Classic Groove Music
Album: 112 (1996)
I’m sitting here grinding my teeth, as I am forced to consider that this song needs to be placed in the old school category. Not because I don’t feel this wasn’t an awesome song back in the day, but because it feels like only yesterday! It was 24 years ago this song hit the radio waves. Yet, how many 30 or 35 year olds are playing their music today? Well, I guess the reality is (like I’ve mentioned numerous times before), with the new age of music streaming, there’s just too much music we now have access to, and I believe this is at least 50% responsible for the loss of Black music history. In fact, just the loss of overall American classic music in general. The other half is households simply not playing enough classic oldies. We’re not so far in the future where no one possesses vinyl records anymore! Shit, I still own a lot of cassette tapes from my teenage years for goodness sake!
They’ve Made Many Collaborations!
Their song “Only You,” is probably my most favorite hit from the group. It reached #4 on the Hot 100 Chart. Personally speaking, I definitely feel this song has earned the right of being “barbecue cookout worthy!” 112 has done many, many collaborations with other artists/groups. However, I felt they were so talented, they really didn’t need to. This was probably my biggest pet-peeve when the 90s came along in regards to music. Every new and up coming artist was encouraged to collaborate with another to better promote themselves. I hated that because I saw how easily a group/person can become other artist’s “sidekicks.” Or even backfire, and be seen more of a backup singer, or an extra of some sort.
But, I’m happy to say that a lot of those hookups with other artists proved to be extremely beneficial. My most favorite song was a cover they produced along with a group called “Allure (remember them?).” That song was called “All Cried Out,” originally performed by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Man, I played this song so much, I’m surprised my CD did not turn in to dust. I was pissed to find out it only peaked at 18 on the Hot 100 Chart. I’m sure it had to have been at least #1 on the R&B chart. Spotify alone has it at 5.5M plays, and keep in mind this was long after streaming was even a thing.
Their Biggest Collaboration?
I’d have to say their biggest collaboration in my opinion has to be Puff Daddy, with the release of “Missing You (1997),” a tribute to B.I.G. Another huge hit by 112 you shouldn’t forget is “It’s Over Now (2001),” which reached #6 on the Hot 100 Chart. Over creative differences, the group left Puff Daddy’s label and signed with Def-Jam around 2002. But, I don’t believe these guys had repeated the same level of success under Def-Jam as they once did under P. Daddy’s label. Although they did have a top 40 hit called “Hot & Wet (2002)” featuring Ludacris, but that was about the extent of it (I could be wrong about that). Honestly, I think Puff had his hand on this song too. Puff really was the golden producer of his time. They should have stayed with Diddy.
Song: Seven Minutes Of Funk
Artist: The Whole Darn Family
Please forgive me. I don’t mean to annoy my readers by beating that same dead horse. But, this group is an example of why we can’t allow our music history to fade away! It’s such a disgrace that I could only find little information, or sometimes no information at all on these forgotten artist & bands that helped to change history. I am so darn pissed yo!! Black folk need to start blogging! For real.
You May Not Know, But You Know.
Well, despite the fact that I can’t find virtually squat on this treasured forgotten group called “The Whole Damn Family (which is a hilarious name for a group),” luckily, I have some sort of recollection from my childhood. Although, I have absolutely no idea where their song “Seven Minutes Of Funk,” fell on the billboard charts, I was old enough to know that almost every single young Black home was playing this beat. This groups was as funky as you could get back in the day!
This song came out when a was about 9 years old. My little feet used to groove to this song to almost every barbecue party I ever been to! Despite the huge popularity, to be honest I didn’t think that most of my elders like this beat. There still existed major generation gaps even back then too. Perhaps the music was so unique and different, my then elders didn’t quite know how to dance to it? Unless you’re a lover of funk music, I’m gonna boldly assume that most of my readers don’t remember this group. However, you do know their music.
The First Cover Release.
How am I sure you know their music? Because If I’m correct, the first rap group to sample their music was Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, with their hit “Superappin’ (1979).” GFTFF’s sample rap version was played all over the place, every corner you walked in the hood, they were playing “Superappin’.” Next sample was done by EMPD in their rap called “It’s My Thing (1987).” I have to be honest, I think this is my most favorite rap out of all the samples done! Lastly, Jay-Z sampled this in his rap “Ain’t No Nigga (1996).” Now, we’ve got 3 different major artists that sampled the band’s music; yet, I can’t seem to find any trace of any of these on the Billboard’s chart! And nothing really written about the band on the net. Now, either google (or perhaps Billboard) has a conspiracy to bury certain Black music history, or the Black community has simply allowed it to be wiped out of our memories. Shame on you guys!! 😠
Song: Soul Makossa
Artist: Manu Dibango
Album: Soul Makossa (1972)
Genre: African Jazz
If you are lucky enough to own this album, you own a part of Africa’s forgotten history. This is my favorite album of all times from Manu Dibango! And in my opinion, this is his greatest master piece! You will play from beginning to end! Depending on where you go, there appears to be digital variations of this album. This may or may not be because the album was released in many parts of the world, including Japan, Brazil, and France. And from what I observed in situations like this, quite often I’ve noticed slight edits to original music for different countries. If you cannot open your heart to this kind of music, you can’t call yourself cultural, or even diverse.
