All About Love
Song: Rum Is Macho
Artist: Mighty Sparrow
OMG 😳! I can’t believe it! I NEVER expected Spotify to have this entire album! Like I’ve always said, this is why it’s a good idea to use a streaming service for your core music needs, instead of YouTube. The Mighty Sparrow was HUGE in Jamaica and throughout the West-Indies. I guess here in the United States as well; we had a large population that heavily migrated here during the 1990s. However, growing up, it appeared that I only heard Sparrow played among my elders. Despite Sparrow almost exclusively performing calypso, I can’t recall hearing too many young people (my age then) interested in Sparrow’s music. But, in the music world, Sparrow was just as important and influential to the Caribbean, as Tito Puente was to the Latin community! Sparrow was literally dubbed “The King Of Calypso.”
Sparrow Brought Back Huge Childhood Memories For Me!
This album brought back a flood of childhood memories for me. Now, I can rehear this entire album in all it’s digital 320 bitrate glory! This album represents the best times I had when both my grandparents were alive. I can literally still see them dancing, laughing, having fun, and not giving a shit about what’s going on outside their world. We really take for granted how impactful music is in our lives. Music is the one thing that helps one to forget family drama, even if it’s for a moment. I have to say though, I was shocked to shits when I heard my late grandfather say he hated Sparrow😨! He said he only played his records because grandma liked them. LOL… I couldn’t understand why? However, to be honest, some of Sparrows music does kind of sound repetitive. That’s one of the downsides when record labels “keep that same money making formula.” Perhaps that’s what grandpa hated.
You Might Not Like His Music, But It Did Not Stop Him From Playing A Major Role In Caribbean Music!
This fabulous album is a 2 vinyl set. This is truly a Caribbean collector’s item. But, I was shocked that Amazon had this album for only $32 😮. But then again, I discovered that there exist 3 versions of the albums. The original Trinidad & Tobago version, and about 3 US versions that probably were more likely remixed. I know I have the original, and what’s in Spotify’s library is the original music as it was, so I’m not sure what are the differences that made the price so low. UPDATE: it was a used album on Amazon, so it more than likely was not in mint condition. “Rum Is Macho” was the one song that was played a lot in my family. Also, I remember “London Bridge,” and “Gu Nu Gu,” being a family favorite too. Check out this album when you get a chance. If you want to hear what REAL calypso was like when I was growing up, then listen to this album. 😜
Song: Dance With Me
Artist: Earl Klugh
Album: Finger Paintings (1977)
Genre: Instrumental/Easy Listening
Wow… Not only do I think today’s artist was incredibly handsome (and still is), he is incredibly talented! Yet he is so very underrated. Very sadly underrated. He has done a beautiful job of covering some of my most favorite classic songs, reinterpreting them in such a way that his music forces you to just relax and enjoy! There aren’t many artists that has that kind of power today. His style is definitely uniquely his own. If I had to describe his music, I would have to say it’s like modern day Black folk music. But, despite the fact of how wonderfully talented he is, his albums ranked very low on the billboards. On average, most of his albums are below #100 position on the charts.
Today, I Consider Klugh To Be An Unexplored Gem!
I guess the reality is, he’s a jazz musician; and like it or not, jazz is a world onto itself. Billboard’s rating calculations do not reflect the true talents of a jazz artist. Reason being, they’re not mainstream, as in a comparison to a pop artist. As far as I can tell, the only instrumental piece of work he’s done that was received very well by music fans, was today’s pick called “Dance With Me.” “Dance With Me” is actually a song he covered by the band “Orleans.” When I heard Klugh’s reinterpretation, I kept playing it over and over again. It was so soothing and wonderful to listen to. He’s one of those few artist that at times actually appear to make his guitar “sing.” Almost as tho his guitar had vocal cords. I guess this is the difference between an artists that plays because he needs money, and an artist that feels the music as he plays. Big difference.
He’s One Of The Few Artists That Can Make His Instrument Sing!
