a difference as to where you hear certain songs on the radio.
This Was An Awesome Cover Song That Slipped passed My Ears!!
Not knowing the specifics of the song, I’ve read enough material to get a sense that the album “Uptown Festival” did very well back in the day. But honestly, out of all of the tracks I’ve heard on this album, “Ohh Baby, Baby” was the best one. I would have played the hell out of this song. It was a nice surprise finding this, cause honestly I wouldn’t have looked for it. However, the other thing was, Shalamar has changed so much other the years. They’ve swapped/replaced so many members, it became a choice of what version of Shalamar you liked best. That sometimes became a headache when looking for their music too. Even with music streaming, as results given are usually only the popular searches.
Song: Deck The Halls
Artist: Nat King Cole
Album: The Christmas Song (1962)
Well, although I don’t celebrate Xmas anymore, given that my blog is about classic music, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate Xmas from a nostalgic point-of-view. Xmas for me now has a different meaning. It is not about the celebration of a savior, but the celebration of cherished memories of my late grandfather. Remembering him relax on his recliner while listening to ol’ Nat King Cole, gave me the joy of watching him enjoy his most favorite music, and letting his “hair down.” Without meaning to sound like I’m exaggerating, I think my grandfather was more religious than anyone I’ve ever met. And I don’t just mean that from the standpoint of belief, but the kind of person he was (in relation to what he believed).
Nat Has Been Immortalized By His Xmas Music!!
You know, I think when it comes to classic music being lost, Xmas seems to be the exception to the rule (so far). Unlike mainstream music we listen to frequently (and repetitively), we listen to Xmas music perhaps about 2 weeks consecutively, for once a year. Today, in the age of streaming, there is so much content out here that, if you don’t listen to a song for a couple of months, it’s forgotten about. Yet, this doesn’t seem to happen with Xmas music. I truly think it has a lot to do with the power Xmas has to bring families together in a way that goes far beyond even thanksgiving day. (just my opinion). Xmas music now becomes associated with that family time.
I know that I’ve selected Nat’s “Deck The Halls,” but, in reality, the whole entire album is a masterpiece. I haven’t met anyone who celebrates Xmas, who hasn’t enjoyed listening to this album from side A to B. Also, for my Boriqua readers, don’t for get about the cult classic Salsoul Orchestra! WOW! It seemed like everyone I knew growing up had the Xmas Jollies album. Here are some recommendations of classics that have been digitally reissued. “Santa Got A Bag Of Soul (2013),” by The Poets Of Rhythm; “Wonderful Xmas Time (2018),” by Diana Ross; “Mary’s Boy Child (2000),” by Harry Belafonte; “What Xmas Means To Me (2019),” by Stevie Wonder; “Put A Little Love In Your Heart (2001),” by Annie Lennox & Al Green (not exactly Xmas music but it fits the spirit); and finally “Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas) (2014),” by The Weather Girls.
Song: Never Did I Stop Loving You
Artist: Alice Clark
Album: Alice Clark (1972)
Holy shit! Talk about a lost talent! Brooklyn born Alice Clark was so underrated it wasn’t funny. It’s really upsetting to learn just how much power these record companies had back in the day. Alice had rhythm, she had soul, and she sang her ass off. There was absolutely no reason why these record companies could not had promoted her a little more. In my opinion, her style and caliber was similar to Gladys Knight. There was no excuse for this labels. Such a damn shame. Listen to the song “Never Did I stop Loving You.” She tore this song up! Alice only produced one album as far as I can tell. There is a second album floating around, but that was a special edition/ vinyl reissue. Which means it probably costs a pretty penny.
Song: MacArthur’s Park
Artist: The Four Tops
Album: Four Tops Now (1969)
You know what? I totally forgot about this song. The song “MacArthur’s Park” was written by Jimmy Web, and first recorded by Richard Harris in 1968. Man, talk about dozens and dozens of redoes! This song was covered so many times by so many people, It’s not even funny. But, I have to say, Sammy Davis Jr., version of the song is boring as fuck!! And you know I’m open to all kinds of music. This song is not for everybody. You’ll probably more likely to like the original if you like classical music. Honestly, I think my ultimate version of this song, was when the late disco queen Donna Summer turned this in to a disco cult classic! Loved the 12 inch, on her “Live And More album.”
However, did you know that the legendary Four Tops recorded this song in 1969? The song peaked at #38 on the Top 100 Chart. I was only 2 years old then. I can’t say that I love it as much as I do Donna Summer’s version, but I really enjoyed it a lot. When you listen to how it was originally sung by Richard Harris, and the way song was was structured, almost immediately I said in my mind, this kind of music was out of their league! But, The Four Tops actually did a wonderful job. Not only was the song soulful, they managed to preserve the original essence of the song. Check it out when you get a chance. You may like it. By the way, it wasn’t until I was about 18 or 19 did I learn that the song was actually about snorting cocaine! ? But, I bet you’re going to listen to it closer now, aren’t you?!?!?
Song: Tell It Like It Is
Artist: Bettye Swan
Album: Bettye Swan (2004)
Before you think it, let me quickly say that the above photo is NOT Aretha Franklin! ? I forget how much Bettye Swan looked like her, by a LOT! In fact, some of her songs she kind of sounds like her. When I tell you a forgotten legend….. Ms. Swan is definitely one of them. Unfortunately, she never had a number one hit, nor did she at least make the top ten (almost); but she had the voice of angel in my opinion. “Tell It Like It Is,” was a song written by George Davis, and originally recorded by falsetto superstar Aaron Neville in 1966. It reached #2 on the Top 100 chart. The song was covered by several other artists.
