On Billboard Hot 100 Chart, “Calm Down,” by Rema & Selena Gomez is at the #5th position. Now, I’m not sure if this song ever hit number one, but I do know that I’ve heard it played in my neighborhood at least about two months prior. This song has has a mixture of both African and Brazilian sounds. It’s a very catchy tune, and the rhythm is slow enough that people of all ages can dance and move their bodies too. It’s rare that I like music from artists this young. However, I think this song will satisfy people accross many generations. Take a listen!
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. ?
Artist: Tom Gaebel
Genre: Contemporary Jazz
Ok guys…… The voice of today’s artist doesn’t exactly set me on fire. However, at the same time, I’m open minded enough to recognize that the song was put together very well. I find this song enjoyable. The almost Anthony DiNozzo Junior look-a-like (almost in swagger as well), hot tamale is from Germany, and has been around for a little more than 10 years. Although they’ve categorized him as “jazz,” or “contemporary jazz,” in my opinion, he more so borderlines “music standards,’ or Broadway sounds. This is the first time (I believe) I’ve listened to a singer where German is his native tongue, singing in English. I’m impressed. He’s got a sizable discography, very impressive for that genre. You know it’s strange, if I didn’t know his name or anything, and I just heard him on the radio, I would have sworn it was Classic IV. I must have a serious music passion, when I can relate almost any person, voice, or situation with a song. I’m pathetic… Yet, funny….. ? I guess it’s inevitable that I would be that kind of person.
But, guys… Seriously…. Sometimes it can be a problem when a song reminds you of another song, and you can’t remember, and you’re still trying to remember for weeks! ? I know I’m not the only one. But guys….. My Puerto Rican readers, tell me that the background instruments to this song “You Make Me Feel” doesn’t remind you of Bimbo Jet’s old classic El Bimbo?!?! ? I had the disco version growing up, and I played the shit out of that song. Another one that just kept ringing in my head like a darn commercial jingle. LOL. Although Bimbo Jet was actually French, it was huge in the Spanish community. Anyway, Tom’s music isn’t the kind of music I would gravitate to everyday. But, I did save this song to my library. If you like Broadway type music, go right ahead and look him up. By the way, the song was mixed by Dim Zach & Yannis. I’ve heard a lot of Dim Zach’s work, and he’s pretty talented in my opinion.
Song: Grooving Out On Life
Artist: Hopeton Lewis
Album: Grooving Out Of Life (1973)
Genre: Sweetest Reggae
Actually, this entire album is an extremely rare gem. I doubt a whole lot of people have this album, and that includes myself. I’m sorry to discover that Mr. Lewis passed away not too long ago. He was truly a sweet reggae legend in my opinion. I first written about him on my old blog a few years ago. You may remember the late Mr. Lewis by one of his hit songs used in a travel commercial (don’t remember what company), the song was called “Take It Easy (1967).” Man, that tune was so catchy, it was stuck in my head for awhile. LOL Something interesting, I discovered that there are two different versions of “Take It Easy.” This album has a much mellower version. I personally prefer the faster one, which was used in the commercial.
This Album Is A Must Add To Your Streaming Library!
Today’s song “Grooving Out Of Life,” for some reason reminds me a lot of a song called “Girl Watcher (1968),” performed by The O’Kaysions. Remember that song? That was some great music too. Not sure what notes exactly reminds me of the song. Anyway, “Grooving Out Of Life” did not get that many plays. However, it makes sense, since reggae was not huge at the time in America. Shit, even with the major success of Bob Marley, reggae still didn’t scratch the surface (in my opinion). But, “Grooving Out Of Life” is an awesome song in my opinion, an unheard gem indeed!
Lewis had some very nice covers on this album. I think it’s worth listening to his cover of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” Although Tina had many people cover this song, I don’t recall ever hearing a reggae version. Lewis took me off guard with his rendition, but I think it sounds really good. Another cover I think is worth listening to is Express Yourself, which was originally done by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. The last cover I think you should listen to is “Love Is A Beautiful Thing.” I don’t remember the original group that sang this, but my earliest memories was a group called The Rascals. Lewis performed it nicely. This could have been a huge Motown like hit if America was more receptive to reggae artists back then.