Another great instrumental piece I love from Klugh happens to be on the same album. It’s called “Dr. Macumba,” which has a relaxing mixtur I e of African and Brazilian energy to it. Another amazing cover he did recently came from his 2013 album called “HandPicked,” which got absolutely no attention, was from the legendary Eagle’s massive hit “Hotel California (duet with Jake Shimabukuro).” If you haven’t heard already, I really think jazz lovers will really love “Wishful Thinking (2005),” from his “Lovers Only” album. If I understand correctly, this piece actually hit 1# on the Jazz Chart. Last one, check out his piece called “Living Inside Your Love (2005),” from his album “Living Inside Your Love.”
Song: I’m Not In Love
Genre: Easy Listening
The group 10cc is probably the biggest rock group of my time (in my opinion). Although they’ve been officially categorized as a rock group, their biggest hits of all time (with the exception of one) are technically in the real of easy listening. If you were into rock music, their name was easy to remember, and music that was unmistakably their own. I’ve often wondered why did they pick 10cc as a group name. There were many different reports, but the last one I’ve read, producer Johnathan King it came to him in a dream. Not to stereotype artists but…. It was a fact that most 80s rockers lived a particular lifestyle, and I think their name more likely came from the drug lifestyle. I suppose we’ll never know the real reason (if any).
They’re One Of The Greatest Rock Groups Of My Time!
10cc has gone through a lot of changes during their 40+ year career. Members came and gone, on and off again relationships. However, during that time they’ve managed to keep their fans. They’re definitely loved practically all around the world. One of their biggest hits I’m in love with, is called “I’m Not In Love (1975).” The song hit #1 in UK, Canada & Ireland; #2 in the US, #3 in Australia. This was a very, very popular song. I haven’t heard anything that was composed like it before. It sort of makes you want to listen to it because it’s so unique. But it’s also a beautiful love song, about a many who loves a woman so much that he can’t get his thoughts straight. Very well written if you ask me.
Collectively Speaking, They’ve Crushed The Music Charts!!
Just to give you an idea as to how huge “I’m not in love” was, as of today Spotify has this at 150M plays, I’ve only looked through a couple of YouTube plays and I stopped around 20M. Shazams has about 2.5 discoveries. I can’t find anything on iTunes, but I’m confident the numbers are around (if not more) that of Spotify. The fact that we’re living in a streaming culture where it appears a significant majority abandon the classics….. That’s freakin’ huge! Then again, to be fair, there is no way we can measure the people who are still faithful to their vinyls and cassettes. Decades later after they’ve released this song, there is no question that music fans still love them.
After 45 Years, Fans Are Still Grooving To This Song!
Some other great songs on their hit list you might remember is “The Things We Do For Love (1977),” from their “Deceptive Bends” album. This song hit #1 in Canada, and #5 in the US. A really, really great song that depicted our culture in the late 70s. Unlike the United States, the UK still has a strong reggae culture there. Songs like “Dreadlock Holiday (1978),” hit #1 in UK, Belgium, Ireland, and Dutch. However, in America it only peaked at #44 on the Top 100 Chart. There’s another reggae song called “I Don’t Like Cricket (I Love It) (c.2015).” Unfortunately, I don’t see any chart information for this song, but I remember hearing it quite a few times. It’s a remake, but it’s a great song nevertheless.
Song: I’ll Take You There
Artist: The Staple Singers!
I have to be honest, I didn’t listen to a whole lot of music from the Staple Singers (at least their earlier music anyway). I don’t think there was any particular reason for it (I think). Then again, when my elders played any sort of christian music, it tend to be more traditional music, whereas the Staple Singers’ music seemed more secular. Come to think about it, even @ the beginning of their early music carrier, some people may say it’s gospel, but a lot of the music I heard were more borderline hint of rock music. Almost comparable to a softer version of what Fats Domino would perform. That was a no no for many christian folk when I was growing up.
Their Music Commanded Your Attention!
Unfortunately, because I wasn’t really into a whole lot of christian music growing up, I really don’t have a feel for the scope of their success in the christian world. However, I would imagine they were pretty huge, because in the secular music world, they exploded like a megaton bomb! They would later produce songs with heavy funky beats that would not be ignored! There biggest hit that I remember growing up was a song called “I’ll Take You There (1972).” Fifty years after it’s vinyl release, and into the age of streaming, on Spotify alone they’ve racked up over 83 million plays. In my opinion, that is huge, especially since we’re in an age of short-term memory.
No Doubt, Their Music Has Immortalized Them, Even By Non-christians!
