Artist: Alice Clark
Album: Alice Clark (1972)
Holy shit! Talk about a lost talent! Brooklyn born Alice Clark was so underrated it wasn’t funny. It’s really upsetting to learn just how much power these record companies had back in the day. Alice had rhythm, she had soul, and she sang her ass off. There was absolutely no reason why these record companies could not had promoted her a little more. In my opinion, her style and caliber was similar to Gladys Knight. There was no excuse for this labels. Such a damn shame. Listen to the song “Never Did I stop Loving You.” She tore this song up! Alice only produced one album as far as I can tell. There is a second album floating around, but that was a special edition/ vinyl reissue. Which means it probably costs a pretty penny.
Song: MacArthur’s Park
Artist: The Four Tops
Album: Four Tops Now (1969)
You know what? I totally forgot about this song. The song “MacArthur’s Park” was written by Jimmy Web, and first recorded by Richard Harris in 1968. Man, talk about dozens and dozens of redoes! This song was covered so many times by so many people, It’s not even funny. But, I have to say, Sammy Davis Jr., version of the song is boring as fuck!! And you know I’m open to all kinds of music. This song is not for everybody. You’ll probably more likely to like the original if you like classical music. Honestly, I think my ultimate version of this song, was when the late disco queen Donna Summer turned this in to a disco cult classic! Loved the 12 inch, on her “Live And More album.”
However, did you know that the legendary Four Tops recorded this song in 1969? The song peaked at #38 on the Top 100 Chart. I was only 2 years old then. I can’t say that I love it as much as I do Donna Summer’s version, but I really enjoyed it a lot. When you listen to how it was originally sung by Richard Harris, and the way song was was structured, almost immediately I said in my mind, this kind of music was out of their league! But, The Four Tops actually did a wonderful job. Not only was the song soulful, they managed to preserve the original essence of the song. Check it out when you get a chance. You may like it. By the way, it wasn’t until I was about 18 or 19 did I learn that the song was actually about snorting cocaine! 🤣 But, I bet you’re going to listen to it closer now, aren’t you?!?!?
Song: Tell It Like It Is
Artist: Bettye Swan
Album: Bettye Swan (2004)
Before you think it, let me quickly say that the above photo is NOT Aretha Franklin! 🤣 I forget how much Bettye Swan looked like her, by a LOT! In fact, some of her songs she kind of sounds like her. When I tell you a forgotten legend….. Ms. Swan is definitely one of them. Unfortunately, she never had a number one hit, nor did she at least make the top ten (almost); but she had the voice of angel in my opinion. “Tell It Like It Is,” was a song written by George Davis, and originally recorded by falsetto superstar Aaron Neville in 1966. It reached #2 on the Top 100 chart. The song was covered by several other artists.
Sorry, But I Loved Ms. Swan’s Version Better.
I almost fainted when I discovered that Swan’s cover of this song didn’t make it anywhere on the charts as far as I can tell. Growing up, my grandpa only played Aaron Neville’s version, so I never knew any other artists cover until I got way older. The fact that she was so vocally talented, and the sheer popularity of this song, this should have been at least on the bottom #200 chart. Boy, I was so shocked. Although I have an attachment to Neville’s original, I think Swan did a much much better job. That’s just my opinion.
I guess this also means that, unless you’ve already been a Ms. Swan fan, this song would have been lost and unknown if it were not for Spotify and other streaming services. Her biggest and most popular song of all her music, is a song called “Make Me Yours,” which peaked at #21 on the Top 100. What’s interesting is that this song really didn’t showcase the soul in her voice, yet it got more attention than many of her unknown songs. Check out “I Think I’m Falling In Love,” she definitely had that “Motown sound that all these female groups were trying to mimic back in the day. See how you groove to this forgotten song called “Ain’t That Peculiar,” this was originally recorded by Marvin Gaye. Ms. Swan’s career only lasted about 15 years. She left her music career after the death of her husband sometime in 1980. She decided to become a teacher, and is now enjoying her life at age 74 (if my math is correct).Designer Fashion Fabric
Artist: Candi Staton
So, let me start off by saying…… Again, this is one of those moments I am grateful to be using streaming services like Spotify; because they allow me to stream entire albums that are now considered obscure; and let me tell ya, it’s a lot more work searching through YouTube for each song that came with an original album. Not only that, that’s not guaranteed that YouTube would even have it, as YouTube relies on members to upload them. If you’re only interested in “popular music,” then in my opinion, you’re missing the point of what it is to be a fan of “good classic music.”
I Had Absolutely No Idea!
When I heard the smash hit “Victim (1978),” it was the first time I’ve came to know of Candi Staton. That song was the sh*t back in the day! I wasn’t old enough to buy records, so when I heard it on the radio, I cherished every moment it was on 😄. The song hit #3 on the Dance Chart, but no where to be found on Hot 100, or Billboard 200. That really pissed me off. You guys have absolutely no idea how huge this song was in the Black community & Dance clubs. This is why sometimes I think the Billboard charts sucks! I don’t even understand why I even look on there; but I guess sometimes it’s necessary to give young folk some perspective on the oldies I post.
Another huge hit that Candi was known for, was a song called “Young Hearts (1976).” Here is where I think you’ll get mad too. This magnificently popular song back in the day, reached #129 on the Billboard 200 Chart. That was downright disrespectful as far as I’m concerned. That song literally immortalized Staton! How dare the Billboard! Something wasn’t right there. This woman had such a natural talent for singing, there was no need for what I used to called “vocal acrobatics.” All she really had to do was simply open her mouth, and we heard the soulful voice of an angel.
