Does any of my readers remember David Soul? If not, you may remember him as Hutch, from the hit 70s cop show “Starsky & Hutch.” You may also remember him for some other hit films such as “Salem’s Lot (1979),” and Clint Eastwood’s “Magnum Force (1973).” When he was young, I thought he was a very handsome and talented actor. But, did you know David had a very short singing career? As far as I can remember, he only had one hit song to his career. The song was called “Don’t Give Up On Us,” released under Private Stock Records. The song shot up to #1, and stayed on the charts for about 19 weeks. Now, I have to be honest, he was probably a better actor than a singer. He had an average voice. However, the song itself was such a sweet, warm, and romantic song; and I feel the song suited his voice perfectly. That combination was what made both him and the song a hit. This song remains my one and only favorite from David Soul.
Hansel Enrique Martinez and Raul Alfonso were both born in Cuba. They grew up with music in their blood. In 1976, both Hansel and Raul eventually came together and formed the group known as Charanga ’76. I happen to own an original 12-inch of one of their biggest hits of their career (in my opinion). It’s called “Music Trance,” released in 1979, distributed by Pimienta Records. This for sure, was a badass disco song!! The brass instruments were badass, everything about this song was hot back in the day (and still is). Definitely a lost treasure that young kids don’t know sh*t about today. What I love about this dance song, it’s one of the very few songs I’ve heard that has a strong American disco element, and yet the group still managed blend the core essence of Cuba in the song. There are also some other hits on this “Greatest Hits” album I vaguely remember, such as “Soy,” “Kuku-Cha Ku-Cha,” and “Wanda.” For those of you parents that care about culture, I highly recommend introducing this group to your kids. They’ve made a lot of great music back in the day.
Alright guys, be honest….. How many of you thought Karen Young was Black when you first heard her voice? I know I did!! I think Karen Young was like a soulful version of Teena Marie! LOLOL I really can’t think of any other comparison right now. I used to rock the sh*t out of this song! And I don’t mean the little 45rpm either. This song was jumping from beginning to end, I don’t know how many remixed versions of this song exist, but I know it’s a LOT. The song “Hot Shot” hit #1 on the dance charts in 1978, and she had become a living icon of the disco era ever since. I personally remember playing this on just about ever birthday party we had. Unfortunately, Hot Shot was Karen’s one and only big hit of her career. She later on died about the age of 39-40, due to what was thought to be severe complications from an ulcer.
If I’m not mistaken, “Rufusized” was the first album I purchased with Chaka Khan. There was only one song on this album I remembered being a hit. That was “Once You Get Started,” which reached #10 on the Hot 100 Charts. This funk dance song starts off with trumpets in the background, then you hear Chaka start off belting some serious high notes. When you hear this song for the first time, she’s letting you know you’re going to dance to this song! I can’t say this was a favorite album of mine, however, the single I believe was worth having. The song was written by Gavin Christopher, and I think they couldn’t have picked a better person than Chaka to carry this song.
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.
You know, I never considered myself to be a huge rock fan. In fact, when I did listen to rock, I gravitated more towards soft rock. However “Smoke On The Water” released by Deep Purple, was one of the few heavy rock songs I thought was badass back in the day. Now, Deep Purple does mostly a lot of hard rock and heavy metal music, so this wouldn’t be the group you’d normally catch me listening too. “Smoke On The Water” was almost like listening to both Kiss and Led Zeppelin as one. There’s both a rock and somewhat disco element to the song that somehow worked for me! It peaked at #4 on the Top 100 Charts. Deep Purple is from England, and as far as I can tell they’re still performing. The band has gone through many incarnations, and now exist with entirely new faces compared to 40 years ago.
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.