I mean, you either never heard their music before (if that’s possible), but remember their name; or you hear their music and get a rush of nostalgia! There’s just no way you can hear “I’ll Take You There,” and not get an urge to move your body. Even if you don’t like to dance, you will move your body just because of the sheer fact that the song played a major part of our history. At the Cash Box, R&B Chart, & Hot 100, all at #1 placement. In South Africa, the song reached #7. It is incredibly rare that a song hits #1 in so many categories. A christian song at that. Very rare indeed.
They’ve Also Produced A Hit Song To A Soundtrack!
Another song I really loved by them was a song called “Let’s Do It Again (1975).” It was a soundtrack to the movie comedy “Let’s Do It Again,” starring Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and Jimmy Walker. I was actually taken back by this song. When I listened to the lyrics and compared them to their other music, I would have never expected them to perform something like this. Both songs are super super secular. Another huge favorite of mine was “Respect Yourself (1971).” I loved songs like these growing up, because even back then, we knew the powerful effects that music had in our lives. If Black artists wanted to give a reminder to their fans about certain negative behaviors in our community, or just share political awareness, the best way to do it is put it in our music! “Respect Yourself” reached #2 on the R&B chart, and #12 on the Top 100.
Song: To Where You Are
Artist: Josh Groban
Album: Josh Groban (2001)
Genre: Easy Listening
Wow! 😮 Throughout my music listening life, I’ve been exposed to many, many different type of voices and singing styles. It is extremely rare that I discover beautiful male voices such as today’s pick. Sometimes you come across talent to where there are no other words to describe them, but to say “he has the voice of an angel.” Funny, because (at least in America) when we use phrases like that, it’s usually in reference to a female. Perhaps, indirectly, our attitudes about male culture has subconsciously effected the way most male performers perform.
Josh Possesses Incredible Vocal Control!
I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out who can I compare his music to, and he’s so unique that I just can’t at the moment. But, if I where forced to make one, he’s almost like what Barbra Streisand may have sounded like if she was born a male singer. In my opinion, I think that is a fair statement. When I first discovered Josh’s music, I was working in a very well known electronic retail store decades ago. Back then, many retailers had prerecorded paid advertisements that would play on the loud speaker, on a loop! Actually, it was more like listening to customized radio recordings designed to sell to the customer. The recordings were a mixture of commercials and new music (pre-release).
The First Time I Heard Josh’s Voice On Speaker…!
I completely forgot what I was doin’, but I’m pretty sure I was organizing store products on gondolas or something like that, when I heard Josh’s voice for the first time. The store was playing his then hit song “To Where You Are.” I said to myself, who the f**k is that? I fell in love with his music ever since. It was the only time I didn’t mind hearing the pre-recorded tracks on loop, because I looked forward to hearing his song again. Back then, music streaming really didn’t catch on yet, so I had no idea that he had quite a few albums before hand.
I’ve Heard Quite A Few Of His Televised Performances!
I’ve seen many of his live televised performances, and let me tell you, his voice is a force that cannot be reckoned with! Again, some of the best male performers I’ve heard don’t posses the vocal control he has. There is no question he has been classically trained. Some other songs I recommend you check out are, a duet with Barbra Streisand called “All I Know Of Love,” and a solo called “You Raise Me Up,” is a wonderful inspirational song (very heart felt). He also did a wonderful live duet with Celine Dione, with a song called “The Prayer.” Like I’ve always said earlier, I normally don’t like to listen to live recordings, unless I’m also watching it. But, they both did a wonderful job the this song. By the way, since I’ve mentioned Celine Dione, you should check out her duet with Andrea Bocelli, also singing “The Prayer.” Absolutely beautiful.
Genre: Various Pop Music
Coming at you with another diverse handpicked playlist. Lots and lots of great music we were exposed to during the year 1977; but only a fraction of those songs made it to my playlist! Oh, no! It wasn’t because I didn’t like the majority of them, it’s because I don’t believe in random song dumping!! You’re getting the best of my personal favorites from the year 1977, in an easily digestible playlist. As I was researching, I realized that 1977 seemed to have been a good year for Rock ‘N’ Roll music. Rock music that I actually liked! And I said before, I am very picky when it comes to rock music.
