Artist: Checkmates, Ltd.
This is an EXTREMELY rare, obscured indeed! The Checkmates, Ltd., to my understanding was a group discovered by the late Nancy Wilson. This was a very talented group in my opinion, it was such a shame that they broke up just barely a year after forming the group. Their biggest hit was a song called “Black Pearl (1969),” which was written and produced by the infamous Phil Specter. The song reached #13 on the pop charts. The also had some success with a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.” BTW, no….. Everybody assumes this was Tina Turner’s original, it’s not. Around 2008, Universal Studios suffered a major fire, and many original recordings were completely destroyed. Unfortunately, that included almost all works by the band, and many more artists as well. Check out this lost treasure album, I think it’s really nice piece of forgotten history.
Song: You Sexy Thing
Artist: Hot Chocolate
Album: Hot Chocolate (1975)
Ok guys, I have to be honest. The only Hot Chocolate I liked actually came from Nestle! But when it came to the band, not so much. Unfortunately, despite having several hits under their belt, I have to put them in my “one hit wonder section.” Simply because for whatever reason, I wasn’t attracted to their music. I don’t know what it was. Their style, their voice, the equipment they’ve used? It just sounded like most of the music I’ve listened to them all sounded like cheap karaoke songs. I hate karaoke music, especially since most of us had to pay for our music back then.
Unfortunately, I Had To Place Them In My One Hit Wonder Section!
The only song throughout their entire career I felt was solid (in my opinion), and it also turned out to be their biggest hit of their career (numbers wise), was called “You Sexy Thing (1975).” The song shot up to #3 on the Top 100 Chart in 1976. This song played EVERYWHERE! And that included many commercials too. The only other song I somewhat had feelings for, was a 1973 cover they did from a band called Story. The song was called Brother Louie, from on their 1974 album called Cicero Park. I loved the Blaxploitation feel of the song. It’s a shame that it doesn’t appear anywhere on the charts. It was a decent reinterpretation. The group has changed a lot. Some have moved on, and others have died. Although the group is still performing to my understanding, they haven’t had a major hit since the late 70s.
Artist: Ronnie Dyson
Ronnie sang what became one of my favorite childhood songs growing up ever!! You know, I perceived Ronnie to be very androgynous back in the day. When I first heard him sing my ultimate favorite, “(If You Let Me Make Love To You) Then Why Can’t I Touch You” as a child, for a very long time I thought he was a woman. Unfortunately, the face of my 45rpm record was damaged, and I had not learned his name yet. Even after years later when I finally saw his picture, I still was not sure, as there were many female artists that performed with male energy. I perceived him with a Nina Simone type energy. But, it didn’t matter to me because all I knew was, I loved this song!
For Quite Some Time I Mistakenly Thought Ronnie Was A Woman
I guess what drew my attention, was the slight caribbean background sound. The song reached #8 on the Pop Chart, and #9 on the R&B chart. Not sure where the song fell on the Top 100/200. I would imagine it would have been in the top #10 – #30 range. This was one of his most memorable hits in my opinion. Another popular hit of his was a song called “I Don’t Wanna Cry (1970).” Very nice fast paced and rhythmic beats. Honestly, I don’t remember hearing this song growing up, but I really love this as well.
There is one last hit that I do remember. I heard my late grandpa play this quite a few times too. The song is called “The More You Do It (The More I Like It Done To Me) (1976).” This song was the sh*t back in the day! But once again, Ronnie’s voice fooled me again. He had such vocal range that I thought it was a completely different person singing this. The high notes made me think it was actually Billy Paul or someone like that. The song reached #6 on the R&B Chart. Unfortunately, Ronnie passed away from heart failure at the age of only 40 years old, on November 10th, 1990.
Artist: Nell Carter
Album: Not Found (On YouTube)
Genre: Pop Music
Again, this is one of those moments were it’s hard to believe a certain artist have become obscured. I really try to be mindful and not sound like a broken record. I just hope that at least some of my readers can understand, it’s not until you’re older that we really have a concept of just how fast time moves. Then, the next thing you know, you’re talking to a generation of people who don’t have a clue as to who you’re talking about. The late Nell Carter was a phenomenal actress and comedian, who also happened to be a phenomenal singer too!
