Tag Archive: WBLS FM


OF COURSE you can glean by now that I probably first heard Vesta Williams on New York City’s famous WBLS FM 107.5, and you are correct.  “Vesta” as we first came to know her, could always hit those “Chaka Khan notes” right-down to the “Ooo!”, and indeed, I thought she was Chaka until A&M Records promotions people bestowed  her first dance 12″ 45rpm on me, “Don’t You Blow A Good Thing”,  back in 1986.  

one of "my vinyl" Vesta 12 Inch

You’ve probably never heard of Vesta Williams unless you were into “descendant-of-disco” music in the major U.S. cities like New York City or San Francisco/L.A.  back in the mid-1980s!  She really did “nail” that Chaka Khan-type sound, as I re-listen to the two 12″  DJ singles that I was lucky enough to add to my library back then.  After-all, Chaka was hot with “I Feel For You” in those days, and there were a couple of other ladies that were able to capitalize on that sound, and IMO, Vesta was one of them.  I now wonder if somehow living in that shadow of a superstar of your genre may have weighed upon Ms. Williams – if the “overdose” rumors are proved true.  Strange – whenever a singer or actor/actress is found dead in a hotel room, a “drug overdose” is always the first guess as to the cause of death.  When you hear these initial rumors of an entertainer’s demise, what drug(s) do you think of?  TMZ reports “multiple bottles of pills…”  The same thing happened with my late friend, Phyllis Hyman.

"and be suspicious when the moon is high..."

I liked my other of my two “Vesta” A & M Records 12-inch singles, “Once Bitten Twice Shy” better. It’s bass line was real even, long-lasting and smooth and the song even became a kind of personal cautionary theme song of mine as I matured through my “playboy” women-dating days. LOL  The Steve Hodge remix still sounds boss and full tonight as I play it in the background while I write these words.  The song basically means “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

I never had the pleasure of being even close to meeting her in my radio glory days when she was “hot”, and yet she could have been in the room, or a club or bar with me simultaneously and I have the feeling we would have vibed, maybe had a beverage and talked about “the biz” and remained acquaintances. She actually “looks familiar” to me from my NYC radio DJ days.  She was “hot” at the height of my radio career there. I wish that I had more vinyls by Vesta Williams, but as the art of music always does, it leaves us a wealth of material to eternally remember the artist.

 I never stopped playing Vesta through the years when I could choose the music I played on my radio shows.  She was made more for the airwaves and the nightclubs, in my opinion, and when I head of her passing away at only fifty-three today, I thought, “Wow! Where has she been all these years?”  I pray theat an artist’s frustration with not being in the place that you planned to be at a certain stage of life didn’t get the best of her.  Lord knows, I know exactly what that feels like…  “Once Bitten…”

“Twice Shy.”  Another choice voice who will be missed.  If you knew her, or have other songs that are not part of my library that are your favorites, please weigh-in with them in my “comments” section below.

One that a couple of women I know in the singing business have mentioned is a sad ballad of unrequited love and betrayal called “Congratulations”.  Vesta is now free from all of the physical world drama that she sang about.  Bra-vo, Vesta.

They always did...

Like Holland-Dozier-Holland, Gamble & Huff, the names Ashford/Simpson under the titles of songs on my records were mostly insignificant to me, the “baby DJ” decades ago. I noticed the artists, and always thought that “Whitfield/Strong” were members of the groups (The Temptations in that case).
As usual with me and my vinyl, it wasn’t until I fell under the influence of the great New York City radio personalities like Frankie Crocker, Jerry Bledsoe, Bobby Jay and others of the day who conducted “live” interviews on the air and often educated listeners as they mentioned who wrote the hits of the day as part of their front or back-announcing of them, that I began to separate “songwriter” from the performers. Ashford & Simpson’s uniqueness was that they could do both roles successfully!
I have observed through the years, that very often, life is like a running play in football: full of misdirection. just when you expect things to go one way, they go in another or opposite direction. So it was again when I heard that Nick Ashford left the physical world, and his other half in so many ways more than usual with a couple, Valerie, behind in late August ‘011 at age sixty-nine; not old yet, but not young either. Nick seemed always a “cool” – yet curious cat to me, those times I was in their presence and too shy to intrude with anything but a brief “Hey, how you doin!” and brief introduction of myself as a DJ on WBLS who played their music. Innate shyness strikes again! I remember watching them from left-of-center stage at New York City’s Palladium, when it was near Union Square on 14th Street, and they opened for Luther Vandross. Shortly after their restaurant in Manhattan, the Sugar Bar, opened I went to check them out with my pals, and I was fortunate enough to be on the set with them at other venues while I was a New York City radio personality. I always looked at them as more of a collaborative couple than a romantic one, but as time went by, you could see that they respected and adored each-other by the looks in their eyes when the looked at one-another while in full song. Looking at their album covers is like watching a time-capsule in mutual evolution, so let’s get to my Ashford & Simpson vinyls! 

