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: Try Jah Love
Artist: Third World
Album: You’ve Got The Power (1982)
I can’t even attempt to find the words to explain how much of an impact this album has made around the world. How many Americans even remember the group Third World? You’ll probably think long and hard for a good half our thinking about their name, until you hear this song! This song is so unique, I still have trouble figuring out an appropriate category. You know it’s has a Caribbean element to it, yet some times it sounds more like American club music. Some might even dare to say it borderlines disco. Maybe this is one of the many complex mysteries of what makes this song not only so awesome, but attract so many people of all walks of life!
This Awesome Song Was Co-Written With Stevie Wonder!
Kind of by accident, I found out that the song was co-written along with Stevie Wonder. Stevie was inspired to write this song shortly after the heartbreaking death of the late Bob Marley. The song became an instant hit. Without knowing any stats, there is no doubt in my mind this turned out to be the biggest global hit of Third World’s career! It truly put them on the map. Probably, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it made them the most famous in America, in terms of reggae bands are concerned (next to the Wailers, and even then, most American people remember Bob Marley, and never think about the band playin’ in the background). Now, unfortunately, I think Billboard is tryin’ to charge $10 a month for Billboard Chart info (not gonna happen with me). So, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, “Try Jah Love,” supposedly reached #42 in the UK and #101 on the Top 100 Chart. That sounds wrong to me, I remembered that this song was just too popular in the Black community for those numbers to be right. Black clubs played this all the time, I heard this song throughout the streets of NYC. Those numbers can’t be right.
Again, I don’t mean to hop on this all the time, but it’s true. I’ve heard very few professional reggae performers or bands, were able to fuse their reggae culture with other styles of music and come out successful like this. If never before, this song certainly immortalized them, don’t you think? It’s a shame Spotify doesn’t have this original album, it has some good stuff in it!! If this album doesn’t spark any one of your memory cells, perhaps you’ll remember them for another hit about 4 years before called “Now That We’ve Found Love (1978).” Man…………….. If you don’t at least move your hips to either one of these songs, you’re just a deadbeat dancer. Straight up deadbeat. 🤣
Artist: Midnight Star
🤣 I can’t stop laughing at this album cover! It’s like watching one of those old 70s magazine ads for wigs! 😜 You gotta love the eighties! We’ve done some crazy stuff to ourselves in the name of “style,” yet in reality all we did was copy other people. We may not want to admit it, but many Black styles from the eighties WERE in fact inspired by Prince (for the most part). It’s so weird because listening to this type of music now, synth music, somehow sounds older than what it actually is for some reason. Is it me? Or perhaps I was listening to too much music! 🙄
Listening To Their Music Now Makes Me Feel So Ancient!
You know, now that I think about it, it must be that unique “space age sound” that indirectly makes it sound older. I mean, when I hear it, it kind of reminded of movies like the first Star Wars and earlier movies. Let me tell you, Midnight Star was a pretty huge 80s group back in the day. They sang all kinds of music, but I think it is safe to say that they’ve been best known for their almost disco infused dance music. Now, I’m having some trouble finding their information on Billboard. However, from what I can tell eyeballing the various streaming services, I estimate that the song “Midas Touch (1986)” was their biggest hit. The song was ok… Mind you, I didn’t hate it, it just wasn’t my favorite song by them.
In fact, I don’t remember hearing it a lot (at least in my neighborhood). The huge money maker for me was their song “Freak-A-Zoid (1983).” I absolutely loved this tune. Unfortunately, I don’t remember if this was a “barbecue favorite,” but I do remember a lot of people playing it. Although the lyrics were naughty, the overall song itself was an easy song to dance to for the whole family. Another song I enjoyed was their hit “No Parking (On The Dance Floor) (1983).” I really do feel that this classic group is worth searching for. Every member of that group can sing. Although they didn’t have many hits (relatively speaking), I think you’ll still enjoy some of their albums. It appears that they’re still performing. However, the last album I found was released in 2002.
Song: When You Are Who You Are
Artist: Gil Scott-Heron
Another forgotten phenomenal musician! Well, perhaps forgotten in the mainstream world, but in the world of Funk and Jazz, I think he’s well remembered. In my opinion, in terms of musical status (or popularity if you will), I considered him among the same ranks as Jimmy Hendrix. Keep in mind, I mentioned “popularity,” not meaning to infer that their music are similar. I think their paths were obviously very different.
