CLASSICS: RHYTHM AND BLUES

The Dells, such a telented group, yet forgotten. My most favorite song they recorded, was a song called “Stay In My Corner.” The song was distributed by 3 different labels. The first original version of “Stay In My Corner (1965),” was released under Vee-Jay Records, and peaked at #30 on the R&B Charts. Then a couple of years later, The Dells reinterpreted the song, and released a new version of “Stay In My Corner (1968)” under Cadet Records. Not only did their new version hit #1 in 1968, it stayed number one for a whopping 3 weeks!! That’s incredible!! It remained their biggest hit of their entire career. The song is now digitally distributed under Geffen Records. It was written by Wade Flemons, Robert Eugene Miller, and Barrett Strong.



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Wow guys! Look what I’ve found! I never heard this song before until about yesterday. The song is called, “I Just Wanna Be Your Girl,” and it was song by the one and only, legendary Anita Baker! The album was released in 1979, under the Sony Music Label. Chapter 8 was a disco/soul group from Detroit. Anita joined the group, and recorded one or two albums before she decided to go on her solo career. I don’t think the group is active anymore, the last record release I was able to find was in 1988. This was indeed a blast from the past!!



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Ahhhhh! I just had to post this one today. The group DeBarge has made major contributions to R&B & pop music. The group consisted of all siblings, lead singer El, James, Randy, Bunny, Marty, Chico, & Bobby (who died). El had a beautiful and distinctive falsetto. Not sure how many DeBarge fans know this, but before there was a DeBarge, two DeBarge siblings were in a group called Switch. There sound was so much I like, I always used to mistake their music for DeBarge. How sad that I haven’t heard anyone (not even radio) play any of DeBarge music since the past 20 years. If there was ever a group I wanted to comeback all alive and well, it would be DeBarge. The songs “I Like It,” and “All This Love,” released on their 1982 album called “All This Love,” has got to be my two all time DeBarge favorites. BTW, I still remember their amazing Motown25 performance in 1983.



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Unfortunately, I can’t say that I particularly liked this album. However, I do like one song called “I Can’t See You When I Want To (Alternative).” The album was released in 1970, under Concord Music label. Now, I should point out that there are two versions of this song on the same album. It is my opinion that the “alternative” version is a lot more appealing, and more soulful. Unfortunately the song only hit #29 on the R&B charts. Financially the song wasn’t a flop, but wasn’t a chart breaker either. However, this song represents true R&B. David Porter was often confused with the late David Prater of the sensational singing duo, Sam & Dave. What made them so confusing was that, not only did Porter and Prater look alike, Porter has written a few of their songs. One of those songs that hit really big was a song called “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” which peaked at #2 in 1967. As I skimmed through Mr. Porter’s career, it seems as though he was only able to write hit songs for other people, but not himself. Which was a shame, cause I felt he was actually a talented singer.



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At first, I said to myself, no way can I consider this a classic now! Simply because it’s not old enough. Well, then it dawned on me, it has been 24 years since this amazing album was released! So, yes… It has earned its title as being one of the classic gems of music history. Zhané, as they are called, consists of two talented women, Renee Neufville & Jean Norris-Baylor. My most favorite song they produced was a song called “Groove Thang.” Groove Thang hit #4 on the R&B Billboard charts. I remember people playing this EVERYWHERE. This song was so popular in the Black community, it became one of those “Must Have” classic songs at any barbecue. Another big favorite of mine is a song called “Hey, Mr. D.J.,” which was released on the same album called “Pronounced Jah-Nay.” The song reached #6 on the Hot 100 charts. There music is the kind of music you’d hear on one of those “smooth groove” compilation CDs that used to be so popular back in the day. As far as I can tell, the group stopped performing some time in 2000.



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The Jackson 5, Show You The Way to Go (1976)

Now THIS!!! I haven’t heard in a really, really, really long time. This was one of my favorite songs from the Jacksons, and it is rare indeed. This is why I love streaming so much. Could you imagine if we didn’t have streaming on the net? Could you imagine just how time consuming, and financially straining it would be to find just one of your classics? Then again, you have to have people old enough to remember these, to make it available on the net. Anyway, this was a hard song to categorize, because technically, back in the day, we would have categorized it as disco. However, as we have evolved musically, I felt it was probably best to put it in R&B. The song is called “Show You The Way To Go,” and it was released in 1976. It’s a smooth/soft, romantic type of disco song, soft enough to be considered R&B.



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Today, I felt we must pay homage to Rick James’s protegees, The Mary Jane Girls! I loved these women, they had a LOT of major hits in the 80s. You know, they were so famous, I heard a rumor that they harbored some jealousy for one group member, because she seemed to have gained more attention from male fans then the other girls. Wow, imagine that!?!? Judging by how many times I remember hearing it back in the day, their song called “All Night Long,” released in 1983, under Motown Records, was the most popular. It was written by the man himself, Rick James. This was not only a perfect grove song, it was one of those “make out” songs at the same time. LOL

But, actually, although I still liked “All Night Long,” it really wasn’t my favorite jam. My most favorite jam from MJG was a song called “Candy Man.” Not to be confused with the movie “Candy Man.” LOL This song was also written by Rick James, and I like it because it was one of the very few popular “sexy” songs done by females that didn’t make them appear like sex objects only. How ironic, since it is alleged that Rick used to beat the women he went out with. I digress. There was another favorite of mine that I think didn’t get as much credit. It’s a song called “You’re My Heaven.” I think they sang the sh*t out of this song. They were truly a talented group, and harmonized perfectly with each other, despite whatever personal gripes they had of each other.



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Before Curtis Mayfield became the solo legend he was, he was in a musical group called “The Impressions.” In addition to being a singer and songwriter, like many performers at the time, he was also a political activist. Akin to Bob Marley in many ways, in the beginning Mayfield’s music was all about social consciousness, and it showed in his album art. In the 60s and 70s, it wasn’t just singing and dancing to music that told the stories of Blacks in poor communities; they visually showed the harsh realities in their art work. Which by the way, I can’t help but to reflect on the extreme difference in album covers between then and now. Back then it was about reality. Today, it’s about showing your Photoshop skills, and finding an excuse to publish any kind of T&A (the bigger the better) (especially in hiphop).

I can’t help to notice, when I listen to his song “Stay Close To Me,” On the album called “This Is My Country,” I am immediately reminded of Pharrell Williams. I guess because most young people don’t have a damn clue about classic music, young kids think Pharell’s style is all originally his. Anyway……  Unfortunately, I can’t find the stats to this song, but I think it’s a really nice love song. However, I do know the song called “This Is My Country,” from the same album hit #5 on the Top 100 Chart, so I’m taking a guess that “Stay Close To Me” did at least mediocre. This album was published under Rhino Records.



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