Americans never heard of Manu before, much less his music. But that all changed in 1972 when he released “Soul Makossa,” from his 1972 album called (you’ve guessed it) “Soul Makossa.” This song (well mostly instrumental) was a huge international hit! Although it reached only #35 on the Top 100 Charts (I still consider that a huge accomplishment, since most Americans were not listening to this kind of music (let’s be real about that)), it hit #11 on the American R&B Charts. Just imagine how huge that was! This incredibly talented, badass saxophonist from Cameroon, located in Central Africa, managed to rattle many music cultures around the world with his brilliance! While at the same time, forcing people to listen to music they would have never listened to otherwise. That’s deep.
However, today’s featured album is called “Gone Clear (1980),” which has a piece called “Reggae Makossa,” which is a remix of his original afro-beat hit “Soul Makossa.” It’s just a more smoother dance groove. In my opinion, this album is worth searching for, especially if you’re in my age group from the Island. I know you’ll enjoy it. Spotify doesn’t have the original album, but they do have the original songs scattered through out his other albums. My very top favorites from this album are “Doctor Bird,” “Goro City,” and “Full Up.” Manu is now about 85 years young, and much to my surprise, he is still performing! That is a man that loves music. Very few people are this dedicated. Off the top of my head, I can only count on one hand artist with that level of dedication. Celia Cruz, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Orbison, and Tito Puente, all of those people practically performed until their last breath.
Song: Safety Dance
Artist: Men Without Hats
Album: Rhythm Of Youth (1982)
Ok. This is when I know I must REALLY love to blog, when almost every time I say to myself, “I need a little rest,” I windup needing to blog about something still! LOL. Oh well.. I’d rather be addicted to blogging, instead of being addicted to drugs or something worse.
“Men Without Hats” is a Canadian synth-pop group that had a really popular hit song in the early 80s. Now, according to Billboard, they only had 1 Top Ten hit, and 1 mediocre hit. I don’t know what their numbers in Canada are like, but as far as America is concerned, they’re a one hit wonder.
The song they’re most known for in America is called “Safety Dance.” I’m not sure why, but for some reason, every time I hear this song, it almost always remind of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus (1985).” Remember Falco? His song was another huge 80s hit too. Maybe it’s just because the 80s were a fun time in terms of music. Almost every major genre had so much creativity in the lyrics and composition. Today’s music is literally night and day. But, I digress. “Safety Dance,” hit #3 on the Top 100 Charts. It was insane how much the pop radio stations were playing this song.
Song: Light My Fire
Artist: Jackie Wilson
Album: Do Your Thing (1968)
Ok.. Jackie Wilson is another perfect example of what I call a musically complicated singer. Care must be taken for artists like Jackie (in regards to music choices), because he doesn’t have a common singing voice. I liken his voice similar to singers such as Boz Scaggs, or actually, his voice probably sounds closest to Chubby Checker. In fact, when I was little, I used to confuse their voices quite a lot because they were so similar.
This Song Did Not Fit His Voice
Don’t get me wrong, Jackie had a phenomenal voice that allowed him to produce quite a few successful hits! However, at the same time, he had one of those voices that sounded like he was sort of singing from the back of his neck. The problem with that was, if the right song wasn’t picked for him, he can easily windup sounding like Warner Bros.’s Marvin The Martian. 🤣 It may sound a little petty, but, I’m very particular about the quality of music I listen to.
Now, “Light My Fire, (if you don’t know)” was originally recorded by a legendary rock group called “The Doors” sometime in 1966. It seemed as though every artist on the planet covered this song. In 1967, The Doors not only took this song to #1, it stayed number one for a whopping weeks! So, I never really liked Jackie’s voice on this song, I just never thought it was a good fit for him. However, I decided to share this song with you guys anyway, because in terms of the musical background arrangements, I think it’s hot!! They literally converted this rock song in to a heavy soul beat. I would have played the sh*t out of this if it were only instrumental.