orig 1976 notes

First and with major thanks to Jackie Thomas, who was my Warner Brothers Promotion Lady at the time, is the back cover of “Come As You Are”, complete with my scribblings (DJ notes) from almost forty years ago!  You can’t read it, but my “pik” on this album was “One More Try” – the extended (with guitar solo) 12″ Disco version of  I also acquired! It still is one of my best A&S tracks and is very danceable!   My next fave on this album was “It Came To Me”, however, the popular hit, which is still poignant today is the lead cut  reminder, “It’ll Come, It’ll Come, It’ll Come”.  One thing I began to notice back then, even, was the lush presence of a harp flourish during their ‘vamps to the fade’.  I like that!

 The next one I have has my stamp of “Nov. 9, 1976; the ‘Nick-o-Val’  follow-up, “Tried, Tested & Found True” [5;25] twelve-inch!  What is overlooked or not even known these days  is that those “disco” 12″ vinyls played at 45rpm!  That dance favorite was culled from  1977’s “So So Satisfied” album, which I acquired because a neighbor was (“horrors!!”) throwing their records away in the dumpster because they were moving.  Knowing that I was a “DJ” he brought a charity crate over to me, asking if I wanted to “look through some of these…”  Well, “Hell Yeah!!”  When I pulled the vinyl out and saw it was in reasonably saveable shape, I humbly thanked him and went inside to clean it up like the rest of “my children”.  I never have lent my vinyls out over time…  “So So” had two other hit in-addition to “Tried, Tested…” and they were the deep, fulfilling ballad title song, “So So Satisfied” and a song that I think the late Sylvester made famous but was (of course) written by Ashford & Simpson, “Over And Over”.  I already had the Jimmy Simpson “Disco Mix” 12″ 45rpm of it, so getting the album completed that set of June 10, 1977 .

Next in my collection is my hands-down favorite album by this dynamic musical duo, on Warner Bros., 1977’s “Send it”.  An “A” rotation on WBLS FM and any other burgeoning ‘Urban” black radio station of the day, you heard them hit their “stride” on this one!  it includes the best instrumental they ever produced IMO, “Bourgie` Bourgie`”. Notice how their cover photos evolved though these years?  These guys were fashion templates of the day!  it is about this time that I began to truly believe they were an in-love couple and not just an “act”.  Also featured hits on this LP , “”By Way Of Love’s Express”, the title song, “Send It” and the dance classic, “Don’t Cost You Nothin’ “.  On Nick-O-Val music, there are NO “bad” album cuts though…

Then, all of a sudden (to me, anyway) in 1978, Jackie Thomas laid the 12′ on me called “It Seems To Hang On”.  I’m not sure what album it is from, because I don’t have it.  All I know is that to this very day and as I write these words, it is my all time Hall Of Fame favorite Ashford & Simpson record!  At six minutes and fifty-seven seconds, I can play it a-gain, and again, and a-gainnnn… 

As Barry White would say, “it was such a groove…”  A great arrangement with orchestra, and those sexy horns. 

After that, I guess I lost track or maybe they had a lull, but the next thing I knew, Nick and Valerie were on a new label, Capitol/EMI. I am thinking that my record promo rep was the very amusing John Brown there (but don’t hold me to it, LOL).  I always wanted a gig in record promotion back then because all these guys and gals just went from company-to-company (and party-to-party!).  I went into my stacks looking for their last massive hit “Solid” (which is still hiding from me as I write this, dammit!) and came upon one that I didn’t even know I had, 1986’s “Real Love”.  Skip ahead in time!

I call this album something that every artist has, “one that got away”.  The only notable “hit’ was something called “Nobody Walks In L.A.”, and somehow I have the Capitol Records 12″ of it – by now they played at 331/3 rpm – looking like I never played it.  Not that it was a “bad” song; it just never really caught-on – on the east coast – in the USA.  There are “certain” memories associated with all of Nick & Vals music in my musical mind.  Observe again, the fashion evolution of their album cover pose… 

“Nobody Walks In L.A.” 12-inch

By now my collection is waning and I have performed on WBLS FM and all the major New York City Urban/Black/R&B?whatever name du jour radio stations.  “Solid… as a Rock” was the jam when I was on WBLS FM in 1984/85, but there came a little ditty which was the title track of that album called “High Rise” by them which was so appropriate because at that time I was living my dream of residing in one.

High Rise 45rpm cover

This is the jacket for the 1983 45rpm:

They should have been (and maybe were) fashion models!  Well last-but-not-least in my krates-full-o-jointz I found a 45rpm off of the album ‘Performance’ which will serve as a timely and true finale to this post, “It Shows In The Eyes”.  Look!…”it” does and always will. 
Please comment with your
favorite Nicholas Ashford/
Valerie Simpson memory,
concert or song.  I had no
idea he was ill; makes it all the more sad and surprising to think that he is gone, but their voice –  harp-flourished arrangements – will live eternally.
 

