It is a very rejuvenating time in contemporary music when our beloved icon, Smokey Robinson (remember “Smokey Robinson & The Miracles”?) and The SOS Band (“Baby You Can Do It Take Your Time” – 1980) both have new music out, probably shocking the Billboard music charts back into the reality of the longevity of musical artists creativity, as long as we have breath! So please listen and enjoy..
Pick Hit Suggestion: If you want to continue to live and physically love longer and healthier, don’t tell people how “old” you are and keep working out at the gym. Never let chronological years suppress your energetic creativity, and keep in shape.
This is the second in my 2022 series of remembered radio interviews which I conducted during my heydays on music radio as a Disc Jockey for forty years. Jersey City, New Jersey’s Kool & The Gang were, if memory serves me correctly, one of/if not thee first band my parents, who kept a tight reign on me, allowed me to go and see by myself. The timing was late by today’s “standards” but timely in retrospect. I saw them first at the RKO Alden Theater on Jamaica Avenue and then at the Loews’s Valenca, which was across the street from the Alden. Shortly thereafter, their first Album, “Kool and the Gang” came out on De-Lite Records in 1969.
Back in the day, my new neighbors wanted to form a band, which was the thing to do if you played a musical instrument back then. Forced to practice the trumpet, I briefly found an outlet with those like-minded neighbors who moved into the neighborhood and had two sons the same age as I was. Of course, we emulated Kool and the Gang’s horn-based group (as many of them were in those days – see Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, Tower of Power or The Ides Of March) by learning new hits like “Chocolate Buttermilk”, “Let The Music Take Your Mind” and their title track, dance steps included!
Mostly confined to the R&B/Soul/Urban or Black Music chart of the Billboard, Cashbox and Record World music industry magazines of the day, Kool, et al, would not “cross over” into the mainstream of Top 40 recognition until after “Celebration” came out in 1980.
“Ladies Night” (1979) also took the band into the mainstream and was a very hot request during my gigs in the 1980s and ‘90s. I ended-up getting all of my early DJ Promo copies of their albums from Mr. Ted Eddy (“Mister Teddy” they called him, affectionately) from De-Lite Records’ office in midtown Manhattan, NYC thought the mid-1980s.
I can’t count how many times “Celebration” was requested at every wedding, graduation, anniversary or birthday party I spun since then – and by folks that I knew had never listened to Kool and the Gang previously! It was amusing.
Sadly, during the past couple of years, two of the founding member of the group died: Dennis “D.T.” Thomas (alto sax) and Ronald Bell (tenor sax, bass, keys), making us all feel just a little bit “older”. Show business and longevity are not exactly compatible, in most cases.
I wish that the following recorded interview covered what I’ve written above, but alas, in 20/20 retrospect, maybe I was a wee bit awe-struck and I didn’t follow up my questions journalistically, while interviewing such guys as these, who I had idolized.
Here, backstage at The Blue Note, New York City, Kool (Robert Bell) talks about a future direction for the bank and we had five minutes of laughs.
Often in my diary life…I do not need to say or cannot sway, because other composers have said it a better way. About this time or year, 1968, I copped this 45rpm by The Impressions, “Fool For You” on the way home from school in Queens, NYC.
From the first one-two-three drum beats it is a classic and is one of my anthems because of the true lyrics – which you can see at my blog. The drummer on this session really works it OUT and makes the record happen!! This is an EXTENDED remixed version…”Hoo hoo hoo hooI’m a fool for you, ah ha ha ha hoo!!”
“Never liked nobody That’s been mean to me I’ve got a heart full of stone And I hate the misery
Then you came along Into my life Destroying me man Mounting up the toil and strife But I’m a fool for you I’m a fool for you I’m a fool for you I’m a fool for you Guess I’ll always be And I claim it famously ‘Cause I’m a fool for you
It’s a doggone shame Knowin’ you don’t love me You go on and use me So continuously I don’t know why I love you like I do When you’re breaking my heart And you know it’s true But I’m a fool for you I’m a fool for you I’m a fool for you I’m a fool for you
Doggin’ me every day But child, I’m here to stay ‘Cause I’m a fool for you
You don’t want me to stay But I’m a fool for you Do me wrong now every day Child, I’m a fool for you Ah ha ha ha ha hoo I’m a fool for you,
Ah ha ha ha ha ha hoo! Child, I’m a fool for you Hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo Hooo!”
