Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taste of Honey

No words today. Just listen to the two ladies jam.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Evelyn Champagne King

A friend and I were at restaurant yesterday when this 1982 video by R&B singer Evelyn "Champagne" King came on. We were transfixed for a second or two over the 80s-style "high tech" graphics of the vid. "Looks like they were just figuring things out, weren't they?" my friend said.

Ms King was 22 in this video, and was already a vet on the disco/R&B music scene. "I'm in Love" was #1 on the R&B charts back in '82. That fonky synth bass and catchy hook bear the mark of singer/producer Kashif, who made jams for darn near everybody during this period, including Howard Johnson ("So Fine"--now there's a old school jam you don't hear anymore) and Soul Closet reader Melba Moore--not to mention himself.

As for Ms King, she's just shy of 50 now and is still around.

Oh, and the nickname "Champagne"? Supposedly its a riff on her childhood nickname "Bubbles."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Boss [Derogative Racial Term]"

Honestly, we forgot about this movie. But with the never-ending debate over the propriety of using the n-word, it's striking to find a 34-year-old movie that not only uses it in the the title---and, liberally thoughout the screenplay---but also in the theme song. Fred Williamson plays the title role. Literally. "Boss [Derogative Racial Term]" is his name in the movie.

Released in 1975, "Boss [Derogative Racial Term]" is a western starring Williamson and his frequent co-star and blaxploitation fixture D'Urville Martin as bounty hunters who appoint themselves sheriffs of a white town. Warning: The movie trailer above is not for the easily offended.

How many films used the n-word in the title, you wonder? At least 17, according to imdb.com and Williamson starred in three of them, including "The Legend of [N-word] Charley," from 1972 starring Williamson and its 1973 sequel, "The Soul of [N-word] Charley".
The there is "The Six Thousand Dollar [N-word] from 1979 about a bionic Brother.

The olden days of film gave us such titles as "Tossing a [N-word] in a Blanket" from 1898; "The Laughing [N-word]" from 1907; "The [N-word] in the Woodpile"---you could have guessed that one was coming---from 1904; "Ten Little [N-word] Boys," from 1912; and "The [N-word]" from 1915.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who Remembers Captain Sky?

We re-open the Soul Closet with a quick nod to a forgotten Chicago-born funkateer, Captain Sky. As I write this entry, I'm looking at a copy of his 1979 LP "Pop Goes the Captain," which, with its cosmic motif and funky cartoon art, looks like a George Clinton joint. Sounds like one too...

Born Daryl L. Cameron, Captain Sky had a few R&B hits in the late '70s and early "80s, including "Wonder Worm" from 1979 and "Station Break" from 1981.

Click on the above video and check out the Captain doing his thing on "Soul Train."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Byron Stingily

We all turn into our parents, sooner or later--denouncing the day's music and hailing the music of "our day" as being better.

But in this case, I am right. Exhibit A: Byron Stingily's 1996 jam "Get Up," which still sounds good 13 years later.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Billy Stewart Sings "Summertime"

Of all the versions of the classic "Summertime," this 1965 bid by Billy Stewart is--by far--the most amazing. Stewart was a vocalist for Chicago's Chess Records who had a couple of soul hits the year before with "Sitting in the Park" and "I Do Love You." Then he struck gold with "Summertime." Sadly, a car accident claimed the life of this great singer in 1970. He was only 33.

Backed by Chess's all-powerful session musicians---the track's drummer is Maurice White, who late became frontman/guiding light of Earth Wind & Fire--the 300lb Stewart stutters, trills and double-clutches his way through the song, then ends it with a display of vocal pyrotechnics the likes of which have been rarely captured on wax (or CD, mp3, wma...) since.

Dig it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pointer Sisters

Pointer Sisters

The Pointer Sisters--a talented bunch--had a string of hits in the 1980s, beginning with "Jump" and other video-ready tunes. Me? I always preferred the Pointer Sisters v.1 of the early 1970s. This was back before music videos, and when everybody had a variety show or a talk show--Carol Burnett, Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore...and at some point in the show, they'd say, "Ladies and Gentlemen: The Pointer Sisters."

...and these four (or three, if June Pointer couldn't make it) sisters would come out and just sing. Their dress was vaguely reminiscent of the 1940s, and so were the songs, but yet they were as funky and contemporary as all-get out.

Mama and Daddy would come in from the next room because black folks were so rarely on tv then, you had to yell out. "Can you turn that up?" they'd say.

Yes,we can (can).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paging Mos Def?

Mos Def! Call me. I Got a Part for You!!

I posted a 1970 clip of Jesse Jackson on "Sesame Street" and noted the resemblance between the then-young Rev and actor Will Smith. Well, today my vinyl record collection reveals a uncanny resemblance between jazz bassist Ron Carter and Mos Def. Talk to me...y'all know I'm right.