Category Archives: male vocalist
A gentle-tempoed groove, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was built around a prominent organ part with an understated arrangement, more akin to The Rascals‘ sound at the time than to James’s contemporary efforts with psychedelic rock. It included melodic passages for an acoustic guitar, as well as a bass pattern, played between the bridge, and the third verse of the song.
I took the title from the Book of Revelations [sic] in the Bible, reading about the New Jerusalem. The words jumped out at me, and they’re not together; they’re spread out over three or four verses. But it seemed to go together, it’s my favorite of all my songs and one of our most requested.
With an appropriate lighting scheme, the 2000s edition of Tommy James and the Shondells perform “Crystal Blue Persuasion”
According to James’s manager, James was actually inspired by his readings of the Book of Ezekiel, which (he remembered as) speaking of a blue Shekhinah light that represented the presence of the Almighty God, and of the Book of Isaiah and Book of Revelation, which tell of a future age of brotherhood of mankind, living in peace and harmony.
When released as a single in June 1969, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” became one of the biggest hits for the group, peaking at number two on the Billboard Pop Singleschart for three weeks behind Zager and Evans‘s single “In the Year 2525“. The single version differs from the album version of the song with horn overdubs added to the mix and a longer bongosoverdub before the third verse.
A primitive non-representational music video was made, that showed various scenes of late 1960s political and cultural unrest and imagery of love and peace.
Sam & Dave were an American soul and R&B duo who performed together from 1961 through to 1981. The tenor (higher) voice was Samuel David Moore (born Samuel David Hicks on October 12, 1935), and the baritone/tenor (lower) voice was Dave Prater (May 9, 1937 – April 9, 1988).
Sam & Dave are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and are Grammy Award and multiple gold record award winning artists. According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Sam & Dave were the most successful soul duo, and brought the sounds of the black gospel church to pop music with their call-and-response records. Recorded primarily at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1965 through 1968, these included “Soul Man”, “Hold On, I’m Comin'”, “You Don’t Know Like I Know”, “I Thank You”, “When Something is Wrong with My Baby”, “Wrap It Up”, and many other Southern Soul classics. Except for Aretha Franklin, no soul act during Sam & Dave’s Stax years (1965–1968) had more consistent R&B chart success, including 10 consecutive top 20 singles and 3 consecutive top 10 LPs. Their crossover charts appeal (13 straight appearances and 2 top 10 singles) helped to pave the way for the acceptance of soul music by white pop audiences, and their song “Soul Man” was one of the first songs by a black group to top the pop charts using the word “soul”, helping define the genre. “Soul Man” was a number one Pop Hit (Cashbox: November 11, 1967) and has been recognized as one of the most influential songs of the past 50 years by the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone magazine, and RIAA Songs of the Century. “Soul Man” was featured as the soundtrack and title for a 1986 film and also a 1997–1998 television series, and Soul Men was a 2008 feature film.
Nicknamed “Double Dynamite”, “The Sultans of Sweat”, and “The Dynamic Duo” for their gritty, gospel-infused performances, Sam & Dave were one of the greatest live acts of the 1960s. They were an influence on many future musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Al Green, Tom Petty, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello, The Jam, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Joel and Steve Winwood. The Blues Brothers, who helped create a resurgence of popularity for soul, R&B, and blues in the 1980s, were influenced by Sam & Dave – their biggest hit was a cover of “Soul Man”, and their act and stage show had many similarities to the duo.
“Old Time Rock and Roll” is a song written by George Jackson and recorded by Bob Seger on his 1978 album Stranger in Town. It was also released as a single in 1979. It is a sentimentalized look back at the music of the original rock ‘n’ roll era. The song gained a huge amount of popularity after being featured in the 1983 film Risky Business. It has since become a standard in popular music and was ranked number two on the Amusement & Music Operators Association’s survey of the Top 40 Jukebox Singles of All Time in 1996. It was also listed as one of the Songs of the Century in 2001 and ranked #100 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs poll in 2004 of the top songs in American cinema. The song was recorded at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama and Sound Suite Studios in Detroit, Michigan.
The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who often backed Seger in his studio recordings, sent Seger a demo of the song during the recording of Stranger in Town. He said in 2006 (and also on the “Stranger in Town” episode of the US radio show In the Studio with Redbeard a few years earlier):
All I kept from the original was: “Old time rock and roll, that kind of music just soothes the soul, I reminisce about the days of old with that old time rock and roll”. I rewrote the verses and I never took credit. That was the dumbest thing I ever did. And Tom Jones (Thomas E. Jones) and George Jackson know it, too. But I just wanted to finish the record [Stranger in Town]. I rewrote every verse you hear except for the choruses. I didn’t ask for credit. My manager said: “You should ask for a third of the credit.” And I said: “Nah. Nobody’s gonna like it.” I’m not credited on it so I couldn’t control the copyright either. Meanwhile it got into a Hardee’s commercial because I couldn’t control it. Oh my God, it was awful!”
However, George Stephenson of Malaco Records claimed:
“Old Time Rock and Roll” is truly [George] Jackson’s song, and he has the tapes to prove it, despite Seger’s claims that he altered it. Bob had pretty much finished his recording at Muscle Shoals and he asked them if they had any other songs he could listen to for the future..”