OK. Let’s Talk About This Album Now
Her album “Evidence: The Complete Fame Records Masters (2019),” was like listening to her long lost archives! I had absolutely no idea that Candi Staton’s career extended so wide, and went that far back! I would have never had the opportunity to hear all these gems, if it where not for music streaming services. She started her career in gospel music, which may or may not have been the reason I haven’t heard so many of her music. I say that to mean, although gospel is a huge industry, it wasn’t necessarily mainstream either (relatively speaking).
I really liked her song “Evidence.” It’s not your typical “are you leaving me?” Seventies type of song. This was more of “I got proof your ass is with another woman!” 🤣🤣 I was also surprised that she did a cover of Tammy Whynette’s slow country hit called “Stand By Your Man (1971).” That’s the kind of song you’d never expect one would want to turn in to a soulful melody. Also check out her song called “Slipping Away.” She sang the shit out of this song! I really did enjoy the entire 48 song album, and I really do recommend classic music lovers (particularly those who love soulful blues) take a listen.Up to 70% Off at TouchofModern. Including Cross Pens! Ends September 24th 12PM PDT
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Uptight (1965)
Today’s recommendation comes from my 45 collection. You know, Stevie Wonder has got to have been one of Motown’s most successful popular artist. I remember watching an interview that talked about how Stevie demanded a significant higher pay (upon first contract). Everybody thought he was out of his mind. But, Motown eventually gave in. I’m sure Motown never expected that Stevie would not only be so successful, but well loved by millions. Stevie’s song “Uptight” not only hit #1 on the Top 100 Charts, it stayed #1 for 5 weeks! Some of the most talented artists never got that!
Song: Strangers On The Street
Artist: Mamas Gun
Album: Golden Days (2019)
Genre: Blue-Eyed Soul
If you love the sound of classic Blue-Eyed Soul music, then I highly recommend that you take a listen to this entire album. This sh*t is GOOD! “Mamas Gun,” is a five member band from London. They’ve formed about 10 years ago, and has performed all around the world. If I am not mistaken, this is their 4th album so far, and I am really loving it. There seems to be two release dates, 2018 & 2019. I think it’s safe to assume 2019 is the digital release. Andy Platts, the lead singer of the band, has an amazing voice. It was almost like listening to a younger version of Paul McCartney. In fact, when I listened to the band’s first album, “Routes To Riches (20019),” There is a song on there called “Finger On It,” which almost felt like I was listening to a funk/rock version of a new Beetles of sorts.
It’s been a long time since I was able to say, I truly “love this entire album.” I’m now able to say that this morning! There’s an old artist I’ve discovered a couple of days ago named Carlton Jumel Smith; and he has a phenomenal new album out! Musically speaking this guy has got it going on! His voice, his rhythm, this entire album is perfect! When I examine his background music, his style reminds me a lot of my favorite independent artist Curtis Harding. You have no idea how much I love this style of music. I wish more people would be open to listening to it.
According to some articles I’ve read, Carlton has been making music for well over 40 years. It appears he’s been the jack of all trades. He has his own label, and performed a lot of house and techno music. Which probably means it’s more than likely I’ve already heard his work, and I just don’t remember. He also worked with a few bands singing lead. But this album is shocking, in the sense that most people don’t just switch to entirely different genres, and do well. That’s like Barbra Streisand deciding she now want to try her hand in hip hop! Very risky thing to do these days.
Is it possible that because he’s from Harlem, NYC he was able to easily transition from one genre to a genre completely different? Who knows? The first song that got my attention was “Woman You Made Me.” In my opinion, this is the best kind of romance music. Why? The lyrics are genuine, and it’s not all about a quest of getting in her pants. Another song I want you to check out is called “I’d Better.” This song has lyrics you just don’t hear, even back in the day. In essence, he sings about being so impressed with someone of quality, that he decides to make positive changes in his self to win the interest of that person. Love the rhythm to this song. When you get a chance, check out his new album “1634 Lexington Avenue.”
I really do wish I discovered this guy earlier. Have my readers ever heard of Charles Bradley? Honestly I don’t ever recall listening to his music until about a couple of years ago. I really loved his soulfully funk sound. I was devastated to find out that he had died of stomach cancer shortly after I discovered who he was and his music 😢. He was 68.
This man (who I feel in many ways has a striking resemblance to the late Nipsey Russell btw), sung his ass off!! Oh my goodness, when Bradley sung a song, all his emotion emanated from each and every performance. His type of performances are just not seen anymore (relatively speaking). To hear his music, or to see him perform on video, was not only breathtaking at times, it was also refreshing to see real blues music performed like that, then in 2016.
The first album I heard by Bradley, was “Changes (2016).” I think this entire album is awesome to be quite honest. This album is so authentically 70s, that there is absolutely no hint of modern flair I could detect. I think most blues fans would like at least half of the songs on this album. If I were forced to pick a favorite song, I would have to go with “Things We Do For Love.” My goodness. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said this was recorded in the old Motown Studio or something.
There’s another album I think you should check out. It’s called “Black Velvet (2018).” I really liked the song called “Can’t Fight The Feeling.” I haven’t found a whole lot of juicy information on Bradley, which leads me to believe that either Bradley started his musical career late, or he was discovered late. Having said that, I’m kind of insecure as to the actual copyright dates to his songs. Often times when someone dies, the music label often re-releases music of a popular artist, and you wind up with a new copyright/release date. In any event, I think that Bradley’s music is worth exploring if you’re a blues/funk fan. I recommend that you watch his very short, but powerful interview on YouTube. Very humbling.Save an Extra 10% on Guitar Cases and Guitar Gig Bags: Use Code TOURGUITAR