Song: Play That Funky Music
Artist: Wild Cherry
Album: Wild Cherry (1976)
This is another perfect situation of just how important music streaming is (at least those little of us who still value music history). Depending on just how obscure a band or artist is, we may not be able to find a whole lot of information about said artist or band, but at least using amazing technologies such as Shazam (which many of you refuse to learn how to use), we can quickly know their names, and most times discover a picture now and then.
All Throughout My Childhood, I Thought This Group Was Black!
I know for a fact that many people think I’m an *sswhole for holding older parents accountable for not using streaming technology. Well, I really don’t give a sh*t, because it’s true. Because if you actually used some of these technologies, you’d quickly realize how important they are to our classic American music culture, that is currently dwindling away. I remember growing up, I’ve seen many family members and family friends have huge arguments about the identity of an artist. And back then, it was so difficult because so many artists were groomed to sound so much a like, it was easy to assume that a song was from one band, but in actuality the song is from another.
Just imagine, if growing up we had Shazam then?! It would have stopped arguments in it’s tracks! Not only that, no one would make bets as to who was who anymore either!! Although we were all broke, we had no business betting anyway! 🤣 So, anyways, enough of my rants. It was unfortunate that “Play Thank Funky Music,” by Wild Cherry was the only hit of their entire career. The song hit #1 and stayed on the charts for 25 weeks. In my opinion, I think this was the best funk & rock infused song that came out of the 70s! They produced about 4 other songs that registered on the Music Billboards, however, they were very low ranking. I never really cared for them. I mean, that music was awesome, I just think the vocals were terribly over done. But out of those 4 poorly ranked songs, I think “Hold On,” from the same album, is the second only one worth listening to. The track peaked at #61 in 1977. This should have ranked much higher tho.
Artist: Johnny Nash
Genre: Soul Music
Oh my goodness! I had forgotten just what a beautiful voice Johnny Nash had. You know what? Listening to him sing “Don’t Take Away Your Love,” was almost like listening to Sam Cooke in a way. Are any of my readers familiar with Sam Cooke? He was another great singer too. This is such a beautiful romantic song, and I think it’s a great song to slow dance to as well. Although this is an American song, I’ve chose to put this in my “sweet reggae” category, because growing up about 85% of the music I listened to by Johnny were reggae. Interestingly enough, he was born in Houston Texas, USA. Even more interesting, he was the first non-Jamaican singer to record reggae music in Kingston Jamaica! And had many, many hits!! How’s that for awesome!! 👍
I Do Recommend That You Investigate Johnny’s Music
My grandpa and I REALLY loved Johnny’s music. Although, with this particular song, I don’t recall hearing my grandpa ever playing. But, there’s no doubt in my mind my grandpa would have not only loved this song, he would have played it to shreds!! 🤣 Now, I’m not sure the name of the original album, but also I’m thinking it may be possible it was released as a single. I’m making this assumption because Spotify has it as a single, and all other albums the songs appear in, are more recent re-releases.
Some of my most favorite Johnny Nash music I remembered my pops playing were songs like, “I Can See Clearly Now,” “Stir It Up,” his remake of this American classic “Cupid,” “Groovin’” “Hold Me Tight,” and my most favorite of all is “Guava Jelly.” Johnny has a lot of NICE music under his belt, but I think the music I just shared with you were/are is ultimate best in my opinion. I mean, not only was his voice on point, the reggae beats were just sick!! Well, you can just judge that for yourselves! To my understanding, this now 78 year old hit maker is still kicking it on the mic!
Artist: Nell Carter
Album: Not Found (On YouTube)
Genre: Pop Music
Again, this is one of those moments were it’s hard to believe a certain artist have become obscured. I really try to be mindful and not sound like a broken record. I just hope that at least some of my readers can understand, it’s not until you’re older that we really have a concept of just how fast time moves. Then, the next thing you know, you’re talking to a generation of people who don’t have a clue as to who you’re talking about. The late Nell Carter was a phenomenal actress and comedian, who also happened to be a phenomenal singer too!
Her Work Extended Beyond Her Hit TV Show!
If you ask an 80s baby, most will probably tell you that they only remember Nell Carter (if any) for her popular hit 80s TV show “Give Me A Break (1981-1987).” The theme song was so catchy, it was impossible to not at least be aware of Nell Carter, even if you never watched the show. Personally, I’ve watched quite a few episodes growing up, and I found it quite enjoyable too. Dealt with all kinds of subject matter, the kinds of subject matter that today’s writers would probably see as too politically incorrect or controversial for young children/family to watch. Nell really had a gift of acting. She knew how to deliver a joke right. But I really would have like to have seen her really expand her vocal career.
long before her hit show “Give Me A Break,” she was made famous for another hit. But, it wasn’t a TV show. It was actually a play. A musical play called “Ain’t No Misbehavin’.” I believe the play was first opened in 1978. She started as a featured actress, and the phenomenal performance she gave landed her a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award! Check out her live performance of a song called “If I Can’t Sell It (I’ll Keep Sittin’ On It),” from the play “Ain’t No Misbehavin’ (1999).” I also discovered that she was also in the Broadway play called “Annie,” around the very late 1990s close to 2000. Unfortunately, there are very, very few recordings of Nell singing. They’re almost non existent if you ask me. She had such a unique voice that was unmistakably hers.
