Song: Troubled Mind
Artist: Everything But The Girl
Genre: Easy Listening
“Everything But The Girl.” What a name for a group huh? I actually discovered these guys way back when I was on Napster. The moment I heard the song “Troubled Mind,” I loved it! The song and composition is just perfect with her voice. Really really relaxing music. A lot of their music really should be put in a “Modern Folk” category, but I’m not sure if that’s an official genre? Well, music has evolved so much (culturally) in the last 50-60 years, we can literally place music in any number of categories. Even hip hop has so many sub-genres it can get quite confusing if you ask me.
I Thought I Never Heard Of This Group Before!
If Joan Baez was in her 20s again, I think this is what her music would sound a lot like, “Trouble Mind” today. I played this song so much, and at first, I really thought I never heard of Tracy Thorn & Ben Watt before. But I was wrong. They’ve actually been around since the early 1980s. Not only that, they had another hit song I was totally unaware was them! The song was called “Missing (1994).” That song took this London singing duo to #2 on the American Top 100 Charts! Also, for whatever reason, it was strange that I didn’t remember hearing the original hit (or radio edit). The only version I remember hearing of the song was the legendary DJ Todd Terry’s remix of “Missing.”
Looks like I’ve really took these guys for granted. Sometimes that does happen when all of a sudden you have access to almost the world’s entire music collection on your smartphone it seams! It just never occurred to me at the time to seek out more of their music. Now, according to some sources, I’ve read that they stopped performing in 2000, but I saw a couple of albums re-released. Not sure what that means. Sometimes when albums get re-released it means a reunion shortly after. So far, it doesn’t appear that they’re doing anything (at least in the US). I’m going to flip through more of their music soon. Check out this nice smooth house mix they have called “Wrong.”
Song: My Eyes Adored You
Artist: Frankie Valli
Album: Closeup (1975)
Genre: Easy Listening
What a shame! Kids today never even heard of the great Frankie Valli! Not only that, I doubt they ever heard of The Four Seasons either! Frankie Valli was a massive hit maker, yet, not even internet radio is playing their music (and let me tell you, I’ve heard some pretty obscure music on internet radio). Shame on any parent who has not introduced their kids at some point to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons! The Four Seasons sounded as though they were meant to be an A cappella group instead a pop band. Frankie had such a distinctive voice (still has). Nobody in my opinion could sing their music as good as The Four Seasons. The songs were simply made for them.
In my opinion, they sang some of the most romantic music of their time, be it an actual ballad or a pop song. It was not always about the voice either, it was about the lyrics. “My Eyes Adored You,” is a perfect song to play at any wedding or reception. The song was also another major favorite of my late grandfather. I remember any time this song came on the radio or something; it didn’t matter what my grandma was doing; my she could have been in the middle of preparing dinner; my grandpa made her stop what she was doing to dance with him to this song. Definitely, men don’t come like that anymore.
Looking For Special Romantic Music For Your Partner? Choose Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons!
There are just too many of their great music to list all of them. So, I’m going to share with you some of my ultimate favorites I remember growing up! In addition to listening to “My Eyes Adored You,” I also recommend songs such as, “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Let’s Hang On,” “Grease,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” “Swearin’ To God,” “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night!),” and “Searching Wind.” Those are my most favorite childhood songs from Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
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: 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: Till You Come Back 2 Me
Artist: Jeffery Osborne
Album: From The Soul (2005)
Genre: Contemporary Jazz
I don’t know how the hell I missed this. On my old blog, I talked about how so underrated Jeffery Osborne is. I know he’s had a lot of hits, but still it just doesn’t seem people appreciate his music like they would someone like Peabo Bryson. But… I guess that’s just me. But, anyway… I came across an Aretha Franklin cover he did, and I don’t recall ever hearing it before! It’s her old cult classic “Till U Come Back 2 Me.” Now, I don’t remember if I shared with you guys how finicky I can be when it comes to male artist covering a song that’s been originally recorded by women. But when I heard Osborne’s cover I was so impressed! I must have listened to it at least about 6x consecutively before I moved on to the next song. He sang it at just the right tempo, with just the right octave level. When it comes to songs like these, I feel that a man choosing the right octave level is important, because you can easily run the risk of sounding like you’re straining your voice just to keep up with the original vocal arrangement. Please guys… Listen to it, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Song: Johnny Too Bad
Artist: The Slickers
Album: Johnny Too Bad (1971)
Genre: Sweet Reggae
Ok… I know, in general we shouldn’t judge people. But, I’m betting almost any amount of money that, unless you’re an old school Jamaican, or West-Indian (with age, or “seasoned” as we used to say), it’s likely you don’t know this group at all. The even sadder part is, there is so little written about this obscure group that there is little chance of discovery, unless you come from a family connected with reggae history. The Slickers was a Jamaican group that performed mostly rock-steady style of reggae. The Band’s career in music was extremely short (around 10 years give or take).
