CLASSICS: EASY LISTENING / SOFT MUSIC (SINGLES)
Although, the subtitle of this album states “Greatest Hits,” this isn’t her best greatest hits album. I suggest visitors doing a search for Dionne Warwick’s music, she has actually produced quite a number of hits, and I don’t think they’re all on one album yet (at least I don’t recall/noticed one that exists yet). I selected this particular album because there is a song on here that I don’t think has gotten enough “old school credit.” The song is called “Heartbreaker (1982),” and if I remember correctly, it was written by the Bee Gees; however, only Barry’s voice was used for background vocals. According to Billboard, the songs was on the charts for 22 weeks, and peaked at #10 on January 15, 1983. This was a huge hit, it boggles my mind how even a lot of the major radio stations don’t even play this song anymore. Another phenomenal hit that was lost in old school history was “I’ll Never Love This Way Again (1979);” the song peaked at #5 and stayed on the charts for a total of 24 weeks. There wasn’t a radio station that wasn’t playing “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.” I also enjoyed “Deja Vu,” which is a very laid back romantic song. Again, search for her music, there doesn’t appear to be one album with all her greatest hits, they are all scattered unfortunately. But you can listen to THIS album here on Spotify.
Another forgotten group in today’s music history. Tony Orlando and Dawn was one of the hottest groups of the very late sixties and seventies. Dawn were Tony’s 2 amazing backup singers Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent. I loved a lot of their music, and still listen to them today. They sang great hits such as “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Ole Oak Tree,” “Knock Three Times,” and “Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?” Tony Orlando’s and Dawn’s music was so distinct and unique, I don’t believe I remember any other group that sounded like them. The minute you heard their music on the radio, we instantly knew who it was. The group was so popular in the 70’s that they even had their own variety TV show, which was aired on CBS. Joyce Vincent was asked to replace Mary Wells of the Supremes. However, before that was made official, Motown decided to disband the group. But Ms. Vincent did manage to record as backup on one or two songs on the Supremes’ album called “Partners.” Telma Hopkins turned to acting, and has appeared in such movies as “How To Murder A Millionaire.” As far as I can tell, Tony Orlando still performs his same classic songs a couple of times a year. Listen with Spotify.
I can’t call Lou Rawls a one hit wonder, but unfortunately there is only one song I like from this entire album. The song also happens to be one of his biggest classic hits of all times; which pretty much put him on map forever as far as I”m concerned (at least those of my generation). That song is “You’ll Never Find A Love Like Mine.” Lou’s voice has turned that song in to something special; a song that I believed no one else could have song with the same romantic flair. But, again, that was pretty much it for this particular album. Unfortunately much of Lou Rawls music wasn’t my cup of tea. It was almost like listening to a soulful version of Frank Sanatra. Actually, I like more of Frank Sanatra’s songs than Lou Rawls. I guess that should tell you something. LOL. However, I’m not foolish to think there’s no one else out in the cyberspace that wouldn’t like it. Check out his album on Spotify.
This remains to be my most favorite album from Carole King. If I am not mistaken, this was also her very first album. Carole is a composer, and a songwriter. She has snatched lots of Grammy Awards, and had been inducted into the songwriter’s hall of fame. Carole’s music is sort of what I call, modern folk music; very similar to James Taylor. In fact, Carole and James performed together quite a few concerts. On the original album, there is only one vinyl. However, since the digital release, they have added an extra bonus album with 11 extra live performances. This album has the kind of mellow music that is perfect to listen to while you’re reading, or perhaps while relaxing in the park. This album is packed with what remains to be her most greatest hits (in my opinion). She released this album throwing some hard punches with 6 huge hits, starting from the first three tracks back to back. “I Feel The Earth Move,” “So Far Away,” and “It’s Too Late.” The piece “So Far Away” is so beautiful, I believe if she would have made it an instrumental only, it still would have become a huge hit anyway; the entire composition and the base is just wonderful. There is also “You’ve Got A Friend,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.” Yes, that song is actually Carole’s song, not Aretha’s. Carole has written that song along with two other composers. Please listen With Spotify.
