American Re-interpretation

Four Tops - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: MacArthur’s Park

Artist: The Four Tops

Album: Four Tops Now (1969)

Genre: Soul

You know what? I totally forgot about this song. The song “MacArthur’s Park” was written by Jimmy Web, and first recorded by Richard Harris in 1968. Man, talk about dozens and dozens of redoes! This song was covered so many times by so many people, It’s not even funny. But, I have to say, Sammy Davis Jr., version of the song is boring as fuck!! And you know I’m open to all kinds of music. This song is not for everybody. You’ll probably more likely to like the original if you like classical music. Honestly, I think my ultimate version of this song, was when the late disco queen Donna Summer turned this in to a disco cult classic! Loved the 12 inch, on her “Live And More album.”

However, did you know that the legendary Four Tops recorded this song in 1969? The song peaked at #38 on the Top 100 Chart. I was only 2 years old then. I can’t say that I love it as much as I do Donna Summer’s version, but I really enjoyed it a lot. When you listen to how it was originally sung by Richard Harris, and the way song was was structured, almost immediately I said in my mind, this kind of music was out of their league! But, The Four Tops actually did a wonderful job. Not only was the song soulful, they managed to preserve the original essence of the song. Check it out when you get a chance. You may like it. By the way, it wasn’t until I was about 18 or 19 did I learn that the song was actually about snorting cocaine! 🤣 But, I bet you’re going to listen to it closer now, aren’t you?!?!?

Simply Red - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: The Air That I Breath

Artist: Simply Red

Album: Blue [Expanded] (1998)

Genre: Slow Pop

I absolutely love me some Simply Red.  In my opinion, this is a really talented group, and lead singer Mick Hucknull is a true blue “blue eyed soulster.” I mean, based on his look, when you see Mick, you’d never think such power and feeling would come out of his mouth. I’ve always been a huge fan ever since they came out with “Holding Back The Years (1986),” and “Money$ Too Tight (To Mention) (1986).” The first time I discovered them was when I was watching MTV late one night. At that time, I was hypnotized because I just never heard any other White guy sing like that (other than Tom Jones, but his music was totally different). “The Air That I Breath” is a 1974 cover song from a group called the “Hollies.” I feel that Mick has done such a wonderful job, I didn’t even realize it was him, because it sounded just like I was listening to a remix of the Hollies and their song. Check it out.

Marcus Johnson - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: Best Part

Artist: Marcus Johnson

Album: Ballads: In My Voice (2019)

Genre: Instrumental

This is a wonderful piece I’ve heard not too long ago. “Best Part” is actually an instrumental cover of a song from a Canadian brotha by the name of Daniel Caesar, and an American female artist that goes by the name of H.E.R. (Gabriella Wilson). I love both versions actually. The original song hit double platinum, and reached #1 on the R&B category. I know you’ll love Marcus’s version, it is the perfect easy listening piece to start your morning off mellow, with some hot coffee.

Peter White - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Song: What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)

Artist: Peter White

Album: Playin’ Favorites (2006)

Genre: Smooth Jazz

This is a beautiful instrumental cover originally performed by a band called Jr. Walker & The All Stars, one of their biggest hits. Peter White’s version is a modern take of an old classic. It almost feels like an extension of Walker’s music. I highly recommend jazz lovers take a listen to this piece, I think you’ll enjoy it. Actually, I just finished listening to the whole album, and it’s pretty good!

Hey guys, Today I’d like to introduce to you a guy I consider a master guitarist from back in the day. His name was O’Donel Levy. I’ve been playin’ him all day for the past week. I thought to myself, I need to blog about him before the week is over.  The late O’ Donel Levy had an incredible album called “Breeding Of Mind (1974).” Sh*t! This album is freakin’ amazing! If you love instrumental jazz R&B (maybe a little of easy funk too), there’s no doubt in my mind you’d fall in love with this album as I did. It’s a cryin’ shame that I saw no meaningful information about him on Billboard. Then again, I’m not surprised.

O' Donel Levey - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Music aficionados would call Levy’s music modern jazz today. His style reminds  me a lot of legendary George Benson. In fact, at one time, he actually toured with both George Benson and Jimmy McGriff. Levy’s album is filled with absolutely brilliant reinterpretations of well known classics. My strongest favorite is his rendition of The Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun.” I hate using words over and over, but this piece is amazing! This is what I call relaxing smooth jazz! It’s the kind of music you can play while chatting & brunching with friends.

O' Donel Levy - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I also encourage you to check out two more pieces from this album. His rendition of Carole King’s “Too Late, ” and The Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Both are absolute masterpieces as well in my opinion. His music creates a very smooth atmosphere. Legendary O’ Donel Levy died in 2016. We lost an amazing jazz talent.

