Tagged: 70s

Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder

Earlier this week Stevie Wonder turned 64. I meant to blog about it on the day but have been feeling a bit under the weather. Anyway, better late than never, here’s a post to celebrate the birthday of, arguably, the single most important musician of the 1970s. Bowie would possibly be a close 2nd*.

Like so many of the greats his work has fallen a long way since he was at his peak, but honestly, he’s still responsible for more great music, directly and indirectly, than pretty much any musicians of the 20th Century, apart from Lennon, McCartney and a few other people.

And, with that in mind, above we have a very apt McCartney track to which, where Stevie is concerned, the answer is yes, whilst below Mr Wonder shows that he could even improve on The Beatles.

Happy birthday Stevie, long may you be with us.

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The Best Of The Isley Brothers

The Guardian have started an interesting new feature where they will be highlighting the ten best songs of  key artists or genres and launched it with a look at the Isley Brothers.

I always forget just how far back the Isley Brothers go, but it’s kind of incredible that the first song on the list is from 1959 and the last from 2001. What’s even more incredible is just how long they managed to keep up the quality; Shout & Testify, recorded in ’59 & ’64 respectively, are up there with the best of James Brown’s early output, whilst the likes of That Lady & Harvest For The World, from their 70s purple patch, are simply up there with the best records of that decade.

The Spotify playlist above is one that The Guardian put together but I thought it would be interesting to also pull together a video mix via Dragontape, the app that the Brownswood crew used to highlight Gilles Peterson’s favourite tracks of 2013. Which all goes to show, of course, that it doesn’t matter what type of tech you use to listen to it, it’s the music that really matters at the end of the day, whether it’s 5 months or 55 years old.

Picture: United Pentecostal Church on flickr

The picture at the top has nothing to do with The Isley Brothers. I was trying to find a picture for the word harvest (see what I did there) and this came up. How could I not use it?

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Tune Of The Day: Faith No More – Easy (Commodores Cover)

Because today’s Sunday.

Because it was a totally left-field cover for Faith No More, probably the biggest alternative rock band around when they released it (the Red Hot Chili Peppers of their day, even though the Chilis were around at the time.)

Because the original version of Easy, by Lionel Richie’s Commodores, was used in an ad for a bank in the 80s (below) which made me want to live in a loft, with a cat. Quite possibly the only cool bank ad ever made.

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#shfl11: Brass Construction – Happy People

Well, #shfl11 finally seems to be doing what I’d hoped it would: introducing me to music I have never encountered before, despite it being on my iPod. Today, Happy People by Brass Construction, which is certainly the worst band name we’ve had so far, and possibly one of the worst names ever. According to Wikipedia they were originally called Dynamite Soul, and I can’t help thinking that they probably spent quite a lot of time wishing they’d never changed it.

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Or then again, maybe not, because Happy People is taken from Brass Construction III, which was, unsurprisingly, their third album, which was released before they went on to release Brass Construction IV, V & VI. They really weren’t great at the whole naming lark, were they? Even their Best Of is more imaginatively named. Still, at least their music is better than their way with words. Happy People is a meaty, if hardly revolutionary slice of 70s disco-funk, bringing to mind Earth, Wind & Fire, The Gap Band and Kool & The Gang, amongst others.

Brass Construction, however, never quite reached the heights that these other bands did (maybe something to do with the name?), only broaching the main US Top 100 on 3 occasions, and the UK Top 30 twice. In both instances their highest position was reached with their first single, the dance-floor classsic Movin’: you may not have heard of Brass Construction (I hadn’t), but you’ll almost have certainly have heard the track (I had).

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Considering that Movin’ was their first single, that Happy People, off of their 3rd album, is a clone of it, and that their last UK chart entry, in 1988, was with a remix of Movin’, it’s hard not to think that they never reached the heights because they didn’t have the same quantity of quality. That said, considering who’s sampled them, and how good Movin’ is (and Happy People ain’t bad either), you’d have to say that they’re still responsible for a lot more good music than many other, more famous acts, and I’m just glad that #shfl11 brought them into my life.

#shfl11 is a self-set challenge to write a post every day in 2011 about whatever song pops up 1st on shuffle on my iPod

Construction site by Jakob Montrasio on flickr

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The Faces – Stay With Me

Before he became a boring plastic Scot with painful pretensions of being a hoarse Sinatra, Rod Stewart was a fu*king star. With The Faces he produced some of the greatest British R&B/pub rock of the 60s or 70s. And Stay With Meis almost certainly one of the greatest British rock songs of the 20th Century. That’s all.

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Rod Stewart brooch by kate broughton on flickr

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Queen – We Are The Champions

Queen were many things, but subtle wasn’t one of them – especially on We Are The Champions…

I can’t say that I’ve ever been a huge fan of Queen or their lead singer Freddie Mercury. But Mike was, and especially We Are The Champions, so this one’s for him. If this is your kettle of fish, it’s all available on Amazon or iTunes.

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Leroy Hutson – Lucky Fellow (As Played by Gilles Peterson & Zero 7)

Lucky Fellow is by Leroy Hutson, a favourite of those who know about jazz, funk & soul, having featured on compilations by Gilles Peterson & Zero 7.

I first discovered Leroy Hutson via the Zero 7 Another Late Night compilation which featured the track Cool Out. I then found the track Lucky Fellow on a fantastic soul compilation called Simply Soul (£5 for 4 CDs if I remember), and fell seriously in love with Hutson’s music. It’s a searing piece of 70s sounding soul, with wah-wah guitar, soaring strings, and Hutson giving it the all with his amazing vocals; think Curtis Mayfield (he replaced him in the band The Impressions when Mayfield went solo), Isaac Hayes or anyone of that caliber.

Gilles Peterson’s new compilation Sunday Afternoon at Dingwalls also features Cool Out, but I have to say that if you’re going to get one track by Leroy Hutson then it really ought to be Lucky Fellow. But what you really ought to do (and what I’m going to do now) is get both volumes of his Best Of!

If you’re still not sure, why not listen to Lucky Fellow now?

Leroy Hutson – Lucky Fellow

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