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Maze, Featuring Frankie Beverly: Before I Let Go (1981)

Let me tell ya’ll about this song…. LOL… This song by Maze (featuring Frankie Beverly) was the biggest, and most popular song of the 80s (in my opinion); at least when it came to the Black community. I remember this song being played in almost every single birthday party, every single picnic, and every single barbecue in my community. When people heard this song come on; automatically hands go up, people start screaming “ooooohhh that’s my sooooooong,” and 5 seconds later people started groovin’. I’ve also realize that although the song was released in 1981, there was an (before 1981) “old school nature” about the song “Before I Let Go” that made it so great. It had to have been that groovy baseline. They don’t make great music like this no mo’, fo sho. 😀 This iconic song was written and produced by Frankie Beverly himself, under Capital Records. It peaked at #7 in the U.S. and #13 on the R&B Charts.



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Roberto Roena: Coro Miyare

Was sifting through my digital collections and look who I’ve found! Do you remember Roberto Roena? You should! Because he was one of the biggest in Latin music of the 70s at the time. Well, I must admit, I’m exposed to so much culture that even I can’t always remember names a lot of the time. However, I know we all have got to remember his signature song “Coro Miyare.” YO!!! Guys, this song will force you to dance! You put this on your turntable, and the music would literally take over your legs and make you dance! By the time the record finishes, you’d see puddles of sweat dripping all over the floor. I’ve seen it so many times; if a guy could not keep up with this song, nobody would dance with you. Long story short, Roberto started off with a group called El Gran Gombo; busted out some hits and then joined a band called “El Apollo Sound,” busted out a few hits with them; then eventually moved on to join the group “Fania All Stars.” It was with this group he recorded his iconic song “Coro Miyare,” under the Fania Record label in 1971.



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Michael Jackson Farewell My Summer Love

You know, there are many, many, MANY songs from both MJ & the Jackson 5 that are my favorites. However, I do think “Farewell My Summer Love” had tipped the scale slightly. The song was a live performance released in 1984. The moment I heard the first note, I noticed that Michael’s voice sounded a lot younger than it should. For awhile I thought the 45 was recorded at a slightly higher speed that made him sound that way. Then I found out that the song was actually recorded in 1973, but wasn’t commercially released until 1984. This definitely would have been a major hit, I wonder why they waited 11 years to do it? Probably copyright agreements no doubt. I fond it very interesting that the song did much better in the UK than in the U.S. The song reached only #38 on the U.S. Top 40; but in the UK it hit #7 on their Top 10. I find it fascinating how different parts of the world view each other’s music. I think it should have been much bigger in the U.S. than it was. However, it may have been also true, that the song was overshadowed by the popularity of then “Thriller” album.



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Just who are these handsome men? They were a well known instrumental group; and the backbone of that group were Isaac “Redd” Holt who was the drummer, and Eldee Young who was the base player. There was actually a third person, piano player Dan Walker that made a trio. Together they’ve produced a song called “Wack Wack,” released in 1966, under Burnswick Records. The song had mediocre success. I do remember this piece used in a commercial, just don’t remember for what company. All I remember, it was some Black guy dancing in his underwear. And I think the commercial was all B&W.

In 1968, Dan Walker was replaced with piano player Ken Chaney; and they composed my very favorite called “Soulful Strut,” and I think still under Burnswick Records. The piece was an instant hit reaching #3 on the Top 100 Charts. Shortly after lyrics were added with the help of singing sensation Barbara Acklin, and the song was called “Am I The Same Girl.” BTW, while I’m still on the subject, check out Winsome’s reggae version of the song. I think Winsome’s version is the best reggae version I’ve heard thus far (and there’s quite a few of them). “Soulful Strut” hit gold, selling well over a million copies. But unfortunately, it was their only big success. They eventually broke up about 5 years later. It’s a shame because their sound is somewhat comparable to “Booker T. & the M.G.” (but at a much slower rhythm in my opinion), and B.M.G made pretty good music back in the day.



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Boris Gardiner I Wanna Wake Up With You

Growing up, I remember hearing this song a lot on reggae radio stations. The song is called “I Wanna Wake Up With You,” sung by the legendary reggae sensation Boris Gardiner. I thought that this was one of the sweetest, loving, and romantic reggae songs I’ve heard at the time. This was and still is, the perfect wedding song if you ask me. The song was written by Ben Peters, and the music was put together by Willie Lindo. The song was released under both Revue Records & Creole Records. Now, when I purchased this record originally in ’86, all I saw was the 12 inch versions in the store; so I don’t know if there existed an actual album; or it was released only as a single. “I Wanna Wake Up With You” hit #1 in the UK; it was the best selling album in the UK for ’86. It also reached #3 in South Africa.



