Today, I wanted to pay tribute to a phenomenal musician, songwriter, and actor named Neil Diamond. I don’t expect anybody under the age of 30 playing his music, yet alone remembering who he is. Neil Diamond produces mostly what I call folk-pop; however, when you listen to his unique and distinctive voice, you’d think you’re listening to full on country. Diamond, literally has an almost classic Texan sound to his voice. I would compare his music to be somewhat a long the lines of Jim Croce, but with a little more of a modern twist of that time. Mr. Diamond has been around for a long, long time. He’s been writing and performing his songs since the early 60s.
Diamond Has Sold Over 100 Million Records
Neil Diamond has sold over a whopping 100 million records. However, interesting enough, his success may not have happened had he not been smart enough to change music labels. As with many artists, Diamond felt chocked by his music label, who wanted to control every aspect of his creative art. Unfortunately, this was a very common complaint among even the biggest talents. He eventually switched labels by c. 1970, changed his sound, and then hit big with songs like “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which hit #1, and my favorite “Sweet Caroline,” which hit #4 on the Top 100 Charts.
Neil has now found his voice. Now that Diamond has creative control over his music under his new label, he then continued to enjoy further future success. To date, out of 53 songs that actually made it on the charts, he has 13 top tens, and 3 number ones. I think that’s pretty impressive, especially since his music requires a certain musical taste, and considering his music only played on certain music stations.
Love On The Rocks, From The 1980s Movie, The Jazz Singer
My most favorite song (sad, but still my favorite) from Diamond is called “Love On The Rocks,” from the 1980 movie called “The Jazz Singer.” The song reached #2, however, the movie did not do well. I did not see the movie, but from IMDB’s description, it sounds like this is his docudrama. My opinion is that Diamond is most remembered for a duet he did with Barbra Streisand, called “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” The song hit number one on the Top 100 Charts, and stayed #1 for over two weeks.
Unfortunately, in 2018, Diamond was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The long awaited massive tour fans been waiting for, had to be cancelled. It was no doubt a crushing blow to die-hard Diamond fans. This made huge headlines, as you could imagine a star with his level of success. I’ve put together a playlists of not only all my favorite Diamond hits, but some instrumentals and original demos right on Spotify!!
Today, I’d like to write about an awesome classic, Rock The Boat by Hues Corporation. The Hues Corporation probably became the most famous Black musical group on the planet, because of their hit “Rock The Boat,” which was released in 1974. This massively popular song became their one an only major hit single. The song reached #1 for a total of one week!
Song Reached #1 For One Week!
Although the song only stayed number one for a week; It felt like it was still number one for years I remember waking up, the stations were paying it; came home from school and the stations were playing it; barbecues parties were playing it; oh my goodness!! You young kids just don’t understand. Despite only having one big hit, that big hit was a major contribution to Black disco music.
They officially got together as a group in 1969, and dominated the disco scene with their first album featuring “Rock The Boat.” Now, according to sources, the single sold over 2 million copies. However, I don’t know what the cut off date was? Because even when the song finally dropped off the charts, we still heard it in commercials and other venues, which means it was till making money. I am almost positive that even when they removed their 7″ from circulation, the 12″ versions are usually sold for a lot longer. Not sure if those are under a different category? Interesting now that I think about it.
The group disbanded by the eighties, and once again reformed sometime in the 90s. I believe the current members are Flemming Williams, St. Claire Lee, & H. Ann Kelley. The group still looks good by the way, especially Flemming; I’ve read reports that he was heavy in to drugs unfortunately. Can’t say that I’m surprised at that. This was something that was unfortunately common. Other musicians loved to work with The Hues Corporation. To my understanding, they had great relationships with other groups such as The Spinners.
The Group Appeared In The 1972 Cult Movie Classic, Blacula!
There’s one other song that did not do too bad on the charts. The song is called “Rockin’ Soul,” which is on the same album. It reached #18 on the Top 100. I think it’s an ok song. It’s kind of reminiscent of “Rock The Boat,” it has that same obvious flavor. Let me say that this album was not a bad album; they’re a very talented group; it’s just unfortunate that they didn’t have a lot of huge hits.
I’d like to recommend one last song from this album. The song is called, “I’ll Take A Melody.” I am very surprised that this didn’t make the charts. The medley kind of reminds me of Ann Murry’s “A Love Song,” which is also another one of my very favorite classic country songs.
You know, before I get to his song “Promises.” I’d like to say that, arguably…… Sam Smith (in my opinion), could very well be one of the most successful out LGBT musicians in today’s pop culture. I mean, he’s even larger than Adam Lambert was, since his first major break on American Idol. They’re both talented, but let’s be real, Adam Lambert has a set of pipes on him. If you can lean a gig, singing with the legendary rock group Queen, you’ve got talent! However, Sam’s unique smooth and relaxed voice attracted the attention of many types of music fans, as well as LGBT supporters.