Kelly Finnigan - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

You guys need to check this dude out as soon as you can! Oh….. My….. Goodness!!! This man has a voice on him!! I can’t remember hearing any other Caucasian artist (at least in this generation) that deserves the title “Blue Eyed Soul.” Soul music is being reborn before my ears! 🤣 Kelly Finnigan is a lead singer of a group called “Monophonics,” which is an indie band. Finnigan just released a solo album that sounds awesome. Just like my new favorite independent artist, Curtis Harding, Finnigan has captured the spirit of classic soul, and brought it back in today’s time line. The essence of soul is so authentic, if I did not google him, I would have sworn up and down this was something from the 60s.

SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I haven’t found a whole lot of juicy information about Finnigan to share, so I’ll just leave you with some of his new music I absolutely love. First off, check out my top favorite from his new 2019 album called “I Don’t Wanna Wait.” You can’t get more new age soul than this song right here. You wanna know what else is special about this song? Not only is it authentically soul, he written this song from scratch! Actually, I think his entire album was written by him. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!! Also check out “Catch Me I’m Falling.” Another great masterpiece!! It looks like he released only the first song from his new album to Spotify; and the second song (which was released last year). If you’re interested, you can get his music on Bandcamp. I’m a little aggravated that he didn’t offer more samples of his music. However, I’m really digging his music so far, and I may buy/pre-order his new album anyways.


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SpotifyThrowvacks.com

Not sure if many of my blog fans remember an old group called “The New Birth?” (Not to be confused with “New Birth Brass Band”) They were a funk & R&B band from Detroit. This was a gigantic band back in the day. They probably were about the same size (in numbers) if not larger than Earth Wind & Fire. Ha! Those days of big bands and BoysIIMen performers are gone. Your group would have to be pretty spectacular for any label to sign a group of equal size.

SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I have to say that although I was not turned on by most of their music, that’s not to say that they weren’t a talented group. I wouldn’t hold them under the same candle as Earth, Wind, & Fire, but they were good! They’ve made more than several albums throughout their career, and managed to produce 3 top 10 hits. Their first song to hit #1 was a song called “Dream Merchant (1975).” #4th position was “I Can Understand It (1975).” Their 3rd top 10 hit was ok “It’s Been A Long Time (1974),” which peaked at #9. Unfortunately, I wasn’t particularly drawn to those songs despite being huge hits.

SpotifyThrowbacks.com

However, that changed when I heard a cover they did of one of my absolute favorite songs by Perry Como, “It’s Impossible.” It’s Impossible only reached #12 on the Hot R&B Charts in 1971. You know, even if you didn’t like that kind of music, the lyrics to this song is absolutely the sweetest I’ve ever heard. Also check out their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Never Can Say Goodbye (1971).” Lastly, listen to their cover of Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds’s classic “Fallin’ In Love (1976).” I guess it appears that all the songs I love from them, were all covers.


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Isn't It A Shame by Tracy Hamilton / Pieces Of A Dream - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Have any of my readers heard of Tracy Hamlin? Speaking for myself, I have never heard of her until recently. According to my research, she’s been around for quite some time. She started out performing in a modern jazz band called “Pieces Of A Dream.” The band has been around since 1976, however, Hamlin didn’t join the band until the mid 80s. The group was best known for their hit “Fo-Fi-Fo.” The song reached #15 on the R&B charts in 1984.

The Best Remix I Heard In A Really Long Time!




Well, Miss Thing came out with a new dance remix this year. It’s a cover of Randy Edelman’s song called “Isn’t It A Shame (1975).” Now, I didn’t know who the hell Randy was either. I discovered that he’s a composer for a lot of movie soundtracks such as Anaconda, and TV Shows, such as MacGyver. Unless I’m mistaken, this song really wasn’t well known until girl group Labelle covered it in their album Chameleon (1976).

Isn't It A Shame by Tracy Hamilton / Pieces Of A Dream - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Well guys, I found an unexpected gem. Tracy’s version of “Isn’t It A Shame,” released this year in 2019, blew my socks off!! The song was mixed by DJ Spen & Thommy Davis. Girl friend hit those notes like it was absolutely nobody’s business. 🤣 A dance mix that was very nicely done. I really appreciate her not trying hard to sing like Patti Labelle. She sang the song beautifully using her own style. Please do check out her single. Spotify only seem to have Randy Edelman’s movie scores available. But here’s a YouTube video performing his own original song “Isn’t It A Shame,” published in 1975.

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