This week’s 70s weekly track magic is brought to you from the rolling hills of North Caroline aka GoD's CoUnTry. Born in Black Mountain, NC, Roberta Flack is a 4 time Grammy winner who will be the focus of the succeeding paragraphs. More specifically, the topic of this article will focus on the 5th track on her 5th studio album: River on “Killing Me Softly”.
River tells a story that emphasizes the similarities in everyone’s triumphs and struggles in the search of meaning. We are greeted at the beginning of the song by some twangy guitar chords. Throughout River, the lead guitar is the steady heartbeat, the constant variable, playing along with Roberta’s theme of commonality among our lives. One subtle touch I enjoyed in particular was the flute and brass instruments playfully popping up in various parts throughout the song. As talented as she is, Roberta does not go all out in the song, matching the overall lax vibe that this track dishes out.
Like many of my previous picks, River falls on the chiller side of things. It leaves the listener not only introspective but in a place where it is hard to take anything that is going on in your life too seriously.
“The British are coming!” Paul revere was a couple centuries early with his warning as he rode through the country sides of Massachusetts in 1775. Sure he alerted his countrymen of the British’s plans during the revolutionary war, but I think he jumped the gun a bit. 189 years too early, to be exact. The invasion I am referring to is the British Invasion of 1964. This was not a military advance by the British to claim American soil. Rather, an invasion of British rock bands staking their claim on the American music industry.
This movement brought about a seismic shift in American pop culture and music inspired by a new brand of rock and roll that was conceived across the pond. One of the most influential bands for the rock genre was a part of this migration; the band that made thus week’s weekly magic possible: The Rolling Stones. Their sound, rooted in rhythm and blues, has been instrumental into creating the rock genre that we know and love today.
The song I wanted to share with you all this week is “Beast of Burden”, which is off of Some Girls, their 16th studio album. The star of this laid back track is without a doubt the rhythmic melody delivered to you by Keith Richards via electric guitar. Mick Jagger was no slouch either, providing another example why his vocals are iconic in the rock genre.
If you’re looking for the perfect road trip song or are just looking to unwind after a long day, tuning into “Beast of Burden” is a great place to start.
Peanut butter and jelly.
Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.
Macaroni and cheese.
Ice cream and a warm summer’s day.
Each of the combinations listed above bring out the best of each other. Sure you could enjoy some plain old macaroni. But everyone on the planet knows that this particular complex carbohydrate is so much tastier if you add some cheese to it. The point is, there are some things that are better together than they would be separately.
That brings me to the track I want to share with you all this week: “Love is Surrender” by The Carpenters. Richard and Karen Carpenter are a perfect example of the point I made earlier: some things are just better together. The siblings’ vocal harmony is beyond smooth, it is almost telekinetic. The easy going melody gently flowing through the song takes a hold of my being and transports me to a peaceful place for the duration of this track. A place where the sun is always shining and there is not a trace of negativity to be found. And it is all made possible by a combination of brother and sister who reinforce a valuable lesson: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Ah, the classic love song. It floods your brain with a waterfall of emotions until you are drowning in your feels and feeling nostalgic about times shared with that special someone. The kind of songs that you prefer to enjoy by yourself, lest anyone see how soft and gooey you truly have become. Love songs transcend genres of music, but rather are classified by how it makes the listener feel.
At this point, you must be wondering to yourself: I sure wish Manny Fresh knew of a song that would perfectly encompass what a love song is all about but at the same time not make my ears bleed. Well, my loyal readers, you are in luck because this week I will be sharing a song just like that to you.
The sound waves I am recommending you voluntarily play in your ear canals this week is “Forever Love You More” by Anita Ward. The eighth and final track on her first studio album, Sweet Surrender, “Forever Love You More” is a beautiful ballad that could melt the heart of Jack Frost himself. From beginning to end, the emotion flowing from this track is enough to bring a grown man to tears. So please, listen responsibly, and I am not liable for any calls you make after listening to this track. Godspeed.
It was a much simpler time. Jimmy Carter was president, ESPN debuted on cable television, and a gallon of gasoline would have cost you a whopping 86 cents a gallon. Disco fever was still running strong throughout the country. Seats along the dance floors were feeling extremely deserted as everyone with a pulse gladly packed themselves on the floor across America.
Disco may have died on July 12th at Comiskey Park (see video below for context), but the The King of Pop had plans of his own. On August 10th, Michael Jackson dropped his first solo album: Off the Wall. The track I want to share with you all this week is “Get on the Floor”, the fourth track on the album.
Right from the get go, it’s hard to ignore the bodacious bass line this song is dishing out. “Get on the Floor” is an all you can eat buffet of funk and silky vocals. And there is nothing quite like a delicious desert after a hearty meal and Michael Jackson serves that up for us at the 2:43 mark of the song. Start with a chorus of trumpets, throw in some bongos, add a dash of scatting from the King of Pop, and finish it off with a generous helping of bass and you got yourself a concoction sure to leave you wanting more.