It was a truly modern info moment. I’m doing my goodnight ‘My Vinyl’ “Tweet” of the day into the Twittosphere, when next in the stream and before mine can appear pops, “Breaking News! Gil Scott Heron dead at 60.” last night. Immediately I reply to the Tweeter of bad news, “ 4 REal? Oh Sad…major part of my musical comeuppance in college radio via dancefloor-filler, “In The Bottle” RIP Bro Heron”    

back coveer

 

Wow!” I thought, “ I’m on Twitter and witness history as one of (maybe) the first to know this!” one of the reasons I have grown to tolerate that platform is that appeals to the subliminal sense or need for immediacy of current events in its own special way!

I started to write this then and there; nope, too close to “Au Revoir” for-the-night time after a physically strenuous Friday and mentally gnarly week. Therefore, here we are now with an homage to my one Gil Scott Heron vinyl, “Winter In America”. Obviously, this one should be brief, but no promises, okay? :-D

When I think of the now “late” Gil Scott Heron, I go back to my days at the University and the hit record from this album, “In The Bottle”.  His image makes me think of another tell-it-like-it-IS spoken group, The Last Poets.  All I wanted to know about most music back then, in my “baby” DJ days, was would it get people up on the floor and dancing to it? That is how I could look good and get paid by whomever was employing me for that purpose – even if that “person” was me.  So the larger “message” of Gil Scott Heron – the poet , keyboardist and Brother-man was initially kind of secondary, but in retrospect he was one of those whose lyrics clarified shit from the streets that I had only heard about at the time.

cuts and players

As time went by, I was proud of him as a militant messenger as I like to see part of myself being in the mirror. Principled and even brutally eloquently relevant and truthful in his succinct lyrics and rhymes, I knew intrinsically that he would be “alright” and was a protector and purveyor of the thoughts about our place as Black Americans in society that most people would only think and not say. What’s more, he did it with music, one of my favorite things, and that made him all the more koolThis album felt like conversation as well as a class.

my vinyl GSH

I probably first heard “In The Bottle” on the Frankie Crocker-programmed WBLS-FM of 1974, although another party or DJ could have been just as timely. All I knew was that it was about a guy who drank too much as imitated by Gil from the jam’s outset, but who cared? When that first note hit, the guys were up and asking the chicks to dance with them en-masse! “A dolla-nine-get-a-bottle o’wine, a dolla-nine-get-a bottle a-wine, in the bot-tle…” 

I remember getting amusing requests from cats who would saunter up to my booth and request, “Hey, ‘Man, you got any Gil Scott Heroin, Brotha?” To which I learned to sometimes reply, “No, my Brother, we don’t do no hard drugs up in this booth…” (read again to catch the subtle comedy if you didn’t “get-it”), before I’d relent and tell him I “got’cha covered!”. That smacks me in my funny bone annoyingly if you’ve read the stated causes of his death.

Brian Jackson got the co-top billing on this album, which as I write this, I wish I knew the story of how I came to acquire it, or why he did get that recognition and what happened to him. If you know, please write it in a comment below, but he never became as famous as Gil Scott Heron did, and where is he now?

Even though “Winter In America” is the title of my one-and-only vinyl by Gil, the song by the same name came out on his next album, “First Minute of A Brand New Day”. He will probably be remembered by the world’s masses though, for another song/album title, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” which came out right after “Winter”, I believe.  Those two LPs set GSH off into the stratocastersphere!

I am sad that his needed voice is now silent too early, but at least being who he was, he left some homework behind for all of us to catch-up on an apply.  “Just how blind will America be?” he asked in the wake of the Nixon Watergate scandal . I can rhyme that and say, “these days we continue to see!”   Gil Scott Heron performed the serious science with an ironic sense of humor that is lacking among many of the broadcast talking heads here in 2011.

photo props to cafemaroon

                                         Only sixty-two?  That is Scary. 

 

                      Side Two, track five, “Peace Go With You Brother”. 

                                                                  Whether you are a regular or infrequent visitor to my blog, undoubtedly you have heard me refer to Frankie Crocker as my inspiration for wanting to become a high-paid celebrity professional radio personality. I haven’t looked, but I bet in each of “My Vinyls” I mention him; he hipped me to so much music via the radio and he taught me in a vicarious way how not to take any shit from people while doing my show. I remember him once giving me the advice, take full control of your show whenever you ares” on, no-matter what or who (but he put it another way as described in my book). Frankie was very quotable and had a lot of “sayings” – many direct and controversial. In my first radio memoir book, “He’s In A Meeting…Adventures In Getting Past Gatekeepers…” (which you can see the front cover of to the right), I write about Mr. Crocker and how he influenced so many of us during his times. The way I got “past” his gatekeepers like Denise Colon and Champaine of WBLS FM, New York, was to wait patiently in the lobby on many an afternoon, while superstar celebrities whisked-in ahead of me. I knew that one day I would get my turn – and I did some other “things” to get his attention along the way which I describe. 

