Tag: R&B

Before We Was Fab: Benny Spellman, “Fortune Teller”

Before We Was Fab: Benny Spellman, “Fortune Teller”

Music
Before We Was Fab looks at some of the best songs of the pre-Beatles era, in search of great singles that have largely been forgotten. If you've heard of Benny Spellman at all, chances are it's because of his association with groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The O'Jays, or The Hollies -- all of whom covered his songs. As it happens, I was listening to the iconic Who album Live at Leeds and paid particular attention to their live rendition of "Fortune Teller." The Who, as with many English rock bands of the time, had a deep love and appreciation for popular and obscure R&B, and that's where "Fortune Teller" comes in. The song was written by the great Allen Toussaint under the pseudonym Naomi Neville, and was first recorded by Spellman as the B-side of his only hit si
Album Cover of the Week: Stevie Wonder, Where I’m Coming From

Album Cover of the Week: Stevie Wonder, Where I’m Coming From

Album Cover of the Week, Music
I last showcased an album cover from the great Stevie Wonder when I wrote about Innervisions in 2009. Today I want to go back to the beginning. Not of Wonder's career, but of his string of all-time classic albums in the 1970s. For today we look at Where I'm Coming From, released on Motown's Tamla label on April 12, 1971. A few things strike me right away about this cover. First is the very bold use of "WONDER" with its many pictures of Stevie. This was the first album where Wonder really was able to assert full creative control over his music, and I think this cover speaks to that. The second thing is the title -- Where I'm Coming From. It's an unmistakable declaration that this album was intended not to generate profit for Berry Gordy but to let America and the world know what w...
Music from the Worst Album Covers — Millie Jackson, Back to the S__t!

Music from the Worst Album Covers — Millie Jackson, Back to the S__t!

Album Cover of the Week, Featured Posts, Music
My first exposure of any kind to the music of Millie Jackson was her song "All the Way Lover" from the compilation album Blaxploitation, Volume 3: The Big Payback. It's a surreal cut that's alternately soulful and hilarious. Jackson sings and speaks as she exhorts her man to, well, go all the way. Oh and then she admonishes other women to stop watching soap operas or gossiping, and get down to pleasing their men lest they stray. But hey, why not hear it for yourself? It's an experience you should enjoy at least once. So now that you've heard that, the following album cover should come as no surprise. Wait, does that say Back to the Seat!? Back to the Suit!? No, that doesn't make sense. Must be Back to the Shit! Released in 1989 on Jive Records, well after Jackson's peri
Pop Culture Capsule — 1974 Billboard Magazine Soul Train Spotlight

Pop Culture Capsule — 1974 Billboard Magazine Soul Train Spotlight

Capsules, Featured Posts, History
Tributes to the late Don Cornelius have been filling the internet since the news broke of his death earlier this week. There's nothing of substance I can add to the legacy of Cornelius and his beloved creation, Soul Train, so instead I'll offer up this 1974 tribute from Billboard magazine. This spotlight combines a history of the show, then celebrating its third year on the air, with tribute ads from well-known soul and R&B artists, as well as plenty of cool pictures. (more…)
The Music Year That Was: The Best Albums of 2011

The Music Year That Was: The Best Albums of 2011

Music
The usual disclaimers about my year-end music lists still apply. I'm only one man and only have so much time to listen to new albums. So even if I hear an album and it's really good, if nothing about it grabs me right away I may end up forgetting it. Also, naturally I'm going to gravitate toward music either from acts I already know and like or that's recommended by friends and writers/critics I respect. These, then, are the ten albums that I have returned to more than any other in 2011 and probably will in 2012. Because at the end of the day, isn't that the only mark of a good record? #1. Mastodon, The Hunter As much as I was disappointed with Crack the Skye, I absolutely love The Hunter. I've read a lot of comparisons between it and Metallica's "Black Album," and I can see why. It's...
Why The Hell Should I Like… A Tribe Called Quest?

Why The Hell Should I Like… A Tribe Called Quest?

Music
“Why the hell should I like… ?” is an experiment of sorts between Popblerd and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. What we’re going to attempt to do is to pick 10 songs from our favorite artists — one for which the other has professed dislike or disinterest — and show them why they’re wrong (or why they should be interested.) A Tribe Called Quest is a pretty serious contender for the best rap group of all time. Formed in the late '80s by childhood friends Jonathan Davis (Q-Tip) and Malik Taylor (Phife Dawg), the group recruited DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad and, joined by on-again off-again member Jarobi White, Tribe went on to become one of the most critically and commercially successful "legitimate" hip hop acts of the early '90s. The Low End Theory (1991) and Midnight Marauders (1993) ar
Sunday Jazz: Herbie Hancock, “Wiggle Waggle”

Sunday Jazz: Herbie Hancock, “Wiggle Waggle”

Music, Sunday Jazz
Would you like to add a little funk to your Sunday Jazz? Good, 'cause I'd like to as well. Here's one of the best cuts off of Herbie Hancock's inspired 1969 LP, Fat Albert Rotunda -- "Wiggle Waggle." Instead of blathering on about this excellent disc myself, I'll let AllMusic Guide's Richard Ginell take it from here: Centered around some soundtrack music that Herbie Hancock wrote for Bill Cosby's Fat Albert cartoon show, Fat Albert Rotunda was Hancock's first full-fledged venture into jazz-funk -- and his last until Head Hunters -- making it a prophetic release. At the same time, it was far different in sound from his later funk ventures, concentrating on a romping, late-'60s-vintage R&B-oriented sound. with frequent horn riffs and great rhythmic comping and complex solos from ...
Listening booth — Amy Winehouse (Tränenpalast, Berlin, Germany 2004)

Listening booth — Amy Winehouse (Tränenpalast, Berlin, Germany 2004)

Listening Booth, Music
I'll cop to not being the biggest Amy Winehouse fan in the world, but there's no denying the incredible talent she possessed. That talent is on display during the concert I'm sharing with you today. This is from a July 29, 2011 broadcast on Deutschlandfunk, a German radio station. It captures Amy performing in support of her debut album, Frank, on September 28, 2004 at the Tränenpalast in Berlin, Germany. This is the Amy that fans will likely want to remember. Before the scandal, before the very public -- and ultimately losing -- battles with addiction, and before the days of mysteriously canceled shows and poor performances. Here, she's in great voice and hits a groove with her sterling backing band. (These are all in .mp3 format by the way. If you want to download the show in .F