Category Archives: 1970s

Blue Magic – Sideshow


Blue Magic is an American R&B/soul music group, and one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Founded in 1972, the group’s original members included lead singer Ted Mills with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith Beaton, and Richard Pratt. Their most notable songs included smooth soul ballads such as “Sideshow”, “Spell”, “What’s Come Over Me”, “Three Ring Circus” and “Stop to Start.”


Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972 when former member of The Delfonics Randy Cain brought in singer-songwriter Ted Mills to do some writing with the Philly-based WMOT production company to create a new band. A short time later the group Shades of Love, featuring Keith Beaton, Richard Pratt, Vernon Sawyer and his brother Wendell, came in to audition. (According to Marc Taylor in his book ‘A Touch of Classic Soul of the Early 1970s’,[1] “although the group performed admirably, they lacked a standout lead singer”.) The execs decided to replace the Toppicks, the act Mills recorded with. They inserted Shades of Love (which they owned contractually) with Ted Mills and retitled the group Blue Magic. They were signed with Atco Records through WMOT in the same year.


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Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones


The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued as occasional pianist until his death in 1985. Jones departed the band less than a month prior to his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1975. Subsequently, Ronnie Wood has been on guitar in tandem with Richards. Following Wyman’s departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has been the main bassist. Other notable keyboardists for the band have included Nicky Hopkins, active from 1967 to 1982; Billy Preston through the mid 1970s (most prominent on Black and Blue) and Chuck Leavell, active since 1982. The band was first led by Jones but after teaming as the band’s songwriters, Jagger and Richards assumed de facto leadership.

The Rolling Stones were in the vanguard of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the US in 1964–65. At first noted for their longish hair as much as their music, the band are identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. Critic Sean Egan states that within a year of the release of their 1964 debut album, they “were being perceived by the youth of Britain and then the world as representatives of opposition to an old, cruel order—the antidote to a class-bound, authoritarian culture.”[1] They were instrumental in making blues a major part of rock and roll and of changing the international focus of blues culture to the less sophisticated blues typified by Chess Records artists such as Muddy Waters — writer of “Rollin’ Stone”, after which the band is named. After a short period of musical experimentation that culminated with the poorly received and largely psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967), the group returned to its bluesy roots with Beggars Banquet (1968) which—along with its follow-ups, Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St (1972)—is generally considered to be the band’s best work and are considered the Rolling Stones’ “Golden Age”. It was during this period the band were first introduced on stage as “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”.[2][3] Musicologist Robert Palmer attributed the “remarkable endurance” of the Rolling Stones to being “rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music”, while “more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone”.[4]

The band continued to release commercially successful records in the 1970s and sold many albums, with Some Girls (1978) and Tattoo You (1981) being their two most sold albums worldwide. In the 1980s, a feud between Jagger and Richards about the band’s musical direction almost caused the band to split but they managed to patch their relationship up and had a big comeback with Steel Wheels (1989), which was followed by a big stadium and arena tour. Since the 1990s, new recorded material from the group has been increasingly less well-received and less frequent. Despite this, the Rolling Stones have continued to be a huge attraction on the live circuit, with big stadium tours in the 1990s and 2000s. By 2007, the band had made what were then four of the top five highest-grossing concert tours of all time (Voodoo Lounge Tour (1994–95), Bridges to Babylon Tour (1997–99), Licks Tour (2002–03) and A Bigger Bang Tour (2005–07).[5]


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James Brown- This is A Man’ s World


“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” is a song by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Brown recorded it on February 16, 1966 in a New York studio and released it as a single later that year. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] Its title is a word play on the 1963 comedy film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The song’s lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as “biblically chauvinistic”,[4] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the boat, and the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would “mean nothing without a woman or a girl”.[1] The song also states that man made toys for the baby boys and girls, and makes a comment about the fact that “Man makes Money”, from other men. Before the song’s fade, Brown states that man is lost in his bitterness and in his emptiness. Brown’s co-writer and onetime girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, wrote the lyrics based on her own observations of the relations between the sexes. In later years, Newsome would claim that Brown didn’t write any part of the song and argued in court that Brown sometimes forgot to pay her royalties.[5]

The composition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” developed over a period of several years. Tammy Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, recorded “I Cried”, a Brown-penned song based on the same chord changes, in 1963. Brown himself recorded a demo version of the song, provisionally entitled “It’s a Man’s World”, in 1964. This version later appeared on the CD compilations The CD of JB and Star Time.

