Song: Sitting In The Park
Album: TWO (1980)
Another amazingly talented band that has been forgotten. Even when I’d visit 70s/80s parties, maybe once or twice I’ve heard their music played. This awesome band formed in the Bronx, New York, sometime in the late 60s. Their history is hard for me to trace, as they’ve performed under different names & different music labels. Their music genre was mostly disco. They almost had a Chic, sound to their music in my opinion.
They’ve Produced 2 Unforgettable Hits!
Most older folk would probably remember their monumental #1 R&B hit “Disco Nights (Rock Freak) (1979).” I used to dance the hell out of this song. One of the very few songs I’ve heard where R&B and Disco merged beautifully (in my opinion). You may also remember their cover of Billy Stewart’s 1965 classic “I Do Love You (1979).” Their rendition did very well, reaching #5 on the R&B chart. However, from that same year (I believe) there was another cover they did by Billy Stewart, and I don’t recall the song receiving a whole lot of buzz. It’s called “Sitting In The Park (1980).” They did a beautiful job with this song as well, and I appreciated how they kept the essence of the song in tact, without changing the song completely. It reached #9 on the R&B Chart. Unfortunately, the groups ended before 2000. Keith Crier (above, first left) passed away, and the remaining group members eventually went their separate ways doing other things. So sad.
Song: Mr. Blue Sky
Artist: Electric Light Orchestra
Album: Out Of The Blue (1977)
Guys, please don’t judge their name! Although their name sounds like they belong to some sort of circus or novelty act, this England born band produced beyond amazing music when I was growing up. And the proof in that, is their staggering streaming numbers. The song “Mr. Blue Sky” was released in 1977, how the hell did it manage to gather 360M streams from Spotify alone? Are you kidding me? That’s the kind of streams that only someone like Whitney Houston, or Michael Jackson got. Yet, if you ask the average person who they are, they draw a blank! Most people don’t have a clue.
How Can A Group Get So Much Plays, Yet People Barely Remember Them?
That’s mind boggling to me. Either this is an example of how complicated an artist/band stats are, or streaming is moving so incredibly fast, that we are missing a major part of our music history! Don’t you think? To throw an even bigger wrench into the equation, they never had a number one hit! But they do have 7 Top Tens under their belt.
Despite “Mr. Blue Sky” being so successful, the song was at the bottom when it came to my favorites. The song that I think is probably most known/remembered was from their album “A New World Record,” the song is called “Telephone Line (1976).”It also happens to be one of my top favorites. This peaked at #7 on the Top 100, and was their highest ranking song on the charts. Also, from that same album was another favorite of mine called “Livin’ Thing,” and it only peaked at #13 (which is not bad). It’s a really nice album, I recommend it. Check out some of their other hits, “Don’t Break Me Down,” and another great song of theirs “Evil Woman.”
Song: Free Me From My Freedom
Artist: Bonnie Pointer
Soulful singer Bonnie Pointer is the sister of singing group, the Pointer Sisters. I started off my title with “What A Shame,” because quite frankly, it is. It’s a same because she has become one of many really, really talented forgotten American performers. Also, I say it’s a shame because of her battle with drugs and alcohol. It breaks my heart to see people who have the gift of singing, and their careers have literally been obliterated by drugs. But, it is also so common among extremely famous music artists of the 70s & 80s (mostly in my opinion (it seems)). From her public divorce, to her embarrassing mugshot after being caught for drug possession. Bonnie became a steamy hot plate of mess. The worst thing in the world is for a music artist to be on TMZ’s list, because a significant amount of music fan base reads and watches TMZ. You can read more about it from The Daily Mail.
In Essence, She Lost Her Career Through Drugs & Alcohol!
I’m not sure if a lot of people remember, but… Back in the day, we had a lot of what I think was called “Double Featured Albums,” such as the one I have below. Usually the music labels would release 12 inch version of 1 hit song from 2 different artists on the same album. Side A for one artist and side B for the other. Man, I played the hell out of “Free Me From My Freedom (1978).” This was my sh*t. This was a powerful, soulful and a fun disco love song, that in essence talks about telling her man to take her off the singles market. I love these kinds of love songs. I hate love songs where the lyrics sound like the singer is begging.
Now, I have to be honest, I hated “What You Gave Me (1978),” by Diana Ross. This should have been on Side TWO instead, but I knew the game. It was “Diana Ross,” ooooooo. Bonnie has such a soulful voice, I really think Motown should have picked another performer that complimented her (Sorry Diana Ross fans). Now, according to Wikipedia, “What You Gave Me,” was actually a cover of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, ’cause Wiki recorded the release date as being 1969. By the way, I liked Marvin & Tammi‘s version better. Way better.
After Bonnie Gone Solo, She Only Had 3 Major hits (Tho Not Number Ones)!
It was absolutely disappointing that Bonnie’s amazing song “Free Me From My Freedom,” only peaked at #58 on the Top 100, and only #26 on the Club Chart. Perhaps despite being a dance song, the rhythm wasn’t fast enough to appeal to more dance fans? Two other popular hits you should listen to. “Heaven Must Have Sent You (1979)” should be the first you listen to! This song was not only the most popular, but the biggest one of her career. It shot up to #11 on the Top 100. Wasn’t a Top 10, but it was close enough 😄. Lastly, she made a cover of The Four Tops “I Can’t Help Myself (1980).” I have to say tho, this song had to grow on me. I wasn’t immediately turned on by the song, but I’ve come to like it over time.