You know, 1977 Seemed To Have Been An Excellent Year For Rock Music!
A good example of some good rock ‘N’ roll hits that came out of 1977 was Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” The song peaked at #10 that year. Although the song was already a popular hit, I don’t think it really became more well known, until they hooked up with rap legends Run-DMC. It was a big deal, because Run-DMC became the first rap group to merge hip hop and rock. A year before, they had an even bigger hit I’m sure most of my readers remember, called “Dream On (1976)” that peaked at #6 on the Top 100 Chart. You know, a lot of people make fun of Steven Tyler’s looks. But, the fact of the matter is, that man has an exceptional voice that was made for rock music, and has pumped out a lot of hits for the band.
Run-DMC Was The First Rap Group To Merge Rock With Hip Hop!
The song “I Wanna Get Next To You,” by legendary band Rose Royce, in my opinion, is one of the most romantic and sexiest music that ever came from an all Black band. Back when I was growing up, we called this kind of music, “Baby Makin’ Music.” 🤣 The song reached #10 on the Top 100. Yesssss!!! Surprise!! They’ve got other hits besides “Car Wash.” Although, it appears that their album “Car Wash,” seemed to be their one and only best album (comparatively speaking at least).
We Called It, Baby Makin’ Music Back In The Day!
Another great song I’ve added to this playlist is called “The Rubberband Man,” by the legendary group, The Spinners!! I’m not sure the hell why, but every time I heard this song, it always reminded me of The Harlem Globtrotters. The song has absolutely nothing to do with them, but I have no idea why my mind is associating this song to the legendary Harlem Globtrotters. Perhaps it was used during one of their games? Maybe, I don’t know 🙄. I loved The Spinners. They’ve had hits after hits, after hits. Highly recommend that you look up their music. I’ve chosen 20 amazing hits for this playlist. I do hope that it jars some memories for you guys. Enjoy!
Song: Love Come Down
Artist: Evelyn Champagne King
Album: Get Loose (1982)
She was once the queen of dance/funk music. But, today, people barely knows who she is. Perhaps they may vaguely remember hearing one of her tunes, because they heard their mother or father play it once, or maybe twice. It’s hard to accept that fact that there was a time her music burned across dance-floors in just about every club in NYC, and now, Evelyn who? Strange that I don’t even remember hearing her music in many 70s parties 🤔. In fact, she was one of the few music performers (along with perhaps the Mary Jane Girls) that helped to make hair beads extremely popular in the Black communities (med/late 70s).
She Was The Queen Of Dance, 70s and 80s!
Now, as far I can tell, Evelyn never had a number one hit on the Top 100 List. However, on the dance categories she has had 2 number ones, and 6 Top 10 hits. Perhaps her biggest and most memorable hit (I think) was a song called “Love Come Down (1982).” Despite the fact that I haven’t personally heard any classic radio station play her music since the mid 80s, fans continue to show her support on streaming services. “Love Come Down” alone accumulated over 40M streams! That’s pretty cool considering the major culture shift America has been undergoing for years.
Evelyn Had More Hits Under Billboard’s Dance Category!
Another huge favorite of mine was “I Don’t Know If It’s Right (1979).” I was surprised to find out it reached only #25 on the dance chart. I played this record on practically every family party back in the day. It had an unusual (and still distinct) recognizable beat. Another hit I used to shake my ass too was “Shame (1978).” This song was my sh*t back in the day! This was one of those songs that sounded so good, you didn’t care how crazy you looked on the dance floor 🤣! One last song for ya. Check out her #1 dance hit called “I’m In Love (1981).” I totally forgot about this song. This was my sh*t too. I highly recommend you skim through her music. She’s totally worth investigating! Seems that Evelyn (now in her 60s) hasn’t come out with a new album in quite some time. But, according to wiki, she is still actively performing.
Artists: A Variety
Genre: Ska & Rock Steady
Since playlists are so incredibly important, I decided to do another one this week. Today, I want to focus on a forgotten music label called Trojan Records. Coming from a family of heavy music lovers and performers, growing up, I can safely say that Trojan Records for reggae artists was the equivalent to Motown for Black American artists. In terms of the hits they pumped out, and the tremendous contributions they’ve made to Black music in general. I really don’t think, not just Americans, but other countries around the world would have ever known what reggae was, if it were not for labels like Trojan Records.
