Tag Archive: soul


bros

I loved everything about David Ruffin as lead of The Temptations and thereafter when he recorded solo, especially on “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” and the Van McCoy production, “Walk Away From Love”.  I didn’t even connect the vinyl dots to realize that he had an older brother who could sing just as well in his own right until, [ I can’t remember when it was ] one day I acquired and really looked at the label of the 45rpm record, “What becomes Of The Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin and wondered as I played it, was this guy related to David. Or maybe I had a previous inkling… There was no “Googling” back then to learn instantly the answer, and so I had to rely upon my “ear” for music which heard the similarities of voice that let me know these two singers were related for sure!

I have used Jimmy’s biggest hit to accentuate at least two blogs here at ‘Achilliad‘ since I began to do this in 2009.  One was me crying the blues about some chick that deserted me in love back in, I think, 2008 or nine, the other more recently as a part of a collection of “tune wedgies” that I had get off my (mind) chest.

Jimmy-Ruffin

But this post, Jimmy, is for YOU. Posthumously, yes, but I was always by your side due to the anthem of unrequited love that you gave us. With tears wanting to well-up behind my eyes, I dedicate this post to you, Jimmy, who, unbeknownst to you because we never met, held my hand many a night whey I really cried over a lost love. If I were the Program Director of a radio station right now, I would play a whole hour of your music, both the familiar and obscure even if I had to play “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” back-to-back-to-back-to-back and then some. You were a non-spotlight seeker whose light of class and groundedness belied the showbiz stereotypes. London was a good place for you to be more appreciated – good move to go there, Sir!

Here is one by Jimmy that is really the first time I heard him! It was on Volume 9 of the famous vinyl “Motown Collections Of 16 Original Hits” albums!
Again, the unrequited love theme on, “Don’t You Miss Me A Little Bit Baby”…

I knew you must have been David’s older brother because of the similarities of stature and movement, like that little hand-to-hand move you did with the mic while singing the oft-sampled lyric, “Always moving and goin’ nowhere.” Knowing you are not in the physical world any longer moves me to seriousness with the knowledge that your spirit is singing with the angels as your body rests in musical peace having let me express my many failed love relationships via your wonderful one-hit wonder.

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“What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted”? We just drag along until we have a chance to join the departed.

Jimmy Ruffin: 1937 – 2014

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Johnny Taylor was a giant of R&B music.  Introduced to me by the late and great radio program director, Frankie Crocker, on WLIB FM which later became WBLS FM, I came to love his music.  I also have to give props to New York City’s first black music station of the 1960s, WWRL AM, as a station where I first heard this record, “Take Of Your Homework” on Memphis, Tennesee’s Stax Records back in 1969.

 

As a tune-wedgie, this classic has been ringing through my musical mind of-late. This is one of my first 45rpm records I bought at the record shop on the way home from school, as was my custom with my “allowance” money from my parents as well as the the clean and soulful album this song was featured on, ‘Who’s Makin’ Love”!

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It is a great, simple song and concept that became one of Johnny’s greatest hits. I found this cool video about it on You Tube! Check it out:

Is there still infidelity in marriage and relationships here in 2014? If so, then this record still is relevant as a cautionary tale. Check out the lyrics, if you don’t believe me! lol

“Got to tell you the truth, I got to tell you truth..

Oh brother Jack, you goin’ with sister Sadie
When you ought to be home with your old lady
But your heart is divided in so many pieces
Tryin’ to please them both, never pleasin’ neither

Oh Jack, take it on back
Before your good thing is gone
Because the downfall of too many men
Is up keep of too many women.
So…

Take care of your homework fella
If ya don’t somebody will, oh yeah
You better take care of your homework fella
If you don’t somebody will
Now wait a minute, yeah!

Oh brother Fred, how he used to run,
Stayin’ out all night leavin’ his homework undone
Now Fred’s old lady, took as much as she could stand
Then one night the next door neighbor, gave him a helping hand

Oh Brotha, take it on home,
Before your good thing is gone
Because the downfall of too many men
Is the up keep of too many women, so..

Take care of your homework fella
If you don’t somebody will, oh
You gotta hear me now,
You better take care of your homework fella
If you don’t somebody will
Listen to me y’all

Take it on home
Get off the streets y’all
Take it on home, Ahhhhhh!
Alright! [interlude]

But fellas let me tell you
These girls are gettin’ hip
You can only slide so long
Before you make a slip.

