BB&G Presents: Music Week

Music is a huge part of my life.  I always said if I had to choose to be blind or deaf I would have to forfeit sight because my eyes only allow me to see the physical.  Through my ears I can hear words that have power and melodies that spark imagination which can create images as real as eternity itself.  Truly there is a song for every thought, feeling and emotion.  Music tells of the tragic, the triumphs, the dreams and the hopeful.  It takes the temperature of the times, tells of the past and projects towards the future.  Bob Dylan once said, “I don’t care who makes the laws, as long as I write the songs.”  This alone should tell you the power of music.  It can make you laugh, throw your hands up, dance, cry, reflect, and even go to sleep.  From R&B to Jazz, from bee bop to hip hop, country to pop, bossa nova, folk, classical and reggae – music to me reveals the soul of the world. 

This week I would like to share some of my perspectives of the music that helped shape my life.  As well as discuss with you some ideas of yours and mine regarding differing music subject matters.  I will start things off but invite you to join in and make this discussion as diversified as the music itself.  I figure we can start off with a week’s worth of subjects and see where it goes from there.  Lets kick it off with our first topic.

Big Time Freshman Debuts

You ever come across an album that you hear from a new artist, and the album is so good they darn near have to play every song on it before its past its prime?  Boy oh boy I can think of some, especially during the 80s and 90s that just jumped off the charts either mainstream or just in my own personal mix.  These are a list of 10 of some of my most significant debuts that rocked my earphones and are still classics today.  Agree or disagree with mine?  Tell me some of yours!  Remember it has the be the artist’s first album!  I started to put down Michal Jackson’s “Off The Wall.”  But not only did Michael have a full career with his brothers previously, he also had solo projects during those early years.  So that album didn’t qualify.  Lets get to it!

Mary J Blige, “Whats the 411”  July 28, 1992

Keith Sweat, “Make It Last Forever”  November 24, 1987 – Sweat has since had many very good projects and has successfully produced.  But none top this first stunna!

Whitney Houston, “Whitney Houston” 1985 – Produced by Kashif! Remember that dude? We will have a discussion about Whitney later in the week.  A pure R&B soul classic piece of work.  She has since made a lot of money, but hasn’t done anything to touch this one yet. 

Toni Braxton, “Toni Braxton” – I mean can you have a better debut than this? Everything on the album played on the radio extensively.  For a long time she lived off the reputation of this CD!

Teena Marie, “Wild And Peaceful” – A little old school for some of you.  But Teena broke out a flavor that was all her own, totally original a mixture of R&B grooves with classically technical vocals and a bossa nova jazz tempo. 

R Kelly, by Public Announcement “Born Into The 90s” – This Chicago native borrowed from the best of them.  But his sound is still a brand that is well respected.  R Kelly makes hits cause he simply knows what people want and he gives it to them.

Sade, “Diamond Life” 1984 – I don’t even need to elaborate on this.  You already know!

Amy Grant, 1977 – Ahh surprised huh?  You can’t sleep on Grant.  I used to call her Amy ‘Grammy’, as she has six of them.  Remember too that in her early career her music only sold in Christian bookstores.  She is a pioneer. 

TLC, “Ooh On The TLC Tip”  1992

LL Cool J, “Radio” 1985 – Probably the longest running career for a hip hop artist.  Ice Cube has to be the next in terms of relevant and currently influential performing hip hop artist for a quarter of a century.  Though the music is pre-historic by today’s standards, Def Jam was on a wing and a prayer back then, Radio still rocks today.

Ok – So I know there is a lot more out there and it’s impossible to cover close to all of the best debuts ever.  Tell us some more and bring some more to my rememberance!

Albums That Helped Shape My Life

Music is wonderful.  I consider myself a scholar in the area.  You have your one hit wonders, as well as the genuises that laste and laste.  I won’t get into the artist as much.  That would take too long.  But some albums are everlating in my heart.  Meaning they will always have significance.  Here are my top ten… subject to change upon memory of albums that have helped shape and make a big difference in my life. (In no particular order)

1. What’s Goin OnMarvin Gaye * Music and lyrics just as relevant today as they have ever been!  An album too honest for the times and still underappreciated fully for the substance it contains. 

What's Going on

2. Thats The Way of the WorldEarth Wind & Fire * A mixture of grooves such as Shining Star and Happy Feelings.  The title track along with Reasons are timeless classics.  This album is music that covers our afro traditional roots along with complicated relational and interpersonal issues.

That's the Way of the World 

3. The Isley BrothersThe Heat Is On * I mean forget Fight The Power – I don’t have to even go there.  But it has the Big Three on side 2: For The Love of You, Sensuality, & Make Me Say It Again Girl!  I used to listen to these over and over again even as a little kid.  Lots of black folk were conceived on that side of the album.

The Heat Is On

4.  JourneyEscape * The first Rock and Roll album I bought.  Journey introduced me to other groups like REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Rush, Genesis, Teg Nuggent, Led Zepplin etc.  Don’t Stop Believing is still being played in bars all over the country.  It may be sappy, but after a couple pops, your singing along too! “Strangers – waiting – Up and down the boulevard – their shadows searching in the niiiiight!”