Trojan Played A Pivotal Role In Reggae Music!
Like Motown, Trojan employed many hit makers such as Toots & The Maytals, Bob Andy, Peter Tosh, John Holt, Marcia Griffiths, are just a very small fraction of the very talented people they had on their raster. Trojan is actually a British label, that was formed some time in 1968. As far as I know, the label has strictly dedicated itself to ska & rock steady type of reggae. To be honest, I can’t even recall ever hearing calypso from Trojan (at least when I was a young boy anyway). Today I’m not really sure if the label is producing new music. I can’t really find a whole lot of new stuff, with the exception of re-releases of their old music. Traditional reggae is such beautiful music! It just hurts my heart that it’s become “an old fad” in America. Almost never to be listened to again, as if it ran its course. Huh! Again, just like Motown! When Berry Gordy sold Motown, when last have you heard any advertisement for anything Motown? They had no interest in keeping the memory of Black music, only to own the value of it’s name.
Trojan Is Actually A British Label!
Trojan is now under Sanctuary Records. It doesn’t appear that Sanctuary has produced a lot of (or if any) new reggae under their name either. Please think about this for a moment. Trojan was affiliated with more than 30 other Black reggae labels (which I’m sure Sanctuary also owns or have license to), and I’m having difficulty finding new Black reggae music from them. However, they’re offering imports of their old music for extraordinary amounts of money. Another reason why music streaming is so important! So that poor people who can’t afford that kind of money for those rare reprints/originals, still have another way to access our history for practically free!
Reggae Music From Trojan Records Almost Feels Extinct!
Ok, a little about my new hand-picked playlist😄! The process of putting together this playlist was sort-of difficult. Because it is not an American label, I can’t find chart information as easily as I’d like. Most if not all don’t even have chart information. I had to really rely on my childhood memories, my mom’s vinyls and my late grandpa’s reel2reel tapes and vinyls, and pretty much start diggin’ through several hundred music streams 😜. Out of about 800 Trojan tunes I’ve curated, I’ve narrowed them down to 40 treasures for this playlist. I really think people from the Island around my age will enjoy this list most definitely; and hopefully it will jar some memories for you too! Yes?
After Hours & Hours Of Listening, I Made The Perfect Classic Trojan List!
Soooo, some of the great artists I have on this list includes the great Desmond Dekker & The Aces, with their hit called “Shing A Ling.” This wasn’t Dekker’s biggest hit, but I loved this song anyway. You’d probably are more familiar with one of his bigger hits, such as “007 (Shante Town) (1967).” By the way, I wish I was able to find more information about the above photo with Dekker in it. I noticed the sign in the photo mentions Byron Lee (not pictured (although I’m sure it’s the guy with his head turned the other way, but I’m not certain)). My late grandfather absolutely loved Byron Lee. Byron was HUGE in the reggae world. In my opinion, he was like the reggae version of Tito Puente 🤣. Speaking of Byron Lee, he was also on the Trojan label. One song by Byron my late Grandpa used to play a lot was called “Only A Fool (with Sparrow)(1977).” Ahhh, this was such a beautiful record. Byron also had another huge hit called “Tiney Winey,” and I believe it was released in 1984. Now, I know I said early in this article that I hadn’t heard any calypso music out of the Trojan label. But here’s the thing, with songs like “Tiney Winey,” artists often change labels, sometimes labels get taken over, sometimes they’re also under sub-labels that specialize in a specific genre. It’s really hard to know what’s what.
Byron Lee Was Almost Like A Reggae Version Of Tito Puente!
Next, I have the legendary Millie Small, who many Americans would be shocked to find out she was actually from Jamaica! Unfortunately I never considered her to have a really talented voice. However, she exploded in the music scene when she released her one massive hit “My Boy Lollipop (c.1964).” The song hit #2 on the top 100 American Billboard. Unfortunately, Millie past away in early 2020, at the age of 72. A lot of famous artists on the Trojan label also made some awesome covers of American music. “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” by John Holt; “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” by my girl Marcia Griffiths; “Don’t Play That Song For Me,” by Derrick Morgan; and plenty more on this playlist. I hope you enjoy!!