CLASSICS: RHYTHM AND BLUES

Now, this is a badass song from the legendary Nancy Wilson. Her song “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” was released in 1964, and ran all the way up to #11 on the American Billboard charts, and stayed there for about 11 weeks. In 1965, the entire album received a Grammy for best R&B album of the year. I love everything about this song; the musical composition; the sharpness of the violins; together with Nancy’s voice made it the perfect song. From this same album, I also loved her rendition of “Boy From Ipanema,” which was a very popular song, sung by many artists, including Frank Sinatra.

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You know, I’ve always had mixed feelings concerning Diana Ross. It was well known that she was not a very nice person (and probably still the case); not to mention claiming that she was the one who “discovered” the Jackson 5. Sorry to all the Diana Ross fans, but, I never saw her as a talented singer. I mean, not in the sense of Aretha Franklin talent, or Gladys Knight, or even a Chaka Khan. I don’t think her career would have been as successful as it was, had it not been for Barry Gordy. Sorry, just my opinion. But that doesn’t mean I think she didn’t have great music, however, that’s just it, without that great music, her voice was just mediocre to average. I’ve always felt that she was a better actress than she was a singer, and her role as Billie Holiday, in the cult classic movie “Lady Sings The Blues” proves that hands down. The movie grossed over $20M, and her soundtrack album grossed about over $2M, that’s pretty huge for what is in essence a biographical film. Although, to my understanding, the entire soundtrack “Lady Sings The Blues” was a #1 hit; however, one of the most memorable and profound songs from that soundtrack “Good Morning Heartache,” only peaked at #34 and stayed on the charts for 12 weeks in 1973.

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I love this song, “Space Children” by Labelle, released in 1975. This song was during the peak of Pattie Labelle’s career. Indirectly, this song represented the music culture in the seventies. Why, many artists (Black artists in particular) that were considered under the category of rock, wore a lot of space suits and really outrageous outfits to out do each other. This included acts such as Bootsy Collins, The Commodores, George Clinton, and perhaps we can add Afrika Bambaataa to that list as well. But this was a time when music was fun! Watching a concert was almost like watching a circus and musical performances at the same time. Of course, I had loads of trouble trying to find good stats for “Space Children.” However, I know this had some success, because included on this same album were the 2 hugely successful songs “Lady Marmalade,” and “What Can I Do For You;” Marmalade probably being the biggest hit out of this album; yet what a shame I’ve never heard it in most seventies parties (unless it’s the redo with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink (I hate that version)).

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Smokey Robinson & The Miracles was another awesome group that laid down hit after hit back in the day. But right now, I’d like to write about a great song called “More Love,” which was released about two months before I was born in 1967. Along with Mr. Robinson’s good looks, he has a unique falsetto, unlike any male singer I’ve ever heard! His distinct & recognizable voice is so smooth that he can damn near serenade any one or anything. Add music to that voice and he’ll at least have your head popping (at bear minimum). Now, here is the interesting part, about the end of July in 1967, the song peaked at 23, and stayed in the top 100 for only 11 weeks. The reason why this is so interesting to me, is because it did not do nearly as well (in comparison to their other mega hits), yet it is one of the most memorable songs of their career. Go figure?!?!? However, this does prove one thing…. It proves that music is of the heart, and not of the stats! Do you want to know another tidbit? The song was so popular that Kim Carnes recorded her version of More Love in 1980, and it too became a hit with it peaking at #10, and stayed on the charts for 19 weeks. I absolutely loved how Kim started the song off with the stringed instruments. The song itself is just a beautiful medley.

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I feel extremely fortunate to be one of the very few to still own this classic masterpiece. Stevie has got a lot of great music on this album. But I think the song that is most remembered (in my opinion, then again he has just so many),  “For Once In My Life.” What a wonderful classic song to sing, or play for someone you really care about. The words just say it all. The album was released under the label of Motown, and in 1968, this song hit the number 2 spot on the music charts, and stayed on the top 100 for 14 weeks. Considering how popular this song was, I was pretty shocked that it did not stay on the charts longer. Another popular song on the same album is called “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day.” This song peaked at #9, and stayed on the charts for 13 weeks. Check this album gem on Spotify’s Web Player.

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