The released version of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was recorded quickly, in only two takes, with a studio ensemble that included members of Brown’s touring band and a string section arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe. A female chorus was involved in the recording sessions, but their parts were edited out of the song’s final master.[6]

“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” became a staple of Brown’s live shows for the rest of his career. Its slow, simmering groove and declamatory vocal line made it suitable for long, open-ended performances incorporating spoken ruminations on love and loss and sometimes interpolations from other songs. It appears on almost all of Brown’s live albums starting with 1967’s Live at the Garden. Brown also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

In 2004, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


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The Staple Singers, is known as  an American gospel, soul and R&B singing group. Roebuck “Pops” Staples (1914–2000), the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha (1934–2013), Pervis (b. 1935), and Mavis (b. 1939). Yvonne (b. 1936) replaced her brother when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and again in 1970. They are best known for their 1970s hits “Respect Yourself”, “I’ll Take You There”, “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)”, and “Let’s Do It Again”, which with one exception (“I’ll Take You There”) peaked on the Hot 100 within a week from Christmas Day.

While the family surname is “Staples”, the group used the singular form for its name, “The Staple Singers”.


Roebuck moved from Mississippi to Chicago after his marriage, and worked in steel mills and meat packing plants while his family of four children grew up.[1] The family began appearing in Chicago-area churches in 1948. Their first public singing appearance was at the Mount Zion Church, Chicago, where Roebuck’s brother, the Rev. Chester Staples, was pastor.[2] They signed their first professional contract in 1952.[3] During their early career they recorded in an acoustic gospel-folk style with various labels: United Records, Vee-Jay Records (their “Uncloudy Day” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” were best sellers), Checker Records, Riverside Records, and then Epic Records in 1965. “Uncloudy Day” was an early influence on Bob Dylan, who said of it in 2015, “It was the most mysterious thing I’d ever heard… I’d think about them even at my school desk…Mavis looked to be about the same age as me in her picture (on the cover of “Uncloudy Day”)…Her singing just knocked me out…And Mavis was a great singer—deep and mysterious. And even at the young age, I felt that life itself was a mystery.”[4]

It was on Epic that the Staple Singers developed a style more accessible to mainstream audiences, with “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)” and “For What It’s Worth” (Stephen Stills) in 1967. In 1968, the Staple Singers signed to Stax Records and released two albums with Steve Cropper—Soul Folk in Action and We’ll Get Over, Pervis returning for these.[5] After Cropper left Stax, Al Bell produced their recordings, conducting the rhythm sessions at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and cutting the overdubs himself at Memphis’ Ardent Studios,[6] moving in a more funk and soul direction.

The first Stax hit was “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)” in early 1971. Their late 1971 recording of “Respect Yourself”, written by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both sold over one million copies, and were each awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[7] The song’s theme of self-empowerment had universal appeal, released in the period immediately following the intense American civil rights movement of the 1960s. In 1972 “I’ll Take You There” topped both Billboard charts.[8] In 1973 “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B chart.

After Stax’s 1975 bankruptcy, the foursome signed to Curtis Mayfield’s label, Curtom Records, and released “Let’s Do It Again”, produced by Mayfield; the song became their second No. 1 pop hit in the US and the album was also successful. In 1976 they collaborated with The Band for their film The Last Waltz, performing on the song “The Weight” (which The Staple Singers had previously covered on their first Stax album). However, they were not able to regain their momentum, releasing only occasional minor hits. Their 1984 album Turning Point featured their final Top 40 hit, a cover of Talking Heads’ “Slippery People” (which also reached the Top 5 on the Dance chart). In 1994, they again performed the song “The Weight” with country music artist Marty Stuart for MCA Nashville’s Rhythm, Country and Blues compilation, somewhat re-establishing an audience. The song “Respect Yourself” was used by Spike Lee in the soundtrack to his movie Crooklyn, made in 1994.