Originally, the Silver Bullet Band was displeased with its inclusion on Stranger in Town, claiming, according to Seger, that the song was not “Silver Bullety”. However, upon hearing audience reactions to it during their tour in Europe, the band grew to like the song.
In 1990, Seger joined Billy Joel on one occasion and Don Henley on another to play the song during their concerts in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He also performed the song at his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
In popular culture
The song was featured in the 1983 film Risky Business, starring Tom Cruise. Cruise’s character, Joel Goodson, famously lip-syncs and dances in his underwear as this song plays after his parents leave him home alone. The sequence was simulated in the teaser trailer for Garfield: The Movie, the 1984 Alvin and the Chipmunks episode “The Victrola Awards” as performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks, and commercials for Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades, Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero: Metallica, and more recently Guitar Hero 5 and Band Hero. Activision created a series of television advertisements directed by Brett Ratner based on the scene, each featuring a different set of celebrities lip-sync to the lyrics while using the new instrument controllers. The first ad included athletes Kobe Bryant, Tony Hawk, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Phelps. Another ad spot featured model Heidi Klum; two versions of Klum’s ad exist, one a “director’s cut” where she is wearing less clothing. A subsequent commercial featuring model Marisa Miller was banned from airing as too racy. Two separate ads featured David Cook, the winner of the seventh season of American Idol, along with fellow finalist David Archuleta.
The song was featured in the TV series ALF, The Nanny, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Growing Pains, Scrubs and South Park. Most recently, the song was sung on the episode “Girls (And Boys) On Film” from American TV series Glee, in a mash-up with Kenny Loggins’ song “Danger Zone” from the 1986 film Top Gun, also starring Cruise and The Goldbergs, where Barry Goldberg tries to do the Risky Business dance move that Tom Cruise did in his button up shirt without pants.
In 1964, he moved to a new label (Baltimore’s Ru-Jac Records) and released “I’m a Lonely Stranger”. When Otis Redding heard this, he asked Conley to record a new version, which was released on Redding’s own fledgling label Jotis Records, as only its second release. Conley met Redding in 1967. Together they rewrote the Sam Cooke song “Yeah Man” into “Sweet Soul Music”, which, at Redding’s insistence, was released on the Atco-distributed label Fame Records, and was recorded at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It proved to be a massive hit, going to the number two position on the U.S. charts and the Top Ten across much of Europe. “Sweet Soul Music” sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
After several years of hits singles in the early 1970s, he relocated to England in 1975, and spent several years in Belgium, settling in Amsterdam (Netherlands) in spring 1977. At the beginning of 1980 he had some major performances as Lee Roberts and the Sweaters in the Ganzenhoef, Paradiso, De Melkweg and the Concertgebouw, and was highly successful. At the end of 1980 he moved to the Dutch town of Ruurlo legally changing his name to Lee Roberts—his middle name and his mother’s maiden name. He promoted new music via his Art-Con Productions company. Amongst the bands he promoted was the heavy metal band Shockwave from The Hague. A live performance on January 8, 1980, featuring Lee Roberts & the Sweaters, was released as an album entitled Soulin’ in 1988.
“Lean on Me” is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. It was released in April 1972 as the first single from his second album, Still Bill. It was his first and only number one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard ranked it as the No. 7 song of 1972. It is ranked number 205 on Rolling Stone ’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
During early 1970, Withers’ demonstration tape was auditioned favorably by Clarence Avant, owner of Sussex Records. Avant signed Withers to a record deal and assigned former Stax Records stalwart Booker T. Jones to produce Withers’ first album. Four three-hour studio sessions were planned to record the album, but funding caused the album to be recorded in three sessions with a six-month break between the second and final sessions. Just as I Am was released in 1971 with the tracks, “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands” as singles. The album features Stephen Stills playing lead guitar.
The album was a success and Withers began touring with a band assembled from members of The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band: drummer James Gadson, guitarist Benorce Blackmon, keyboardist Ray Jackson, and bassist Melvin Dunlap.
At the 14th annual Grammy Awards on Tuesday, March 14, 1972, Withers won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The track had already sold over one million copies and was awarded a platinum disc by the RIAA in September 1971.
During a hiatus from touring, Withers recorded his second album, Still Bill. The single, “Lean on Me” went to number one the week of July 8, 1972. It was Withers’ second gold single with confirmed sales in excess of three million. His follow-up, “Use Me” released in August 1972, became his third million seller, with the R.I.A.A. gold disc award taking place on October 12, 1972. His performance at Carnegie Hall on October 6, 1972, was recorded, and released as the live album Bill Withers, Live at Carnegie Hall on November 30, 1972. In 1974, Withers recorded the album +’Justments. Due to a legal dispute with the Sussex company, Withers was unable to record for some time thereafter.
During this time, he wrote and produced two songs on the Gladys Knight & the Pips record I Feel a Song, and in October 1974 performed in concert together with James Brown, Etta James, and B. B. King four weeks prior to the historic Rumble in the Jungle fight between Foreman and Ali in Zaire. Footage of his performance was included in the 1996 documentary film When We Were Kings, and he is heard on the accompanying soundtrack. Other footage of his performance is included in the 2008 documentary film Soul Power which is based on archival footage of the 1974 Zaire concert.
“Use Me – Bill Withers (1972)”