Classic Groove Music
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.
Song: Juicy Fruit
Album: Juicy Fruit (1983)
I don’t remember if I’ve written about them on my old blog, but.. Oh well. With so much music out here, it’s humanly impossible to keep track of everything 😜. Growing up, the song “Juicy Fruit,” was one of those must have songs in every barbecue, or every other major Black “get together.” I loved this song. It was unique. It wasn’t fast enough to be a dance club song, but it wasn’t slow enough to be considered a romantic love song. It was smack right in between. The song only reached #45 on the Hot 100 Chart; but hit #1 on the R&B charts; and stayed there for 8 weeks! Awh, charts can be so misleading. By the way, this song was so popular, I read last year that James Mtune sued Sony for the music rights to “Juicy Fruit?” Read it here. The group had other hits, however, “Juicy Fruit” remains my ultimate favorite by them.
James Mtune Sues Sony For The Rights to “Juicy Fruit.”
It was kind of an interesting read that he’s suing Sony. Not that I don’t he has the right to; but from what I can tell, after the group recorded about two albums, they haven’t been active since the mid 80’s. Maybe there’s a hope of a “reboot’ of the song? You know, in many ways, a lot of their songs kind of reminds me of a group called “Parliament,” not sure if my readers are old enough to remember that group. Mtune also had a #2 hit on the R&B charts called “You, Me and He,” which a lot of people liked but….. I personally didn’t care too much for it.
Song: Lean On Me
Artist: Bill Withers
Album: Still Bill (1972)
I don’t think there are any words in the English language that exist, that could describe exactly just how phenomenal I feel Bill Withers is. He has produced some of the finest music. He is a unique musician that has produced his own brand of music like no other. The only other famous artist with that same unique genius (I can think), is Al Green, in my opinion. In fact, Bill’s talent is so unique, I had trouble figuring out a category for him. I’m sure most of the music industry has him under R&B; but to me, he’s more Black folk (if there was such a category). By the way, to all the Bill Withers fans, did you get a chance to see his documentary “Still Bill (2009)?” I highly recommend that you watch it if you have not already. It’s very interesting I promise you! One of the things I’ve learned in that documentary was that Bill was a stutterer. What a beautiful voice, I would have never suspected him of having a speech problem. I remembered how he cried sharing what he went through; but don’t worry, the documentary isn’t a tear jerker. At age 81 now, as far as I can tell, his last performance was in France last year. Go head with your bad self Bill!!
“Lean On Me” was the biggest song in his career. It reached #1 on the Hot 100, in 1972. A group called “Club Nouveau” did a cover version of “Lean On Me,” and believe it or not, it also hit #1 in 1987! From the same album, Bill had another super hit called “Use Me,” which peaked at #2. I loved that song, it has sick beat to it, and it matched the attitude of the song. In 1981, he recorded a song with Grover Washington called “Just The Two Of us,” and it reached #2. The dude was smokin’. A lot of artist sampled this song it was so popular. In my opinion, the his albums “Just As I am (1971),” and “Still Bill” are of his best works. However, if you love his music, listen to his “Essential Album.” It has practically all his most popular music, and some nice ones you may or may not have heard before.Save Up to 77% On Select Musical Instruments and Accesories