I think this was the first album I ever saw from Gladys Knight & The Pips. I was about 6 years old then. This continues to be my favorite album from them. However, this particular album Gladys Knight & The Pips: Imagination, is a special expanded edition on Spotify. That I can think of, absolutely no one has Gladys Knights distinctive voice. During the peaks of her career, the power in her voice was definitely a force that could not be reckoned with. My favorites are “Every Beat Of My Heart”, “Midnight Train To Georgia”, and “I Don’t Want To Do Wrong”. Also, her rendition of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” was jaw dropping (if you can get a hold of her 1977 live performance, it will knock you off your feet). Below is a link to one of their greatest hits albums.
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Natalie Cole, daughter of Nat King Cole has had many challenges; from drug abuse, to being on dialysis as a result of kidney failure, and came close to losing her life quite a few times because of illness. Through all that, Natalie still persevered! She is an inspiring woman. Well, being the daughter of one of the most famous men in the world in his time, the public had a lot of expectations for Natalie, and she did not disappoint. This is for me, the most memorable album from Natalie, and it has 3 of my most favorites! “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love),” “I’ve Got Love On My Mind,” and finally “Inseparable.” Those three songs were the bomb back in the day (I don’t care what anybody says)! I also like “Mr. Melody,” in some weird way, it reminds me of “Copacabana” song by Barry Manilow. There is one other song that I really liked which is not on this album; it’s the song she released using prerecorded sound clips of her father; it’s called “Unforgettable.” Unfortunately, I don’t like a lot of Nat’s music (I can probably count on one hand), but I feel that “Unforgettable” was a really beautiful and romantic song, and Natalie did an excellent job paying tribute to her father.
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The Righteous Brothers consisted of Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley. Their career spanned from about 1963 to about mid 70-ish. Now, let me start off by saying, although I like many of the Righteous Brothers music, for many of you, their style would be an acquired taste. Their first big hit (which happens to be my very favorite) was a song called “You’ve Lost That Loving Feelin’,” in 1964 under the Philles record label. The song was such a huge hit that several other big named artist covered the song; including Dionne Warwick, Elvis, and Glen Campbell. Another very huge hit that came out of their career (and another big favorite of mine) was called “Unchained Melody (1964).” Till this day, I think it is one of the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard. Many big names have also covered this song, some of those artists include The Platters, Tom Jones, and Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge . Last favorite from The Righteous Brothers, is a song called “You’re My Soul Inspiration.”
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I love “easy listening” type music, but I find much of Roberta Flack’s music to be way too slow, even for me. Actually, to be quite honest, I think that a lot of her music is very boring and depressing (and I am as open minded (musically) as they come). She has only had one hit every couple of albums that really struck my fancy; such as “Feel Like Making Love,” and “The Closer I Get To You.” However, “Killing Me Softly,” was the song that put her on the map! I think Roberta is probably best remembered for “Killing Me Softly,” than any of her songs. When Lauren Hill was with the Fugees, she made the song a big hit once more with her rendition. However, the album I wanted to write about is what I believe to be her first album called “First Take (1969).” This album contains another huge hit from Roberta called, “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.” The song was number one for 6 weeks, and to my understanding, it became a hit by word of mouth only! There is another song from the album that has a really thick jazzy funk rhythm to it, it’s called “Compared To What.” It has a sick beat to it, and it has become one of my favorites that few people remember. I enjoyed the song called “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,” again, very heavy rhythms with the use of base violins, very nicely done. Lastly, I thought the song called “Angelitos Negritos” was interesting. It was the one and only time actually heard her sing Spanish. Anyone who loves traditional jazz, I think you’ll like the song entitled “Tryin’ Times.”
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