Archive for the ‘R & B’ Category

My dad, circa 1972.

My dad, circa 1972.

As many of you know, I have a pretty extensive music collection. I recently did a rough count and when you include albums, 45s, cassette tapes, CDs, and downloads I have over half a million songs in my collection. Yeah, I know. Hard to believe but it’s true. That’s a lot.

I have the complete works of several artists, including The Beatles, R.E.M., Eels, Todd Rundgren, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Chi-Lites, Bob Dylan and many others. My collection is very eclectic, from The Osmonds to Frank Sinatra to Tchaikovsky to Hank Williams to . . . you get the idea.

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For some reason I’ve had more than my share of random encounters with ojaysfamous people over the years, both from the rock world and elsewhere. Hell, I was once standing at an airport urinal, looked to my right, and there stood Mr. Soupy Sales. For you kids under 50 out there Mr. Sales was Peewee Herman before Peewee Herman was Peewee Herman. Sort of. Anyway, my friends seem to enjoy hearing about these random encounters of mine so I thought I’d share them from time-to-time.

It happened when my late friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that I’ve always been quite the Motown/Philly Sound fan and am pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre.

We’d been in the air for a few minutes when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me. Was that Eddie Levert of The O’Jays? I loved The O’Jays!

What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind,  I started singing “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. What can I say? I was overcome with joy at meeting the O’Jays and I’d never have this chance again.

Long story short, in a few minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the dancing but failed miserably, to the delight of the crowd.

I then took a theatrical bow with the group as the crowd went wild (at least in my memory), the stewardesses applauded and Jigger sat there shaking his head. I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, bro hugs were shared all around, and they went on their way. To this day I can’t watch that Coors commercial and hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face. If only camera phones were in existence back then. Damn.

By the way, my buddies The O’Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. I wonder if they remember me . . .

This is the second installment of my Mt. Rushmore’s of Stuff. My first was My Mt. Rushmore of Alternative Music, but my Mt. Rushmores won’t be limited to music, kids. I plan to have Mt. Rushmores of everything from sports to TV to movies to historical figures to people I hate. Just kidding about that last one. Maybe.

Anyway, as you see from the title up there today’s blog includes my Mt. Rushmore of R & B Music. Remember, this is my personal list, including the guys who have been the most influential and impactful to me. So, there’s no James Brown, Otis Redding or some of the other greats. Don’t judge me, people.

Let us proceed:

AL GREEN

When I listen to The Reverend Al sing “Let’s Stay Together” I swear it almost always brings tears to my eyes. Such a soulful, emotional voice. One of the items on my Bucket List is to attend his Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis and hopefully hear him sing some gospel. Al Green, man.

MARVIN GAYE

Marvin Gaye was the epitome of smooth. Don’t believe me? Watch this video and listen him sing “What’s Going On”. He had such a style that nobody has ever been able to come close to replicating it. Like I said, s-m-o-o-o-o-t-h. He was killed by his own father in 1984. So sad.

SMOKEY ROBINSON

Smokey had that high tenor that could sing a love song like no other. He’s also the man behind one of my all-time favorite songs, “Tears of a Clown“. As former lead singer of the Miracles, Smokey was a major voice in the soundtrack of my youth.

RUSSELL THOMPKINS, JR.

This choice just might be a bit of a surprise, but if you’ve never heard this man sing you’ve missed out. As a matter of fact, I’d rank him at #1, above all others. As lead singer of The Stylistics, his voice is unmistakable. Give a listen to “Betcha By Golly Wow” and tell me if I’m lyin’.

Again, I realize that leaving out James Brown, Ron Isley, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and others. Oh, and I’m not being sexist. The R & B ladies Mt. Rushmore will be coming soon.

Enjoy your weekend.

Amazing.

S-m-o-o-o-o-o-o-t-h.

As many of you know I’m a huge fan of “Live From Daryl’s House.” If you’re a music lover and missed the Smokey Robinson episode you really need to see it, especially if you’re a Motown or R&B lover like myself. This video is of the boys covering a Hall & Oates tune, but the kicker is at the end when they kick into an unplanned, impromptu version of “Ooh Baby Baby.” Just stellar stuff that actually gives me chills. So damn good. Enjoy.

That’s the great Lenny Williams on vocals.

Smooth as silk.

When “My Girl” kicked in I got chills.

Legendary horn section.

The Philly Sound. Gotta love it.