5 Top Tens, Within Four Years!
Just a shy over four years, Sam has managed to land 5 top ten hits! That’s incredible! That is not easy to do. However, even in this era of music streaming, I still think that if he was already out before he released his albums, he would not have had the same success. I mean, technically speaking, Adam has a trained voice, and look how much hell he got on American Idol! I also think the obvious….. Despite the micro movements towards LGBT acceptance, “straight acting” is still a major problem in the entertainment industry, be it music or film.
Fans fell in love with his song “Stay With Me (2014),” from his album “In The Lonely Hour,” which reached #2 on the Top 100 Charts. The next song that would become Sam’s next hit was, “Too Good At Goodbye (2017),” from his album “The Thrill Of It All,” which reached #4 on the Top 100 Chart. However, the song I really like from him did not reach high on the charts. It was the last single (I believe) he put out in 2018. The song is called “Promises.” Promises, is way down at #65, what a shame. I’m shocked that the song ranked so low. I loved his… Almost like a Bing Crosby sound. The song was mixed by Calvin Harris. There’s a remix album for this song, done by various DJs. Check it out on Spotify. Some of them sound hot.
Wow!! Look who I dug up! Does any of my readers remember the legendary Jeffrey Osborne? Yes, I’ve called him legendary because, although he never had any Billboard Top Ten Hits, Osborne hit the charts hard enough that most 80s kids like me still remember him. His song “On The Wings Of Love,” was released in 1982. It only peaked at #29, but it remains one of my most favorites from Jeffrey. Interesting to note that, what I didn’t know was that Jeffrey’s version was actually a cover song 😱 !! Yup. The original song was recorded by Regine Velasquez. But, sorry Regine, I love Osborne’s version better. Turns out that Velasquez released quite a few albums; but her music is not my cup of tea. All her music sound like demo tapes! Anyway, it doesn’t stop there; the song became a cover once more; done by an artist named Kyla as part of a soundtrack to a romantic/comedy TV show. What Show? You’ve guessed it! “On The Wings Of Love (2015).”
Not having a top ten hit didn’t stop Osborne from landing a Miller Beer ad contract. I remember this ad being all over Jet and Ebony magazine. You know, it’s funny, I always laugh when I see this particular ad. Because it reminds me of his song, “Stay With Me Tonight (1984),” which hit #30 on the Top 100 Charts. I laugh because if the ad was actually a TV commercial, this song would fit right in, in a bar, and he’s with the woman he’s interested in. Don’t ask me why, it’s just one of those crazy thoughts that come in to your head. That would have been a cool commercial tho. 😄
He Still Is So Very Talented
To be honest, I’ve only listened to his old popular hits from back in the day. However, I acknowledge that Jeffrey is a very talented brotha. The dude can sing, and he still got soul! In fact, I don’t know if my readers realized it yet, but, Jeffrey just released an album last year in 2018! The album is called “Worth It All.” It has some pretty good tracks in there! I love it when veteran performers continue to make themselves musically relevant. One song I really like from the album is a song called “Just Can’t Stand It.” The song has a nice modern funk sound to it. His voice is still on point. Another song I think you should check out from his album is called, “That Man.”
Oh, my freakin’ goodness! I just can’t get over the fact that it’s already been about 27 years since this album came out!!! Holy crap!!! TLC played such a positive role for young Black girls back in the day. And now, as much as people claim to love hip hop; TLC is not even spoken of within my age group. Back in the day, we’ve literally watched these three amazingly talented young Teenagers grow in to three beautiful and creative young women. “Baby, Baby, Baby (1992)” has got to be one of my top TLC favorites!
In Many Ways, They Reminded Me Of Salt & Pepa
In many ways, when I used to see them perform on TV, they reminded me very much of the legendary rap group Salt & Pepa; who despite using a lot of sex in their art, were still a positive influence on young up and coming female rappers. TLC worked hard to create their own look, and their own brand. One of the major things about TLC I really loved, was the fact that they not only rapped, they could actually sing! They harmonized so beautifully together. If there was ever a time they couldn’t make it rap; I definitely think they would have had success in the R&B genre.
In 2002, songwriter, singer/rapper Left Eye, aka Lisa Lopez, was killed in a tragic car accident, while visiting family. When Left Eye died, it was a major blow to the hip hop community. I don’t remember anyone receiving the level of love Left Eye got since Aaliyah’s death just the year before. You know, I couldn’t help but to notice that, TLC had a lot of #1s, yet a documentary was produced for Left Eye in 2007; however the group itself did not get a documentary until Universal Studios recently produced one in 2018. If you’re a TLC fan, you can watch the documentary on Netflix streaming. Now just for the record, I do know they have a docudrama produced in 2013 called Crazy sexy Cool, but that’s not the same as an actual documentary.
TLC Sported 4 Number Ones, And 9 Top Tens
TLC sported 4 number ones, and 9 top ten hits. That’s pretty darn impressive for an all female group, at a time where female rappers were not taken seriously (still). Although TLC were one of many groups that cracked open the stereotypes, young male rappers still dominated that era. In addition to Baby, Baby, Baby; some of my other favorites are all 4 of their number ones, which includes “Water Falls,” Unpretty,” “Creep,” and “Scrubs.” I also like “Diggin’ On You.” Check out Spotify’s awesome TLC Playlist.