You know, it’s a shame. Even within my own age group, we don’t talk about Blaxploitation movies anymore. Although, I must admit, there were a lot of cheesy ones out there from back in the day, many of them were also funny as hell. They’re almost like watching silly home made movies. But, we had a few of what I considered masterpieces (in a “B” movie sense LOL). Masterpiece (you might be saying to yourself)? Well, granted “B” movies are technically low budget films; and they are no doubt an acquired taste for many of us these days. However, at the same time, a film that was a low budget was part of what made so many of them hilarious. Simply because the directors had to improvise with what they didn’t have. Then again, I think a lot of Black folk would have seen this particular movie regardless, simply because the queen of Blaxploitation was in it. The legendary Pam Grier.
Movies aside, some great soundtracks have been recorded from those Blaxploitation movies. In fact, I dare to say that some soundtracks became more popular than the movies themselves. The music from these movies had a specific unique sound that allows us to automatically pinpoint what it is, and the era it was from. A mixture of funk and blues created a sound that almost seemed to be immediately associated with Black film. One of the tracks I really dug was “Blacula Strikes.” Actually, now that I think about it, it sounds like it was written more for a cop show, rather than a Black vampire movie. LOL. I also like the piece called “Blacula (The Stalkwalk),” I think this score captures the true essence of a “Black Vampire” of the 70s (walking through Harlem). LOL.
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.
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.
Wow!!! Look what I’ve digged up tonight! This classic totally escaped my mind. I only loved three songs from Boz Scaggs entire career (Boz Scaggs, what a name, somebody must have been pissy drunk). “Look What You’ve done To Me,” is such a beautiful and short love song, yet, there’s something about the way he sang this song that made it sound so damn sad. LOL. Well, sad sounding or not, this song hit #3 on the Billboard charts, and stayed relevant for about 16 weeks. I remember hearing this almost every morning on the radio when I woke up.
Timmy Thomas is a one hit wonder that made it big with his first song called “Why Can’t We Live Together,” released in 1972. The song hit number 12 in the UK, number 3 on the Pop Charts, and number 1 on the R&B charts. This is interesting, as it was never my opinion that this was R&B; ever since I was a child, I’ve always identified this song as being more Latin jazz than anything else. It’s an extremely unique composition I’ve never heard before in any other song. It almost sounds like a theme song to a Latin 70s science fiction movie. Almost like a Spanish version of a “War Of The Worlds,” if it had existed. LOL. He sang a lot about social issues in our country, and it’s a shame that he had no real hits after that.
This was a badass group back in the day. Jacques Fred Petrus (1949–1987) and Mauro Malavas got together and formed “Change.” However, all of their most popular hits, seem to be the ones all featuring Luther Vandros. In the late seventies & mid eighties, they’ve clearly dominated the disco era. The album called “The Best Of Change,” is (unless you’ve been living under a rock, I dare to say) the most memorable album of the 1980’s. The album itself reached #10, and one of my favorite songs from this album “The Glow Of Love,” not only did it hit #1, it also stayed #1 on the dance chats for 9 consecutive weeks! That’s a little over two months! I remember every single block party in the hood was playing this song. Change was smoking in deed. My other two favorites, which were also #1 were “A Lover’s Holiday,” and “Searching.” Now, I have this album at home, and it appears that Spotify has added additional bonus tracks on this album. The bonus tracks sounded alright, I wasn’t exactly shaking my butt to them, but they were enjoyable. The most important thing is, the album includes all the famous tracks we know and love.
I’d say this has got to be one of my many favorite songs of 1984. Dan Hartman released an awesome love song called “I Can Dream About You.” This was a hit theme song to the movie “Streets Of Fire.” The movie is about a mercenary guy who gets hired to save his ex-girlfriend from a motorcycle gang. The song hit #6 on the Top 100 Charts, and stayed on the charts for about 16 weeks. Another big hit I love from Hartman, is a song he released in 1978 called “Instant Replay.” Although it only hit #29 on the Top 100 Charts, it still remains one of my favorite disco dance tunes from that era.
Today, I was grooving to some sounds of the late Dennis Brown. It’s been 19 years since Dennis’s death. Sometimes I still can’t rap my head as to how long it’s been. One of my very favorites from Dennis is a song he sang called “Money In My Pocket,” released in 1979 I believe. If I understand correctly, this was his first major hit that help to launch his career. The song reached #14 in the UK reggae charts. However, the song was first produced by Winston “Niney” Holness some time in 1972, and it was actually intended for another artist named Joe Gibbs. Gibbs version of “Money In My Pocket,” is an instrumental dub, which I also like very much. There are a few different versions of the song, but in my personal opinion, these two are the best out of all of them.