This week’s 70s magic is delivered to you straight from the vibrant streets of Havana by the “Queen of Salsa” herself. If you attend a family gathering in the city of Miami, there is a 100% chance that her songs will play multiple times throughout the night and get people dancing who have no business doing so. The woman I am describing is Celia Cruz. Arguably the most popular Latin artist of the 20th century, she is undoubtedly the most influential female figure in the history of Latin music. Hand chosen from her lengthy discography, the song I wanted to share with you all this week is “A Papa”, the second track on the Only They Could Have Made This Album album.
Quick side note, this is a very underrated album name. Nothing says “we’re about to sell a bunch of records” like giving your album a name like that.
The second you hit play on the link below or however you consume your music, you’ll start to feel something crawl all over your body. Then, like a puppet master, “The Queen of Salsa” contracts your muscles and moves through your joints to the point where you notice that you’re involuntarily dancing. It is hard to stay still while listening to “A Papa”, let alone most of the music Celia gifted to us. Without further ado, enjoy your audio trip to a land where the cigars are plenty and vintage cars reign supreme.
The gentleman in the picture above is one of the most iconic individuals to walk the face of our planet. I knew who John Lennon was and how talented he and the rest of the Beatles were. But to be honest with y’all, I had no clue what this dude looked like and I am truly ashamed to admit this. The Plastic Ono Band album was my first interaction with John Lennon’s music and the one song that stood out to me was “Reminder”. It is an upbeat track that features a simple piano melody and bass riff moving together in perfect harmony throughout.
When I first heard this song, my mind immediately started playing random scenes from Step Brothers. “Reminder” would have been a perfect fit on the Step Brothers soundtrack, but who am I to judge Adam McKay’s (director of the movie) discretion. I digress.
The one part of the song that really threw me off was the outro. It starts off sounding like Lennon is going to end the song with the chorus being sung again. Instead of singing “Don’t feel sorry”, he sings “Don’t”, stutters for a second, then sings “Don’t remember… The Fifth of November”. He repeats the phrase again and then the song ends with an explosion. For those that don’t understand what is being referenced here, Lennon is referring to Guy Fawkes Day.
Guy Fawkes Day commemorates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The Gunpowder Plot conspirators were zealous Roman Catholics enraged at King James I for refusing to grant greater religious tolerance to Catholics. They planned to blow up the Houses Of Parliament during the state opening of Parliament, intending to kill the king and members of Parliament in order to clear the way to reestablishing Catholic rule in England. The plan failed when the conspirators were betrayed. One of them, Guy Fawkes, was taken into custody the evening before the attack, in the cellar where the explosives to be used were stashed. All the conspirators were all either killed resisting capture or—like Fawkes—tried, convicted, and executed. In the aftermath, Parliament declared November 5 a national day of thanksgiving, and the first celebration of it took place in 1606.
History lessons aside, I hope y’all enjoy this explosive track. Sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing that pun in.
For this week’s 70s magic, we will takie a trip back to Motown to visit the Detroit Spinners. No, they are not a semi-professional roller derby team or an affectionate name for the Detroit media. I am referring to a band more commonly known as The Spinners. They are also known as the Motown Spinners. Both these names stuck with the group for two reasons:
Hello world, this week’s 70s magic is brought to you by David Jones, who is more famously known as David Bowie. Why did he go from Jones to Bowie, you might ask? This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s name change was inspired by the 1960 movie The Alamo. In 1965, David Jones adopted the name David Bowie in homage to Jim Bowie,” the film’s Texan rebel played by Richard Widmark. Enough of that, let’s get back to what brought you to the website in the first place: MUSICAL DISCOVERY!
The track for this week is “The Secret Life of Arabia” which is the last track on Bowie’s 12th studio album Heroes (1977). If you’re looking for something completely unconventional, David Bowie is your man. There are groovy vibes pouring all over the place from this track. From the rhythmic guitar line serenading your ears to the bass guitar plucking the strings of your heart, this song is sure to make you involuntarily bob your head and appreciate how talented Mr. Bowie was. Don’t take it from me, listen for yourself.
What are the first words that come to mind when you hear the words Black Sabbath? Legendary Rock Band? Solid start. The Iron Man trilogy? A little less admirable, but still accurate. Mellow? Soft? On the surface, these words have absolutely no similarity to Black Sabbath. But when you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover that even Black Sabbath has a softer side to them. The gift I humbly offer to your ears is “Fluff”, from the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album. “Fluff” is an instrumental that features a soft acoustic guitar, a melody played on the piano, and the electric guitar coming in softly every so often. This is the kind of song that plays towards the end of a movie where the main character realizes that he’s made a terrible decision and needs to make things right. “Fluff” a song that provokes deep thought, perfect for studying, being productive, not being productive, road tripping, or whatever it is that you do. Black Sabbath does not discriminate. So please, sit back, relax, and enjoy this wonderful filler track.
Fun Fact: This song was played at Tommy Iommi’s 1st wedding
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