Tag Archives: Al Green

Throwback Thursday – 1974

In 1974, my Grandpa Abe gave me a radio, thus changing my life. That radio became my best friend and music my main interest. I started buying all the 45 rpm records that made the top ten. Soon I was reading the trade magazines, as well as Rolling Stone, Circus, Creem, Song Hits, Hit Parader, Musician, and then some. Who knows what career path I would have chosen had I not latched onto popular music in my pre-teen years?

Tunes du Jour’s Throwback Thursday playlist this week focuses on the music of 1974. It includes the music I heard on the radio back then (eighteen top 40 hits) plus two I discovered later on.


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Throwback Thursday – 1972

Willie Mitchell, the producer of Al Green’s string of hits in the first half of the 1970s, recalled the one time he and the singer had a fight. It was over a song the two men had written with Al Jackson, Jr. While producing that track, Mitchell told Green to sing it much more softly than he had sung his other material. Green thought that direction was wrong and the song would never become a hit.

That recording was “Let’s Stay Together,” and it became Green’s first #1 on the pop chart. It also spent nine weeks at #1 on the r&b chart.

Following the success of “Let’s Stay Together,” Mitchell said Green never again argued with him.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist focuses on the year 1972, kicking off with the song that Rolling Stone magazine named the 60th greatest of all time, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”


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Throwback Thursday – 1971

At the end of the 1960s, Marvin Gaye was a huge star, having had more than two dozen top 40 hits before 1970. However, the singer was having a crisis of conscience, wanting to sing about the ills of the world he saw around him as opposed to perform nothing but love songs.

Inspired by the horrific stories told to him by his brother of what he witnessed serving three years in Viet Nam, Gaye, who hadn’t a hand in writing most of his hits up to this point, added lyrics to an unreleased song written by Obie Benson of the Four Tops and Al Cleveland.

He presented the song to Motown head Berry Gordy, who supposedly called it “the worst thing I ever heard in my life.” Gaye’s response? “Basically, I said ‘Put it out or I’ll never record for you again.’ That was my ace in the hole, and I had to play it.”

“What’s Going On” became the fastest-selling single in the history of Motown Records. Rolling Stone magazine has since placed it at #4 on their ranking of the greatest songs of all-time.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist consists of twenty hits from 1971, kicking off with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”


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It Really Shoulda…

Sam + Ringo
It’s that time of year when music geeks such as I think about the I.R.S. I.R.S. as in It Really Shoulda, as in it really should been a top ten hit.

Eight years ago, a colleague from my Sony Music days, Rich Appel, created the I.R.S. countdown. Music fans submitted a list of songs that didn’t make the top ten on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 but should have, in their opinion. Rich compiled the tallies to create the overall I.R.S. top 104. He’s been compiling this survey each year since.

As for why a song should have been a top ten hit, that’s left entirely up to the list-maker. On my list, I included records that are perfect or near-perfect melodically, lyrically and/or production-wise. I included songs that have withstood the test of time and are still part of the public consciousness years later. I included records that everybody thinks were top ten hits. I included tracks that would have been top ten hits except they didn’t conform to Billboard’s rules for chart placement at their time of release (e.g. they weren’t available on commercial 7-inch singles or viral video play didn’t count in metric measurements). I included singles by artists who hit the top ten with lesser songs. I focused on tracks that have pop appeal, leaving out fantastic recordings from some of my favorite acts, such as The Replacements and The Smiths – they were called “alternative” because they weren’t pop.

My list for 2015 is below, followed by a Spotify playlist of those songs. Rich asks people submitting lists to put them in order, with #1 being the record one feels should have, more than any other, been a top ten hit. Ask me to do so tomorrow and my list will likely be in a different order.

For today, here is my I.R.S. 104. After the artist name I listed how high the song charted during its initial release. If the single hit the Hot 100 at a later date, I included that information as well.

You can hear the official I.R.S. 104 tally for 2015 on Rich Appel’s radio show, That Thing, this coming weekend on RewoundRadio.com. Friday at 6PM Eastern he’ll go from #104 to around #53 and Sunday starting at 6PM Eastern he’ll pick up from where he left off and go to #1.