Her Work Extended Beyond Her Hit TV Show!
If you ask an 80s baby, most will probably tell you that they only remember Nell Carter (if any) for her popular hit 80s TV show “Give Me A Break (1981-1987).” The theme song was so catchy, it was impossible to not at least be aware of Nell Carter, even if you never watched the show. Personally, I’ve watched quite a few episodes growing up, and I found it quite enjoyable too. Dealt with all kinds of subject matter, the kinds of subject matter that today’s writers would probably see as too politically incorrect or controversial for young children/family to watch. Nell really had a gift of acting. She knew how to deliver a joke right. But I really would have like to have seen her really expand her vocal career.
long before her hit show “Give Me A Break,” she was made famous for another hit. But, it wasn’t a TV show. It was actually a play. A musical play called “Ain’t No Misbehavin’.” I believe the play was first opened in 1978. She started as a featured actress, and the phenomenal performance she gave landed her a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award! Check out her live performance of a song called “If I Can’t Sell It (I’ll Keep Sittin’ On It),” from the play “Ain’t No Misbehavin’ (1999).” I also discovered that she was also in the Broadway play called “Annie,” around the very late 1990s close to 2000. Unfortunately, there are very, very few recordings of Nell singing. They’re almost non existent if you ask me. She had such a unique voice that was unmistakably hers.
She Appeared On Many Shows!
I didn’t realize just how many special TV appearances she’s made! That includes “227,” “Amen,” and “Ally McBeal.” She even had a small role on one of the day-time soap operas called “Ryan’s Hope” back in the day. It’s so hard to believe that Nell started out singing in coffee shops, to then become a superstar! She was a great person, and humanitarian woman to my understanding. Such a shame that her name has drifted away from the lips of most American people. Nell Carter 1948-2003.
Song: Touch Me In The Morning
Artist: Marlena Shaw
Album: Go Away Little Boy (1977)
Now, I don’t mean to offend any Marlena Shaw fans out there, but her music really didn’t lit my fire back in the day. It wasn’t because I thought she couldn’t sing, she had an amazing voice. I guess it was one of those things I believed she was singing the wrong music for her type of voice (again, just my opinion). However, I do acknowledge she did some really, really good cover songs throughout her career.
She Did A Lot Of Talkin’ In Her Music
Marlena is one of those performers that did a lot of talking in her music. She kind of reminded me of artists similar to Linda Clifford (in that respect). As far as my memory goes, I think some of her best covers came from the disco genre. Her cover of Diana Ross’s “Touch Me In The Morning,” was awesome in my opinion. I don’t have access to the numbers, but I know that it was pretty big on the dance charts. I think this cover matched with her voice perfectly. It’s not easy turning a song (that was originally slow paced) into a disco hit.
Now, she did another cover of a song I thought was originally by Angela Bofill (1978), ’cause that’s who I heard my grandpa play a lot growing up. But it turns out that it was originally sung by legendary Martha Reeves (1975). The cover song Marlena sung was called “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter (1976),” from her “Just A Matter Of Time,” album. I love all three versions of the song. But, honestly guys…. This is such a beautiful song, unless you have a voice of a freakin’ frog, I think it’s pretty hard to mess up this song. For real 🤣. You know what? While I’m on the same album, check out her song “Brass Band,” it has a really nice smooth jazzy, disco beat to hit.
Artist: Toussaint McCall
Genre: True Soul
Sooo many forgotten artists. Toussaint McCall is in that pile of many who’s been forgotten; even more so because he was a one hit wonder. It’s bad enough his music is obscure, almost nothing is written about this man. Honestly I’m not even sure if the McCall is still alive. It seams I can’t even figure out who written today’s song choice. It’s a shame because I do believe the man could sing, although there were a couple of songs I’ve heard from him that sounded like his voice wasn’t strong enough or something. He kind of had that “first starting out church voice,” where it almost sounds unstable in the beginning. However, with “Nothing Takes The Place Of You,” his voice seemed to be on point. Not sure if that means he written the song, or he developed an emotional connection to this song. Either way, it became one of the most romantic heart felt songs I’ve heard in a really long time back then.
