All About Love
I absolutely fell in love with an old classic, that was produced by a group called “Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds.” In 1975, under Playboy Records (however, the rerecorded version was distributed by Purple Pyramid Records (not sure if related)), they released a song called “Fallin’ In Love.” The song was written by band member Dan Hamilton. This is the perfect kind of song to play, when you’re trying to rekindle a broken relationship, and your both on a picnic/beach vacation together. Although the rerecorded version sounds ok, I still prefer the original. It only reached up to #24 on the R&B Charts, but this was one of my biggest favorites from the group. The second song I love from this group is called “Don’t Pull Your Love (1971).” This song reached #4 on the Adult Contemporary Charts, and stayed relevant for about 12 weeks. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more songs I like from them, or at least songs that are worth listening. I believe the two above were their only hits throughout their career.
It was really difficult for me to pinpoint the release date for my next song; apparently the song was so popular that it had several re-releases. I think “Soul Of The Man,” was the original album where the song “I Get My Groove From You” was first recorded. There’s no billboard information for this song, so I’ll just assume that this wasn’t on anybody’s radar. Unfortunately, this great artist didn’t have any major hits. In fact, the highest he ever gotten on the charts was #36, for a King Floyd (sort of) styled dance song called ” T.C.B. or T.Y.A.” in 1969. So, anyway…. The song I’m introducing to you today, “I Get My Groove From You,” I feel is sooo underrated. This is a very nice music piece, with the perfect voice to go with it. In fact, I am hesitant to believe that this wasn’t a hit; but, as I’ve always said, the history we are losing isn’t just the music itself, but searchable and document-able history. So, I can’t prove it was, or wasn’t 🙁 All I do know, is that I think this is a badass song!
This is an example of the kind of music my grandfather introduced me to when I was a baby. I clearly remember listening to Brook Benton’s music on my grandfather’s ginormous Reel2Reel. “Rainy Night In Georgia” still remains to be one of my favorite childhood songs of all times. His voice was so smooth, calming, and enjoyable. Benton was one of the very few artists that reminded me of the late Nat King Cole; because they both had that added (what I call) xmas texture to their voices. The song was originally written and produced by a guy by the name of Tony Joe White. I didn’t particularly care for Tony’s original. Brook’s voice added that romantic magic to the song, that took it to #1 on the R&B Music Charts, and stayed relevant for 14 weeks. However, long after the song fell off the charts, Brook’s version continued to play both on the radio and our homes for decades later after it’s release. Another favorite song of mine from this same greatest hits album is a song called “Kiddio (1960).” Kiddio reached #7 on the Hot 100 Charts, and stayed relevant for 17 weeks. Also Check out “It’s Just A Matter Of Time,” and “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes),” a duet with Dinah Washington.
Della Reese was such a great singer, AND a very talented actress by the way. One of my most favorite and memorable movies I’ve seen her in was Harlem Nights,” starring Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, and many, many other huge stars. In this gritty, gangster, Black comedy drama; Della Reese plays a character named Vera. I think this scene here, where she gets in to a fist fight with Eddie Murphy, is the funniest in the entire movie. I just couldn’t stop laughing, I just never seen anything like it. Although, there was just way too much profanity for my taste; however, it definitely fit this kind of movie, and I enjoyed watching it very much.
The very young Della’s song “When I Fall In Love,” from the album “What Do You Know About Love,” was released in 1958 under Parlophone Records. I didn’t even recognize her at first, cause her voice changed so much as she got older. This is such a beautiful song; it was produced for a movie called “One Minute To Zero” in 1952, starring Ann Blyth. However, the song did not become a hit, until Dorris Day recorded it in 1952. The song became a music standard, and has been interpreted by many since then; and that includes Celine Dion and Clive Griffin, for the movie soundtrack “Sleepless In Seattle (1993).”
In 1991, three of the biggest legendary female artists (Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, & Dionne Warwick) came together to record a new interpretation of a then popular song. The song was called “Super Woman,” and I first saw them perform the song on the Oprah show, and it was an awesome performance I’ve never forgotten. I was in awe watching the three on TV, I could only imagine what the audience was feeling watching them live. There voices are so completely different, the genres they sang were different, yet the harmonized together is if they’ve practiced the song a million times. Not only that, do you realize just how hard it is to get 3 huge celebrities to sing on one stage? It was almost impossible with the kinds of work schedule most of them had. The song was originally sung by Karyn White in 1988 for her self-titled album, which peaked #8 on the R&B Charts. This song became just about every Black woman’s anthem.
You know, there are many, many, MANY songs from both MJ & the Jackson 5 that are my favorites. However, I do think “Farewell My Summer Love” had tipped the scale slightly. The song was a live performance released in 1984. The moment I heard the first note, I noticed that Michael’s voice sounded a lot younger than it should. For awhile I thought the 45 was recorded at a slightly higher speed that made him sound that way. Then I found out that the song was actually recorded in 1973, but wasn’t commercially released until 1984. This definitely would have been a major hit, I wonder why they waited 11 years to do it? Probably copyright agreements no doubt. I fond it very interesting that the song did much better in the UK than in the U.S. The song reached only #38 on the U.S. Top 40; but in the UK it hit #7 on their Top 10. I find it fascinating how different parts of the world view each other’s music. I think it should have been much bigger in the U.S. than it was. However, it may have been also true, that the song was overshadowed by the popularity of then “Thriller” album.
You know, I can’t say that I was a heavy Steve Winwood fan. However, I really like his song called “While You See A Chance,” and it is from his album “Arc Of A Diver,” under Island Records. The song peaked at #7 and stayed on the charts for 18 weeks. This is a great song, because in a fun dance tune, the lyrics say to keep taking chances if you want something, no mater how long it takes. I’m very glad Steve decided to make this a pop song; these same lyrics could have easily been put to a depressing music composition.
I also love, love, love, another song he did called “Higher Love.” It features Chaka Khan on background vocals. This was on Steve’s fourth album called “Back In The Higher Life,” released in 1986. The song hit #1 for 22 weeks on the Top 100 Charts, and earned him two Grammy awards. I think this is a beautiful song. In essence, it’s about a guy who convinces the woman he loves, it is time to take things to the next level, letting her know that he’s ready, easing all her insecurities. I love songs like that, these are very different words from the booty lyrics we hear today.
“Jimmy Mack,” from Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, was probably one of their most popular hits during their very, very short career together. The song was from the album called “Watchout!” It was released in 1966, under the Gordy label, a subdivision of Motown. It’s a simple and easy song to sing and dance to. It’s about a girl who misses her man, and expresses how much she wants him to come home and see her. Listening to these lyrics, reminds me a lot of those military songs that were popular during the 50s and 60s. The song peaked at number 10 on the Hot 100 Chart, and number 1 on the R&B Charts in 1967. This had to have been a really, REALLY popular song, because I wasn’t even born yet when this song was released, yet I still remembered hearing it on the radio a lot. There’s only one other song from this album I like, and that is called “I’m Ready For Love.” For some reason, the beat of this song reminds me of Diana Ross’s “Can’t Hurry Love.” But then again, Motown music had it’s own distinct sound.