MUSIC GROUPS (A-H)

Today, I’d like to honor the dynamic husband and wife duo, the late Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson (living). Nick always reminded me of the lion from the wizard of oz. When I was a kid I actually thought he was the guy that played him for awhile. Woow, talk about a once  one of the greatest musical couple groups, and now no one plays their music anymore… Oh boy. Ashford and Simpson was so popular, it is amazing some of the many people I’ve talked to thought of husband and wife team Peaches and Herb before they thought of Ashford & Simpson. How does that happen? Nick and Valarie have been married for about 40+ years, and have continued to be the role model for married couples everywhere. They’ve been performing together since the late sixties and early seventies, up until Nick’s death in 2011. Valarie recently expressed that she is still having a very hard time with the loss of her longtime partner. However, she did manage to come out with a solo album, which sounds really good! I’m proud of her. Many people who have performed with someone for that many years, don’t usually come out solo for fear they no longer represent the “full package.” Good for her.

I don’t there is enough time in one day to calculate how many hits they have spit out. “Street Corner,” “Solid,” “Is It Still Good To Ya?” “Send It,” and “Love Don’t Make It Right” are just a few of their hits that I love. Listen to a rare interview of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson given by MetroTV Part 1, & Part 2. Also, Ashford & Simpson performing on David Letterman W/ interview on YouTube. They harmonized flawlessly! When they performed, you can see the pure love they’ve had for each other. Listen to more of their music on Napster here.

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Ok guys! We have to take a moment to reflect on another forgotten group, The Delfonics. The Delfonics was a Philadelphian group, and had tons of hits spanning 1965 to about 1979. The group originally started with Randy Cain, William and Wilbert Hart, and Ritchie Daniels. Randy left the group and was replaced with Major Harris (Love Won’t Let Me Wait). In the early 70s Cain had a hand in putting together the Blue Magic.  Today, to my understanding what’s left of the group is still performing on special occasions from time to time. Their last recording was sometime in 1990, and at that time, music has changed so much, it did not do well as their earlier albums.

Not too long ago, a badass song came on the radio. Wouldn’t you know it, it was from The Delfonics, and it was called “Ready Or Not, Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love).” I absolutely LOVE this song, it truly is badass, from the lyrics down to the musical composition. This particular song is a huge change from the typical “I’m begging you please, baby, baby” songs that plagued the radio in the 60s/70s. This song said, I’m not begging no one, I’m coming to get you, and you’ll be mine! This song was with purpose, instead of whining and hoping to get the girl. I almost forgot to mention that I liked how Lauren Hill added the bridge medley to one of the songs to the Fugees first album (I believe). Some of my other great favorites from this group are, “I’m Sorry,” “La La Means I Love You,” “Didn’t (I Blow Your Mind This Time),” and “Hey Love.” Listen to The Delfonics on Napster.

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I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE me some Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The string of hits they produced back in the day was just astounding. The had a distinct sound (which in my opinion was more like a doo-wop and pop mix), and I can’t recall anyone at the moment that duplicated their distinct sound and harmony in that era. The only group that kind of came close were the “Beach Boys,” but they sang surfer music, and appealed to a specific kind of audience. The Four Seasons have been performing since the 60’s, and they have been so successful, that a Broadway play was produced about their life called “Jersey Boys.”  I really hope to see “Jersey Boys” live one day (big named tickets are so very expensive here in NYC (unless you’re going for off, off, Broadway)).

Throughout The Four Season’s career, it appears they have switched/replaced more members than the Spanish group Menudo. However, the most recent names have been, Frankie Valli (lead singer, and at age 82 I hear he still has a strong falsetto), Todd Fournier, Brian Brigham, Brandon Brigham, Landon Beard, Gary Melvin, Keith Hubacher, Robbie Robinson. Now that I think about it, it’s a testament to the magic of this group, to have so many hits despite member turnarounds. If you’re a 4 Seasons fan, I’m pretty sure that many of the songs I love you’re also familiar with. On the top of my list is “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Stay,” “Let’s Hang On,” “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore),” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” “My Eyes Adore You,” “Swearin’ To God,” “Who Loves You,” “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” and lastly from the motion picture “Grease (1978),” “Grease.” Listen to this group legend on Napster.

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Unfortunately, Air Supply, like many other great bands from back in the day, fell in to the big hole of “forgotten greats.” The group “Air Supply” was huge in the 80’s; radio stations literally played their music at least 2 or 3 times in a two hour span at the peak of their career. Now, I doubt that any young person even knows who they were (unless they have family cultural enough to play their music). If I’m not mistaken, the band was formed in Australia in 1975/76, and became a huge success in America. Russell Hitchcock was (and still is) the signature voice of the band, and helped to produce some of their biggest love hits to date. In my opinion, probably their most biggest and memorable song is “All Out Of Love (1980),” and the second I’d say would probably be “The One That You Love (1981).”

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When Air Supply first started out, they got absolutely no attention outside of Australia. Their big American break, came when they opened for Rod Stewart in the late 70’s. Shortly after that, they landed a contract with Arista Records in 1980, and they’ve been rising to the top ever since. In later years, Air Supply has supported and performed with groups like Chicago and singer Boz Scaggs. In Australia, they were inducted in Australia’s Hall Of Fame in 2013. Air Supply’s hits are kind of scattered throughout many albums, but I think this particular album has the most hits (both American and Australian). Check them out on Napster.

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I could have sworn that I’ve written about this group before, but I guess I didn’t. Hmmm. Well, I think this group is one of many talented groups that were forgotten about. “Huey Lewis and The News” were also one of the very small number White groups that had both a soul and rock sound in the 80’s (at least that is my opinion). I say this because this was truly their style of music, it wasn’t like one or two songs on their album with the soul/rock style (that “hit” song), this was their sound! Huey truly knows how to take control of the mic. It’s a shame he hasn’t continued with the major success he had in the 80’s. But then again, the entire music culture has started to change shortly after the 80’s ended.