1. Wonderful World – Sam Cooke (#12, 1960)
2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#19, 1967)
3. River Deep, Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner (#88, 1966)
4. I Only Want to Be with You – Dusty Springfield (#12, 1964)
5. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#14, 1969)
6. Cupid – Sam Cooke (#17, 1961)
7. Holiday – Madonna (#16, 1984)
8. Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder (did not chart, 1977)
9. 1999 – Prince (#44, 1982; #12, 1983; #40, 1999)
10. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (#23, 1975)
11. It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (#14, 1967)
12. Little Egypt (Ying Yang) – The Coasters (#23, 1961)
13. I Want to Take You Higher – Sly & the Family Stone (#60, 1969; #38, 1970)
14. Into the Groove – Madonna (did not chart, 1985)
15. We Will Rock You – Queen (did not chart, 1978; #52, 1992)
16. S.O.S. – Abba (#15, 1975)
17. You’ve Got a Friend – Carole King (did not chart, 1971)
18. Hold On! I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave (#21, 1966)
19. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding (#25, 1967)
20. The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations (#11, 1964)
21. It’s a Shame – Spinners (#14, 1970)
22. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine – Ike & Tina Turner (#14, 1961)
23. Under My Thumb – the Rolling Stones (did not chart, 1966)
24. Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) – Four Seasons (#13, 1966)
25. Me and Julio down by the School Yard – Paul Simon (#22, 1972)
26. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John & Yoko & the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir (did not chart, 1971)
27. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan (#21, 1978)
28. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley (#29, 1964)
29. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid (#13, 1984)
30. Super Freak – Rick James (#16, 1981)
31. Mighty Love – Spinners (#20, 1974)
32. Stan – Eminem featuring Dido (#51, 2000)
33. So Far Away – Carole King (#14, 1971)
34. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love (did not chart, 1963)
35. Because the Night – Patti Smith Group (#13, 1978)
36. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell (#67, 1970)
37. Candy Girl – New Edition (#46, 1983)
38. Brass in Pocket (I’m Special) – Pretenders (#14, 1980)
39. Everybody Hurts – R.E.M. (#29, 1993)
40. It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (#36, 1988)
41. Heartbreak Hotel – the Jacksons (#22, 1981)
42. Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton (#20, 1976)
43. Valerie – Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse (did not chart, 2007)
44. Rock and Roll All Nite (live) – Kiss (#12, 1976)
45. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester (#36, 1979)
46. L-O-V-E (Love) – Al Green (#13, 1975)
47. It’s Raining Men – the Weather Girls (#46, 1983)
48. I’m a Slave 4 U – Britney Spears (#27, 2001)
49. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC (#35, 1980)
50. Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (#12, 1976)
51. Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed (#16, 1973)
52. Bring It on Home to Me – Sam Cooke (#13, 1962)
53. Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2 (#33, 1984)
54. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead (#13, 1979)
55. Move Your Feet – Junior Senior (did not chart, 2003)
56. Heroes – David Bowie (did not chart, 1977)
57. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon (#21, 1978)
58. One Way or Another – Blondie (#24, 1979)
59. You Get What You Give – New Radicals (#36, 1999)
60. Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel – Tavares (#15, 1976)
61. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (#22, 1983)
62. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon (#44, 1986, #23, 1987)
63. I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt (#18, 1992)
64. Young Americans – David Bowie (#28, 1975)
65. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (#31, 1965)
66. Respect Yourself – the Staple Singers (#12, 1971)
67. Moondance – Van Morrison (did not chart, 1970; #92, 1977)
68. Where’s the Love – Hanson (did not chart, 1997)
69. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder (#16, 1974)
70. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow (#62, 1982)
71. Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club (#31, 1982)
72. Beautiful Stranger – Madonna (#19, 1999)
73. Shame, Shame, Shame – Shirley (& Company) (#12, 1975)
74. The Way I Am – Eminem (#58, 2000)
75. Jungle Love – The Time (#20, 1985)
76. Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac (#12, 1982)
77. Smile – Lily Allen (#49, 2007)
78. Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give up the Funk) – Parliament (#15, 1976)
79. Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert (#11, 2013)
80. Solid – Ashford & Simpson (#12, 1985)
81. Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (#36, 1980)
82. The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin (#60, 1998; #45, 1999)
83. Me, Myself and I – De La Soul (#34, 1989)
84. Bad Luck – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (#15, 1975)
85. Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads (did not chart, 1981)
86. Fuck You – Lily Allen (#68, 2009)
87. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service (did not chart, 2003)
88. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (movie version) – Lauryn Hill (did not chart, 1998)
89. Dedication to My Ex (Miss That) – Lloyd featuring Andre 3000 (#79, 2011)
90. Jump To It – Aretha Franklin (#24, 1982)
91. Mamma Mia – Abba (#32, 1976)
92. Space Oddity – David Bowie (did not chart, 1969; #15, 1973)
93. P Control – O{+> (Prince) (did not chart, 1995)
94. Got Your Money – Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis (#33, 1999)
95. LDN – Lily Allen (did not chart, 2007)
96. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Buddy Holly (#13, 1959)
97. Does Your Mother Know – Abba (#19, 1979)
98. Up in a Puff of Smoke – Polly Brown (#16, 1975)
99. Blue Limousine – Apollonia 6 (did not chart, 1984)
100. All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople (#37, 1972)
101. Fight the Power – Public Enemy (did not chart, 1989)
102. Pass That Dutch – Missy Elliott (#27, 2003)
103. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne (#21, 2003)
104. You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse (#78, 2007; #77, 2008)