Sorry, But I Loved Ms. Swan’s Version Better.
I almost fainted when I discovered that Swan’s cover of this song didn’t make it anywhere on the charts as far as I can tell. Growing up, my grandpa only played Aaron Neville’s version, so I never knew any other artists cover until I got way older. The fact that she was so vocally talented, and the sheer popularity of this song, this should have been at least on the bottom #200 chart. Boy, I was so shocked. Although I have an attachment to Neville’s original, I think Swan did a much much better job. That’s just my opinion.
I guess this also means that, unless you’ve already been a Ms. Swan fan, this song would have been lost and unknown if it were not for Spotify and other streaming services. Her biggest and most popular song of all her music, is a song called “Make Me Yours,” which peaked at #21 on the Top 100. What’s interesting is that this song really didn’t showcase the soul in her voice, yet it got more attention than many of her unknown songs. Check out “I Think I’m Falling In Love,” she definitely had that “Motown sound that all these female groups were trying to mimic back in the day. See how you groove to this forgotten song called “Ain’t That Peculiar,” this was originally recorded by Marvin Gaye. Ms. Swan’s career only lasted about 15 years. She left her music career after the death of her husband sometime in 1980. She decided to become a teacher, and is now enjoying her life at age 74 (if my math is correct).Designer Fashion Fabric
Artist: Candi Staton
Album: Evidence: The Complete Fame Records masters (2019)
So, let me start off by saying…… Again, this is one of those moments I am grateful to be using streaming services like Spotify; because they allow me to stream entire albums that are now considered obscure; and let me tell ya, it’s a lot more work searching through YouTube for each song that came with an original album. Not only that, that’s not guaranteed that YouTube would even have it, as YouTube relies on members to upload them. If you’re only interested in “popular music,” then in my opinion, you’re missing the point of what it is to be a fan of “good classic music.”
I Had Absolutely No Idea!
When I heard the smash hit “Victim (1978),” it was the first time I’ve came to know of Candi Staton. That song was the sh*t back in the day! I wasn’t old enough to buy records, so when I heard it on the radio, I cherished every moment it was on ?. The song hit #3 on the Dance Chart, but no where to be found on Hot 100, or Billboard 200. That really pissed me off. You guys have absolutely no idea how huge this song was in the Black community & Dance clubs. This is why sometimes I think the Billboard charts sucks! I don’t even understand why I even look on there; but I guess sometimes it’s necessary to give young folk some perspective on the oldies I post.
Another huge hit that Candi was known for, was a song called “Young Hearts (1976).” Here is where I think you’ll get mad too. This magnificently popular song back in the day, reached #129 on the Billboard 200 Chart. That was downright disrespectful as far as I’m concerned. That song literally immortalized Staton! How dare the Billboard! Something wasn’t right there. This woman had such a natural talent for singing, there was no need for what I used to called “vocal acrobatics.” All she really had to do was simply open her mouth, and we heard the soulful voice of an angel.
OK. Let’s Talk About This Album Now
Her album “Evidence: The Complete Fame Records Masters (2019),” was like listening to her long lost archives! I had absolutely no idea that Candi Staton’s career extended so wide, and went that far back! I would have never had the opportunity to hear all these gems, if it where not for music streaming services. She started her career in gospel music, which may or may not have been the reason I haven’t heard so many of her music. I say that to mean, although gospel is a huge industry, it wasn’t necessarily mainstream either (relatively speaking).
I really liked her song “Evidence.” It’s not your typical “are you leaving me?” Seventies type of song. This was more of “I got proof your ass is with another woman!” ?? I was also surprised that she did a cover of Tammy Whynette’s slow country hit called “Stand By Your Man (1971).” That’s the kind of song you’d never expect one would want to turn in to a soulful melody. Also check out her song called “Slipping Away.” She sang the shit out of this song! I really did enjoy the entire 48 song album, and I really do recommend classic music lovers (particularly those who love soulful blues) take a listen.Up to 70% Off at TouchofModern. Including Cross Pens! Ends September 24th 12PM PDT
Song: Uptight [Everything’s Alright]
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Uptight (1965)
Today’s recommendation comes from my 45 collection. You know, Stevie Wonder has got to have been one of Motown’s most successful popular artist. I remember watching an interview that talked about how Stevie demanded a significant higher pay (upon first contract). Everybody thought he was out of his mind. But, Motown eventually gave in. I’m sure Motown never expected that Stevie would not only be so successful, but well loved by millions. Stevie’s song “Uptight” not only hit #1 on the Top 100 Charts, it stayed #1 for 5 weeks! Some of the most talented artists never got that!
Song: Strangers On The Street
Artist: Mamas Gun
Album: Golden Days (2019)
Genre: Blue-Eyed Soul
If you love the sound of classic Blue-Eyed Soul music, then I highly recommend that you take a listen to this entire album. This sh*t is GOOD! “Mamas Gun,” is a five member band from London. They’ve formed about 10 years ago, and has performed all around the world. If I am not mistaken, this is their 4th album so far, and I am really loving it. There seems to be two release dates, 2018 & 2019. I think it’s safe to assume 2019 is the digital release. Andy Platts, the lead singer of the band, has an amazing voice. It was almost like listening to a younger version of Paul McCartney. In fact, when I listened to the band’s first album, “Routes To Riches (20019),” There is a song on there called “Finger On It,” which almost felt like I was listening to a funk/rock version of a new Beetles of sorts.