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This particular album has all the hits that I love. I could be wrong, but I think most people probably remember this group by there hit song “The Power Of Love (1986),” which was one of the major sound tracks to the movie “Back To The Future.” Other hits that I love are “If This Is It,” the remake of a song (originally done by J. J. Jackson (I believe)) “But It’s Alright,” “Stuck With You,” “Heart And Soul,” and finally a song called “I Want A New Drug.” I would have loved to see them live. Check the album out on Napster here.

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You know, at first glance, you may think that the group Fleetwood Mac are out dated and irrelevant folk singers. However, when you listen to their music, you’ll find that they are an extremely talented band. Actually, I enjoy watching their live video performances just as much as I do listening to their CD. They happen to be one of my very very favorite classic bands. With the distinct vocals of Stevie Nicks, the band has spit out a string of hits throughout their career. The lead singer for most of their hits was Stevie Nicks; and unfortunately, she had a long battle with an addiction to pain killers. Sometimes I think she still has, after watching a couple of her live performances on video. It was as though she was performing while sleeping (it was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen (she still sounded good though)). Just a side note, although I absolutely love Stevie Nicks, I think her best work was with Fleetwood Mac. The only song I really loved after she gone solo, was a song called “Stand Back (1983).” Some artists just do better when they collaborate with others. Some of my most favorite music from Fleedwood Mac are “Landslide,” “Dreams,” “Gypsy,” “Everywhere,” and “Don’t Stop.” Listen to more of Fleedwood Mac’s greatest hits on Rhapsody.

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What the hell ever happened to the girl group Exposé? I can’t exactly call this Miami group a one hit wonder; but I didn’t recall seeing a whole lot of albums from them after 1987. That could be because, the album “Exosure (1987) was their best album of their career in my opinion. According to Billboard, they were the first group to have 4 top 10 hits, on Billboard’s “Hot 100,” and those hits all came from this album. All of my favorite songs are here on this album. My most favorite song from them of all times is “Seasons Change.” I think this song is so beautiful. Like Ce Ce Peniston, their music sort of transport you back to our H.S. days of innocence, and learning about boys, life, school, and all that good stuff. “Seasons Change” is truly a classic, because as old as this song is, I can still continue to listen to this song all day. Another song I love from this album is “Come Go With Me,” a danceable pop song that was playing all over the radio @ the end of the 80’s. “Come Go With Me” is another song that is timeless in my opinion. The last song I love from this album is “Let Me Be The One.” After all these years, they are still performing together. Check out their website. Listen to this album on Rhapsody.

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The band called Cameo has been around since the mid 70’s, and has had a string of hits. They appeared to have started off doing a lot of disco; then when disco was dying out, they started doing funk/pop music closer to the 80’s. I really liked the group Cameo, because between the  70’s and mid 80’s, radio was playing a lot of what we called “conscious music.”  While I think it’s very important for songwriters to write about world issues; Cameo created a lot of songs in the 80’s that allowed us to have fun, and think happy thoughts! My favorites are “Single Life,” “Word Up,” and “Candy.” – VintageNewscast.com

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Heart was one of those groups that struggled, and put out a LOT of albums before they struck big, with their hit song “These Dreams” in 1985. It is a really nice ballad (I think). But unfortunately,  Ann Wilson (lead singer) and her sister Nancy Wilson, qualify to be on my “One Hit Wonders List,” because they never had a hit that matched the success of “These Dreams.” Although to my understanding they are still a big hit in Canada (where they were first discovered). I have selected an album similar to a greatest hits album, so that you can choose for your self whether or not you like this group. The only other song I thought was kind of cute from this album was a song called “Magic Man.” Edit: I understand that Heart had quite a few number one hits during their career; however, “These Dreams,” is really my only ultimate favorite from Heart, it’s the song I remembered the most, therefore it is on my “One Hit Wonders List.” Just because I am not die-hard fan, doesn’t mean I can’t like one or two songs. No one is going to like every single song their favorite artist makes. This is why bloggers do highlights.

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Captain and Tennille, was one of my favorite musical Duos. Although I hated their variety TV show back in the 70’s; they’ve made a string of recorded hits, such as “Do That To Me One More Time,” and “Lonely Nights,” and “Come In From The Rain,” which all three happen to be one of my favorites. Well, after almost 40 years of marriage, Toni Tennille finally called it quits and filed for divorce last year. How ironic that another one of their huge hits was called “Love Will Keep Us Together,” guess it didn’t. It’s very possible that they’ve just been performing for too long, and fell out of love for each other. It’s been alleged that Toni filed for divorce because her husband Daryl Dragon was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. If this is true, then that means bottom line, she does not want to be burdened by taking care of him. Interesting, it appears a lot of celebrities have this disease doesn’t it? What a shame. This was almost a story book marriage.

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I know that probably a few may not agree, but I think En Vogue’s first album entitled “Born To Sing” was their best album of their entire career. It’s not to say that they didn’t have a couple of hits (here and there) with their later album “Funky Divas (1992);” but the fact remains, they’ve had more hits on their first album than all their other albums.  I honestly don’t know what happened? They have the talent, but for some reason their career tanked. The sad part is that so many groups mimic them back in the day, it wasn’t like people weren’t in to their style of music anymore. I like mostly everything on the “Born To Sing,” except the song called “Time Goes On.” I find that song quite annoying “ticktock, ticktock” through out the song.. LOL. My favorites, and probably the most well known are “Hold On,” “Just Can’t Stay Away,” “Don’t Go,” and I love their rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” was very cute.

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