Take care of your homework fella
If you don’t somebody will
Oh, hear me now, hear me now, hear me now
You better take care of your homework fella
If you don’t somebody will
Take it, take it, take it on home..”
Take it, take it, take it…

Songwriters
BANKS, HOMER / JACKSON, RAYMOND E. / DAVIS, DONALD / KELLY, THOMAS F.

Comments or tales of how this song saved you from losing your relationship are welcomed feedback. So “take care”!

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I commute
You are cute.
“Toot-Toot!”
Yet abhor
Lack of success.
In a picture,
I digress;
Love you on the beach,
In that red dress!

Stay inside,
Someday in I’ll slide.
Then again I awake while commuting,
From my dream;
I come in pants,
Silently scream.
To work I quake and settle into it.
Close my eyes,
Thinking of you;
For over ninety minutes daily when I
Ride the subway metro.

I plan our dream;
Plot this is no bullshit scheme!
Our future is now.
And Holy Cow!
I sit in a seat like this!

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Imagine me sitting here with you!
Oh, so “koo-koo”!
Spring bird calls return;
Now are heard.
I want you to back-up into me,
Until you feel my hard ecstasy.
I want you to back-up your
Ass to me;
Feel the hard head of need;
Tooo crazy now not to succeed.

Back-up, Baby
Back-up to when we met.
Back-up, love,
Never forget;
That you honestly found me,
Then helped me improve my life
Without conditions nor regret.

I penned this for www.about.com/dancemusic back in 2007 and it is now here on my blog…at “home” where it should be. “Hi, Chaka!!”

Long before people began anointing every singer with a big voice a “diva”, I noticed the slightly different lead singer of a band called Rufus back during my college radio days. Guys all over campus, including yours truly, fell in “love” with everything about this new star. From her big hair to her kind of cute, quirky-jerky dance movements between lyrics on stage (hear “Better Days” and “Ain’t Nobody”), we were all smitten. If you’ve ever seen her perform, then your mind will imagine her moves to the groove as this CD opens up with “Back In The Day”, a chronicle of her early Chi-town upbringing.

Yet, as I look back to the days of “Tell Me Something Good” (remember the heavy breathing?), it is probably precisely at this point that none of us could have even gotten close to that “Angel” who might have been “inconsistent, flying blind most of the time”, as portrayed on track four of this, her latest album/CD. Oh yes, she gets it real without wasting time, like saying “Funk This” [Burgundy Records 88697 09022 2], so let me tell you my story! This album has the mark of how reconciled with life’s trials Chaka is; knowing it is the right time for this long promised propitiate to her fans. It also occurs to me that the first song is an ode to her recognizing that singing became her salvation.
Next you’ll see what she’s up to here, mixing new songs and covering timeless hits when she re-classics the Dee Dee Warwick smash “Foolish Fool”.

This is not a greatest hits compact disc, but her sound flavored with the seasoned sensations of her career and life. Having been in the orchestra seats to witness many of her performances, I ask myself, “Where has the time gone?” Well, the Chaka Khan of Rufus fame is back on this one, and appropriate props are due to the sensitivities of the Jam and Lewis production duo too! She pays homage to one of my inspirations, Jimi Hendrix on “Castles Made Of Sand” (I couldn’t believe it was the same song when first I read the title on the back cover), your mind will play the trick of having you think the Experienced one came back just to play for this track. Here she talks about the album!

“Disrespectful” features Mary J. Blige, and the lively, funky beat reminds me of the 2005 jam by Amerie, “1 Thing”; I’d love to see them perform it “live”; Hell, I want to see her do all of this live, and just in – this is the track spawning smokingly funky remixed versions, for all us club DJs!

Right after we beautifully relive the magic of the “Pack’d My Bags”/ “You Got The Love” medley where it is happily noticeable to me that she has reunited with her former Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden, it becomes really time to soulfully groove as Chaka pays homage to her good friend Joni Mitchell on “Ladies Man”.
I love the background singers on that one, and speaking of accompaniments, imagine the trademark Carly Simon smile towards Michael McDonald’s duet with Chaka to her “You Belong To Me” here as well.

“Super Life” has my vote for the best single. Chaka’s material is so relatable here in the future that is now.

