Rhythm & Blues (The Original)
This category is dedicated to the true R&B artists of my time, OR new artists that has decided to keep it simple and old school. Examples are Aretha Franklin, Etta James, & Marvin Gaye. Also new artists such as Curtis Harding & Jonny P.
Artist: Carla Thomas
Album: Gee Whiz (1961)
Genre: True R&B Music
Oh my goodness. Today’s artist appeared to be sooooooooo underrated. Well…… Maybe underrated isn’t the word I’m looking for. Perhaps the word I’m looking for is unacknowledged. Carla definitely had the gift of voice in my opinion. She appears to have a tenor voice with a wide key range. The beautiful thing I loved about Carla’s voice was that, she simply sang. She wasn’t one of those artists that tried to do a bunch of acrobatics with her vocal chords. She just simply sang, and her soul poured out.
She Has Phenomenal Tenor Range!
Her hit song “Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes) (1961),” was her biggest hit of her career. This was such an amazing song. Although she had other songs that did well on the Billboard Charts, this was her most notable, ever. The song shot up to #10 on the Top 100. She sang the shit out of this song, and I really think it should have been #1 instead! But, in the end it doesn’t matter, because that song still immortalized her forever (among my generation). If I am not mistaken, this was actually from her first album. She was signed to Atlantic Records, which was just as an important label for Black artists as Motown was back in the day.
Carla is also known for her many hit duets with the late Otis Redding. Songs like “Tramp (1967).” By the way, I don’t know how many remember, but Salt -N- Pepa sampled “Tramp” on their 1986 album called “Hot, Cool & Vicious.” She had another hit duet with Otis, it’s actually a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood,” which they’ve recorded in 1967. I was delighted to discover that her music has not been forgotten. Her 1966 hit song B-A-B-Y was included in the soundtrack for the movie “The Baby Driver (2017),” co-starring Jamie Foxx. By the way, did you know that the late Isaac Hayes written “B-A-B-Y?” Yup, he sure did. He was truly a hit maker.
Song: Leaving Me
Artist: The Independents
Album: Discs Of Gold (1974) (2010)
This is an extremely rare and obscure group, and I recommend that you research them out. Unfortunately, they’ve only made a couple of albums. They did stay with each other long. Believe it or not, they broke up after being together professionally for only 3 years! Their only biggest hit was a song called “Leave Me (1973).” Although it only reached up to #21 on the Top 100 Chart, it hit #1 on R&B. The song sold over a million single copies, and has won the Gold Award. Because they’ve only stayed with each other for barely 3 short years, almost nothing is written about them. This is so sad that a talented Black group such as this one had become lost. Also check out their unknown song “In The Valley Of My Own World,” it’s instrumental melody reminds me of “Love Jones,” by Bright Side Of Darkness, a lot. This whole album was nicely done actually. They harmonize beautifully. I think most oldies fans will enjoy listening to them!
So much great oldies in the digital world it’s ridiculous!! Absolutely no one should be crying they don’t have money to buy their favorite song or album! Because guess what? You virtually don’t need money any more these days. Just take the initiative and search Spotify or YouTube! Today’s musicians are the legendary Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. You may remember Marilyn as off and on lead singer for “The Fifth Dimensions.” Her long time husband Billy Davis Jr. founded the group some time in 1965. However they first came out under a different name. In 1965 they were first known as “The Versatiles.” A year later, they changed the name to “The Fifth Dimensions.”
Both Were Affiliated With The Fifth Dimensions!
The group has been known for many many huge hits, such as “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “Up Up And Away,” just to name a few. The group was so huge back in the day, and I’ve always associated Marilyn McCoo with the group. However, I tend to forget that McCoo actually had both a few solo and duet albums with her husband. Unfortunately, she only had one real hit outside of “The Fifth Dimensions.” In my opinion, this was her most memorable song (in my age group) it’s called “You Don’t Have To Be a Star (To Be In My Show) (1976).” I played this song so many times as a kid, I’m surprised that 45rpm did not turn in to dust and disappear!
I Often Forgot That Marilyn Had Albums Outside Of The Fifth Dimensions!