“This music station preceded FM radio, which at the time was in an experimental stage. They were the WABC AM 77 of black music.”
This is a new category for the blog! Reuniting with some of my history from my storage pod recently, I came upon some masterpieces, preserved to now share with you.
When I was growing up and just starting to get into music, I’d stop by the records shops on the way home (anything to stall going back there) to pick up the hottest 45rpm record my allowance allowed and the latest hit ‘survey” sheets that all of the local radio stations put out regularly, listing what they were playing , by who and what was bubbling-up to be a smash soon! My parents didn’t even want me to listen to this music. I remember my mother asking me, “What are you doing listening to that gut-bucket music?!” I think I was listening to some Motown on my record player at the time. My folks and their relatives used to act all bourgie sometimes. In retrospect, seeing it for what is was, typical generation-gap disrespect, I guess. We all are subject to do it, poo-pooing the fashions or new trends of those that follow us – if we keep a closed mind.
This survey was right on top of the pile when I opened that now falling-apart file; from forty-eight years ago this month and at the time New York City’s number one “Soul” and R&B (Rhythm and Blues, if you don’t know) music station, waaay down at the end of the AM radio dial on 1600, WWRL. The mainstream “Top 40” stations were the powerhouse “Musicradio 77WABC” and at the other end of the dial WMCA AM 570, featuring “The Good Guys”. Theonly other “competing soul stations were WLIB AM and over in New Jersey, WNJR AM, but they had weaker signals with more static. All of this was pre-FM radio.
Do you remember any of these songs, or maybe the versions other groups and bands did as covers of them? And the gentlemen on the right-hand column were some of the guys who made me want to be a radio DJ too (though at the tine I didn’t know it). I even got to hang out with all of them except Enoch Gregory (top) who, if memory serves me correctly was the morning disc jockey at the time. All but a couple are not with us in the physical world anymore, but not forgotten.
Turn the page and you’d see:
I remember going to Alpha Distribution when I started DJing back in 1972 to get promotional copies that were free for us to play at parties!
On the back, “Jack” you’d see two more places to get the latest vinyl:
I’m so happy to have found these in great condition and as the month go by, I will share more from those same past months with you. Ironically I still own much of these records and they are still very playable (secret: never lend records to anyone)!
Please comment on anything here that moves you or, if you are too young to have known these records, feel free to email and ask me about them. I am here to educate and connect the musical “dots” for you, unlike so many people on the air fail to do these days. This is positive history; after all…its musik !
As always, be sure to flash on over to the mothership blog which spawned this one, www.achilliad.wordpress.com for mostly non-music content and diary ramblings now going on ten years of blogging! Thank you.
“…I rock to and fro like Ray Charles at the piano, as their trademark harmonies grow…”
As a lover of summer (as long as there is silently cool a/c at night to sleep in), the start of Autumn can be a bummer, which is one reason I love a South Carolina beach, where I’ve enjoyed surf and sandy days in October!
That is as far south as I plan to trek ; maybe someday, I’ll buy a house there with an ocean-facing deck. September somehow also makes me always want to hear The Beach Boys. Maybe because as a disc jockey, I’d never play them again in a typical year until their Christmas song.