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REVIEW: “Annie” – An Original Take On Eurythmics Singer

The motion picture Annie, which opens today, is an imaginative and refreshing telling of a story we all think we heard before.

Like recent biopics such as Ray, Walk the Line and Dreamgirls, some liberties were taken in this film version of the life of Eurythmics lead singer Annie Lennox, who, coincidentally, celebrates her 60th birthday today. Though in real life Lennox was born and raised in Scotland, the filmmakers set their story in New York City. Lennox was 28 years old when Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” became a worldwide smash, making her a very wealthy woman. In the film Annie, she is ten years old when her sweet dreams come true and she acquires wealth.

This past summer’s Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is by My Side, was unable to acquire the rights to use Hendrix’s music, so they used cover songs that Hendrix performed in his pre-fame days. Similarly, the producers of Annie were unable to secure the rights to Eurythmics’ songs, so instead they wrote new songs loosely based on the duo’s recordings. “When Tomorrow Comes” from their album Revenge, is now simply “Tomorrow.” “Grown Up Girls,” the b-side of the “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” single, is now “Little Girls.”

Eurythmics’ infamous performance from the Grammy Awards, in which Lennox cross-dressed as a dark-haired, sideburned man, is replicated in the film, though instead of taking place at the Shrine Auditorium, the scene is set on a helicopter. Nonetheless, the confusion the TV audience experienced in 1984, when viewers asked “Why is there a man singing ‘Sweet Dreams?’,” is beautifully captured, as the film audience will be confused and ask “Why are they dancing on a helicopter?”

As you probably know, the studio that released Annie, Sony Pictures, experienced a huge email leak a couple of weeks ago, in which it was revealed, among other things, that the producers originally wanted Amy Adams to play Annie Lennox. However, her asking price was too high, or as Sony’s Co-Chairman Amy Pascal put it in an email to film co-producer Jay-Z, “She wants a man’s salary. She’ll get it when she’s really adopted by a milionaire!,” to which Jay-Z replied “LOL!” Though Adams would have been good, 11-year-old Quetzalcoatl Wallis handles herself admirably. While we never get into her mind to see how she came up with “Here Comes the Rain Again” or “Would I Lie to You?,” she is cute, and the film’s equivalent of the Eurythmics/Aretha Franklin hit “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves,” here performed with Willow Smith, is a highlight.