Song: Dancin’ The Night Away
I wasn’t planning on blogging today, but I just had to share with you guys this obscure disco gem! This song right here!!!! 😜 Is one of my top ultimate favorite disco songs ever!! I think this is one of those rare disco songs that is both beautiful and elegant at the some time. I don’t recall feeling that way about any other disco song I’ve heard around that era. Each time I hear this song, it literally thrusts me back in to the 80s. Actually, this song could also be thought of as a bridge to the next decade, because this song is just as much mid 70s as it is it was 80s! Not only did “Dancin’ The Night Away” hit #1 on the Top 100 Charts, it stayed number one for 3 consecutive weeks! I know a good song when I hear one. 🤣
I Was Elated When I Heard This Song Recently!
Almost nothing is written about this singing duo. Voggue consisted of two Canadian women named Chantal Condor, and Angela Songui. Unfortunately they only made about two albums in their career together before they broke up. Not sure what was the reason for that (unless they weren’t actually a group, but more of a temporary project). I’ve written before, how a lot of labels did this in the seventies. I’m going to assume that for many labels, disco may have been very experimental, and simply wanted to see how well the label would do in said genre.
Another amazing song from this album was “Roller Boogie.” This song is a little more fast paced, if it were not for the bridge, it would have been practically all instrumental. Every time I hear this songs, it reminds me of being inside one of those HUGE roller skating rings we used to have in NYC. Both guys and girls wearing white shorts w/ red stripes that were so high up in their crotch. How do I know this? 🤣 I remember being taken by family members, between the ages of 10-12. I’m not sure if many of these skating rings exist anymore. These two songs unfortunately were the only things on this album worth listening too.
Song: Being With You
Artist: Smokey Robinson
Album: Being With You (1981)
Genre: Easy Listening
Even at this age, in my opinion, Smokey Robinson looked pretty damn fine if you ask me. Based on when this album was released, I estimate he was about 41-42 years of age. I love me some Smokey, but as far as I can remember, the song “Being With You” is my only top favorite, after his reign with “The Miracles.” The song peaked #2 on the Top 100 Chart. Oh, wait!! I just remembered! A second top favorite of his, after The Miracles, is called “Just To See Her (1987).” The song peaked at #8 on the Top 100. They just don’t make legendary music like this anymore. I can just cry. If I had a time machine, I would go back and just stay there. Or every time the year hits 1990, I’d jump back in to my time machine and dial it back to 1970s! 💚 Can’t go wrong with listening to Smokey! His smooth silky voice will put a smile on your face every time!!
Song: Walking In Rhythm
Artist: The Blackbyrds
Album: Greatest Hits (1989)
This was a badass group right there!! I loved a lot of their music!! This was another one of those groups where it is difficult to put them in any sort of category. There are so many different sounds and cultures within one song. Sometimes it’s funk mixed with African beats, sometimes R&B with touch of psychedelic, sometimes something crazy infused with disco. Indeed they were an eccentric group back in the day, and perhaps an acquired taste. The Blackbyrds are the kind of old school group, you’ll have to sift through their songs, like being in a vinyl store before you find some masterpieces.
However, the one thing we can say about this group is, these guys can sing! I can’t recall any group right now, that harmonized so well, while doing their type of music. In fact, a couple of their songs I’ve listened to reminded me very much of the O’Jays. If it were not for the fact that The Blackbyrds’s music was so different, I could easily mistaken them.
The Blackbyrds Knew How To Harmonize
A perfect example of their vocal skills, was their hit song “Walking In Rhythm (1975).” This was one of my FAVORITE R&B, disco infused song. I used to dance my ass off as a kid. I was only 8 years old when this song came out. It hit #6 on the Top 100 Chart, and #4 on the R&B chart. I’m sorry, that song should have been number one; I can’t think of any song that was more rhythmic and danceable from that year.
There are a few songs from the Blackbyrds I recommend taking a listen to. “Rock Creek Park (1976),” is another dance groove song I think you’d enjoy. Sadly it only peaked at #93 on the Top 100; and #37 on the R&B Chart; but, screw that Billboard, that song is still hot in my opinion. Moving up to something a little more recent, they have an album called “Gotta Fly (2012).” There’s a soft house mix I really like called “No Stopping,” you should check out. With the exception of “No Stopping,” the album is mostly geared towards modern jazz. It’s a pretty good album, and very relevant in my opinion. Check out “Ride,” they almost got that “Kool & The Gang” sound goin’ on. By the way, looks like they’ve added a female to the group? Her name is Theresa Hall. I’m having trouble figuring out if she’s a new member, or just a guest on the album. Hmmm Whoever she is, she sounds good.