~ Pickhitt:

I’d  be remiss if I didn’t credit my loving and full-of-good-ideas fiancee`, Nina, who thought of this book promotional post!

Cheers, Babychka!

“If Frankie Crocker’s not on your radio, your radio’s not really ON…”  :-D  ~~ Jimi

So it is another sleepless Tuesday overnight after the holidays in the U.S.A., and I am tossing and turning in bed, wondering how I am going to pay the bills this month, get to see my girlfriend overseas, and what is in store for me. This year is already beginning like last year – waiting for paltry checks in the mail.  I finally fall asleep around seven-thirty AM only to drag myself up at the crack of Noon, knowing I have things to do that I am behind schedule on.  I call in “sick” on my home business to answer some emails only to find that four people I know have sent me this story about this homeless dude getting a voice-over job.

“Why are you tormenting me like this?” I ask one sender.  “Because he talks about ‘Theater of the Mind’ radio like you always do, and did on your show”, he answers. Even my eighty-six year old Mum calls asking, “Do you know Ted Williams?” “You mean the baseball player?” I feign.  My forehead is now in my hands…”OMG” I am thinking.  I was just tired before an a little grumpy; now I am in full D.J. Grumpy mode.  No coffee in the decanter to help either.  If this be the future, then why does it play like Alice In Wonderland where down is up and up is down?  Why are people being rewarded for behavior they used to be ashamed of?  I reach for my albuterol sulfate inhaler – getting upset used to bring on Asthma attacks when I was a child, now I just get “shortness of breath” and it is too cold to go for a bicycle ride, although I briefly consider doing so, or at least taking a brisk walk.

Here is the point I made to my friends who said, “He even sounds like you do!”  Their hearts are in the right place (I am sounding like my Mum now); I even heard one young lady say how “cool” a story it is that this dude got a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers, on her college radio station.  HOWEVER: there are lines of us qualified announcers  out here with “pipes” who have been marginalized by terrestrial radio, et al for the past decade.  GOD bless the BUM, but I have been doin “theatre of the mind” radio since the ’80s (“The Pajama Bar”) having grown up listening to it done on NYC radio by great D.J.s like Murray the “K”, “Cousin” Brucie (Morrow) and Frankie Crocker.

 Ted-Williams

I recently began to send out my demo mp3s again to studios and agencies and have done so in the interim – without a nibble, hoping against hope that things turn around for me, and some homeless cat with a cardboard sign standing at the offramp of a highway gets a gig bcs a driver pulled-up and taped him to put it up on You Tube?? I’m sorry, but that is the wrong message!  So what, I should become HOMELESS, lose all I have,  get a piece of cardboard and a Sharpie, stand outside by [the nearest interstate exit] in my army fatigues and hope for the best as my TEETH rot??  Something is very WRONG with the hiring system/pecking order in this land and the UNIVERSE at-large if this be the future of my”specialty”. That shit pisses me off everytime I think of it – and I didn’t get much sleep last night either, trying to figure-out what is next for me and those I hold dear.  What do you think?  What if that happened in your industry?  How long do you think he will last?

Look, I’m not hatin’, I’m just sayin’., seems the wrong prople are getting the “bum’s rush”. Let me see…maybe I can think up something stupid to do to get “headlines” and hired for big reality TV money! I hear my late father saying, “You’ll probably get yourself arrested.”

       I don’t want to wait until one of the members of this group dies or something similar to do this one. 

 I have avoided most R&B music ever since having a traumatic termination experience at the last R&B radio outlet I diligently performed on, and tirelessly worked for getting exceptional “ratings”, when I was literally “fired” as the individual who hired me, (the GM) used a load gun in-hand while he dismissed me. Seemy book, “He’s In A Meeting…” for how it played-out thereafter. However, today I shot a promotional video, where I had creative control, and in one of “those” moments, it came to me that this particular O’Jays song was the perfect background theme song.  “As luck would have it”, I have now pulled my whole O’Jays catalog from me library to me desk, Mon.  Let us see what we have here….

Hailing from Canton, Ohio, I believe and named after one of my favorite and much-missed radio disc jockey inspirations, the late Eddie O’Jay, these cats have been part of the fabric of my life since their first big album dropped in 1972 as I was a freshman in college.  I first listened to Eddie O’Jay on Newark, New Jersey’s WNJR AM where he scatted such cool gibberish as “So cool, docaroo; eh-tu, me and you, sabee-doo!” LOL as part of his daily sign-off the air.  For a long time I didn’t connect the group with the radio personality – “Duh??”  Just like I didn’t know they were originally a quartet that included Bobby Isles – my parents tried to keep my from what they described as the “gut-bucket music” R&B table; what can I say except, that I broke free in college, rapido-style, in order to catch-up.