In 1999, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pops Staples died of complications from a concussion suffered in December 2000. In 2005, the group was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Mavis Staples has continued to carry on the family tradition and continues to add her vocal talents to both the projects of other artists and her own solo ventures. Mavis appeared at Glastonbury in 2015, and her 2016 album Livin’ on a High Note includes a simple acoustic version of a sermon of the late Martin Luther King, whom she knew, in the track MLK Song.[9] Cleotha Staples died in Chicago on February 21, 2013, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for over a decade.[10]


Posted by on March 20, 2018 in 1970s, black music artists



“ELTON JOHN – Sad Songs (Say So Much)”


“Sad Songs (Say So Much)” is a song by Elton John and is the closing track on the 1984 album Breaking Hearts. It reached the No 5 on the U.S. chart. The lyrics describe how it sometimes helps for someone who is feeling sad, or who has lost a partner, to listen to old radio blues classics. In the years since its issue, radio airplay has been modest compared with some of John’s other 80s singles.

The music video, directed by Russell Mulcahy and shot on a street in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, featured John without his familiar trademark glasses in some scenes. The single sleeve likewise featured John with no glasses.

John performed the song on One Night Only: The Greatest Hits Live at Madison Square Garden with Canadian rock star Bryan Adams. In 2013, John was joined by Rod Stewart in a special performance of the song at the London Palladium after being presented with first Brits Icon award in recognition of his “lasting impact” on UK culture.[1]

The song and the music video were both utilized in an early 1980s TV advertisement for Sasson Designer Jeans, altering the lyrics of the song to “Sasson says so much.”[2]





“You Really Got Me” is a song written by Ray Davies for English rock band the Kinks. The song, originally performed in a more blues-oriented style, was inspired by artists such as Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy. Two versions of the song were recorded, with the second performance being used for the final single. Although it was rumoured that future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page had performed the song’s guitar solo, the myth has since been proven false.

“You Really Got Me” was built around power chords (perfect fifths and octaves) and heavily influenced later rock musicians, particularly in the genres of heavy metal and punk rock. Built around a guitar riff played by Dave Davies, the song’s lyrics were described by Dave as “a love song for street kids.”[3]

“You Really Got Me” was released on 4 August 1964 as the group’s third single, and reached number one on the UK singles chart the next month, remaining for two weeks. The song became the group’s breakthrough hit; it established them as one of the top British Invasion acts in the United States, reaching number seven there later in the year. “You Really Got Me” was later included on the Kinks’ debut album, Kinks. The song was covered by American rock band Van Halen in 1978, reaching the Billboard Top 40.


[The original demo version of ‘You Really Got Me’] had very way-out words and a funny sort of ending that didn’t. We did it differently on the record because [this original version] was really rather uncommercial.

– Ray Davies[4]
“You Really Got Me” was written by Ray Davies, the Kinks’ vocalist and main songwriter, sometime between 9 and 12 March 1964.[4] Created on the piano in the front room of the Davies’ home, the song was stylistically very different from the finished product, being much lighter and somewhat jazz-oriented.[4] Ray said of the song’s writing, “When I came up with [‘You Really Got Me’] I hadn’t been writing songs very long at all. It was one of the first five I ever came up with.”[4]

During the spring of 1964, Ray Davies played an early version of “You Really Got Me” on piano to rock photographer Allan Ballard during a photo shoot. Ballard later remembered, “It was quite a small, pokey, Victorian Terrace, a bit scruffy, and in the hallway they had an upright piano. Ray sat down and plonked out, ‘Der-der, der, Der-der!’ He said, ‘What do you reckon to this?’ It meant nothing to me at the time, but it ended up as ‘You Really Got Me’.”[5]

Ray, initially planning for the song to be a “more laid-back number”, later played the chords of the song to brother Dave Davies, the Kinks’ lead guitarist. However, upon hearing the track, Dave decided that the riff would be much more powerful on a guitar.[5] Ray said of the track’s change to a guitar-centred track, “I wanted it to be a jazz-type tune, because that’s what I liked at the time. It’s written originally around a sax line … Dave ended up playing the sax line in fuzz guitar and it took the song a step further.”[4] The band then began to perform the new track in some of their live shows, where it was well received.[6]