Song: The Air That I Breath
Artist: Simply Red
Album: Blue [Expanded] (1998)
Genre: Slow Pop
I absolutely love me some Simply Red. In my opinion, this is a really talented group, and lead singer Mick Hucknull is a true blue “blue eyed soulster.” I mean, based on his look, when you see Mick, you’d never think such power and feeling would come out of his mouth. I’ve always been a huge fan ever since they came out with “Holding Back The Years (1986),” and “Money$ Too Tight (To Mention) (1986).” The first time I discovered them was when I was watching MTV late one night. At that time, I was hypnotized because I just never heard any other White guy sing like that (other than Tom Jones, but his music was totally different). “The Air That I Breath” is a 1974 cover song from a group called the “Hollies.” I feel that Mick has done such a wonderful job, I didn’t even realize it was him, because it sounded just like I was listening to a remix of the Hollies and their song. Check it out.
Artist: Spandau Ballet
Album: True (1983)
Genre: Pop Ballads
Ok, ok. If you told me that you never heard this song before; I would have said you’re lying (unless you’re under the age of 25-30)! This song was such a massive hit in the 80’s. It was a love song of all love songs back then. No matter if you were young, old, Black, White, everyone was singing this tune. This English group named, Spandau Ballet, took this song to #1 not just in the United Kingdom, but #1 in America (Adult Contemporary), #1 in Ireland, and #1 in Canada! Other countries such as France & Germany, the song was in the Top 10 range. “True,” remains to be one of my most favorite romantic songs ever! The song practically immortalized this group forever. This was their only massive hit of their career. Of all their works after the “True” album, only one song, “Gold,” made its highest peak at #29 in 1984.Vices Reserve
Song: Don’t Let Me Down
Artist: Marcia Griffiths
Album: Play Me Nice & Sweet (1974)
Wow! Talk about sweet reggae music? This is a great one right here!! I know I probably say this all the time, but, I think this is one of my most favorite reggae songs by a female. “Don’t Let Me Down” is both danceable and very romantic. I highly recommend this song for weddings/reception. Marcia has taken this 1969 Beatles song to a whole different level. Now, to be honest, I’m almost certain that most Americans don’t know anything about Marcia Griffiths. However, Americans may remember her for her smash hit “Electric Boogie (1990).” The crazy thing about this song is that, growing up, this song was almost a requirement to any Black party. I mean, before an end to every barbecue, someone will demand that song to be played. Almost every church function I’ve been to as a child played this song before the function was over. The dance to this song looked very much like “The Bus Stop.” Yet, the Top 100 Charts has this song positioned at #51! WTF??????????
You know, I am absolutely ashamed to find out that there exist people who don’t believe that there is a such thing as a female reggae legend. It’s kind of aggravating to know that (with the exception of female hip hop today (it appears)), there still exist sexist attitudes concerning women in music. As someone who consumes a lot of music since childhood, I emphatically disagree with this sort of mindset. Especially in the area of reggae love songs. Throughout history, no matter where you come from, it’s always been an unsaid standard that romantic songs came from men. But, I’ve heard some of the most beautiful reggae love songs from women. The late Cynthia Schloss was one of them, and she earned the right to be called a reggae legend in my opinion.
The Late Cynthia Schloss Is A Forgotten Legend Of Love Songs!
The late Cynthia Schloss was very beautiful, and had a smooth delicate singing voice. The first song I think I can recall hearing from her, was a song called “Send Me The Pillow (c. 1982).” The song was actually written by a guy named Johnny Tillotson sometime in the very late 50s. “Send me the pillow that you dream on. Maybe time will let our dreams come true.” Rarely have I heard lyrics like these, that are so sweet and genuine. There’s another song I think you should hear called “Looks Like Love (1983).” Both my late grandparents played this song A LOT!! Many of Cynthia’s music is probably far too mellow for today’s young listeners. However, they’re notable music that is part of both Jamaican and American unknown music history.
