Did you know that Stephanie Mills was the ORIGINAL Dorothy, of the first Broadway play of “The Wiz?” Yup! The play opened in 1975 thru 1977. I believe she performed for the entire two years (I think). I had the original Broadway album. You guys have got to hear her original live recording of “Home.” The song eventually shot to #1 on the R&B charts, and this became the start of Stephanie’s amazing career!
Did You Know?
Even today, every time I hear Stephanie sing Home, it brings chills down my spine. It was as tho that song was made just for her. No matter how many times she sings this song, when she picks up that mic, you know she’s going to tear it up lovely! I once read an article where she stated the auditioning she had to go through for The Wiz was brutal. I’m so happy she went through all of that, cause I can’t imagine anybody else doing this song so well. She was a powerful influence for young Black girls.
Gosh…. 1979! I can’t believe how long ago it’s been. My favorite Stephanie Mills song of all times is on this album! As far as I’m concerned, the disco world closed the 70s era, with one of the best disco song ever! (in my opinion). “What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin’” had a smooth consistent beat, and it had the kind of beat that both young and old could dance too. This was the first gift my late aunt give to me @ the age of 12. I was the happiest boy ever that day. I played that song so much, I’m surprised the album didn’t turn in to dust. 😂 This was such a popular song, I’m suprised it didn’t rank higher on the billboards. What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin’ ranked #8 on the R&B charts, and #22 on the Top 100.
20th Century Collection
Mills possesses such a beautiful and unique voice in my opinion. It’s so distinctive that on the first note, fans all know exactly who it is! I’m surprised that Spotify doesn’t have more of her old albums. However, the have most, if not all of her major hits, as well as my favorite lesser known songs. I thought about creating a playlist, but instead just go to her 20th Century Collection.
In the very late eighties, 1988 to be exact, a group called Will To Power released a song called “Baby, I Love Your Way / Freebird Medley.” This has got to be my favorite love ballads from a rock band of all times!! Actually, although the song was categorized as rock, the band itself does mostly pop. There have been many versions, but their interpretation is the best. The song hit number 1, and stayed on the charts for about 24 weeks. This became the mother theme song of all theme songs in the 80s (at least in terms of pop culture). This song was a reinterpretation of Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way,” which only reached #12 on the Hot 100 Charts in 1976. It’s very curious that there doesn’t appear to be any official studio version of this song from Frampton; it appears that he only recorded this live.
I found this guy on Jamendo. By the way, I don’t know if any of my readers have used Jamendo before; but in the beginning I used to find some awesome music. Now, their artists are sending really, really horrible music!!! It’s become harder and harder to find good stuff there (even with the breakdown of genres). That’s a shame. Looks like I’m going to drop Jamendo from my list of resources. Anyway…….
I’m Going To Drop Jamendo
Thankfully I did find someone I liked. His name is Volodymyr Gavrylyuk, and he is from the Ukraine. He produced a really nice reggae instrumental called “Happy Reggae Riddim” a couple of years ago. It’s one of those medleys you’d hear in one of those airline commercials to the Bahamas. Really nice tho… He also produced another laid back instrumental I like called “Positive Acid Jazz,” released as a single in 2017. Of course, there’s hardly any information on Volodymyr Gavrylyuk, however, he does have a Facebook page.
Damn! I forgot about these guys!! Recently, I was watching some old music videos on cable and A-Ha popped up! Man! I remember watching them on MTV, when MTV was just starting out!! I still have the 45rpm somewhere at home. Their song “Take On Me,” was released in 1985, and became their only #1 hit in their career. It was an extremely popular & catchy pop song. I think their song was the first pop record I ever purchased (I think). According to The Billboards, there was another song they produced that reached #20, but I personally didn’t like it. I don’t know, maybe some of my readers remember it. The song is called “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.“
Wow! When I tell you this band was HUGE! I do mean HUGE! Another forgotten band that is worthy of remembering, especially if you’re a fan of funk music. In fact, in my opinion they were the kings of funk; their music was similar to Parliament. Although the Ohio Players had many more hits. In addition to probably being most remembered for their risque album covers; they’re also remembered for one of their biggest hits of their career. The song is called “Fire,” released in 1975. “Fire” hit #1 and stayed there for one week. I saw a lot of my family’s friends had this very album in their collection!
Another huge Ohio Players hit was “Love Rollercoaster,” this song also hit #1 and stayed there for an entire week, and it too was released in 1975. This became one of those barbecue/cook out songs back in the day. Oh, I can’t forget about “Skin Tight,” released in 1974, and reached #13th on the charts. There’s one last song I want you guys to listen to, the song is called “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” from their “Observation In Time” album, released in 1969. I really loved this song, and I was quite surprised not to see it in the charts. Interesting that this was more of a soul album, and it appeared when they changed to their iconic funk sound, their career exploded.
You know, I’m still trying to get a sense of what their music is all about. Their music is kind of all over the place. Mind you, I feel these are very talented guys! I guys what it really is, is that the entire band is eccentric, and you’re left feeling like you’re not sure where to place them. When I like an artist or band, it’s still kind of important for me to figure out what style of music they represent. Kind of heart to talk about them to other music lovers, if you don’t have a concrete description of their music. If I demanded that I give you an explanation of what category the fell under, the best and closest description would probably be what I would call “Hillbilly Blues.” But, Some of their songs isn’t really that either. You’ll have to check them out for yourself.
Tearing At The Seams
The song that really caught my attention is “Tearing At The Seams.” This song is so different from all their other pieces I’ve heard. I almost want to put Nathaniel in the category of “blue eyed soul.” When I heard this song, it immediately reminded me of the kinds of music that Otis Redding would have sung if he were still alive. I must say, whatever negative perceptions you may have drawn from look of his photograph (musically speaking), don’t let that fool you! Because this man can sing! Really really sing. In 2015, he released a song called “Howling At Nothing.” Another great song that throws me back to the days of Sam Cooke almost. Check out Nathaniel and his band’s website. Looks like a lot of people follow his music.
Ever since Valarie Simpson met Nick Ashford in 1963, they were inseparable. Together they’ve made some really massively remember-able hits; such as “Solid,” “Is It Still Good To Ya,” and “Street Corner,” just to name a fraction of their great works together. But, did you know that in addition to Valerie being an awesome singer, she was and still is a phenomenal songwriter in her own right? I happened to listen to an internet radio station that played TV jingles 24/7; and on that radio station, I’ve learned that Valerie written a lot of songs for commercials! I didn’t realize this at all.
Even Hershey’s Almond Joy
Even more surprising to me was that one of them (I considered to be) was one of the biggest ad campaigns of it’s time. She written and performed jingles for many companies such as “Canada Dry,” & Hershey’s “Almond Joy,” “because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.” 😂😂😜 I absolutely had no idea! But then again, even today, songwriters are not acknowledged and given much credit. You really have to dig and search for them nowadays. I found a tribute to Valerie on YouTube, singing some of her most famous jingles and themes. I’ll give you another tidbit… Did you know that Valerie co-wrote, along with her late husband Ashford, the lyrics to The Supremes’ hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?” Now, that I knew! 😜 Homage to all the songwriters out there!!!