He Kept Recording Despite Only Having One Hit!
McCall’s song “Nothing Takes The Place Of You,” hit #5 on the R&B chart, and #52 on the Top 100. In terms of TV and radio, it seemed as though he literally vanished after the success of his first album. It wasn’t until he made a cameo appearance in the Johnathan Waters crazy comedy “Hairspray (1988),” starring the late Divine and Rickki Lake, did people remembered once again who he was. Despite only having one major hit song, he kept recording several records after that. He must have had very good connections in the music industry, because even back then, if you did not produce any sales after the third album or so, the label would have usually dropped you (contract or no contract).
Artist: Blue Magic
Album: Blue Magic (1974)
The Blue Magic was an incredibly talented group that formed close to the beginning of the 70s. Still performing by the way; however I think all the original members has passed on. I could be wrong about that, but I do know (to my understanding) the lead singer, Rod Wayne, died awhile back. I know we all have differences of opinions (that’s why it’s called opinions), but this group deserved more credit than they got.
Another Great Group Silenced By The Disco Era!
Perhaps we can make an argument that the Blue Magic came to the music scene at the wrong time. It’s been said that the disco hurricane destroyed a lot of music careers during the 70s. Now mind you, I’m not saying that music from groups like Blue Magic wasn’t good enough. However, disco was one of those rare genres that wasn’t just a “genre” it was also a movement. Disco was such an obsession that it over shadowed many talented groups. I saw a documentary discussing how disco grew so large, that there were riots in some neighborhoods by those who resisted disco’s domination. I believe it was in cities like Chicago (if I’m not mistaken). Thank goodness that never happened in my neighborhood, but that must have been a sight to see.
Listening to Blue Magic was kind of like listening to a second version of
The Spinners The Stylistics in a way, with Wayne being that lead romantic falsetto. The song “Sideshow” became their biggest hit single of their career. It hit #1 on the R&B chart, #8 on the Top 100, and the album itself reached #4 on the R&B category. There was no better album after this one. In fact, “Sideshow” was such a popular song, it appeared on many of their other albums released and re-released on digital.
Two More Popular Songs!
There were two more popular songs. “Stop To Start,” wasn’t exactly my favorite song, but it was a popular one, and hit #14 on the R&B chart. Now, technically, this last song wasn’t a hit per-say, but it was a great song. It happens to be on this same album. It’s actually a cover of The Main Ingredient’s 1973 hit, “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely.” What a shame this song never got any traction (at least as far as I can tell). It was one of those severely overlooked remakes that was performed amazingly.
Song: Baby I’m For Real
Artist: The Originals
Album: Baby I’m For Real (1969)
Genre: Soul Music
Ladies…. If you were to tell me that you wouldn’t want your man to sing this song to you on your wedding day, I’d say you are a liar, a straight up liar! Unless of course, if your man can’t sing to save his life 😂. In terms of classic music, I doubt you could get any more romantic and heart felt than this gem right here. I was just shy of two years old when this song came out, and even when I became a teenager, I felt the intensity and emotion of this song.
It Was Almost Like Listening To The 4 Tops!
Today’s group is called “The Originals,” and I’m not talking about the vampire TV show either! 😃 A beautiful classic ballad that literally slipped away from the radio waves, is still kicking ass on music streaming! 50 years after the release of “Baby, I’m For Real,” is still remembered by millions! By just looking at Spotify alone, the song picked up almost 6 million plays! This does not include other legal streaming services, internet radio, and YouTube! That is incredibly impressive for a song that is now considered obscure, at least when it comes to mainstream radio. As a blogger who’s trying to save our music history, this makes me feel very good.
The group made several albums, but “Baby I’m For Real” was their biggest hit that cemented the group’s career. The song hit #1 on the R&B charts, and #14 on the Top 100. A year later, they produced another major hit called “The Bells,” which hit #4 on the R&B chart, and #12 on the Top 100. These guys were extremely talented, and I’m shocked at the fact that despite being signed to Motown, they didn’t pump out more hits. The Originals sang all kinds of music, including disco. If you’d like, check out their “Very Best Of The Originals” album.