I almost forgot to share with you guys! Last week, I was walking through Manhattan and spotted this amazing digital ad, featuring the legendary Calypso Rose! I was just shocked & stunned. It took me about 10 minutes before I realized my jaw hit the grown! Understand that I have not seen anything physical that pertained to Calypso Rose since I was a little boy in the seventies. No album, no magazine article, no nothing! A lot of Jamaicans and West-Indians I’ve encountered in my life time claim they love calypso music, & know music history, yet did not appear to have ever owned a Calypso Rose album, or have trouble remembering who she is. Fire In Me Wire (c.1967) was one of her biggest calypso hit of her career. Every party my family thrown together always included Calypso Rose’s music. Damn, thinking about this makes me miss my grandpa all over again. Anyway, I was elated to see that she is honored in this way. Maybe now as we advance in to digital technology, we can see more of our lost culture!
Song: Del Ray
Artist: Sola Rosa
This is an amazingly talented and multicultural group, that I’m guessing came together around 2000. Believe it or not, I was listening to an independent radio station using Windows Media Player, yeah, I know, who the hell still uses WMA anymore? ? Well, I did! As a true lover of music, people like me don’t allow ourselves to be hogged down to a single source of music. This is one of the ways you find great music by venturing out places you normally wouldn’t. Anyway. The song “Del Ray” was playing, and I just lost my mind. In my opinion, this composition was (and still is) HOT!! It has a mixture of Mexican, hip hop, & club all in one. I kept thinking this was a remake; I can’t help the feeling I heard the melody before. But then again, I’ve listened to so much music since I was little, many will sound familiar to me. Check it out will you?
Genre: Sweet Reggae
This may sound very arrogant…. But…. In this day and age, the only people who can probably appreciate an album like this, are Jamaicans and West-Indians in my age group. Very few Americans would know anything about this album; unless perhaps you’ve dated someone for many years who happened to be from the island. One of the things I miss most from my childhood growing up was, in my neighborhood, we had one of the only record shops dedicated to 100% reggae! Both full albums and 12 inch reggae; many if not all were imported. All in a very short walking distance. I remembered this album being one of many my mom purchased there. I think this was when I fell in love with Toots and The Maytels’s music for the first time.
The first song I heard was “Bam-Bam” by Toots & The Maytels. I loved this song so much. I don’t know what was it that I loved it so much. Maybe it was his unique voice? Maybe it was his soul that came through his music? Or maybe it was his passion for political change I heard in his music? I played that song so many times. The second song I fell in love with was “Pomps & Pride.” Very catchy tune, and you can’t help but to move your hips just a little bit when you hear it. I was really surprised to find out that Spotify has the entire entire album. The album has various artists, which includes Desmond Dekker (which is another talented favorite of mine.Save $10 On Any Purchase & Get Free Shipping On All Orders At MaddaFella.com! Use Code: MADDA10!
Today, I’d like to write about one of the biggest forgotten reggae legends! His name? The late John Holt. This man has made a lot of smooth reggae. Sweet, sweet reggae. He also used to be one of many Jamaican artists that loved to reinterpret American music; and let me tell you, many of them were really nice in my opinion. I didn’t like all his remakes, sometimes it sounded like his voice didn’t fit some of the songs he sang. But, there was one cover he did that I remember my grandfather listening to a lot on his reel2reel (I loved it too). This song was co-written by the late Brook Benton (along with two others), and recorded by the late Nat King Cole. The song was called “Looking Back (1958).” The song hit #2 on the R&B Charts.
However, John Holt’s version of “Looking Back 1972),” took the song to a whole different level. I LOVED how he put together that organ intro; it almost made the song immediately recognizable. It’s a beautiful song that talks about a man realizing his bad mistakes toward the one he loves, and he learned not to do them again. You know, I was saddened to discover that Holt’s cover version wasn’t even mentioned anywhere on Wikipedia. If I didn’t know it existed growing up, it would not be on my blog. I digress.. I tried adding him on Wiki, not sure if they’re going to approve it or not. I want you to check out two more amazing Holt songs. “A Love I Can Feel (1971),” and “If It Don’t Work Out,” also released in 1971. “If It Don’t Work Out,” is actually a cover of the Casinos’s song “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye (1967).”Save an Extra 10% on Guitar Cases and Guitar Gig Bags: Use Code TOURGUITAR
I have to tell yah……… The group “Free,” in my opinion, was one of the many most underrated rock bands in history. As someone who’s in to all kinds of music, I really felt that these guys could sing as a solid rock band. In London, 4 guys decided to come together and form phenomenal rock band; Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke, Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraiser. In 1968, these 4 guys became “Free.” It’s sad that they broke up within 5 years of getting together. It is unclear exactly why they broke up. I could only imagine it was probably about creative differences.