Last I paid serious attention, The O’Jays are/were Eddie Lavert, William Powell and Walter Williams.  They came to hit status due to the writing prowess of Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble in the early 1970s and to me, their signature is the almost rough and churchy- energetic vamping of lead singer, Mr. Lavert.  He is the male standard for “bringing a song home”!  He knows how to put the “beg” on the woman in-song,  is smooth and soft; or “nice and rough” as Tina Turner once described their “Rolling On The River”.  Moreover, do not get it twisted, all three of the O’Jays can carry the lead.

  My oldest O’Jays vinyl is “Backstabbers” which featured the classics ‘Love Train”, “Sunshine”, “Time To Get Down”, and of course the title track that became a euphemism for me and my college mates back then when it became known that another man was after “your’ girl – he then dubbed was a “Backstabber (what they do!)”.

Thanks to the promotion people I remember at CBS Records (the “black rock building”  like Jackie Thomas, Elaine Valentine and T.C.  Tompkins, I own about seventeen O’Jays vinyls.  Of course, growing up in music within the sound of Frankie Crocker’s “total Black Experience In Sound, ” WBLS FM radio station did not hurt my O’Jay education nor catalog.  I remember him “running” the hit “For The Love Of Money” over and over again! This was an era prior to “remixed versions” that are just part of the music machine fabric nowadays. My second oldest  is “The O”Jays in Philadelphia” which includes “‘One Night Affair”, which was my first 45rpm by them from the local record shop on Neptune Records.

Then there is the classic (another one!) “Ship Ahoy”, where in addition to “Money”, I always dug “Put Your Hands Together”, “People Keep Telling Me” and “Now That We Found Love” which the reggae group Third World made a smash out of too!  Next is “The O’Jays Live In London” which, when released, was kind of a first.  A reverse Beatles moment when an American “soul” group went across the “pond” and “wowed” the Brits! (I couldn’t find any video for that appearance, sadly)

Next are my vinyls: “Family Reunion”, featuring the love classic “You and Me” as well as the sometimes over-played, IMHO, title track, the cool “Living For The Weekend”,  McFadden and Whitehead-written “She’s Only A Woman”, and a little ditty called “I Love Music” which became a disco classic upon remixes by the likes of yours truly and other selectors of the day.  Positioning that track last on that album was genius!  Next I have the “Survival” album featuring “Give The People What They Want” and my personal fave, “How Time Flies”; next 1976’s “Message In The Music” featuring the ultimate dance floor-filler classic of it’s time, “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)” – I still have the 12″ versions separate from the rest, LOL. You just heard it here (and I dedicate it to my Ukrainian, Nina, by-the-way).

Following that platinum success the guys were ‘Travelin’ At The Speed Of Thought” (an interlude in their discography) until they discovered they were “So Full Of Love” which included their first real “crossover” sure shot into the mainstream of Pop music, “She Used Ta Be My Girl”.  I can name THAT tune in the first several guitar riff notes and it always reminds me of my first commercial radio riff on WFLB AM in 1978.  “Identify Yourself” took the stage on Philadelphia International/Mighty Three Music in 1979 where “Forever Mine’ was the star song.  In 1982 my collection features the non-descriptive “My Favorite Person” album, which was only saved by the title song and the  Womack connection on the first song, “I Just Want To Satisfy You” which played big in New York City radio because of Crocker and Sonny Taylor.  Play it again, “Sam”!  A rare dud for the group was the  vinyl, “When Will I See You Again”, and I knew that they should take a powder for a while after it.     Sure enough, the came back in 1984 and 1984 with “Love and More” and did  a little bit better on “Love Fever”, but still not up to their previous standards until the album that inspired this post, 1987’s “Let Me Touch You”.  This effort showcases all the styles, spectrums and signatures of  The O’Jays as exemplified by a Latin-funky “True Love Never Dies” on one  song and then a heartfelt “Still Missing” on the next.



So which one is my  favorite album or cut?  Well, there are way too many to mention!  I love “Darlin’ Baby” the same way I dig “Lovin’ You”  or “When The  World Is At Peace”.  I am sure , and at least HOPE that they are still making music and albums/CDs.  I am not in the “loop” anymore with their labels like it was easy “back in the day” to keep up, and I want to cry about it. 

 Not the “Old Jays” as I recently heard some young homies disrespectfully refer to them, but still the O’JOINTS!   Ya know, “True love” really “never dies”. We Love you Eddie Lavert! 

So what are your favorite O’Jays songs or concert moments?  Or had you ever even heard of them until you read this?



I own every Moments record on vinyl – 45rpm or LP.  No brag, just fact.

A couple of nights ago I learned that singer Al Goodman left the physical world at age sixty-seven.  That is not too old, but old enough for those of his generation and show business profession.