She Appeared On Many Shows!
I didn’t realize just how many special TV appearances she’s made! That includes “227,” “Amen,” and “Ally McBeal.” She even had a small role on one of the day-time soap operas called “Ryan’s Hope” back in the day. It’s so hard to believe that Nell started out singing in coffee shops, to then become a superstar! She was a great person, and humanitarian woman to my understanding. Such a shame that her name has drifted away from the lips of most American people. Nell Carter 1948-2003.
Song: Get Up And Dance
The story of this group is so sad. This was a group that created a funky disco song that was so popular back in the day. Now, the group known as “Freedom,” is so obscure, I struggle to even find photos of them. Growing up as a child, I remember “Get Up And Dance,” being one of the most favorite barbecue dance music in the Black community.
Caleb Tyrone Armstrong and Ray Smith Formed Their Group “Freedom.”
Caleb Tyrone Armstrong and Ray Smith met in college. Their friendship grew until eventually they decided to form “Freedom.” As with many famous artist, they started their career singing gospel until eventually they turned secular. When they finally got their record deal, “Get Up And Dance” was the first song off their first album in 1979. I’m unsure of the name of their first album tho.
Sadly, and tragically, by the time the group released their third album called “Changes Of Time,” in 1981, the lead singer, Joe Leslie, was killed. Shortly after Joe’s death, the group began to split apart. Unfortunately, I couldn’t obtain the numbers for all three albums. However, today’s feature album “The Best Of: Get Up And Dance,” supposedly has their best music. So far, in addition to “Get Up And Dance,” I also like “All For You,” and I think “Set You Free,” is nice also (has an Earth Wind & Fire style to it). These were great performers, stunned by a major tragedy.
Song: She Don’t Know Me
Genre: Pop Music
Ok guys…. I know… I know… I’m probably came late to the party! But, I literally just found out about this song about 2 weeks ago. Now, I acknowledge that my more older readers probably may not connect with this song. However, to those of us who are a little more flexible with their music tastes, particularly the dance genre, I think it’s a great song to check out.
Doesn’t Appear His Music Reached The Billboards Yet
You know, I don’t know if my readers can agree with me or not, but I really think he’s the “new aged blue eyed soul,” for this generation! This young man has some real vocal skills in my opinion. He enunciate every word exactly to each fast paced beat. Not too many people who can do that. Despite this particular song hit almost 1.5 million plays, and being a certified hit, the song has not hit anywhere on the Billboard Chart. Having said that, I also discovered that he still isn’t signed to any label yet, which could explain why his music didn’t reach Billboard status.
But that doesn’t mean that he’s not being talked about around the internet. Despite being around since 2016? Give or take? I can’t seem to find any full albums. But you know what also? In my research, I discovered something I never knew before. Did you know that there’s a such thing as “The Unsigned Awards?” Yes, in 2016 he won an Unsigned Award! That is so inspiring. How wonderful that an organization recognizes talent not in mainstream media. I haven’t found any awards ceremonies since 2018, I do hope they’re continuing with the project. Mullally doesn’t appear to have made any full albums. He has about 4 releases on Spotify.
Song: Touch Me In The Morning
Artist: Marlena Shaw
Album: Go Away Little Boy (1977)
Now, I don’t mean to offend any Marlena Shaw fans out there, but her music really didn’t lit my fire back in the day. It wasn’t because I thought she couldn’t sing, she had an amazing voice. I guess it was one of those things I believed she was singing the wrong music for her type of voice (again, just my opinion). However, I do acknowledge she did some really, really good cover songs throughout her career.
She Did A Lot Of Talkin’ In Her Music
Marlena is one of those performers that did a lot of talking in her music. She kind of reminded me of artists similar to Linda Clifford (in that respect). As far as my memory goes, I think some of her best covers came from the disco genre. Her cover of Diana Ross’s “Touch Me In The Morning,” was awesome in my opinion. I don’t have access to the numbers, but I know that it was pretty big on the dance charts. I think this cover matched with her voice perfectly. It’s not easy turning a song (that was originally slow paced) into a disco hit.
Now, she did another cover of a song I thought was originally by Angela Bofill (1978), ’cause that’s who I heard my grandpa play a lot growing up. But it turns out that it was originally sung by legendary Martha Reeves (1975). The cover song Marlena sung was called “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter (1976),” from her “Just A Matter Of Time,” album. I love all three versions of the song. But, honestly guys…. This is such a beautiful song, unless you have a voice of a freakin’ frog, I think it’s pretty hard to mess up this song. For real 🤣. You know what? While I’m on the same album, check out her song “Brass Band,” it has a really nice smooth jazzy, disco beat to hit.
