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.
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.
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.
I wonder out of curiosity, how many people remember Tracy Ulman? I would think not that many. Tracy was born in the UK, and she was an extremely successful 80s actress and singer. She had her own TV show, called The Tracy Ulman show. It aired from 1987 thru 1990. It was funny as hell in my opinion. I think she’s talented both as an actress and as a singer. One of my favorite songs she sung (which I also believe (if my memory is correct) was the theme song from that show) was “They Don’t Know (1983),” It was from her debut album “You Broke My Heart In Seventeen Places.” The song hit #8 on the Top 100 Charts. The album was actually cute, it has a 60s sound to it. I don’t think she has made an album in quite a long time. Most are just re releases of her old stuff. Although I think her music was cute, honestly I think I liked her better as an comedian.
I laugh every time I see this album cover. I don’t know why but, they remind me of one of those Sy-Fy movies where the alien is disguised as a human, just waiting for the right time to eat your brains while no one is looking! LOLOL. Even their music was sort of space-aged. The attitude these guys are giving in this photo is liken to that of “Men In Black (1997).” No doubt a dated photo 🤣. The group I’m writing about to day is called “Soft Cell.”
No Doubt, This Group Was An Acquired Taste.
They were a really popular, and yet awkward 80s group. Marc Almond & David Balls both are from the UK, and they mostly perform synth-pop and new wave music. Well, let me tell ya, no matter how hard they’ve tried, no one seemed to like their music, with the exception of one song that became an explosive hit! It’s really a shame that the public did not take to their music (including myself), because I think Marc had a really nice voice. Maybe his voice just didn’t fit with the kind of music David was putting together.
Record sales were so low that their record label wanted to break the group’s contract early. However, both the label and the group agreed on one last try. The decided to do a cover of an old 1965 song by Gloria Jones called “Tainted Love (1982).” The moment the recording was released, it shot up to #8 on the Top 100 Charts. The song turned out to be the one and only final hit of their career. They’ve tried create that similar formula in their later albums; but their albums never took to music fans. In fact, it was probably their “final nail in the coffin,” as every other album after their hit sounded too much alike. Here is the original 1965 classic from Gloria Jones “Tainted Love.”
I wouldn’t say that Eddie’s 1973 self-titled album was an outstanding album. However, it is his most memorable album because it includes his greatest #1 hit of his career. The song is called “Keep On Truckin’ (1973).” This song was boss back in the day. It stayed number one for two consecutive weeks! Every Black and Pro Black radio station was playing this song! In fact, I remembered the song being so popular, it seemed as though they played it with the same frequency as the commercials.
The late Eddie Kendricks was once a talented member of a legendary group called The Temptations! However, I don’t recall Eddie singing lead on too many songs. Well, I only remembered the couple of huge hits he sang, such as “Get Ready (1966),” “Just My Imagination (1971),” and “The Way You Do The Things You Do (1964).” Despite the climbing success of The Temptations, Both Eddie (and Jimmy Ruffin as well) wanted to pursue a solo career. When Eddie finally left the group, he had a very difficult time. Because as The Temptations continued to spill out hit after hit, Eddie didn’t even make the top ten list, barely Top 40.
I’ve read that The Temptations publicly taunted Eddie as a result of his mediocre success. In fact, The Temptations produced a song called “Superstar (Remember How You Got To Where You Are) (1971),” as a direct response to both Eddie’s departure, and the firing of Ruffin. In the end, everything worked out for both of them (despite the bad blood).
Boogie Down, Was Eddie’s Second Biggest Hit
The second biggest hit of Eddie’s career was a song called “Boogie Down (1974),” which reached #2 on the Top 100 Charts. Let me tell you, I heard soooooo many different LP versions of this song back in the day, it wasn’t even funny. I loved this song though. It was almost like listening to a revamped disco version of the late Curtis Mayfield’s “Super Fly.” Eddie had a very distinct falsetto, and was one of the very few people who could put his falsetto to dance music. Eddie died early in his 50s of lung cancer.Get 15% off our premium CBD products! Use coupon code MEDIX15
I wasn’t really sure if I should write about today’s artist because music really wasn’t his “calling.” Well, at least when we look at his movie roster, clearly he was meant to be more of an actor than a singer. The late, legendary Patrick Swayze, was a phenomenally talented actor, dancer, singer, songwriter, and I think choreographer too. Although I can’t find anything confirming that he was a choreographer; somehow, something tells me that he was a huge influence in the movie “Dirty Dancing (1987).” About the beginning of the 1990s, People Magazine voted Patrick “The Most Sexiest Man Alive.”