Gil Scott Was Very Politically Conscious!
The late Mr. Gil was very politically conscious. Growing up, none of my family (that I can recall) had any of his music. However, if I heard him on the radio or on TV I savored the moment and just enjoyed what I heard. I was too young to fully understand half the sh*t he said, but some how I knew there was some serious messages in his music. I admired him so much because he wasn’t just a politically conscious Black musician, he was one of the few well known music figures that actually went in to the communities and literally showed you the challenges of the Black communities. Very few musicians I can think of right now that were that passionate about educating the Black community. The only person that comes to mind at this moment is James Brown. And even then I wonder? Mind you, not saying James did nothing for the community, but there’s a difference between showering the Black community with money, and actually being in the Black community. Not to disrespect the late entertainer, but the more I reflect as I get older, I felt that James was motivated by pure fear (after the assassination of MLK) rather than “helping the community.” Fear in a selfish way. After the assassination of MLK, I felt that he was more concerned that it would have effected his ability to perform in the Black neighborhoods. I could be completely wrong about that, but….. Just my opinion.
Well, enough of my soapbox. During America’s political climax of the 60s-70s in regards to Black Americans, probably (I think) the most well known song (or perhaps technically not really a song) was called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1971).” I know some of my young readers may not like to pay attention to lyrics, but I do recommend that you take the time to listen to that song. It is a true direct representation of what Blacks were going through in the seventies, and in many ways still going through. Shifting the topic a little, there’s a song Gil did that became one of my favorites, and it’s called “When You Are Who You Are.” I think what attracted me to this song was, lyrically speaking, it was one of the very few songs I’ve heard where the male artist sings loving someone for who they are, and not having the need to try so hard to impress him. The lyrics are just beautiful, as well as the music being nice and funky!
Song: So Much Love
Artist: Laurel Aitken
😜 Wow!! This is obscure. I so love rediscovering obscure artists, it’s almost like discovering buried treasure! To think that today’s artist was dubbed “King Of Ska.” You know, I look at music history very different. I think one of the biggest challenges with getting younger folk to be open enough to listening to classic music, is with young people it seems like there must be some sort of prerequisite. If they can’t twerk to it, or do a nasty dance, or sound “modern enough,” it’s not good music. I also thought about social pressure. Not wanting their friends to know they like “old music.” But, “good music” in terms of old school isn’t just about dancing, it’s also about feeling, and how the music can talk to your heart. Unfortunately, this is not the way we connect with music today.
Finding Obscure Music, Is Sometimes Like Finding Buried Treasure!
The late Mr. Laurel Aitken was born in Cuba, and was a descendant of Jamaican family. He was bilingual, but he mostly sang in English, as the majority of music he produced were ska music. You know, it’s interesting how a genre, ska, was so huge even in America, and today it’s been reduced to an acquired taste. Even a lot of old school reggae lovers would probably be more likely to listen to rocksteady before they’d pick up a ska album.
There Was A Time When Ska Music Was Almost Preferred Among Many Black Music Lovers!
One of my rare favorites from Aitken, is a song called “So Much Love (c.1970).” A very nice reggae love song. I just love these lyrics, “I’ll never turn my back on you.” Those are words you don’t hear in songs anymore. My only gripe is that the song is just way to short (I think). Aitkens also made outstanding cover songs in my opinion. Checkout some of my favorite covers from him, starting with “Why Can’t I Touch You,” “Groovin’,” “You Send Me,” and “(Sloop) John B.” Here are some of his other hits, “Baby, I Need Your Livin’,” this one has a some sick beats “Three Dogs Night,” and “I Can’t Stand It.”
Song: Take A Message
Artist: Remy Shand
Album: The Way I Feel (2002)
Genre: Neo Soul
As I sift through my collection, my eyes pop wide open. I completely forgot about Remy Shand! Actually, I’m sure a lot of people forgot about him too. It’s such a wonderful thing to have a way to save our memories in digital form, otherwise we’d forget about all this shit. No matter how good of a memory we have. As far as I’m concerned, Remy was one of those explosive one hit wonders, then we never hear from them again. You know, sometimes I think when these guys get too famous, the attention is too much for them. Next thing you know, they’re “low key,” like writing songs in the background, or specializing on the mixing board.
Remy’s Music Is An Acquired Taste Tho!
