Al B. Sure! - "Nite and Day"


An absolutely perfect example of economical songcraft, along with one of my favorite production jobs of the '80s - this has gotta be about the warmest-sounding new jack track ever. (Notable: he later helped Jodeci get their start.) The b-side was, no joke, "Nuit et Jour," and Al B. did a credible job of singing the French translation.


Yes, it's overdone a bit. Yes, it's (unfairly) become a punchline. Yes, Luther and Mariah's ill-advised cover was even worse then anticipated. But how is it that for all these years - and it's been 25 since this was a #1 single - I've missed how simply pretty this is? Richie wrote the song with a deft, light touch (it's not nearly as florid nor overblown as I've always thought I remembered), and Miss Ross sings it with more care than you think (thank God she's never been much one for melisma) (Richie, of course, sings it the only way he knows how - sturdily, which is a compliment). This is by no means a great single, but it's not a complete stinker, either. Maybe a B/B-?



Young Rahsaan Patterson (very enthusiastic and physical Lionel Richie and Jeffrey Osborne covers, people)

R&B from 2006


We've fielded complaints about the heavy slant toward very old stuff. It's understandable -- after all, the name of this blog was meant to pay tribute to Cameo and Aaliyah, and there has been a lot more attention paid to the era of the former than the era of the latter. What have I liked from this year? A bunch of stuff, honest... little of which is coming to mind right now. I hope to eventually do some form of a roundup, but not before a post about the brilliance of Howard Johnson's "Knees" and the ?!?!?-ness of Bobby Nunn's "Hangin' Out at the Mall." In the meantime, there's some chatter about Amerie and Janet here, and there will be talk about Teedra in roughly the same spot tomorrow. It's also worth noting that Teena -- who is 50, 50 years old! -- made one of the best G-funk songs I have ever heard in my entire life, and it's on an album she released this year.

Yahoo! Music Launchcast Plus: 1990s R&B


I really don't mean to sound like a shill here, but this channel is SO worth the $3.99/month (as it's a "premium" station - uh huh!). Just check the last 20 songs I've heard:

Next - Too Close*
SWV - I'm So Into You
Jade - Don't Walk Away**
Stevie Wonder - Fun Day***
Erykah Badu - On & On (live)****
En Vogue - Don't Let Go (Love)*****
C+C Music Factory - Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
H-Town - Knockin' Da Boots
Dru Hill - In My Bed
Destiny's Child - Bills, Bills, Bills
Faith Evans - Love Like This
Johnny Gill - My, My, My
Tony! Toni! Toné! - Whatever You Want
Montell Jordan - I Can Do That
LeVert - All Season
Tamia - So Into You
Mariah Carey - Dreamlover
Mary J. Blige - Be Happy
Brandy - I Wanna Be Down
Janet Jackson - That's The Way Love Goes

*Only one of the greatest singles EVER.
***Jungle Fever = Stevie's best album of the past 20 years.
****Best live album of the past decade?
*****Oh, oh! Etc.

And the next song was "No Scrubs"! This is fucking nirvana.

Addendum: And the next was Xscape's "Just Kickin' It"! OMG OMG WTF best internet radio evah!



omg wtf lol, Al Green is a candy-raver pimp with a man-purse, DO NOT MISS




What you do to the music is just as important as the music itself. Especially when it involves headbands and piping.



I've enjoyed YouTube without ever getting caught up in it; realizing I could find vintage Solid Gold clips on it has now broken the dam. More to come.



"A first-class ticket to ecstasy": oh, yes.

Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott feat. Aaliyah - "Best Friends"


I don't get complaints that Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's ballads are the least interesting things she records (although commercially that's another story). 2001's "Take Away" does that Timbo lapidary, robotoid groove only he can create; and last year's Scott Storch collaboration "Meltdown" was candid and no-fuss, like sex with your partner after a party.

But my favorite is this obscure number from Supa Dupa Fly, in which Missy's unforced, unassuming croon offers Aaliyah sisterly counsel without getting soppy. The watery oboe which counterpoints the chorus reminds them that friendship, like life, is wearying and often without reward, especially when men are around to fuck it up. Elliott and Aaliyah make us believe they've earned the right to believe the platitudinous relief of the lyrics.

Luther Vandross



Has ever a singer with a thinner voice forged such a career as Jermaine? A career including not just one acknowledged classic (1980's Wonder-ous smash "Let's Get Serious") but another, less-acknowledged one, this very gently rockin' midtempo number from the late '80s. Alright, perhaps "classic" is too strong a word, but it's really quite a lovely little piece of work, akin to "The Girl Is Mine" as an unfortunately overlooked quiet pop-soul gem. But boy oh boy, he's just got no voice on him.

Jeffrey Osborne - "Stay With Me Tonight"


"You know what comes next and you love it, oh"

Well, well, well, someone's feeling forward! This whole song, in fact, is awfully sexually forward (mid-'80s, remember) - and also awfully great. Osborne's never gotten the credit he deserves, first as the lead singer of the great, largely overlooked '70s R&B group LTD (cf. "Love Ballad" - they did it first, not George Benson, and they version wallops his, dripping with ache), then for his steady-grooving '80s solo work, of which this and "You Should Be Mine" (a/k/a "The Woo Woo Song"!) are obvious highlights. I'll take Osborne's rich, sexy voice over the likes of James Ingram any day, too.

