This section is for amazing artists from outside the U.S., and has broke international stardom.
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 laugh every time I see this album cover. I don’t know why but, they remind me of one of those Sy-Fy movies where the alien is disguised as a human, just waiting for the right time to eat your brains while no one is looking! LOLOL. Even their music was sort of space-aged. The attitude these guys are giving in this photo is liken to that of “Men In Black (1997).” No doubt a dated photo 🤣. The group I’m writing about to day is called “Soft Cell.”
No Doubt, This Group Was An Acquired Taste.
They were a really popular, and yet awkward 80s group. Marc Almond & David Balls both are from the UK, and they mostly perform synth-pop and new wave music. Well, let me tell ya, no matter how hard they’ve tried, no one seemed to like their music, with the exception of one song that became an explosive hit! It’s really a shame that the public did not take to their music (including myself), because I think Marc had a really nice voice. Maybe his voice just didn’t fit with the kind of music David was putting together.
Record sales were so low that their record label wanted to break the group’s contract early. However, both the label and the group agreed on one last try. The decided to do a cover of an old 1965 song by Gloria Jones called “Tainted Love (1982).” The moment the recording was released, it shot up to #8 on the Top 100 Charts. The song turned out to be the one and only final hit of their career. They’ve tried create that similar formula in their later albums; but their albums never took to music fans. In fact, it was probably their “final nail in the coffin,” as every other album after their hit sounded too much alike. Here is the original 1965 classic from Gloria Jones “Tainted Love.”
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
Sorry guys for not having a post yesterday. My computer died on me. You know how that goes 😞 Yesterday, I heard a song I didn’t hear in ages! It was as song by the late Joe Cocker. First, let me start off by saying that Joe Cocker’s voice may be an acquired taste. However, I personally found a lot of his music to be very enjoyable; and relevant I may add. I’ve never saw him perform in concert live (other than television). My first impression of Cocker was that he was a raving lunatic, but had soul.
I’m Thinking…. What The Hell Am I About To Hear!
I remember seeing an old live 70s performance he did on TV for the first time (I think it was one of those PBS specials); out walks Cocker, almost looking like a mini version of Andre The Giant (with the wild hair and all). Never in a million years would I have ever thought this man was a singer. However, the moment he opened his mouth, and I heard him sing what later on became my favorite song of his “You Are So Beautiful (1974),” I was absolutely stunned!
Let me tell you guys something. Generally speaking, you may not like his music, but the way that man performed that song, there is no question that he put all his heart and soul in to that song. After I heard him sing this, he earned the right to be called “Blue Eyed Soul.” I remembered my mom had his album on 8-track tape, and I used to sit down on the floor, and repeat track 4 over and over again. Mind you, 8-track tapes where not like the cassettes most people are familiar with today; there was no such thing as rewind (that I could remember).
Believe it or not, “You Are So Beautiful” was written by the legendary Billy Preston, and Bruce Fisher. Billy released this song on the B-side of one of his singles. That same year, Joe Cocker released his cover version, and the song hit #5 on the Top 100 Charts. It remains to be one of his most memorable hits of his life. By the way, check him out performing this song live with Patti Labelle. You may also remember him for another huge hit called “Up Where We Belong (1993),” featuring Jennifer Warnes. This song peaked at #3 on the Adult Contemporary Charts. Another hit was “With A Little Help From My Friends (1969).” This song reached #8 on the “Hot Rock Songs” category. You know, it’s interesting. Cocker abused his body so much with drugs, that I don’t think that it was no coincidence that he chose to cover this Beatles song.
Ok Rita, I’ll be nice for this post, and out of respect for your late husband. I wasn’t ever a fan of Rita Marley, wife of the late Bob Marley. But I guess I have to give her credit for her one hit. Well, sort of hit. “One Draw,” became a major hit in both the Black and reggae community. It was the only song I ever liked from Rita. It was a catchy tune, but unfortunately it only reached #48 on the dance club category. Despite my strong dislike for Rita, I think this song should have ranked much higher than this. Sometimes I wonder if the song being about weed had something to do with it. In the 80s, marijuana was an unbelievably huge debate.
At Age 72, I Think That’s It For Rita!
My late grandfather loved “One Draw.” The 12 inch single had what appeared to be a funny improvisation towards the end of the song. Kids talking to their teacher while smoking marijuana. Personally, I thought it was hilarious! I thought that was the best part of the song. So, I think this is pretty much it for Rita. She’s about 72 now, and I can’t see her making any fierce comebacks (if any). But, then again, she doesn’t need to. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Rita is valued at $50 million as a singer. But let’s be honest, her late husband, and her late husband’s estate had a lot to do with that. No one was taring up the record shops looking for Rita’s music. But you know, according to Modern Ghana, Rita’s house/recording studio was burned down in c. 2010. The article states that there was about 20 million dollars in damages.
You know, Bob Marley left an unbelievable legacy to the world, I’m just so sorry how his story ended. You really get to see the true colors of people when it comes to money; especially after a loved one dies. When Bob died, people wasted no time taking his estate to court, claiming unpaid royalties. Or even claiming birthrights. It was disgusting! Even The Wailers! The Wailers has been with Bob Marley since forever; why would they claim Bob cheated them after he dies? If The Wailers were such talented writers, how come I don’t see any new music on the charts since Bob’s death? It is not logical for anyone to work for a considerable amount of time for someone, knowing they’re missing substantial payment. Why would you do that? For charity? I digress. I’m sure the fact that Bob messed around with a lot of women did not make things easier either. Money turns a men in to animals.25% off Presidents Day Sale using code : Presidents25
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.