Artist: Pat Benatar
Album: Crimes Of Passion (1980)
Genre: Alternative Rock
You know, technically, I don’t think Pat Benatar is a forgotten artists per-say. At least not from the standpoint of her music being obscure. However, I do think she’s a forgotten artist from the standpoint of her being a woman within the rock genre. Like rap, the 80s was really tough for female rockers, in a male dominated genre. She had (and still has) the voice for rock music, but unfortunately this very talented rock artist never had a number one, and as far as I know, never been inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame. However, that didn’t stop her from obtaining 4 awesome Top 10 Hits! As I’ve said earlier, I’ve never had any particular interest in borderline hard rock. But, Mrs. Benatar was one of those rare acceptations.
Such Power In Her Voice, Yet She Never Had A #1 Song!
And one of the 4 Top Tens, happens to be today’s song pick. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” from her 1980s “Crimes Of Passions” album. This song peaked at #9, and in my opinion, is probably one of the most memorable songs of her career. To my understanding, this song was actually her first Top 10 Hit. The song was so popular, it was heard during many sports games and sports commercials. Another hit I loved was her song “Love Is A Battle Field (1989).” I thought the video was awesome too. While I mentioned her video, I want you to check it out. One of the dancers has a striking resemblance to Stephanie Mills. I’ll give you one more favorite. The song “We Belong (1985),” was a badass song back in the day. I used to listen to it all the time. This amazing song reached #5 on the Top 100 Chart.
Song: I Wanna Love You Forever
Artist: Jessica Simpson
Album: Sweet Kisses (1999)
Ok, I’ve really changed gears on my readers today! Do you guys remember Jessica Simpson? I’m gonna make an assumption that ruffly the middle aged group have heard of her, or played her music. Boy, talk about celebrity media drama! This girl’s life stayed in the news! I used to wonder which celebrity had the most personal stuff out on the news; Jessica or Britney Spears! Actually on some songs, they kind of sound a like. LOL However, make no mistake, Jessica is the one with the real golden voice.
Media Portrayed Jessica As A Space Cadet!
Whether the news was about her then estranged relationship with her now ex-husband Nick Lachey, or her children, you name it, it was out there to be judged and ridiculed by the media. One of the main awful things I remembered about the media at the time, was how they did their damnedest to portray Jessica as stupid, or a “dumb blonde” if you will. Granted, I never knew her personally, I’m just a blogger. However, any fan that followed her career can see she’s not just a vocalist, she’s also a fashion designer, author, and an actress!
In order to do any one of those things, you must have some level of brain capacity. And I’m learning from experience, writing a book is NOT easy. I believe her album “Sweet Kisses (1999),” was her first. From that album “I Wanna Love You Forever” shot up to #3 on the Top 100 Charts. I think she sang the shit out of this song! It remains my most favorite out of all her work. On that same album, she has a song called “I Think I’m In Love With You,” using sample music from John Cougar Melloncamp’s song “Jack & Diane.” I really liked this one as well, but it only reached #21. Still a good number tho! Say what you will about Jessica, you can not deny her vocal talents.
Song: You are In My System
Artist: The System
Album: Sweat (1983)
Ok guys… This is one of those situations where, I do not think this group is anywhere near extraordinarily talented. I’m not even sure if I think their music is average. Honestly, I think they’re the kind of group that you may hear cover for a sick performer, or perhaps open a show for someone more famous. Lead singer Mic Murphy & keyboardist David Frank, came together to form “The System.” They started their career in the early 80s. I believe the above was actually their first album I think.
They’ve Performed Off And On Throughout Their Career.
Although, I wasn’t particularly turned by their music, they did produce two of what became my only favorites by them. The first is a song called “You Are In My System,” released in 1983. I remember hearing this music a lot, just before dance movies started becoming popular, like “Beat Street (1984).” The song only reached #64 on the Top 100 Chart, but reached #10 under R&B singles. If I’m not mistaken, Robert Palmer did a cover of this song too. Would you believe Robert’s version reached #4 on the dance category? That was interesting to me, since I don’t think he really changed the music arrangements much. I guess it really boiled down to performance.
The second and last song they’ve mad that became my ultimate favorite, as a song called “Don’t Disturb This Groove.” It was released in 1987, and it was off of their tittle album “Don’t Disturb This Groove.” Now, oooooooo snaps!! This song was boss in my opinion! And I guess other people thought so too, because it shot up to #1 on the R&B category and #4 on the Top 100 Chart. Growing up I never had any of their albums, but I loved hearing it on the radio. You should check out the video too.
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: Love’s Train
Artist: Con Funk Shun
Wow!! Blast from the past, for your nerves!!! Are those memory cells burning up yet? I hope so, because I’ve got limitless classics to share with my readers! I can’t keep up. Well, it’s been a really long time since I’ve heard anything from Con Funk Shun. Do you remember them? Man I used to love how they used to harmonize together. It was as tho they were born as septuplets, singing together in harmony. Although the word “Funk” is in their name, they actually made different types of music, ranging from funk to disco.
Although Funk Is In Their Name, They Sang Different Types Of Music
However, there was one romantic song that became my absolute favorite! That song was “Love’s Train (1982).” Now, I’m a bit surprised to find out that the song hit only #47 on the R&B charts. It’s hard for me to believe that because the song was so popular growing up. I heard it on the radio all the time! But, like I said before, this goes to show you, the stations you listen to back in the day unfortunately made a bit of a difference.
Now, despite the song reaching only #47 (which technically isn’t a horrible number in my opinion, just not recognized as a top hit), in terms of streaming, this song earned the most plays of all their other songs. And that even includes across several of their greatest hits albums. Over 5+ million plays “Love’s Train” received ya’ll! The second most popular hit was this funk dance tune called “Ffun (1977).” I hate to call Con Funk Shun a one hit wonder group (although I guess technically they are when it comes to stats), but they did make some good music. I guess the other truth of the matter is that their music was also very typical of the 80s, and a lot of bands like them were producing the same funk sounds.