A Selection from my Personal Playlist (Vevo wherever possible) – Enjoy!
Santana was 52 when the Supernatural album was released. He had been performing his unique fusion for more than 30 years. True as ever to his sound and his message Supernatural broke through to new audiences and huge chart success around the world, reminding us all what an arresting and inspiring artist he really is. Santana, you give us inspiration and courage. Thank you 🙂
For me this is one of those once heard never forgotten songs. It just has the ooze.
Fela Kuti’s original given wonderful gravitas by Hugh Masakela and his band
Music is never just music. In Pansa Pansa play Fela Kuti’s “underground spiritual game!” as he performs with Africa 70, playing, celebrating, prophesying and calling forward love and courage in Berlin 1978
Thank you Neil for introducing me to Steely Dan back in the 70s and early 80s. Took me a while to understand what I was listening to. The with, the songwriting, the fusion of genres, Donald Fagen’s authentic voice, and the panoply of incredible musical talent gracing the Dan’s studios. Now there music is, for may, layered with so many associations that it has become part of me. Thank you Becker and Fagan and all your wonderful crew. Inimitable 🙂
A sweet reminder from Nikos Vertis that music takes us to a place that is timeless
Hats off to Craig David. He really pushed the envelope in Soul / RnB and changed the rules. For a UK artist to change the direction of an American genre is an incredible achievement. Beautiful mood in Rendezvous. And a great soul – from just down the road from me in Southampton! So I feel like a stakeholder in his outstanding success. Bravo Craig!
A double whammy (pardon the pun) of George Michael – just to remind us what it was that made him sooo goood!! Soul, physical swagger, sheer musicality and a love for his audience – George exuded it all so easily. An amazing talent. A musical great. Vale George XX.
Many have covered this iconic Sam Cooke classic – Al Green, Tina Turner, and many besides. Given Sam Cooke’s unique and arresting vocal you might ask why any artist would even attempt the song! It takes a great artist to master another artist’s song, and not only ace it but bring their own sensitivity to it without in any way detracting from the integrity of the song. This is exactly what Seal does here. This is Seal’s “A Change is Gonna Come!” Bravo brother 🙂
When a performer projects a song through their own being, and imbues it with their spirit, and their sensuality something beautiful happens. Combine that with talent and swagger. You’ve got the ooze. Especially if…you’re Marvin Gaye.
In this moment in Marvin’s career after he had creatively resurrected himself and taken real ownership of his own music and his message. His style in this performance is that of an adult man – in a way that adulthood and maturity are not often embraced and projected in popular music today. Yet in 1976, when he gave this performance, Marvin Gaye was only 37 years old. The confidence and assuredness we see in this performance is that of a “born again” artist – in the sense that by 1976 Marvin had lived one life, come to the end of it, and reawakened to a new one. He was now determined to seize the day, make his contribution – and have his fun. For Marvin this second burst of momentum in his life took him to great places in his creativity but also set him in a darker direction in his private life. Knowing all this as you listen makes this song about living life while he have it, and his soulful performance if it, all the more poignant. Enjoy!
I grew up on Steely Dan so Michael McDonald’s voice was in my living room long before I knew who he was. Discovering him was a wonderful moment of recognition. Watching him live in Hammersmith in the 90s was an absolute revelation. What a pro! Just a beautiful matchless voice with intelligence and soul. And rhythmically, hmmmmm! Michael, never stop!
I can so hear MJ singing this. But when Robin Thicke offered the song to Michael he didn’t take it, choosing another Robin Thicke song instead for his next album. This eventuated well for Robin’s own profile because he totally aces this one himself!
I love Mary J Blige and George Michael’s cover of this. But Stevie’s original has the preach and frames the meaning of the song beautifully. And you can’t top Stevie Wonder. A great spirit.
Can you hear Michael Jackson singing this? Yes, it was written for him but am so glad these two icons took the song and did this with it.
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, this is a song for a mature singer. It was inspired by the Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong classic, Papa was a Rolling Stone – and you can hear it in brooding set up of the song. Here Mick Jagger, at 73 years old, still the best frontman in the world – performing with the boys to an audience of 700,000. And they don’t coast it. They give it their all. Awe inspiring!
Get on up on up off the floor and enjoy…Janice Marie Johnson @64 delivering on a song that she co-wrote with band-mate Perry Kibble. Janice wrote the song to tease motionless audiences into dancing. The song hit for her band A Taste of Honey in 1978 winning them Grammies for the Best New Artist and Best Rhythm & Blues Song. It was Capitol Records’ first ever Platinum Single. In this performance Linda Taylor on lead guitar is an absolute treat. 40 years on from its release, watch as Janice plays bass, sings, and MC’s – all in heels. This lady is funky! Love the groove 🙂
I first saw Jeff Pevar performing in 1986 with Ray Charles. Oh my goodness he has gone on and on maturing. This performance is from 2009. Small gig, humble production – just his voice, his guitar and a high hat – but you know you’re in safe hands. Not that he won’t take you to the edge. Showing what he’s got!