Cameo - "She's Strange (12" Rap Version)"


"Then she dropped the whip and removed her skirt
She dove for my body it was head first"

Wherein we hear less about how weird Cameo's "She" is, and hear more - much more - about how freaky she is (sexually, of course). A little surprising coming from such a top-tier R&B act (at the time, 1984, they were one of the biggest bands in black music), but then again, it was "only" on a 12" single. Also surprising: it's rap! For such an established act to embrace rap when it was still looked at askance by most R&B artists seems pretty notable. No matter what the version, however, "She's Strange" stands as an icier-than-Jeezy classic, with its whining synths taking center stage.

The Time - "The Walk"


"In other words, I'll walk you till you're dead!"

Somehow, I'd missed this line until today. I know that Morris doesn't (necessarily) really mean it, but still. Also: I find the "We don't like new wave!" line hilarious, since both The Time and What Time Is It? ("The Walk" is on the latter) feature plenty of prominent new-wavey synths, courtesy of Monte Moir and a certain Jimmy "Jam" Harris.

The Rhythm and Beat of Chicago


Was WBMX the greatest radio station ever? Quite possibly - and thanks to the 'net, you can judge for yourself. Seriously hotttt. Not only are there streaming channels of all their various variants (from old-school hip-hop to '90s dance crossovers to freestyle), but there's a live365 station of their bread-and-butter, real black music from the late '70s and early '80s (right here's the spot). This ain't no "jammin' oldies" "Ladies Night" over'n'over rhythm and bullshit, oh no - this is deep cuts like Chaka's "Move Me No Mountain" and Raydio's "It's Your Night," alone with classics along the lines of Teena Marie's "Square Biz" and Maze's "Joy and Pain" To hell with crossover, this is REAL BLACK MUSIC. And if that's not exactly your thing - say you want to relive the days of WBMX's classic Hot Mix 5 - here's loads and loads of fierce Saturday Night Live Ain't No Jive Chicago Dance Party mixes - I caught Stephanie Mills' "The Medicine Song" in one of Ralphi Rosario's mixes (9/01/84, #18 under "G-Man Presents" on the Deep House Page front page). (If I may be so bold, I think WBMX synches up nicely with my February post "Whatever happened to R&B radio?" - but I'm biased, of course.)


With the recent binging and purging of the mighty mighty Motown vaults, the music community is ever so slightly retuning their ears to the lost soul sounds of the Motor City (even if Jack White is leading the exodus of well groomed rockers to Nashville). my ears...can only be a good thing. From the earliest of R&B tunes from the 50s all the way up to the hysterical antics of Sammy Davis Jr on the overly glossed "here you go Coleman Young now shut the fuck up and quit trying to bring me back to a town I never liked", Berry Gordy commissioned "Hello, Detroit" (Intended to be the New York equivalent of "New York, New York"), there's plenty to be re-discovered. So instead of crying over yet another miserable year where Detroit sports teams fail to live up to their potential, I'll showcase two compilations that have had me dancing around the apartment as of late.

Most recently, the Numero Group has taken the initative to uncover and survey the mildly obscure Big Mack label. This isn't the overly primmed and proper, good time Sound of Young America soul that was being mass manufactured no less than ten miles away. This is raw and sweaty as you can get without having George Clinton standing on your table at the 20 Grand, buck naked and pouring libations all over himself. I'll frame it another way: if Ghostly was Motown, aesthetically balanced and scrutinized but delivering one top record after another....then Big Mack was FXHE or Ugly Edits in presentation.

With detailed liner notes, amazing sound quality...Numero once again does a hell of a job documenting a particular scene or music movement. Anyone who is a fan of the obscure should be paying attention to their every release. It's like going to class.

The second compilation comes from the mighty Ubiquity, who might as well just fucking open up a Detroit office at this rate (recent releases from John Arnold, PPP, Ayro, Nomo top the list. Rumor has it my dad has his debut EP slated for next month).

Anyways (more on my Dad's release later), Searching For Soul also peels away the layers of gloss to deliver some of the rarest tracks available that were ever produced south of 8 mile.

Ubiquity made a wise call in asking Scott Craig to curate the collection because frankly, nobody I've ever met in my twenty nine years living in this area knows Detroit music like Scott. Think you've got a digging spot? He's been there, took what you didn't know about already, and probably has doubles of it by now, with thirty people in Manchester and Tokyo willing to pay top dollar for his so-so, slightly scratched copy. The results are nothing less than fantastic, especially when reading along to yet another detailed set of liner notes.

But the problem with both of these compilations is that they're too short. With over 100 known labels in existence over three decades, there's just so much more out there dying to be heard again. And not just by backpack sporting, Vice reading beatheads looking for new samples or unkept, haggard record collectors who thrive on the obscure...but by the actual people of Detroit; music fans, musicians and students who live here needing a constant reminder that those burnt buildings and vacant lots were once home to some of the sweetest soul music ever created.