In an inspired bit of casting, Cameron Diaz portrays Whitney Houston, who had a hit with the Lennox composition “Step by Step.” Diaz is a great choice for the role, as she possesses the same range as the late Houston.

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Cameron Diaz has the same range as the late Whitney Houston.

Annie is rated PG. It contains mild language, rude humor, and a dance number set on a helicopter.

Today Tunes du Jour presents twenty Annie Lennox songs not included in the movie Annie.

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It’s Barry White’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Sometime in the 1950s, a man named Peter Sterling Radcliffe wrote a country song he called “You’re My First, You’re My Last, My In-Between.” For years he tried to get someone to record it but nobody was interested. Years later, Radcliffe was introduced to Barry White by arranger Gene Page. In the 1960s White was a session musician and producer who worked on records with The Bobby Fuller Four, Bob & Earl, Jesse Belvin and Viola Wills.

One Christmas when White was unable to buy Christmas gifts for his children, Radcliffe stepped in and bought toys for the kids. Relaying this story during an interview, White told the journalist “I was so grateful for that and said I would pay him back one day.”

In 1972, Barry White wrote, produced and arranged “Walking in the Rain with the One I Love” for a female trio named Love Unlimited. The record hit #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The following year White released his first solo album, I’ve Got So Much to Give, which produced the #3 gold single “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby.” The top ten single “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” followed in 1974.

Now a successful recording artist, White listened to his friend Radcliffe’s twenty-year old country song. Barry heard potential in the tune. “I changed some words, part of the melody and some of the title, but kept the chord structure.”

Ringo + Barry White 2014-09-11 13.53
“You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” appeared on White’s Can’t Get Enough album. The album’s first single, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” hit #1. The follow-up single, “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” went to #2, kept out of the top spot by Elton John’s version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

Pay it forward, people. You may be rewarded in more ways than the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone in their time of need.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Barry White’s birthday and I need to dance!

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Ten Facts About Barry Gibb

Winston + Bee Gees 2014-09-01 14.35
Ten facts about Barry Gibb:
• As a member of the Bee Gees and as a producer and writer, Barry contributed to more than half of the songs on the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever. That album went on to sell 40 million copies and was the all-time best-selling album until it was outsold by Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
• The Bee Gees are the only group to have six consecutive singles go to #1, all of which were also written and produced by them – “How Deep is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “Too Much Heaven,” “Tragedy” and “Love You Inside Out.”
• For twenty-seven of the thirty-seven weeks from December 24, 1977 through September 2, 1978, the #1 singles in the US featured Barry Gibb as a writer. The songs were the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever,” Andy Gibb’s “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and “Shadow Dancing,” Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” and Frankie Valli’s “Grease.”
• Barry Gibb wrote “Grease” without his brothers. It was Frankie Valli’s only #1 single not co-written by Bob Gaudio or Bob Crewe. At the time Gibb approached Valli about recording the tune, Valli didn’t have a record deal. It was Valli’s last top 40 single.
• For three weeks beginning March 18, 1978, Barry was the lead singer, co-producer or co-writer of four of the US’ top five singles – “Night Fever,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and Samantha Sang’s “Emotion.”
• Barry and Robin Gibb wrote “Emotion” for the film Saturday Night Fever. It wasn’t used in the pic; however, it was used in the Joan Collins film The Stud the following year.
• Gibb was a co-producer and co-writer of the Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton duet “Islands in the Stream.” The record was a #1 country and pop hit, the last song to top both of those charts for 17 years. Barry Gibb said the song was written for Marvin Gaye to record.
Dionne Warwick did not care for “Heartbreaker,” written by the Bee Gees, but she recorded it anyway, as she trusted the brothers’ judgment that it would be a hit. It sailed into the top ten in 1983, her first single to do so in four years.
• The Bee Gees-penned “Chain Reaction” was one of two #1 solo singles for Diana Ross in the UK, the other being “I’m Still Waiting.” Neither are amongst her 27 post-Supremes top 40 hits in the US.
• As a songwriter Gibb has had No. 1 songs in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Today Barry Gibb turns 68. Here are twenty songs he sang and/or wrote and/or produced.