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Double Dutch Bus

How do I explain Frankie Smith? Well, I say he is the Black cowboy version of Wolfman Jack (that is if you can remember that far back!) 😀 He was made famous by a song he did called the “Double Dutch Bus,” Released under Unidisc Music. Let me start off by saying, this wasn’t just an ordinary hit song, this song also represented a very serious movement in the 80s. Guys……. In terms of athletic activities that were traditionally for young girls, AND also closely associated with dance such as Cheer leading; Cheer leading has always been known as a very serious and cut throat competition in just about all High Schools. However, before the success of break-dancing, there was another form of athletic activity that emerged in a huge way from the Black poor communities. That was something called Double Dutch.

Double Duch Bus

Double Dutch was serious business in the 80s (actually, we were doing it before the 80s). It wasn’t just something that poor Black girls did in the ghetto to keep themselves out of trouble, and away from boys. Tournaments were created specifically for Double Dutch. Thousands from all over would come to see these girls do their thing with their jump ropes, in the same way they would a football or basketball game. Schools would challenge each other and get the chance to win big trophies and other prizes. Mind you, many of the girls I’ve seen doing Double Dutch were heavyset girls, and they were just as good as the thinner girls. Yet there’s an attitude that people still have, that people from poor communities are not active? Bullshit! These girls did stunts and acrobatic moves you wouldn’t believe!! And of course you don’t, so you’ll have to take my word for it and just Google!! Frankie’s hit song brought attention to the world of Double Dutch competitions. Now both girls and boys are doing Double Dutch, and incorporating hip-hop along with their fancy moves. “Double Dutch Bus” reached #1 on the “Hot Soul Singles Chart,” and #30 on the Hot 100 Chart.”



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You know, I can’t say that I was a heavy Steve Winwood fan. However, I really like his song called “While You See A Chance,” and it is from his album “Arc Of A Diver,” under Island Records. The song peaked at #7 and stayed on the charts for 18 weeks. This is a great song, because in a fun dance tune, the lyrics say to keep taking chances if you want something, no mater how long it takes. I’m very glad Steve decided to make this a pop song; these same lyrics could have easily been put to a depressing music composition.

I also love, love, love, another song he did called “Higher Love.” It features Chaka Khan on background vocals. This was on Steve’s fourth album called “Back In The Higher Life,” released in 1986. The song hit #1 for 22 weeks on the Top 100 Charts, and earned him two Grammy awards. I think this is a beautiful song. In essence, it’s about a guy who convinces the woman he loves, it is time to take things to the next level, letting her know that he’s ready, easing all her insecurities. I love songs like that, these are very different words from the booty lyrics we hear today.



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Ok guys this morning we have to pay a little tribute to the legendary Linda Clifford. This lady was the sh*t back in the day. When Linda took hold of that microphone, she showed the mic who was in control. When she sang, she meant business and she wasn’t fooling around, at all!! Although she’s known to be the reigning disco queen of the seventies, you could hear the soul in her voice, which blended beautifully with her dance music. Her first two big #1 hits came from her “If My Friends Could See Me Know” album, released by Curtom Records in 1978. The first song was called “Runaway Love,” which hit #3 on the R&B Charts, and #1 on the U.S. Dance Charts. Literally, every time I walked outside my door, people were blasting this song out of their car. Almost every single radio station was rotating this song every hour it seemed. I remember every barbecue get-together had this song playing. I loved how Linda told her man off toward the end of the song. The second #1 hit on the U.S. Dance Charts (which I also love) is a remake she did of a 1966 Broadway musical classic “Sweet Charity.” The song is called “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” The original Broadway play version was sung by Gwen Verdon. In 1980, she sang a song for the original movie soundtrack “Fame (1980),” Starring the legendary Irene Cara. The song is called “Red Light,” under the RSO label. This was a badass song right here! This was another song she sang, where you know she meant business. “Red Light” put her once again, on the #1 spot on the Dance Charts. There’s a song I recommend listening to, and it’s called “You Are, You Are,” which is on the late Curtis Mayfield’s album called “The Right Combination,” released in 1979 for Rhino Records. I can’t find any stats on the song, but it’s a badass song, check it out!! On This same album, she also made a slow jam that I really love. It’s a duet with Curtis Mayfield called “Between You Baby And Me.” To my understanding, at age 69, she is still performing and doing her thāng.



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