Al Goodman

 was one-third of the group The Moments, who I grew-up listening to on metro New York City “soul” radio stations WWRL AM and WNJR AM in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  The Moments touched a spot in my youthful musical psyche and heart like no other group did as I discovered the virtues and passionate pains of romance and love. 

The only groups of that era that came close were The Delfonics and The Continental Four, who most of my friends adored more; but I dug The Moments!  Maybe because their lesser-known record label, Stang ( a division of All Platinum), appealed to my rebellious, left-of-the-mainstream personality.  The raw production wasn’t as polished as The Delfonic’s Philly Groove label, and that was quite the charm of  The Moment’s sound effect as well as their unique three-man harmony. 

Harry Ray,

often the lead on the classic hits and another third of the group passed away back in 1992, and now that leaves only Billy Brown alive as an original “Moment” if I am correct. 

I remember when my radio mentor, Sonny Taylor was an executive at Polydor Records for a brief stint during which The Moments made a move towards larger recognition than they must have thought Sylvia Robinson and All Platinum could give them, the controversy was that they had to give-up their name, “The Moments”,because of a stupid legal dispute, and the sleazy, petty politic of the record music industry. They became known as their last names of (Harry) Ray, (Al) Goodman &  (Billy) Brown.  We true fans never recognized this, and to this day call them “The Moments”!  The best song that came out of that marriage was “Special Lady” in 1979. 

My favorite Moment moment is 1974’s “(Hey Girl) What Is your Name” where Al’s name is the forefront of the writer’s credits on “The Best Of The Moments”.  By 1976, Carol Sager was in the writer’s house with The Moments on such classics as “I Could Have Loved You” and the ever running “I Don’t Wanna Go (But I Can’t Stay Here No More)”, an album produced by Al Goodman, Walter Morris and Harry Ray.

 Now, I must admit that as my favorite song isn’t quite true, as there are SO many other Moment memories to choose from, like  my real  first favorite when I was a teenager, “Lovely Way She Loves”, which typifies a young man first discovering that a slow dance with a girl at a basement house party can make parts of your loins come alive anew!  There are also the many hits backed by All Platinum studio musicians from the band Willie (Feaster) and the Mighty Magnificents such as   “Not On The Outside, But Inside Strong”, “Somebody Loves You Baby”, “I Do”, “Sunday”, “All I Have”, “Just Because He Wants To Make Love (Doesn’t Mean he Loves You)”, “If I Didn’t Care” (which my parents must have gotten tired of because I played the grooves off of that 45rpm up in my boyhood room,  to the point the record was dusty!), and then moving into [I think] a group of different background musicians, hitting gold with the classic, “I Found Love On A Two Way Street” ( which coincidentally comes-on as I write these words!). If you ever conjure it, remember there is a long version of it, where the vamp, “Bye, Bye Baby, bye bye!” is extended into the fade at end.  Their songs were not all slow, however as they made forays into the Disco trend with “Sweet Lady” (OMG!), “Sexy Mama” ( the 8:50 version with the fade-in and out), and “Girls!”

When I heard word of Al Goodman’s passing, I suddenly couldn’t get their “Gotta Find A Way” out of my musical mind!  Also I must mention “Seven Days” [OMG! with the fade-in-and-fade-out; one of the first l-o-n-g slow jams], “Lucky Me”, “To You With Love’, “I’m So Lost”, “Look At Me, I’m In Love”, and that album that they did with The o’Jays, “The O’Jays Meet The Moments”.  My college roommate must have grown weary of me always coming in after an argument with my (then) puppy loves of campus, and throwing-on The Moments to soothe my pains, lol. 

Fortunately and finally, I got to meet and “hang” with these Moments, especially during the mid-1980s into the early 1990s.  it was like a dream-come-true to chill with singers you idolized as part of your youth, ya know what I mean?  I remember  Harry Ray and another late radio inspiration and mentor, Jerry Bledsoe, cutting-up at the Dow Twins’s New York City major nightclub, Leviticus on WBLS night where Jerry B. cursed-out WBLS FM management and aired some dirty laundry.  THAT was a classic! LOL Several times, I was suddenly in the company of  the total gracious and class act, Billy Brown,  on numerous occasions at various occasions.  I always had to hold myself  back from fawning like a schoolgirl over these cats with copious compliments. 

Al Goodman, “the baritone” was the quieter of the trio.  It was a great honor to be “With You“…I’ll never sing another song ’bout leaving…”

One of the “baaddest” slow jams I ever heard Frankie Crocker introduce on WBLS-FM radio through the years of the “hey-day” of Urban radio whe the mix was superb and the tempos changed succinctly. This is a late-spring (or whenever you play it for your betrothed) “Valentine” song.

“Tonight’s the night we will share, turn off the lights come close to me,Tell me I’m all,  you’ll ever need…”
Major Props to Kieth Washington – whatever happened to him? Maybe all of those women at the end of this video kidnapped him and made him their slave “and he was never heard from again…” ? lol
Comment and tell me.