In 1998, Ray said, “I’d written ‘You Really Got Me’ as tribute to all those great blues people I love: Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy.”[7] Dave cited Gerry Mulligan as an inspiration, saying, “Ray was a great fan of Gerry Mulligan, who was in [the Jazz on a Summer’s Day movie], and as he sat at the piano at home, he sort of messed around in a vein similar to Mulligan and came up with this figure based on a 12-bar blues”.[4] Dave has also said that song had been inspired by Jimmy Giuffre’s song “The Train and the River”.[8] According to the band’s manager, Larry Page, the song’s characteristic riff came about while working out the chords of the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie”.[3] Lyrically, the song was said to be influenced by an encounter with one of the band’s “first serious female fans.”[4][9]


When I first heard [“You Really Got Me”], I said, “Shit, it doesn’t matter what you do with this, it’s a number one song”. It could have been done in waltz time and it would have been a hit.[6]

– Shel Talmy, producer of “You Really Got Me”
The song was recorded by the Kinks at least twice in the summer of 1964. The band’s demo was in a “bluesy” style, while a full studio version recorded in June was slower and less emphatic than the final single.[10] Although the band wanted to rerecord the song, their record company Pye refused to fund another session on the ground that the band’s first two singles had failed to chart.[6] Ray Davies, however, hated the original recording of the track, threatening that he would refuse to perform or promote the single unless it was rerecorded.[6] Manager Larry Page also refused to publish the original recording.[6] When Pye stood its ground, the band’s own management broke the stalemate by funding the session themselves.[11] Ray Davies’ adamant attitude on behalf of the career-making song effectively established him as the leader and chief songwriter of the Kinks. Davies later said, “I was floundering around trying to find an identity. It was in 1964 that I managed to do that, to be able to justify myself and say, ‘I exist, I’m here.’ I was literally born when that song hit.”[12]

The influential distortion sound of the guitar track was created after guitarist Dave Davies sliced the speaker cone of his guitar amplifier with a razor blade and poked it with a pin.[13] The amplifier was affectionately called “little green”, after the name of the amplifier made by the Elpico company, and purchased in Davies’ neighbourhood music shop, linked to a Vox AC-30.[8] In 2014, Dave Davies accused brother Ray of lying about participating in Dave’s guitar distortion sound. Dave wrote on his Facebook page, “My brother is lying. I don’t know why he does this but it was my Elpico amp that I bought and out of frustration I cut the speaker cone up with a razor blade and I was so shocked and surprised and excited that it worked that I demonstrated the sound to Ray and [Kinks bassist] Pete [Quaife] … Ray liked the sound and he had written a riff on the piano which formed the basis of the song ‘You Really Got Me’ and I played the riff on my guitar with my new sound. I alone created this sound.”[14]

According to recent Kinks’ releases that give full official performance credits of the track, group members Ray Davies (vocals and rhythm guitar), Dave Davies (lead guitar), Pete Quaife (bass) are joined by session men Bobby Graham (drums), and Arthur Greenslade (piano).[15][16] Regular Kinks drummer Mick Avory plays the tambourine.



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“This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” is an The Isley Brothers song from 1966 that was a hit for them during their brief tenure on Motown’s Tamla label. Featuring Ronald Isley on lead vocal, “This Old Heart of Mine” peaked at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number six on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.[1]

The single was the group’s only major hit while on Motown, whom they left in 1969 to restart their own T-Neck label. Tammi Terrell also recorded and released the song as a part of her Irresistible album released in January, 1969.

Written by Motown’s main songwriting team Holland–Dozier–Holland alongside Sylvia Moy, “This Old Heart of Mine”, produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, was originally intended for The Supremes (who later recorded their own version for their Supremes A’ Go-Go album).

The song was prominently featured in an episode of the hit 1980s show Moonlighting and was one of the tunes included on the show’s hit soundtrack.



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