Song: I Think I Love You
Genre: Young Pop
Wow, I guess I’ve been blogging and tweeting for so long, I can’t even remember if I’ve written about certain artists anymore 😜. But, who cares? There will always be someone who didn’t see, and what you don’t see is still considered “new” in my opinion. I’m almost willing to bet that I can’t find at least 10 of my young readers who know about the legendary Partridge Family! Which is a shame, because although many young people today might not connect with classic music artists, kids in my era did watch a LOT of TV. You’d think that more young people would remember something of their parents playing or watching The Partridge Family.
You Should Remember The Partridge Family, We’ve Watched Too Much TV Not To!
You know, growing up, I never really liked guys with very long hair. But, I discovered that some are the exception to the rule (I guess). Perhaps it’s that “swagger” that my elders used to speak of? Some guys are born with a particular kind of energy that can get away with doing things that others can’t. David Cassidy’s swagger added to his sex-appeal, which is why he had hoards of female fans. I mean, girls screamed for him in the same way they did for Elvis. In the 80s, girls were still drooling over him. Back then, guys like him were called “Heart Throbs.”
David Cassidy Was The Group’s Bread Winner!!
If I remember correctly, none of The Partridge Family were actual professional musicians with the exception of David. In fact, David was the only one who knew how to actually play an instrument. Even the scenes with the young Brian Foster or Suzanne Crough (I can’t remember which) that played the drums on the show, all of that was fake. They did it in such a way that it looked realistic. I’m not sure of their singing though, since David has always been lead singer since I can remember. Sometimes it’s hard to figure those things out. For all we know, the family’s faces could be on the album purely to associate it with the show.
Only David Was The Real Musician!
As to whether these guys are legendary music artists is debatable. I guess depending on who you talk to, and which category you put them in, either actors or performers. Regardless, there’s no question that they’ve played a role in music history tho. Their biggest hit is a song called “I Think I Love You (1970).” I can’t find the billboard position for this song, but Spotify alone shows 15M streams just on this album. To my understanding, the song was so successful that almost immediately after, he started working on a solo albums. He did a cover of a song called “Cherish” which was originally recorded by a group called “The Associations.” It was very well done. It actually sounded a lot like the original. Another favorite of mine I think you should checkout, his song called “I Woke Up In Love This Morning.” I used to play this song all the time. Unfortunately, David died in 2017 of liver failure.
Artist: William DeVaughn
Wow…. I wonder how many people remember this guy? When I was growing up, he had a massive unforgettable hit that invaded Black communities everywhere! I doubt anyone under the age of 40 has any knowledge of who he is (unless their parents were cultured enough to play music like his). William DeVaughn, now 73, is an R&B/Soul singer with a 50+ career in music. However, as far as my memory goes (and what I see in my research) he only had one hit within that fifty year time span. What an eerie and strange coincidence, that his one and only hit song was called “Be Thankful For What You Got,” as if to say the song itself is what he should be thankful for. 😮
His Curtis Mayfield Like Grooves!
It is very clear that Curtis Mayfield had an influence. I’m not sure if that means he literally had a hand in it, or the song was inspired by Curtis’s music. What’s interesting is that he worked in government at the time, and paid almost $1,000 dollars for studio time to record the album. Various members of MFSB helped with background music. I think this is interesting because rarely have I heard about someone working in government, turned hit musician. I guess he also had connections on some level as well. Usually stories like these are told about celebs who were waiters, fast food workers, etc.
“Be Thankful For What You Got,” climbed to #4 on the Top 100 Charts, and #1 on the R&B Chart, as well as selling over a million copies. According to what I’ve read, Williams had another hit called “Blood Is Thicker Than Water (1974),” from the same album. The song reached #10 on the R&B Charts. I don’t remember ever hearing this song before, but as I listen to the song on YouTube, it sounds too similar to “Be Thankful For What You Got.” I really hate it when record companies used to force artists to literally recreate replicas of various songs. Not only does it actually cause the artist music to become boring after awhile, it becomes harder for fans to find their music, because we couldn’t figure which album to buy.