Patrick has had a pretty successful acting career. Playing in very popular and successful movies such as Ghost (1990), Roadhouse (1989), To Wong Foo (1995), and of course, Dirty Dancing (1987). You may not like all his movies, however, it is very clear he was a phenomenal actor in his own right. He was a rare breed in that, he was one of the very few that could say he was talented in every aspect of the entertainment business.
I estimate between 2007 & 2009, Swayze, confirmed to his fans that he indeed was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was heartbreaking seeing this once incredibly handsome man, have the life literally sucked out of him by cancer. Pancreatic cancer is no joke at all. Like many artists who learn they are terminally ill, they continue working. Around the time of his diagnosis, he was working on the first season of a new TV cop show called “The Beast (2009).” That same year in 2009, after the first season was complete, Patrick passed away.
As far as I can tell, when it comes to music, Patrick has only released one song in his entire career. That one song hit #3 on the Top 100 Charts. It was from the “Dirty Dancing” and it’s called “She’s Like The Wind (1987).” Now, this song is probably way too mellow for most people today. However, it’s a beautiful love song that thrusts you right back to the eighties! I really would have loved to hear more songs from Patrick. I think he would have had a huge music career, just as much as his acting.
Aaah! You know, when I was practically still a baby, I believe this was the first album I remember seeing of Mr. Belafonte. I’m sure I still have the album somewhere 😃. I’m just going to come out and say it. In America, unless you came from the Caribbean, almost no one thinks of Caribbean music; unless you’re dating someone who happens to by Caribbean; or someone is talking about going to a NYC carnival/West-Indian day parade. So many things you could be writing about for Black History Month.
Let’s see now. What we can say about the incredibly multi-talented and then very handsome, Harry Belafonte? Well, he was born on 1927! That’s right guys! That makes him about 92 years old now 👀 ! BTW, he still looks healthy and amazing! Belafonte wasn’t just a singer & actor, he was also a heavy civil rights activist and a humanitarian.
Tally Me Banana!
I think it’s safe to say that, when people hear the name Harry Belafonte (and if they do actually remember him), they would most remember him for his “Banana Boat” song released in 1956; sometimes called the “Day-O” song. And that maybe because the younger generation heard it used in the then popular hit movie called “Beetlejuice (1988).” By the way, I should add that another one of his popular songs called “Jump In The Line (1961)” was also in the movie as well. If I’m not mistaken, there was supposed to be a reboot of Beetlejuice this year. Not sure if the project was cancelled or not.
Anyway, Harry was so much more than just a Caribbean performer. You know, in today’s political climate, the news media always take shots at how many people in office who’s been entertainers. In reality, this is nothing new. I’d say what is new (probably), is the lack of characters of the “once a celebrity” politicians, etc. Harry had intelligence beyond his years, an intelligence that America then and today were not ready to hear. He surrounded himself with great men in their own right; Sidney Poitier and Charlton Heston. And BTW, Charlton also fought fiercely for Black rights during the civil rights movement. Some how Charlton’s name always gets omitted in conversations of Black history.
Did you know that Harry was one of Martin Luther King’s very few confidants? Harry also helped MLK and his family financially, because king made very little money as a preacher in the beginning. Wow, that’s what you’d call a friend. Not many of those today (sorry to say). Did you also know that in the mid 80s, Harry helped to organize the whole “We Are The World Project?” Harry did so much for South Africa, especially when it came to the A.I.D.S. crisis. Africa had it really bad, there were no resources for them, neither was there education about the disease. Again, Harry Belafonte was, and still is, the last of his breed. He truly not only has a pure love for mankind, but sees the undying need to help each other.Diamond Hemp
Today I’d like to talk about the late legendary Bobby Womack; who is arguably one of the hardest working men in show-business. I say arguably because I think originally the late James Brown earned that phrase. In fact, the music industry used that phrase so much that it literally became James Brown’s slogan. You didn’t even have to mention Mr. Brown’s name, people already knew who they meant. Now, depending on who you talk to, Womack may not have worked as hard as James (comparatively speaking), however, Womack has certainly paid his dues to the industry.