Song: At Seventeen
Artist: Janis Ian
Album: Between The Lines (1975)
Genre: Folk Music
I guess I can safely say that anyone under 30 years of age either don’t remember Janis Ian, or just never heard of her before. It’s understandable, because today I think that most people around the globe barely listens to folk music anymore. And by the way, I don’t think it’s because people now see folk music as “boring,” or not enjoyable anymore. My personal opinion is that a significant amount of folk music from the 60s & 70s were very political, and it was from an era that most people can no longer relate to, or the lyrics are no longer applicable to the average person’s life anymore (I guess).
In 1975, Ian Crushed The Charts With Her Only One Top 10 Hit
“I learned the truth at seventeen,” was the first lyric sung that pretty much said it all!! Ian’s hit “At Seventeen,” was a very special song in my opinion because it was a song of re-contemplation, perhaps re-assessment of who you are. The blend of mellow music and meaningful lyrics sort of forced one to re-evaluate yourself. The song was appropriately titled “At Seventeen,” because all the lyrics described what I think almost every child has gone through at least one in their life. Particularly young girls. The question of beauty. Being physically worthy of having a relationship. Wondering if whether or not one can even compete in the harsh world perfectionism and good looks.
I also believed that the song hit #3 on the Top 100 Chart, because young people resonated with those lyrics. Speaking from experience, teenage social issues were emotionally heavy stuff in my era. And if you didn’t have the kind of parents with the kind of grace necessary to help you through some of those teenage issues, you become a basket case as an adult. Maybe if you read her lyrics you’ll understand what I mean. She also had a song that almost made Top 10 called “Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking),” it only got as far up as the #14th position. I think Ian will only be most remembered for “At Seventeen.” It’s a shame because her first album “Between The Lines” was really an amazing album I think.
Song: Put It On Me
Artist: Ja Rule
Album: Rule 3:36 (2000)
Genre: Hip Hop
Ok, I didn’t intend on blogging today, but I was trying to figure out who was I gonna write about for my next article. I hadn’t written about a rap artist in a really long time, but I also informed my readers I wasn’t really a rap fan either (relatively speaking). I got to thinking about Ja Rule. Let me start of by saying, I definitely wasn’t attracted to his voice as a rapper. I looked at him and would never think he’d possess that kind of voice. His voice just seemed out of place for the rap genre. Again, I don’t claim to be a rap blogger extraordinaire; nor have I ever declared myself as some sort of “rap oracle.” It’s difficult to find a whole lot of rap I really liked after about 1980s. I’ve met many people who are heavy in to rap and hip hop who feel the same way I do.
Just On His Beats Alone, He Should Be At Least Considered One Of Many Rap GOATs!
Now, let’s be honest. If you were to hear Ja Rule rap with no music, you’d probably say, nahhhhhhh. Next!!!!! But, somehow the background music produced really worked with his voice, it just seemed to change everything. I don’t know if he produced all his music, but he pumped out a lot of sick hits he should be acknowledged for. If I’m not mistaken, “Rule 3:36” was his second album. The first song off this album I thought was cool was, “Put It On Me.” I don’t think it was one of his finest beats, but I liked it, despite him sounding a little like a thousand year old revived caveman trying to court a lady. You know what? I also liked “It’s Your Life,” featuring Shade Sheist. It had a slight reggae bit that was cool.
I really started liking his music about a year after. I really like “Mesmerize” featuring Ashanti. Also I liked “Always On Time,” still featuring her. I didn’t think I would like the songs so much, since I cannot stand Ashanti! Sorry, I never thought she had a talented voice. I never heard a solo album by her I could tolerate. I’d rather listen to a whinny lama before I listen to her solo music. Oh, man!! I almost forgot! My favorite Ja Rule song was “Holla Holla (1999),” I believe this was from his first self titled album “Ja Rule.” Do you guys remember a soundtrack project Ja Rule did along with Nate Dogg for Mariah Carey’s bombed movie “Glitter (2001)?” The song was called “If We.” It was one of the very few things good that came from that movie. Actually, the soundtrack was the only good thing about that movie.
Are People Even Into His Music Anymore?!
You know, I don’t remember the details, but I was partly listening to some radio show, that was discussing how Ja Rule was invited to some kind of benefit/function (something or another). And Ja Rule got up on stage and yelled “Are you Ready for some 90s music!” One of the radio host said it was almost dead silence! I think this was the video they were referring to. I really didn’t understand that. Ja made some good crowed jumping beats! Did he say something the audience didn’t like? No way the audience should’ve treated him like that. I don’t think Ja is one of those washed up rappers. I feel he’s very talented. Give him the credit he deserves!