I have to say that a lot of Remy’s music is an acquired taste. In fact, to be honest, I haven’t met too many people who are genuinely into Neo-Soul, unless you’ve been exposed to different music growing up. The one and only song that hit the American Billboard charts was “Take A Message.” Unfortunately, my favorite song out of the whole album only reached #89th position. However, in Canada, the album itself did very well, it actually reached #1. Go figure?
Remy Won For Best Album Of The Year In Canada 2003!
I really love his almost Curtis Mayfield & Marvin Gaye style in his music. Personally speaking, I think he should have stayed along those lines. To my understanding he’s still actively performing, but hasn’t really made a good album in a really long time. A couple of songs I want you to checkout. Listen to “Rocksteady,” and I also like “The Mind’s Eye,” which is a relaxing instrumental piece.
Song: Kiss And Say Goodbye
Artist: The Manhattans
Album: Kiss And Say Goodbye (1982)
You know, The Manhattans were such a major popular group in the seventies, I didn’t even realize they only had a couple of hits during their entire career. This amazingly talented group was born in NJ, about 1962. An interesting fact I never knew about The Manhattans, was that each and every one of them joined the armed forces. To my understanding, the pretty much formed the group almost immediately after they were discharged.
They All Listed In The Armed Forces!
Their signature song “Kiss And Say Goodbye,” reached popularity beyond all expectations. I can’t even begin to find the words as to just how popular this song was. I don’t think I can describe to even if I tried. This song cemented their names in music history. It appeared that almost every house party we had growing up, had to end with that song playing. Almost every person of color had this album, or the 45rpm (bear minimum). If you didn’t own this album back in the day, people would look at you in total shock! Yet, at the same time, this was one of those weird things I never understood about my elder generation. Because this is really a breakup song, yet people danced to this as if it was a happy romantic song. Maybe it was all in the rhythm? I have absolutely no idea! 🤣
“Kiss And Say Goodbye” reached #1 in 1976 on the Top 100, and stayed on the charts for about 25/26 weeks. The song also hit #1 on the R&B category, #1 in Canada, and #1 in Netherlands, and #4 in both Australia and the UK. That’s how significant this song was, everyone from every age and walk of life responded to this amazing song! Their next and last huge hit was a song called “Shining Star (1980).” The song peaked at #5 on the Top 100, #2 in New Zealand, #6 in Canada.
Song: Various Songs
Artist: Various Artists
Wow, I didn’t realize it’s been ages since I’ve put together a playlist for you guys. Well, this album was pretty much inspired by “The Big Chill Movie Sound Track.” Remember that movie? Let me tell you, “The Big Chill (1983),” not only became a cult classic, the sound track was amazing! The sound track was jammed packed with the most popular classic sounds!! The music that was chosen for this movie was so good, when I first watched this movie, I almost couldn’t pay attention to the movie, cause all I could think about was the music I didn’t hear for a long time! 🤣
I have the original sound track on cassette, but I didn’t know about what appears to be some sort of second “extended” album? It’s called “More Songs From The Original Soundtrack Of The Big Chill 15th Anniversary (1984).” Keep in mind that the Internet wasn’t even widely known about back then. So, as far as I knew, I had the one and only sound track on cassette. By the way, there are a lot of great hits on that album as well!
Many of the songs on today’s featured album are truly indeed obscure by today’s standards I guess. However, to people from my age group this music still feels like yesterday! In total, my playlist consists of 12 amazing original recordings. Unfortunately, about half of these Motown recordings have been forgotten. However, in this particular case, I think they’ve been forgotten not because the music was mediocre; I actually think it was because other huge hits these same artists had over shadowed the music on this album.
Some of those forgotten gems include “The Happening,” by The Supremes. To my understanding this was actually #1 Top 100 Chart in 1967. Another forgotten gem is by Mary Wells, called “You Beat Me To The Punch.” That was an amazing song by her, unfortunately, I think her other hit “My Guy” was so huge, it just destroyed people’s memory of “You Beat Me To The Punch.” And then there’s “Hitch Hike (1963),” by Marvin Gaye. When it comes to Marvin Gaye’s music, “Hitch Hike” is as obscure as it comes. I doubt a whole lot of people remember it. Well, I hope you guys enjoy this playlist. it’s one of my favorite classic albums. Just FYI, one of the songs on this sound track was not by Motown. Can you guess which ones? 😄 If you want to hear the first original sound track, it’s here.