Mr. Womack Was A Secret History Maker!
Womack was one of those secret history makers. The average Womack fan has no idea how much he helped to change history. For instance, did you know Womack wrote and performed a song called “It’s All Over Now (1964)” with his group called The Valentinos; which eventually became The Rolling Stones first number one hit in the UK? Not impressed? Well how about this tidbit… Did you know who originally discovered Bobby Womack and his family? It was the late Sam Cooke! Yup! After Sam saw what the Womack family can do musically, Sam damn near signed Bobby’s entire family to his record label, which was called SAR back then.
Wow, I never realized till today just how much Bobby resembled Lou Rawls. Bobby’s life’s work payed off in a huge way, as he was inducted in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Throughout Bobby’s career, he has worked with some huge names in the business. Many include Sly & The Family Stone, Janis Japlin, and George Benson to name a few. After reading some of the things Bobby has gone through, including the murder of one of his brothers (in Bobby’s home) by a jealous girl friend, noway would I have thought that after all that trauma, he would have had the frame of mind to still be musically creative. This man went through a slot of sh*t. But then again, he had the support that most artists didn’t in his era.
One of my most favorite songs from Womack I can remember, was a cover he did of The Mamas & The Papas’s song “California Dreamin’” in 1969. I actually love both versions. I was blown away Bobby reinterpreted the song inside out. The bass and the rhythm made me feel I was listening to a blaxploitation movie soundtrack. Another favorite of mine is a popular hit called “Across 110th Street (1972),” a story of street life in the ghetto. Also, check out a song called “Lookin’ For A Love (1974).”For some reason, every time I hear him sing “Lookin’ For A Love,” I almost always think of Wilson Pickett.
The late Eunice Kathleen Waymon, or better known by her stage name, the legendary Nina Simone! Nina wasn’t considered to be a woman of classic beautify (especially as she got older). In fact, when I skimmed through her teenage photos and compared them to photos when she was in her 50s, it seemed as though she morphed in to an entirely different person. At one point, it appeared as though she exuded a lot of strong male energy. Years ago, I remember watching an interview she did, and she explained that prominent people in the music business told her that she would never make it as a performer. Why? They flat out said she was too ugly. I never forgot about that interview. It has to be on YouTube somewhere.
One Thing That Was True About Nina, She Stayed True To Her Blackness
Now, imagine hearing something like that, at a time when Black folk experience all manor of oppression. I can’t imagine how she must have felt. Today, I’m not sure if young people could understand this. Back in the day, calling someone ugly was worse than calling someone fat. And as a performer, the thought of whether or not people would actually pay to see her, had to have crossed her mind plenty of times.
Despite being told on a daily basis that she was too ugly for a contract deal, Nina stayed true to her Blackness, and stayed connected to her African culture. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit, if these same negative attitudes by White producers then, were responsible for her need to become a civil rights activist. It was interesting watching her make that physical transformation. From pleasing the executives by straightening her hair, putting on makeup, etc. To defying industry norms by wearing her hair natural, and fully embracing her African heritage by wearing African clothing. Just imagine how empowering that was.
Nina’s name is not on the lips of today’s music lovers. She mostly sang Jazz and some R&B. But let me tell you, she was a talented woman, with a very unique and brassy voice. In fact, some of her music has been remixed by some of the hottest DJs you can imagine. First Let me share with you some of my Nina Simone favorites. “Feeling Good (1965)” is a nice one I recommend; I also loved her version of “Screaming Jay” Hawkins’s “I Put A Spell On You (1965).” I also love her original “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1964),” and despite what many people believe, this song was specifically written for Nina. Therefore, this song was NOT The Animals‘s original song.
Some of my favorite remixes include a song called “Baltimore,” I think it was remixed by Creed Taylor. It has a sick reggae beat, I love it. Another remix you must hear is a song called “I Can’t See Nobody,” remixed by Daniel Yaghoubi. “Turn Me On” is a cute remix done by Tony Humphies. Whenever you get a chance, I really think you should look her up on google, her story is fascinating. Nina died at the age of 70, in 2003. Her daughter followed in her footsteps. Lisa Simone Waymon Stroud, also known as simply Simone, is the splitting image of her mother. Watch her tear up her late mother’s song “Feel Good,” on YouTube.Save up to 94% off cover price on your favorite magazines