This tune from their Holland Days (sauce) sessions, with new singer for the time-being, Blondie Chaplin is my Fall folly anthem. It took me a “minute” to realize it was them singing it too! Part of the problem was that it was played on Rock stations and the jocks rarely back-announced it; same for the Pop stations of those early 1970s days. Still a smooth Indian Summer groove and its those trademark, in-unison background “ooos” and “ahhs” that ultimately give it away to my ears as a classic “Beach Bums” jam. I rock to and fro like Ray Charles at the piano, as their harmonies grow. Just like good vibes, fun, California Girls and T-birds, for my every summer, they sing the last words of inspiration:
“Seldom stumble, never crumble Try to tumble, life’s a rumble Feel the stinging I’ve been given Never ending, unrelenting Heartbreak searing, always fearing Never caring, persevering Sail on, sail on, sailor…”
“‘Did you hear you have your own postage letter stamp, Mr. Gaye!? Naw Man, I’m “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”.’..
Would he ask, “What’s Goin On?” Or say, “What’s Happenin’ Brother”? Maybe he would have suspected this day would come and say “Oh I Heard It Through The Grapevine”… followed by, “I’ll Be Doggone” upon looking at it for the first time! ‘Did you hear you have your own postage letter stamp, Mr. Gaye!? Naw Man, I’m “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”.’
Or, maybe he would not like the likeness of himself and have the “Inner City Blues” (Make Me Wanna Holler)”. And by-the-way, why didn’t they use a red wool cap on his head like on the “Lets Get It On” album cover?
Or he might say nothing much, like in “Trouble Man” or “T” Plays It Cool…
If he went to the Post Office and tried to get a mat of them, and the postal worker at the counter didn’t recognize him and asked for “$8.18, please…”, Marvin might go, “Oh, Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)”.
If they asked him to advertise the stamp, he could say to all of us, “Come Get To This!”, even.
He might be overjoyed and say, “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”, Postal Service! Marvin might view the honor with “Joy” and consider it the “Dream Of A Lifetime”. He’d say that you “Got To Give It Up” to the mail carriers and message the Postmaster General, “You’re A Wonderful One”!
He might suggest a “Diana & Marvin” stamp to bring the honor “All The Way Around”. “Gates” as we called him, would certainly have thought a stamp dedicated to “Save The Children” would be more appropriate.
The philosophical Marvin might reply to the interview question about how it feels to be honored with a postage stamp with, “That’s The Way Love Is”.
In his soft-spoken way he might advise, if you write a love letter with hopes of getting a little “Sexual Healing”, that you seal the deal by using his stamp on the envelope…
On behalf of Marvin, I thank the USPS Musical Stamp Director for “Your Unchanging Love”.
*Remember to check out my mothership blog, achilliad.wordpress.com for more general topics and opinion. Thanks for reading and commenting!
“…James Ingram and Jeffrey Osborne shared the same era in Urban soul music, competing for chart position in Billboard and other music industry trade magazines and papers of the day…”
I never, “Just Once”, met nor saw James Ingram “live” in-concert during my on-air disc jockey career travels from radio station-to-station. He wasn’t high on my list because he kind-of never rose to the level of Luther Vandross,, Lionel Richie or Al Green, but I dug his honest, loving sound and liked talking-up or back-announcing his records. He was maybe, too “clean”?
When “One Hundred Ways” came out in 1981, on Quincy Jones’ “The Dude” album (“the black album cova”), I recall using that song to impress the lady of my desire who I was dating back then as a punctuation to a Valentine’s Day or anniversary day surprise. It worked!
It is interesting how “Q” (Quincy Jones) always manages to find previously undiscovered voices and bring them to the fore successfully.
James Ingram and another similar R&B crooner, Jeffrey Osborne shared the same era in Urban soul music, competing for chart position in Billboard and other music industry trade magazines and papers of the day in the early 1980s. I recall waking up to it in the middle of many afternoons when I was an overnight DJ – I was hooked by the soap opera, General Hospital at the time and somehow it became a theme song – I guess it was Luke and Laura’s love song…
I can still hear the late Frankie Crocker announce, “Patti Autin…James Ingram…Baby COME to Me….on 107.5,WBLS…” circa 1980.
I have no special relationship between my vinyls of James Ingram. They are just tools in his song catalog which, upon opening recall hints of past romance and love for me during that era.