CLASSICS: EASY LISTENING / SOFT MUSIC (SINGLES)

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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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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’m sure I’ve written before, of how much I love The Mamas & The Papas. In my opinion, they had the most beautiful and unique voices of their time. I can’t remember any other sound like theirs. The only group that could somewhat come close is “The Fifth Dimensions.” The Mamas and The Papas group formed just at the beginning of the folk music era; and during the huge success of The Beatles to my understanding. I really loved how they harmonized; all four of their voices were so different and yet they blended beautifully. I found it interesting how Mama Cass had such a powerful and dominant voice, yet it never over powered the other three.You know, even though they’ve been put in the “folk” category, I never viewed their music as folk. To me, their music was more like very, very soft rock kind of; the kind of “easy listening rock” of their time. This group was so talented, it saddens me when I think about how drugs spoiled their career. They broke up around 1968. The Mamas and The Papas “Gold” album is a collection of their greatest hits. My favorites are, “Monday, Monday,” “Do You Wanna Dance,” “Go Where You Wanna Go,” “California Dreamin,” “”Dedicated To The One I love,” “My Girl,” “Creeque Alley.”

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