Only Well Seasoned Folk Would Know About This Group!
It’s unclear to me why they disbanded. It’s a shame because their song “Johnny Too Bad,” literally catapulted their career in ways we could not imagine. I mean, they were in fact talented, there was absolutely no reason why their career could not continue. I couldn’t even find an original album for this song. Almost every work I found from the group have all been released as singles. Now, this could also be possible that if there were more albums, they may have been released only in the UK.
If after listening to this reggae gem, you still can’t remember, or figure out where you’ve heard this song from. “Johnny Too Bad,” was on the hugely successful soundtrack to the movie called “The Harder They Come (1972),” starring legendary singer Jimmy Cliff. You know, I’ll share with you something interesting about the movie soundtrack. Growing up, I’ve always assumed that Jimmy Cliff was the only artist that sung “Many Rivers To Across,” just because I never recalled anyone else covering it. However, while searching for more of The Slickers’s music, Lo’ and behold, they have an UK album called “Many Rivers To Cross (1976).” Wow, it was strange listening to someone else sing this song. I really like the Slickers’s version of “Many Rivers To Cross,” but, I don’t know, if felt a more emotional connection to Jimmy Cliff’s version. Maybe I’m just a little bias ’cause I love Jimmy’s music. What you guys think?
Artist: Elvis Presley
You know, It’s a shame.. In this day and age, if anyone were to play any of Elvis’s music, someone would probably scream “turn that shit off!” 🤣 But, seriously. Elvis wasn’t some ordinary street dude who got hooked on drugs. Elvis was a brilliant performer that racked up 7 number one songs, and 25 top 10 hits! Do you really know how incredibly hard that is to do? Not only that, he acquired these things within 20 years from the start of his music career. In my generation, that was literally damn near Michael Jackson status (if not equivalent). It’s so heartbreaking to know that sad stories like Elvis’s life were so common, and still is.
Now, Elvis Is Just A Novelty!
It’s really mind-boggling to me, how someone who was a mega superstar, someone who reached greater heights than most performers of his time. Yet, after his death, our memories of him had shifted from being the greatest hit maker of the 50s, to a straight up novelty act, and that includes his likeness. I don’t think there is/was anyone else on this planet, that has been not only impersonated the most, but where people have made a livable career out of it, other than Elvis.
I also think it’s kind of sad that even those performers who imitate him (a large portion of them), whore costumes that projected (what I interpret to be) the worst points of Elvis life (towards the end of his career/life). Make no mistake, Elvis was a hot tamale when he was young. Maybe I’m viewing this the wrong way. But, when I was younger, I felt there was a fine line between entertaining the public, and making fun of Elvis after the fact. The playlist I made for you has many of his #1 hits, some redoes, and songs you may not have heard before. It has 26 of what I considered his best recordings. I think ultimate favorite is a song called “Suspicious Minds,” released in 1969.
Song: Our Day Will Come
Artist: Fontella Bass
Album: The New Look (1966)
This is another perfect example of why we need more older classic music fans of color blogging. Or at least some sort of national record database, independent of Billboard. Although I eventually found out my answer, but it was only because of some faint memories I had, and some smarts. Let me explain what I mean. You see, growing up as a child, the song “Our Day Will Come,” sung by Fontella Bass was one of my favorite songs. Problem? The version of Fontella’s song is completely different from how I remembered it.
Even Recording Studios Make Mistakes.
I may not always remember lyrics, or names of artists, but I am usually very good with remembering tunes and melodies. I had an old cassette tape with various artists on it, and one of them on it was Fantella, singing “Our Day Will Come,” the version I remembered. I can no longer find that tape, however, I now have Spotify. Looked her up, and the song is completely different from how I remembered it! Well, long story short, the cassette that stated the version of “Our Day Will Come” is from Fontella Bass, was actually from Ruby & The Romantics, recorded in 1963. I’m not sure if they were on the same label, and this was printed by mistake? Or there was an even bigger error. Now, both versions are actually nice, but I think I like Ruby & The Romantics’ original version slightly better. I could just imagine how easy arguments and disagreements made because of that mistake among fans who purchased that same cassette I did. You might also remember Fontella by her second biggest popular hit called “Rescue Me (1966),” from the same album. By the way, I absolutely LOVE Amy Winehouse version of the song. I still haven’t gotten over the fact she’s gone now. I’m so pissed. What a talent, and a power badass she was!