Now, this doesn’t make any sense. Unless I’m missing something, or Billboard can’t give me the information I need. I remember as a young boy how huge his song was; almost every Black household was playing this song, yet Billboard did not have this song registered. That is impossible. It was too popular not to be registered anywhere on there. I’ll try a little longer and see, but I just can’t find it. Anyway, before I get sidetracked, I’d like to make a quick comment about their album “Marilyn & Billy.” I believe this album was released around 1978, then digitally re-released in 2014. I did not personally own this album, so I was in catatonic shock, when I discovered that a song McCoo sang, “Saving All My Love For You,” was performed originally by her! I don’t even think I heard her version on the radio. I assumed this was originally recorded by the late Whitney Houston! You see, we all learn something new every day!!
Artist: Ronnie Dyson
Ronnie sang what became one of my favorite childhood songs growing up ever!! You know, I perceived Ronnie to be very androgynous back in the day. When I first heard him sing my ultimate favorite, “(If You Let Me Make Love To You) Then Why Can’t I Touch You” as a child, for a very long time I thought he was a woman. Unfortunately, the face of my 45rpm record was damaged, and I had not learned his name yet. Even after years later when I finally saw his picture, I still was not sure, as there were many female artists that performed with male energy. I perceived him with a Nina Simone type energy. But, it didn’t matter to me because all I knew was, I loved this song!
For Quite Some Time I Mistakenly Thought Ronnie Was A Woman
I guess what drew my attention, was the slight caribbean background sound. The song reached #8 on the Pop Chart, and #9 on the R&B chart. Not sure where the song fell on the Top 100/200. I would imagine it would have been in the top #10 – #30 range. This was one of his most memorable hits in my opinion. Another popular hit of his was a song called “I Don’t Wanna Cry (1970).” Very nice fast paced and rhythmic beats. Honestly, I don’t remember hearing this song growing up, but I really love this as well.
There is one last hit that I do remember. I heard my late grandpa play this quite a few times too. The song is called “The More You Do It (The More I Like It Done To Me) (1976).” This song was the sh*t back in the day! But once again, Ronnie’s voice fooled me again. He had such vocal range that I thought it was a completely different person singing this. The high notes made me think it was actually Billy Paul or someone like that. The song reached #6 on the R&B Chart. Unfortunately, Ronnie passed away from heart failure at the age of only 40 years old, on November 10th, 1990.
Song: I Love You More
Artist: René & Angela
Album: Wall To Wall (1981)
Wow! In my opinion, this duo is obscure for sure! How many of my blog fans even remember who René Moore & Angela Winbush was? They’ve made some of my most favorite jams! It was a shame that their group project did not last very long, musically speaking they were a good match. Actually, for a while I assumed that they were a couple. Kind of like Ashford & Simpson. However, contrary to my beliefs at the time, I discovered later that they literally hated each other’s guts. I would have never guessed that, judging from the music I’ve heard from them. Their music was so popular back in the day. Now I don’t hear them at all! Not even on Live365 radio, and they play all kinds of obscure stuff.
For awhile I really thought they were a couple!
Their song “I Love You More,” my ultimate jam back in the day. It was one of those songs you hear while passing by a store or something, and you must stop and dance a little bit because the groove was so good! For me, that’s an example of some real R&B music of my generation! Actually their album “Wall To Wall,” was a pretty good album. I’m saddened that their business relationship ended so abruptly. They barely lasted 6-8 years together. Which probably meant they hated each other from the start! You might remember a couple of their other hits. One of them was from their 1985 album “Street Called Desire,” and the song was “I’ll Be Good.” I used to jam to that a lot as well. Checkout another classic from the same album called “Your Smile.” Very nice song. About 1985-1986, they eventually broke their contract and moved on with solo careers. I haven’t heard anything from Rene, but Angela had done quite a few recordings.
Song: How ‘Bout Us
Album: How ‘Bout Us (1981)(2014)
I decided to call this post “The Lost Sounds Of Champaign,” ’cause, they really are! Hell, when was the last time you heard anything from Champaign? This is exactly why I’ve built this blog! Come on, be honest. And just in case, no, I don’t mean Evelyn “Champagne” King, I meant the band Champaign 🤣. The group decided to name themselves, after their hometown, Champaign, Illinois. We can say that the band has produced all kinds of music, but mostly pop, and perhaps borderline funk.
That One Hit That Probably Made A Lot Of Babies!