I guess in the end, it really didn’t matter, as two of the four members died as a result of poor health and drug issues (typical). Free struck gold, with their massive mega rock hit “All Right Now (1970).” The song peaked at #4 on the Top 100 Charts. The song was so popular, it not only made it’s way to a Burger King commercial, it also made Wrigley’s Gum commercial too. Interesting interview I’ve read with drummer Simon Kirke. He shared that “All Right Now,” was actually a song written after a bad gig one night. It was then that the group decided they must increase their tempo. Out of that meeting “All Right Now” was born.
Does anybody remember this oldies album from the legendary Culture Club? Unfortunately, this was not one of their most successful albums as a whole. I’m wondering if this is why the licenses for almost every song on this album have been nuked. However, they did have two hits from this album that had done fairly well on the charts (I think).
My favorite out of the two is their song called “Move Away (1986).” Now, I know it may sound like I’m contradicting myself, but although I liked this song, I also think I liked it because the song just happens to be a catchy tune. Almost like a jingle or a catch phrase (kind of). The other song is called “God Thank You Woman (1986).” This is another catchy tune. The tune is actually danceable. Unfortunately, only the 12 inch extended version is available on Spotify. I much prefer the original album version, or radio edit.
I want to switch gears a little bit. As some of my long time followers may have already figured out, I also love listening to music of different cultures. I’d like to introduce to you a talented group named The Hygrades, from Nigeria. You know, as a whole, I normally don’t listen to a lot of Nigerian music, but when I do, I usually enjoy it very much. However, this group did not create traditional Nigerian music. From the 70s, 80s, and even perhaps the 90s popular Nigerian music had a unique sound that was unmistakably Nigerian. But, The Hygrades did not produce traditional Nigerian music. They made what they called Afro-rock.
Although, in my opinion, I hear more of funk infused with blues than anything else. Then again, 50s/60s rock wasn’t the same rock it is today; it was as though rock from that era deserved it’s own genre. The Hygrades made some good sh*t! Also, let me say, when it comes to music, I think every country/culture has their own specialty. Having said that, I always thought to myself, if you ever wanted to learn how to pick a stringed instrument, let a Nigerian teach you. Those guys can pick them some guitar, as though that guitar was a body part ?. It is extremely rare that we see American artists with this level of talent today. All the ones I can think of are all gone now! Like, the late Prince? Jimmy Hendrix? Or perhaps Bo Diddley? Not even them really, ’cause with the exception of Diddley, Prince & Jimmy strung a lot of long notes, whereas Nigerian strings are usually a consistent barrage of quick & complicated high pitched notes at the base of the guitar arm.
The Hygrades were put together by a producer named Goddy Oku, based in Enugu, Nigeria. They were eventually signed to HMV/EMI records, and produced many popular hits. “Keep On Moving,” “Rough Rider,” and one of my hot favorites “In The Jungle (instrumental version).” Unless you’re already familiar with their music, you’d never guess where these guys were from. If it were not for Spotify (not YouTube), I would have never rediscovered this group.
I totally and completely forgotten about this group! WOOOOOOOOW!! Does anybody even remembers an old Spanish group called Mocedades? This is one Spanish group that should not be forgotten! Why is that you ask? Well, allow me to give you a quick synopsis. Mocedades entered some sort of song contest in Spain. The song that was chosen is called “Eres Tu (1974).” After the song won second place in the contest, it was then released as a single. What’s important to note is that the group sang the entire song in their native language. To date, it is the only Spanish song that peaked #9 on the American Billboard. I remember hearing this song all the time, I expected this to be #1 on the Top 100 Charts. Actually, it peaked #3 on the Easy Listening category. I didn’t even remember we had an Easy Listening scoreboard back in the day. Now, to be honest, I don’t know how popular this group is in Spain, because obviously their music ecosystem is different from ours. But one thing I can obviously tell, Eres Tu was their money maker. Every greatest hits album they produced, Eres Tu, was either near or on top of the list. ? ? Wow, this song really took me back to my childhood. Eventually, the song was translated into several languages.