A song remembering a time when the world was our oyster. From his first solo album Nightfly, it’s Donald Fagan.
Two awesome talents with legendary voices – Jennifer Hudson and Tom Jones. BTW in this spontaneous moment Tom Jones is 79 years old! I love the love and respect among the artists as these two greats sing together. Watch and let your jaw drop!
As for a lot of people Windows 10 connected me with the amazing Habib Koite. Wonderful sound. Arresting presence – and in translation – great songs!
If you missed the opportunity to witness one of Fela Kuti’s prophetic performances then don’t miss Seun Kuti. The apple has not fallen far from the tree. Great skill. Great spirit! Seun and his father’s band knock his dad’s song out of the park!
I remember the first time I heard this song at the age of 14. Was completely arrested by it. I didn’t know much about love at that age. But I knew this was a love song. Billy Preston and Syreeta’s beautiful vocals imbue this song with such sweetness and sincerity it still touches me deeply when I hear it.
Albert Collins’ final album “Iceman” was an outstanding musical swansong to a 43 year career in Rhythm N Blues. What made it fresh and accessible to a wider pop audience had nothing to do with alloying the musical tradition in any way. It was pure force of talent and integrity in performance. The energy he injected into his telecaster sound, tuned to an open F minor, gave Albert Collins’ performances an immediately recognizable sound and grabbing the attention of even the most passive audience.
Albert was not a cool performer but had a way of showing his audiences that he was enjoying working hard to entertain them with each song. Co-produced by Albert and James Gaines the album “Iceman” captured that spirit and delivered a sound that was at the same time crisp, raw and LOUD!! Watch this performance and you’ll understand why the great Jimi Hendrix pointed to a young Albert Collins and said, “That’s a guy to watch!” Today, more than 25 years since his premature passing, Hendrix is still right! Watch and enjoy!
Something about James Ingram’s voice made him feel like family to me. He may have lacked the swagger that a singer in the age of TV really needed and this may have kept his international profile lower than he deserved. But his talent is undeniable. Any artist who can stand up and sing next to Michael McDonald or be backed by Luther Vandross has to have something pretty special. And James had it. In spades. Missing him xx
Love the mood and how the dance captures it
Love this message from a great voice!
I was late to the game with George Michael. This live MTV unplugged performance got my attention.
A great Aussie performer, just having fun! My kids’ favourite!
Yes they’re white – which caught me by surprise first time I saw them. But they’re certainly not average.
This was one of those pull over and stop the car songs. Great talent. Simultaneously raw, abandoned and precise.
We were all scared of Grace – here’s why!
Timeless and sweet!
A wonderful, timeless and feel-good celebration of boogie. Love the spirit of Maurice White, a found of many uplifting hits – this one included!
Great artist. Great song. Timeless.
How many layers can a song have? There’s too much going on here to name. I find this arrangement and performance completely arresting. There are performances in which the artist looks at the audience, connects with them emotionally, and gives them a performance. Not here. Here Joni immerses herself in the moment of the song and pulls us in to a very private, intimate place of empathy and connection. Just stunning!
This is the song that Cliff released under a pseudonym – Black Knight. It charted and reached #10 in the UK before radio stations worked out who it was. Other than BBC Radio 2, mainstream radio stations with contemporary pop music mixes had a policy of not playing Cliff Richard “because nobody wants to listen to him.” Black Knight proved them wrong and there was some eating of humble pie. Cliff did this to call out ageism in popular radio. You’ll see from my list, I’m not an ageist. In fact I love longevity and am inspired by it – hence Cliff’s inclusion on my list!
Tony Joe White wrote several songs carried by Tina. This song, close to her blues roots was one of Tina’s favourites.
Many a true word spoken in song
The Godfather of Soul at the top of his game in 1974 in Kinshasa
Keep slaying it long enough and a whole new generation will realise how good you are. And you can’t help but feel the message of one love that underlies all of this great man’s work. Bravo Santana!
This may seem a left-fielder but I want to give a nod must to the vocal styles that preceded Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll and the 60s revolution. Crooners had their own attitude and edge. Think the South African / British Al Bowly and, here the American singer and voice-actor, Cliff Edwards. This song has a unique emotional power to it. And the reason is context.
When Disney’s “Pinocchio” was released the year was 1940. The world was entering the second year of a terrifying and history-defining war. Wives were separated from husbands never knowing if they would return from the theatre of war. In Britain children were separated from their parents and billeted in rural areas with strangers. These were the wives and children who sat and watched Pinocchio – all in desperate need of escape, consolation and hope. In the theatre auditoriums of 1940 I cannot imagine that many would have listened dry-eyed as Cliff Edwards took this beautiful song to its ultra falsetto conclusion. So sweet and so sincere. If you didn’t know the story before, listen again and rediscover the song in a new light.
I can honestly say that this song by Pink Floyd – along with the entire Dark Side of the Moon album – changed my life! And it is astounding how closely the band recreated the sound and ambience of this iconic album four decades later and live at Earls Court. Vale!