Escape

5.  Earl KlughHeart String *The first jazz album I bought.  I credit Jeff M. an old friend I used to bus tables with for hipping me to this wonderful guitarist.  We used to smoke the hippie lettuce while sitting in his car jamming this.  I have this CD in my car right now as a matter of fact. 

Heart String

6. Michael Jackson – Off The Wall * I know for a lot of people it’s all about Thriller.  Thats a great album and the sales records prove it.  But without Off The Wall and it’s success at the hands of Quincy Jones, there would be no Thriller.  The record exeutives didn’t think a jazz man could produce a pop album.  Michael said he wouldn’t do the record unless “Q” was the man to produce it.  Well when Mike spoke it was like EF Hutton.  The rest is history!

Michael Jackson Off the Wall

7. Prince1999 * During the height of the competition of who was the King – be it Michael or Prince.  Prince changed the game with this one.  A double album with crazy stuff like D.M.S.R. and Lady Cab Driver.  The bass line on Lady Cab Driver is one of the funkiest of all time.

1999

 8. Stevie WonderSongs In The Key of Life * Still his best and most complete work in my opinion.  Cut for cut this is a musical kaleidescope of rhythms and lyrics.  A must have for any music fan. 

Songs in the Key of Life

9. Teena MarieIt Must Be Magie * Actually my second Teena Marie album.  Irons In The Fire was the first.  But with jams like Yes Indeed, (brilliant piano by Patrice Rushen) 365, Square Biz and Portugese Love… it was a wrap!  A great album from a great artist.  Go ahead Lady T!

It Must Be Magic

10. Fred Hammond and Radical for Christ – The Inner Court * At first I didn’t get the excitement others felt for this former member of the gospel group Commissioned.  His voice sort of irritated me.  But the more I listened, the more I understood this brilliant artist who literally worships God through his music.  Listening to this album is much more of an experience than anything related to normal entertainment.  And when I sing along I find myself worshipping as well.

The Inner Court

 What are your favorites?

BBG C-Notes Weekend Edition May 16-18

 

The Love Experience

Customer (Main Version)

 

 

 

 

As much as I am an “Old Head” when it comes to music.  I definitely appreciate the artist today who are original and soulful.  Jill Scott comes to mind among others.  Performers are cool and they serve their purposes for entertainment – but there is something about the “artist” of the world who inspire and make me feel things on the inside that words just can’t describe.  Artist move you, make you think, feel, reflect, they touch you whether it’s through acting on a screen or theatre production, through painting on a canvas, through instrument or dance.  With all of the technological advances and quick fix ways to imitate, I am thankful that there remains within our midst the artist who shape hearts and minds in ways that transform spirit through creative expressions.  One such artist is Raheem DeVaughn who released his second CD  called “Love Behind The Melody”.  DeVaughn is poetic, soulful, sensual, sexual, bold, imaginative, and tasteful in his mix of old school melodies and new school innovation.  I can clearly sense his love for the craft of music and the message he is looking to offer the world.   He is currently on tour and I was blessed to see him recently as an opener for Jill Scott.  He is headlining his own show as well so check him out in a city near you.  I recommend this artist to anyone out there who loves great music.  He is on my short list of potential greats for the 21st Century!  Thanks Raheem!  Keep on doing what your doing bro!

Supreme Court in California Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

File photo shows a gay couple holding hands (Reuters)

This is a fight that is not going to go away anytime soon.  One court rules over another in this politically charged issue.  Certainly the issue will be back on the forefront in the upcoming election as the canidates will be questioned about the federal or supreme court judges that either Senators McCain or (more than likely) Obama will choose.  One thing I know for sure, the nation was blindsided the last couple presidential elections because the gay issue took precedence over other issues that pertain to life outside one’s bedroom.  As a nation we cannot affored to allow poverty, high energy and food prices, an economy in recession, unemployment, housing crisis etc. to be placed on the backburner.  Let’s keep our eyes on the bigger prizes this time ya’ll!     

Happy Birthday!

A very special happy birthday to my main man… Alex McCaleb holding it down in the ATL!  He turns 15 on Saturday.  From what he tells me he is 5’9 now which would make him taller than me!  Wow!  I miss you and your brother so much!  I hope you have a great birthday!  I love you man!

 

Ahhhh, it’s May and time for graduations all over the nation.  Congratulations to my little cousin Bre’ Fields who will graduating from Collinsville High School in Collinsville, Illinois Saturday.  Sorry girl I’m gonna be working when you “walk” but I will be thinkin bout ya!

Wednesday night I got to spend some time with Rev. Michael Eric Dyson as he spoke at the St. Louis Public Library to lecutre and promote his new book, ,”April 4, 1968″ Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America.  It was a great crowd and though I have met Dr. Dyson several times hearing him speak in St. Louis and Detroit, this was probably the most memorable as he preached and broke down the last few weeks and days of the MLK’s life, his obsession with death, the political climate, and how it relates to today’s voices such as Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  As always Dyson was insightful, humorous, enlightening and above all else truthful.  From what I can see this book is a great read and I plan to dive into it soon.  I enjoyed it immensely in the front row with my boy Rich from http://www.the-rich-house.blogspot.com/

But Mike, I am still looking to get that interview from you for MY book!  I got all of YOURS and six of them are signed!  Holla at your boy!

~Have a great weekend!