’nuff Said.

Although I never met  this impresario and didn’t even know he was  the founder of the Sex Pistols until the news of his death came over NPR, I reminisce his music at this time of his passing from the physical world because my inspiration for getting into radio, the late Frankie Crocker, broke this music in New York City while I was jocking on the competing station, which was then owned by RKO.  They had us playing his stuff back during the era of Break-Dancing during my time on WRKS FM ( “KISS”),  and I still have the 12-inch vinyl, special party mix album

 and 45rpm vinyls of the Island Records hits that we played too! This was when “scratchin” a record first came into vogue as a DJ’s skill while rockin’ da crowd.   So now, just in case you only thought he was a Brit with spastic punk-style rhythm, here are a few jams we used to move to at Danceteria and Private Eyes, to name only a couple of the clubs poppin’-it back during the early-to-mid-1980s in Manhattan.  I loved ‘Hey D.J.”; “Do Ya Like Scratchin’?”; “Buffalo Girls”, and of course every freelance DJ’s anthem back then, “The World Famous Supreme Team Show”. I am reminded that this “special PARTY MIX with…” was very hard to get back then because inside the 12″ album are some 45rpm versions…thank you Debbie Howard wherever you are, LOL  

This  sound takes me back to a free era in the world where there was no such thing as “terrorism” and the planet  just partied universally – at least we did in New York City – very judiciously to this infectious innovator. Just wanted to pay homage and hip you who may not know…ya HEARD?? LOL

R.I.P. Mr. McLaren and thanks for recognizing the DJs…and “all the Buffalo Girls going around the outside/all that scratchin’ is makin’ me itch!” LMAO

I don’t know about where you live if you live in a city in the U.S.A., but here in Hootyville I didn’t hear any radio stations doing a tribute to Teddy Pendergrass when word came that he passed away on January 13th.  That is  damn shame, but what you get when you have cold, inflexible corporations running the radio of the day.

The first time I heard Teddy Pendergrass was back when the late, great radio programmer Frankie Crocker played a record by Harold Melvin &  The Blue Notes called “I Miss You” on the first Black FM music station in New York City, WLIB-FM in 1972.  They would play the whole eight minute version where the AM stations would only play “part 1″ and the Teddy’ Bear’s voice was the most powerful on this then new group; it grabbed you!  My favorite on that first album on Philadelphia International Records however, was (and still is) “Yesterday I Had The Blues”.  That was the first time that Teddy really brought it emotionally, and shined distinctively on a song with his “cryin'”  and pleading style.  The other hit from the album was “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (whose intrumental track sounds very similar to The Eagle’s “Take It To The Limit, by the way), and again Teddy carried the tune and painted the lyrical picture.

Around 1973 WLIB FM became WBLS FM, and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes second album, “Black & Blue” hit the streets preceeded by the single “The Love I Lost, part 1″.  Back then many “soul” records had a “part one” and the flip side of the 45rpm record would be “part 2″ – a trend started by James Brown and King Records I think.  What was hip about that was that it created anticipation for the album (lp or long-playing  331/3) to come out so that you could hear the whole song without the interruption of having to physically turn the record over.  I remember this especially benefiting this group on this particular song and once again Teddy Pendergrass was given more of a lead role and he ran with it.  It also was the beginning of the “Disco” era, so when I as a “baby DJ” gleaned this, I would play it to fill the dance floor because of its really moving beat.  The cover features the group clad in caberet-style tuxedo, and Teddy still tugging at your heart strings as he breaks it down.  Another favorite on that album is the slow jam, “Concentrate On Me”, where in their classic Gamble & Huff style, the formula was for Teddy to tell the story in-between magnificent chorouses by the rest of the group.  I remember vintage radio personalities of the day like Crocker saying that Teddy was “taking you to church on that one…”  Groups like these helped to form my notions about romance and unrequited love, and I still fall back on them during times of heartbreak (like in recent months). 

1975 saw the group  produce two great albums, “To Be True” and “Wake Up Everybody”.  It also marked the first signs of a restless Teddy Bear; as I recall, he threatened to leave  unless he received top billing, and so in a compromise of sorts they became Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes  featuring Teddy Pendergrass. Teddy knew he made the sound of the group sell.

“To be True” spawned at least three hits: “Where Are All My Friends”,” To Be True”, and the biggest, most dancable one, “Bad Luck”. I also loved “Nobody Could Ever Take Your Place” with its long MFSB-style dancable instrumental- into-the-fade.  The group also introduced a female to the sound for the first time in Sharon Paige who many of my classmates loved on the jazzy “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon”.  Word was behind the scenes that she was included to vex Teddy a bit within his power-play.  Lightning struck twice when later that year the second album dropped and Teddy led the way on a spirited cover of the Thelma Houston disco classic “Don’t Leave me This Way”.  My personal fave on “Wake Up” is his work on “Tell The World How I Feel About’Cha Baby”, and the title track scored by touching a nerve within us all in a timeless way.