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A Change Is Gonna Come If You Make It So

A company I worked for – I won’t say which one – has an amazing catalogue of rhythm & blues music, arguably the best r&b catalogue of any record label. Despite possessing this goldmine, most of our catalogue releases were from white rock bands. I asked a member of senior management why we didn’t do more with our black artists, and the answer I got was “We don’t know how to sell that music.”

Is that not a stupid response? If you don’t know how to do that, hire someone who has that expertise, or learn how to do it. Why ignore a large swath of your potential market, especially when you already own the assets?

Years ago I was put in charge of licensing at a record label. I knew the music and I knew the components of licensing deals; however, I wasn’t a very good negotiator. I found the process intimidating. I could have left it at that – “I don’t know how to negotiate.” My company would have made money nonetheless, though not at its full potential. For that matter, I wouldn’t be working at full potential.

I took a course in negotiations. Six weeks, $300. Money well spent. I put what I learned in the class into action. Practice makes perfect, and I became an excellent negotiator. In my four years at that company our licensing revenue increased 400%. My skills also led to my next job as the Vice President of Licensing at another company.

Is a lack of some skill or knowledge holding you back? Fix that. Read a book, attend a seminar, take an on-line course or find a mentor. Saying “I don’t know how” won’t lead to success; learning how will.

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Today is the last day of Black Music Month. It would be ludicrous to think a 40-song playlist would cover black music in any comprehensive way. Enjoy it for what it is – nearly three hours of fantastic music. Listen to it while you research how to learn a new skill.

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The Coolest Thing About Willie Nelson

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his non-conformity. A country music legend who, unlike many of his peers, isn’t always seen in a cowboy hat and who supports progressive positions on marriage equality (pro), the war in Iraq (anti), the legalization of marijuana (pro) and solar power (pro).

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his compassion. He is the president of Farm Aid and in 1985, with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, set up the series of Farm Aid concerts that raised over $9 million for American farmers in its first year. He is on the Board of Directors of the Animal Welfare Institute and has campaigned for the better treatment of horses as well as for calves raised to produce milk for dairy products.

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is this photo:

willie-joint

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his hit “On the Road Again.”

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is that he charted with a cover of “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond Of Each Other” as Brokeback Mountain was doing well at the box office.

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is that he wrote “Crazy” and “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Hello Walls.”

Willie Nelson is cool. Today he turns 81. Here is a small sampling of his work.

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Al Green’s Unromantic Proposal

doggies + Al Green

In the earlier 1970s, Al Green ruled over the r&b and pop charts. “Tired of Being Alone” hit #11 pop/#7 r&b in 1971. This was followed by the classic “Let’s Stay Together” (#1 pop for one week), the first of seven top ten pop singles from 1972 thru 1974. His performance on the r&b chart was even stronger. “Let’s Stay Together” remained on top of that chart for nine weeks. Over the next six years Green placed thirteen more singles in the r&b top ten, including five #1s.

On the album side, he had a handful of gold releases, the last of which was 1973’s Livin’ For You. That album spawned the single “Let’s Get Married” (#32 pop/#3 r&b). Despite what one may infer from its title, “Let’s Get Married” is not a very romantic proposal. His reasoning for suggesting marriage to his girlfriend is that he’s “tired of playing around – a girl in every town.” He sings “let’s get married. Might as well,” adding during the record’s fade-out “Found out I don’t love nobody anyway.”

One woman Green didn’t propose to was his girlfriend at that time, Mary Woodson White. In October of 1974, four months after “Let’s Get Married” peaked on the charts, White, distraught that Green wouldn’t marry her (she was already married, btw), poured a pan of boiling grits on the singer while he was in the shower. She then took his gun and killed herself. Green suffered severe burns on his back, stomach and arms from the incident.

Citing this as a sign that he needed to change his ways, Green became an ordained pastor in 1976 and three years later moved from secular to gospel music.

Today the great Al Green turns 68 years old.

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