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: 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!!
Song: When You Are Who You Are
Artist: Gil Scott-Heron
Another forgotten phenomenal musician! Well, perhaps forgotten in the mainstream world, but in the world of Funk and Jazz, I think he’s well remembered. In my opinion, in terms of musical status (or popularity if you will), I considered him among the same ranks as Jimmy Hendrix. Keep in mind, I mentioned “popularity,” not meaning to infer that their music are similar. I think their paths were obviously very different.
Gil Scott Was Very Politically Conscious!
The late Mr. Gil was very politically conscious. Growing up, none of my family (that I can recall) had any of his music. However, if I heard him on the radio or on TV I savored the moment and just enjoyed what I heard. I was too young to fully understand half the sh*t he said, but some how I knew there was some serious messages in his music. I admired him so much because he wasn’t just a politically conscious Black musician, he was one of the few well known music figures that actually went in to the communities and literally showed you the challenges of the Black communities. Very few musicians I can think of right now that were that passionate about educating the Black community. The only person that comes to mind at this moment is James Brown. And even then I wonder? Mind you, not saying James did nothing for the community, but there’s a difference between showering the Black community with money, and actually being in the Black community. Not to disrespect the late entertainer, but the more I reflect as I get older, I felt that James was motivated by pure fear (after the assassination of MLK) rather than “helping the community.” Fear in a selfish way. After the assassination of MLK, I felt that he was more concerned that it would have effected his ability to perform in the Black neighborhoods. I could be completely wrong about that, but….. Just my opinion.
Well, enough of my soapbox. During America’s political climax of the 60s-70s in regards to Black Americans, probably (I think) the most well known song (or perhaps technically not really a song) was called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1971).” I know some of my young readers may not like to pay attention to lyrics, but I do recommend that you take the time to listen to that song. It is a true direct representation of what Blacks were going through in the seventies, and in many ways still going through. Shifting the topic a little, there’s a song Gil did that became one of my favorites, and it’s called “When You Are Who You Are.” I think what attracted me to this song was, lyrically speaking, it was one of the very few songs I’ve heard where the male artist sings loving someone for who they are, and not having the need to try so hard to impress him. The lyrics are just beautiful, as well as the music being nice and funky!
Song: So Much Love
Artist: Laurel Aitken
😜 Wow!! This is obscure. I so love rediscovering obscure artists, it’s almost like discovering buried treasure! To think that today’s artist was dubbed “King Of Ska.” You know, I look at music history very different. I think one of the biggest challenges with getting younger folk to be open enough to listening to classic music, is with young people it seems like there must be some sort of prerequisite. If they can’t twerk to it, or do a nasty dance, or sound “modern enough,” it’s not good music. I also thought about social pressure. Not wanting their friends to know they like “old music.” But, “good music” in terms of old school isn’t just about dancing, it’s also about feeling, and how the music can talk to your heart. Unfortunately, this is not the way we connect with music today.
Finding Obscure Music, Is Sometimes Like Finding Buried Treasure!
The late Mr. Laurel Aitken was born in Cuba, and was a descendant of Jamaican family. He was bilingual, but he mostly sang in English, as the majority of music he produced were ska music. You know, it’s interesting how a genre, ska, was so huge even in America, and today it’s been reduced to an acquired taste. Even a lot of old school reggae lovers would probably be more likely to listen to rocksteady before they’d pick up a ska album.
There Was A Time When Ska Music Was Almost Preferred Among Many Black Music Lovers!
One of my rare favorites from Aitken, is a song called “So Much Love (c.1970).” A very nice reggae love song. I just love these lyrics, “I’ll never turn my back on you.” Those are words you don’t hear in songs anymore. My only gripe is that the song is just way to short (I think). Aitkens also made outstanding cover songs in my opinion. Checkout some of my favorite covers from him, starting with “Why Can’t I Touch You,” “Groovin’,” “You Send Me,” and “(Sloop) John B.” Here are some of his other hits, “Baby, I Need Your Livin’,” this one has a some sick beats “Three Dogs Night,” and “I Can’t Stand It.”