Their song “How ‘Bout Us,” was a HUGE success for the group! They ripped the music charts to shreds! It was #1 in Adult Contemporary, #4 in R&B, #12 on Pop charts, and 5 on the UK chart. I think this is an awesome song that you can add to any wedding reception in my opinion. There’s no doubt in my mind that this song helped to make a lot of babies in the 80s.
This was one of the very few songs I really loved, that I didn’t purchase a 45 for. But, then again, it wasn’t really necessary, as many compilation CDs really started to become popular at that time. Champaign had another massive hit I think you’ll remember. The song was called “Try Again (1983),” it hit #2 on the R&B chart and #6 under Adult Contemporary. Interesting that this song did so well in the U.S. Although they’ve made some really good music, in my opinion, these two songs were the best out of their career.
Artist: Blue Magic
Album: Blue Magic (1974)
The Blue Magic was an incredibly talented group that formed close to the beginning of the 70s. Still performing by the way; however I think all the original members has passed on. I could be wrong about that, but I do know (to my understanding) the lead singer, Rod Wayne, died awhile back. I know we all have differences of opinions (that’s why it’s called opinions), but this group deserved more credit than they got.
Another Great Group Silenced By The Disco Era!
Perhaps we can make an argument that the Blue Magic came to the music scene at the wrong time. It’s been said that the disco hurricane destroyed a lot of music careers during the 70s. Now mind you, I’m not saying that music from groups like Blue Magic wasn’t good enough. However, disco was one of those rare genres that wasn’t just a “genre” it was also a movement. Disco was such an obsession that it over shadowed many talented groups. I saw a documentary discussing how disco grew so large, that there were riots in some neighborhoods by those who resisted disco’s domination. I believe it was in cities like Chicago (if I’m not mistaken). Thank goodness that never happened in my neighborhood, but that must have been a sight to see.
Listening to Blue Magic was kind of like listening to a second version of
The Spinners The Stylistics in a way, with Wayne being that lead romantic falsetto. The song “Sideshow” became their biggest hit single of their career. It hit #1 on the R&B chart, #8 on the Top 100, and the album itself reached #4 on the R&B category. There was no better album after this one. In fact, “Sideshow” was such a popular song, it appeared on many of their other albums released and re-released on digital.
Two More Popular Songs!
There were two more popular songs. “Stop To Start,” wasn’t exactly my favorite song, but it was a popular one, and hit #14 on the R&B chart. Now, technically, this last song wasn’t a hit per-say, but it was a great song. It happens to be on this same album. It’s actually a cover of The Main Ingredient’s 1973 hit, “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely.” What a shame this song never got any traction (at least as far as I can tell). It was one of those severely overlooked remakes that was performed amazingly.
Song: Baby I’m For Real
Artist: The Originals
Album: Baby I’m For Real (1969)
Genre: Soul Music
Ladies…. If you were to tell me that you wouldn’t want your man to sing this song to you on your wedding day, I’d say you are a liar, a straight up liar! Unless of course, if your man can’t sing to save his life 😂. In terms of classic music, I doubt you could get any more romantic and heart felt than this gem right here. I was just shy of two years old when this song came out, and even when I became a teenager, I felt the intensity and emotion of this song.
It Was Almost Like Listening To The 4 Tops!
Today’s group is called “The Originals,” and I’m not talking about the vampire TV show either! 😃 A beautiful classic ballad that literally slipped away from the radio waves, is still kicking ass on music streaming! 50 years after the release of “Baby, I’m For Real,” is still remembered by millions! By just looking at Spotify alone, the song picked up almost 6 million plays! This does not include other legal streaming services, internet radio, and YouTube! That is incredibly impressive for a song that is now considered obscure, at least when it comes to mainstream radio. As a blogger who’s trying to save our music history, this makes me feel very good.
The group made several albums, but “Baby I’m For Real” was their biggest hit that cemented the group’s career. The song hit #1 on the R&B charts, and #14 on the Top 100. A year later, they produced another major hit called “The Bells,” which hit #4 on the R&B chart, and #12 on the Top 100. These guys were extremely talented, and I’m shocked at the fact that despite being signed to Motown, they didn’t pump out more hits. The Originals sang all kinds of music, including disco. If you’d like, check out their “Very Best Of The Originals” album.