I wonder out of curiosity, how many people remember Tracy Ulman? I would think not that many. Tracy was born in the UK, and she was an extremely successful 80s actress and singer. She had her own TV show, called The Tracy Ulman show. It aired from 1987 thru 1990. It was funny as hell in my opinion. I think she’s talented both as an actress and as a singer. One of my favorite songs she sung (which I also believe (if my memory is correct) was the theme song from that show) was “They Don’t Know (1983),” It was from her debut album “You Broke My Heart In Seventeen Places.” The song hit #8 on the Top 100 Charts. The album was actually cute, it has a 60s sound to it. I don’t think she has made an album in quite a long time. Most are just re releases of her old stuff. Although I think her music was cute, honestly I think I liked her better as an comedian.
Aaah! You know, when I was practically still a baby, I believe this was the first album I remember seeing of Mr. Belafonte. I’m sure I still have the album somewhere ?. I’m just going to come out and say it. In America, unless you came from the Caribbean, almost no one thinks of Caribbean music; unless you’re dating someone who happens to by Caribbean; or someone is talking about going to a NYC carnival/West-Indian day parade. So many things you could be writing about for Black History Month.
Let’s see now. What we can say about the incredibly multi-talented and then very handsome, Harry Belafonte? Well, he was born on 1927! That’s right guys! That makes him about 92 years old now ? ! BTW, he still looks healthy and amazing! Belafonte wasn’t just a singer & actor, he was also a heavy civil rights activist and a humanitarian.
Tally Me Banana!
I think it’s safe to say that, when people hear the name Harry Belafonte (and if they do actually remember him), they would most remember him for his “Banana Boat” song released in 1956; sometimes called the “Day-O” song. And that maybe because the younger generation heard it used in the then popular hit movie called “Beetlejuice (1988).” By the way, I should add that another one of his popular songs called “Jump In The Line (1961)” was also in the movie as well. If I’m not mistaken, there was supposed to be a reboot of Beetlejuice this year. Not sure if the project was cancelled or not.
Anyway, Harry was so much more than just a Caribbean performer. You know, in today’s political climate, the news media always take shots at how many people in office who’s been entertainers. In reality, this is nothing new. I’d say what is new (probably), is the lack of characters of the “once a celebrity” politicians, etc. Harry had intelligence beyond his years, an intelligence that America then and today were not ready to hear. He surrounded himself with great men in their own right; Sidney Poitier and Charlton Heston. And BTW, Charlton also fought fiercely for Black rights during the civil rights movement. Some how Charlton’s name always gets omitted in conversations of Black history.
Did you know that Harry was one of Martin Luther King’s very few confidants? Harry also helped MLK and his family financially, because king made very little money as a preacher in the beginning. Wow, that’s what you’d call a friend. Not many of those today (sorry to say). Did you also know that in the mid 80s, Harry helped to organize the whole “We Are The World Project?” Harry did so much for South Africa, especially when it came to the A.I.D.S. crisis. Africa had it really bad, there were no resources for them, neither was there education about the disease. Again, Harry Belafonte was, and still is, the last of his breed. He truly not only has a pure love for mankind, but sees the undying need to help each other.Diamond Hemp
Now, judging from the kinds of music I’ve posted in the past, many of my readers may be quite surprised to know that I love “Blinded By The Light,” recorded by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1976. I’m not sure what was it about this rock song I loved so much. Maybe it was the mixture of rock & space age sound effects? Sometimes I wasn’t sure whether or not I was listening to actual music, or listening to an actual alien invasion! 😀 This was their only major hit throughout their career. “Blinded By The Light” hit #1 on the Top 100 Charts in 1977, and stayed at #1 for a week. People still love their music tho. On Spotify, this song reached 20.5M plays, 2.2M Shazams, and about 16M additional plays throughout YouTube. By the way, did you know that “Blinded By The Light” was actually a Bruce Springsteen song, released in 1973 (I believe)? Wow, they almost sound like two completely different songs.