CLASSICS: POP AND ROCK (SINGLES)
“Sly & The Family Stone” was the most eccentric band I’ve ever heard of (at least as far as what I remember). I mean, I wouldn’t compare him to being like the late Prince, but Sly and his group were eccentric in their own way (within that era). In my opinion, I feel that the above photo was Sly’s best look. He’s was very handsome there. I never liked that big ol’ “Afro-curl,” I guess is the best way to describe it. Sometimes he looked like he had on a party wig, and other times he looked like a tree of some sort. However, I understand the era. When it came to rock music, the 60s was about rebellion, individuality, and changing the social norms.
I’m pretty sure that their album called “Dance To The Music” was their first album. The song “Dance To The Music,” from the “Dance To The Music” album, was the first Sly song I remember hearing. I didn’t understand hardly any words then, but when I heard the beat of the song, it automatically made me want to jump and move my body. What was special about this song was that, it didn’t seem to go with any particular dance (and way had many). All we had to do was just move our bodies on the dance floor, and we were fine 😀 About a year later, Sly and his crew recorded another album called “Stand.” The first hit from this album I recall hearing was “Everyday People.” I really loved this song, and although I wasn’t old enough yet to understand the phrase “different strokes for different folks,” when I finally did understand, it became one of my biggest motto(s) to live by.
“The Doors” were one of America’s biggest rock groups of the mid 60s/70s. They formed around 1965, so I think this self titled record was actually their first album. The song called “Light My Fire,” became a cult classic. The song reached #1 on the Hot 100 Billboard, and stayed on the charts for 23 weeks. The song had been reinterpreted by many artists; including Jose Feliciano (my favorite), Young-Holt Unlimited, Minnie Riperton, Amii Stewart made an awesome disco version that really showcased her vocal range (although I think the original remix from her “Knock On Wood” album was much better), legendary Jackie Wilson, and Al Green, just to name a few.
There are actually a couple of nice songs on this album, and I think if you’re a fan of 60s rock, you’ll enjoy this album. “Break On Through (The Other Side) was another great hit too. I also like the song “Take It As It Comes,” it reminds me of the kinds of music you’d hear on those British secret agent movie sound tracks in the late 60s. The music I’ve shared with you represents a specific genre, and a specific moment in time in our history; I don’t think most younger generation would appreciate it. This is the kind of music that really has to grow on you; other than that, you’d most likely had to have been born in to it. Let’s face it, this music was from what I call “the psychedelic period.” The lead singer died very early in to the groups career; and the remaining 3 eventually broke up around 1973. From what I read, they were the best selling group of their time, and people are still listening to their music.
I absolutely loved this song back in the day. I think this may have been a one hit wonder, cause I’ve never heard any other song that I’ve liked from Mr. Mister. “Broken Wings,” from their album “Welcome To The Real World,” was released in 1985 for BMG records. This song reminds me a lot of the band “Sting.” Although this love song was composed brilliantly in my opinion, the lyrics kind of sends a mixed message. It almost sounds like he’s saying, I know I emotionally broke you to shreds, now take your “broken wings,” learn how to fly again, so we can get back together again, and I’ll screw up (without saying he was responsible in the first place). LOL.. “Broken Wings” reached #1 on the Hot 100 Billboard Charts, and stayed relevant for 22 weeks.
I want to try and quickly kill two birds with one stone. One of my many favorite 80s songs is from the late Donna Summer, and it’s called “She Works Hard For The Money.” It was released exactly on Mar 10, 1983, under Mercury Records. This song went #1 for 3 weeks on the Hot R&B Charts. It was her first #1 hit since several songs on the “Bad Girls” album, and her #1 duet with Barbra Streisand, “Enough Is Enough,” just 4 years prior. This was a significant song back in the day; not because it happened to reach number one; but because it was in essence a tribute to all the hardworking, low income, female service workers. Donna co-written the song, and she wrote about an actual encounter she had with a restroom attendant (which to me is a fancy way of saying a female porter). The woman was even said to be pictured on the back of the album. Well, I have this album, and I don’t see her photo, neither did I remember seeing it in the protective sleeve cover. But I do remember both Donna and Mercury records giving the woman public acknowledgement in the news, promos, etc.
The second song from the same album I wanted to draw your attention to is, is a song called “Unconditional Love.” The song is a duet with a group called “Musical Youth.” Musical Youth is best known for their massive hit “Pass The Dutchie,” which reached #10 in the US, and #1 in UK and Canada. Unfortunately, “Unconditional Love” did not do well in the United States, peaking only @44. That was disappointing to read, as I thought this was a very cute song. But you know what? I think that maybe they should have had the group sing with Donna, and not use them as background chorus, I’m sure it would have been a larger hit. Sometime in 1985, Musical Youth broke up, with only one major hit to their credit, which was “Pass The Dutchie.” It was said that, two of the old five members got back together to continue their music career in 2011. However, I can’t seem to find any newer music from them. Maybe they’ve changed their group name.
Sheila E. was (and still is), one of my most favorite female performers of the 80s. Sheila is unbelievably talented! She is like (what I call) a hip hop version of country singer Barbra Mandrell; in that it appears she can play every instrument you can think of. Most people know Sheila as being a drum player; however, she’s also a guitarist, and master percussionist. Although I first learned of Sheila in the 80s, she actually started her career about 1974-1975 in a group called “The George Duke Band.” Then her career skyrocketed once she met Prince. Prince wrote a song for her album “Romance 1600” called “A Love Bizarre (1985),” and it is one of the most unique songs I’ve ever heard, yet it is unmistakably a Prince song. ” The song shot up to #11, and stayed on the Top 100 for about 23 weeks. This song was one of two mega hits that defined her image and career. The second one was a song called “The Glamorous life,” from her album “The Glamorous Life (1984).” Sheila, who’s now almost 60 years of age, still looks amazing, and still beating the hell out of those drums.
In January 1984, one of my favorite British rock groups, The Eurythmics, released a song called “Here Comes The Rain Again,” from the album called “Touch.” By March of 1984 the song hit #4 on the top 100 charts, and stayed there for 20 weeks! It’s such a strange and unique song; not a club song, yet it’s sort of danceable at the same time. It also feels like it could have been a theme song to a modern Medieval type movie. Definitely, this song was beating up the radio waves. The Eurythmics are made up of Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. If I remember correctly, I know David has been after Annie to marry him for the longest time. I wonder what came of that? I guess I can understand Annie in a way. Many people have a rule that, they don’t marry or date people they work with (and I totally agree).
You know, I’ve watched many Teena Marie fans share a lot of her music on Facebook. But there was one hit song I think many people have seemed to have forgotten about. The song is called “Ooo La La La,” released 1988. The song came from her “Naked To The World” album. I love this song! This song hit #1 on the R&B charts, but only peaked at 84 on the American Billboards. Hmmmm.. Teena tore this song up! (as with all her songs). To my understanding, as far as R&B charts are concerned, this was the biggest song in her career, yet it appears that most people remember her from songs such as “Square Biz,” and “I need Your Lovin’,” which was another awesome song. I was soooooooo happy that I got to see her before she died. She was only 54 (sooo young). I had no idea she was that sick. And let me tell you, her performance was on point. She give no indication that she had any serious illness. But you know what? She really loved her fans, as did Rick James.
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.
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 Spotify.