That this is vintage Chaka is to evoke one of those clichés that I despise, so I will say that this is refreshing funk and so necessary against the backdrop of today’s so often lame and laboriously slow “neo” R & B, and it is pure Chaka Khan, wide-ranging vocals from the gritty to the signature shouting extended vamp notes.
I believe that you will want to listen repeatedly in various situations and moods to this familiar musical friend.

Once anointed, and often referred to on the air as “lips and hips” by my friend, the late WBLS New York City programmer (and on of my reluctant radio mentors) Frankie Crocker, I feel that she is and always has been much, much more complicated that that – but we all had fun playing to that fantasy once upon a time. If there is a category for it, this album would win the comeback Grammy of the year. After meeting her backstage at the Blue Note in New York City back in 1992, and briefly hanging out with her (my date made an exit, stage right, so I could hang – a night I’ll never forget), I always knew she would bless us with more excellent music. So in a way, my original dream from college days has almost come true. As I wrote this, Ms. Khan was to make her Broadway debut in early 2008 as the character played by Oprah in “The Color Purple”, Sofia opposite BeBe Winans.? What ever happened wit dat? lol

Check out her myspace page for some contest details. No point deduction for a well thought-out and timed return equals five tasty Chakalatte stars in my guest book.

Here is one of my favorite Chaka and Rufus from the past, “Little Boy Blue” in video!

Your comments about Chaka Khan, Please? “Pajulsta”? Пожалуйста?

Nashville, TN, April 7, 2010

Most of us “musical types” have had the experience of going to a show at a small venue, to see a band that we have never heard of before, only because we might know some of the players in the band, or through word of mouth that they are good.

Nevertheless, it never ceases to floor me when I hang out at such an event and am absolutely blown-away, head-nodding style, by what I see and hear.  Thus was what I experienced tonight while visiting Nashville Tennessee’s 3rd & Lindsley pub when I was invited to hear The Consoulers.

When I first read the email invitation from drummer Tim Buppert, who I had just met for the second time (the first time we met we both didn’t remember and it didn’t matter) at an impromptu Easter Sunday evening jam session out at mutual friend, “Fred’s” house/studio while I was visiting “Music City”, my mind saw “the Counselors”initially.  I think that partly was because I’m always the English major, my mind knew the verb “to console” didn’t have a “u” in it.  After hearing them do dead-on, tight covers of classic hits from The Spinners, Jr. Walker & The All Stars, Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Firefall, The Four Tops and more and looking once again at their name, it made perfect creative sense the “ConSOULers” make their mark playing classic soul hits and doing them justice as if they were spawned yesterday…

“Cover” never sounded so good.  Tim’s solid foundation and leadership glued each number with authority even as he sang vocals – something I could never be as coordinated to do back when I played drums in my high school band. Lead guitar and vocalist John Foster had on the “foster Grants” and performed with the attitude of a Huey Lewis-style rock star.  Don Barrett, the group’s founder, was creatively disciplined and precise on bass, rendering a dead-on version of the Spinners’ 1973 classic “I’ll Be around.  Steve “consistent” Williams played a beautiful piano on electronic keyboards and sang his own true vocal version of The Impressions’ ‘It’s Alright” and almost had them going, OMG with a rendition of the Chi-Lite’s “Oh Girl”.

Each of the five members took turns specializing in staying true to the original version’s sound according to their unique personal talents.  The saxophone player, Randy Leago, deftly switched-off between a tiny alto (I don’t remember seeing one so small), his tenor and the congas.   I thought, “Are these cats studio musicians just jammin’ for practice?”

After their fantastic yesteryear set where they had members of the audience – including many beautiful women – literally dancing in the isles down front-row, they performed a few original numbers from their forthcoming album that they had been working on.  I can only say that those tunes were yawners only because they had their own tough act to follow.  Maybe they should mix them into the soul set, as they were only two or three songs.

Who says Nashville, TN is “just Country music”?  See the Consoulers and you’ll be proven wrong for sure.  Being from New York City and in the music and radio business going on forty years now, I was so happy to be wrong about the oneness of the musical perception in that town!  Oh, and I must mention that these gents in their middle ages (like I am), and totally belie the myth that they “can’t jump” through the rhythmic hoops necessary to entertain and move to the groove on the (super) fly.  I was amazed by their enthusiastic effort to rock these tunes as if they are still hot on the charts.

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.