 The next vinyl in my Teddy library, is simply entitled “Teddy Pendergrass” or “the white scarf album” as my mentor, the late Sonny Taylor called it.  As the title suggests, he was now a solo act after a final dispute with Harold Melvin, who replaced him with someone I remember only as “Ebo” as introduced at Madison Square Garden’s old “Felt Forum”  (now the Paramount).  He was still written by Gamble and Huff, and the material  and tempos were as good as every for “Pender-bender” which was another of the nicknames we gave him.  It featured the hit “You Can’t Hide From Yourself”, the introspective “The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me” and a serious smash in “I Don’t Love You Anymore” among others.  My notes scribbled on the back of the jacket give this album five stars back in March of 1977.  Personal fave here: “The More I Get, The More I Want” ( he’d sing “ah-yeah” between verses).  As I listen to the music Teddy left behind, it becomes apparent that he made the right moves with his career, and his timing was excellent for a good while.

There are two vinyls that I was never able to add to my collection, “T.P” and “Life Is A Song Worth Singing”.  They were released sometime between 1977 and 1980 and included two of my faaavorite numbers, “Love TKO” and “Close The Door”. “TKO” was so hot that even with the record company connections of a young  DJ, I could not secure anything but a couple of 45rpms of it until Teddy’s “Greatest Hits” came out  in 1984.

Two years later, in 1979 (a great year for Disco and Soul music) his next solo album, “Teddy” or the red album was clearly a sexier effort.  “Come Go With Me” and the powerful “Turn Off The Lights” (“I’ve something in my MIND, something I’ve been wanting to do it all the TIME!  Yeah…Yes!..”) led it off and were massive romantic hits which still sound  sensual today. Later that same year “Teddy Live! Coast To Coast” , a double vinyl album hit just in time for Christmas on December 12th.  If it had come out today, it definitly would have included a video, but in those days a full length poster of Pendergrass did just fine.  During those performances, one In Philadelphia and the others in Los Angeles, he included a medly of his hits with The Blue Notes and by now the women in the audience were throwing articles of their underwear at him in adoration.

Little did he or we know that tradegy would strike and almost silence Teddy three years later when he had a Roy Campanella-style auto accident one night that left him paralysed from the waste down.  There were several scandalous rumors surrounding that event, which I’ll not go into here.

Teddy Pendergrass rose like the Pheonix though; the next vinyl in my collection, “This One’s For You” (1982) was a homage to his fans after he pulled through the medical procedures that followed his accident.  Maybe the first track on there says it best about how he felt at the time, ” I Can’t Win For Losing”.

By 1984 Teddy had signed with Elektra/Asylum Records and subsquently sang the next three and final of my vinyls for that record company.  The three now only photographed him from the chest-up; no more cowboy hats and suggestive gyration photos.  “Love Language” featured the sexy, “You’re My Choice Tonight” which I played on New York City radio along with more introspective selections such as “In My Time”.  1985’s “Workin’ It Back” had eight five-star songs on it, including “Let Me Be Closer”, co-written by the legendary Linda Creed, and “Love Emergency”, co written by Womack & Womack,  who also penned the fabulous “Love TKO”. For the first time, Teddy’s star began to fade around this point, in my opinion. 

The last and most recent vinyl in my Teddy Bear den is 1988’s spirited “Joy” , which was produced by Teddy for Teddy Bear Productions, Inc. (see, he listened to us!)  The first two songs are the stalwarts here as well: the title track and one of the best songs he ever sang after the crash, “2 A.M” which decribes the end of a party and alludes to taking her home and to a more intimate level.  The accident humbled Pendergrass as it probably would  any of us, and his subsequent work showed it even though his voice never lost all of it’s sex appeal nor he the ability to orally interpret lyrics to evoke real feelings.

I just heard the end notes of Teddy fading off from a tribute to Teddy Pendergrass on the radio tonight, two nights later – on the PBS station! Bigg Upps to them and their warm teddy-bear selves.

Billb62's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Voices of Ukraine

Politics, anti-government rallies, other. Maidan.

EUROMAIDAN PRESS

News and Opinion from Across Ukraine

tekArtist

Warning: Widespread Weirdness

genepanasenko

Just another WordPress.com site

A Celebration of Reading

It's All Fiction!

The Nice Thing About Strangers

Non-Fiction Short Stories. Travel, oldsters, love, moments worthy of pause. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

the drunken cyclist

I have three passions: wine, cycling, travel, family, and math.

cancerkillingrecipe

Just another WordPress.com site

joe2poetry

Poetry from a Dublin Scientist

TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan!

Personal blog, interracial relationships, dating, author, BWWM,

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers

%d bloggers like this: