October 14, 2010, - 1:35 am

Old School Music of the Day – One of My Classic Faves (What’s Yours?)

By Debbie Schlussel

Today, I attended a couple of critics movie screenings, including, “127 Hours,” starring hot (and Jewish) actor, James Franco.  It’s about Aron Ralston, the Colorado mountain climber who self-amputated his arm to save his life while stuck under a rock in the wilderness.  Can’t post my review until it debuts in early November.  But one of my favorite songs, Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” is on the soundtrack.  It’s part of my workout music, and it’s hard to believe that Withers–who, in my opinion, is one of the most undersung singer/songwriters in contemporary pop music–is 72.

I love funk and R&B, and the ultra-talented Withers–a nine-year U.S. Navy veteran–wrote and performed some great songs in those genres in addition to “Lovely Day,” including, “Lean on Me,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  Earlier this year, the New Yorker did an interesting profile on Withers. There have been many iterations and covers of “Lovely Day” over the years, including S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.’s version and a total peversion of the song by Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.  But none tops  or even approaches the original Bill Withers 1977 song (though I like Withers’ 1980 remix, which is sped up with some extra drum beats added).  Love his singing voice.

What’s your favorite funk and R&B music from the ’70s?

Get Your MP3 Version of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” . . .

Bonus Video (Father Plays Piano & Sings “Lovely Day” With His Daughters – Cute):

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27 Responses

Rocky Mountain High by John Denver…… yeah, I know…

sharon on October 14, 2010 at 1:43 am

Actually, “Just the Two of Us’ ” main credit was saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., with Withers duly credited with vocals. But aside from that, Mr. Withers’ pieces hold up as much today as they did when first created. (I’d also include “Use Me” in that list.) Not to mention his original recordings topping any and all covers, permutations, etc.

But there are quite a few on my list of favorites . . . musically if nothing else . . . the Chi-Lites’ “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl”; “Love’s Theme” by the Love Unlimited Orchestra; “TSOP” by MFSB (irrespective of the subsequent odyssey of Kenny Gamble); such hits by the Spinners as “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” “One of a Kind (Love Affair),” “The Rubberband Man,” and their duet with Dionne Warwicke, “Then Came You”; “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations; “Hot Pants” by James Brown (albeit the original 45 version on the People label, not his re-recording for his first Polydor LP of the same name); “Dazz” by Brick; Al Green’s string of hits (from “Let’s Stay Together” up to “L-O-V-E (Love)”; “Be Thankful for What You Got” by William DeVaughn (a true one-hit wonder); Stevie Wonder’s 1972-77 string of hits (before his music got way too precious, synthetic and sterile for its own good – and I’m not talking on the political end) . . .

Then there was what was referred to in the ’60′s and early ’70′s as “deep soul” which is a euphemism for such music as in the South (and which was exemplified by the Stax/Volt staple of artists, other places such as New Orleans and Muscle Shoals, and such individuals as Bobby “Blue” Bland, the recently deceased Solomon Burke, and Bettye LaVette). One can presume that today’s so-called “R&B” is “shallow soul,” given the emphasis on “bling” and “the gangsta’ life” and what one can regularly hear from, say, Jay-Z or Beyonce or any other such pretenders.

ConcernedPatriot on October 14, 2010 at 2:07 am

    CP, you listed some great tunes there! TSOP by MFSB is my theme song! Everyone should have a theme song!

    Skunky on October 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I liked Earth Wind and Fire. Their live shows were something to behold with costumes and their other routines. Their members were also top-flight musicians and they performed complex arrangements effortlessly, especially when the Emotions joined the group.

I suspect her politics today aren’t very good, but I also liked Brenda Holloway — Operator, Operator, You Made Me So Very Happy, etc. I also liked Carolyn Crawford, also from Detroit, not as well known, who sang similar songs in the early 60s; most of her songs were written by Smokey.

James Brown’s best album in my opinion was Live at the Apollo from 1962. He does an extended version of Lost Someone that is out of this world on that album.

Little Al on October 14, 2010 at 2:39 am

Well my favorite classic tunes are Fred Astaire’s “The Babbit and the Bromide” & Bob Wills-Texas Playboy’s “Take Me Back To Tulsa”!

“A nation is identified by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on October 14, 2010 at 7:21 am

Not known as a “funk” band, but try “Funk 48″ from the James Gang (off of their 1st album “Yer Album”)–I’ve listened to it 4 or 5 times this AM.
Also, I like Withers’ original version of “Lovely Day”; I’m just not into remixes.

Max A on October 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

“What’s your favorite funk and R&B music from the ’70s?” – Gotta be Humble Pie’s “Smokin’”, but then I’m a big Steve Marriott fan.

Tanstaafl on October 14, 2010 at 10:06 am

Good thread, I had forgotten about the songs mentioned above.. terrific..There is one song that personally I could never stand and still cannot stand today. It is “I shot the sheriff”.. For some reason that song sends prickly chills up my spine, and not in a good way. I never warmed up to it. It is funny how that can work the opposite way too.

sharon on October 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

    I could see what ‘sharon’ says about “I Shot the Sheriff” – the lyrics seem to be told from the POV of a cop killer, essentially. I do lean more towards Eric Clapton’s recording, though.

    I would sign off on EW&F (I’ve quite a few of their tunes on 45). Ditto for the Isleys’ “That Lady,” as well as their “Fight the Power.” And besides “Love Rollercoaster,” there was also from the Ohio Players “Fire.”

    Another fave from the ’70′s is the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” – which sort of struck me as an “answer song” to Pink Floyd’s “Money” (given Debbie’s recent post about the latter’s writer, Roger Waters). Plus their “I Love Music” which seemed to be an answer to The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It)”; the smokin’ “Back Stabbers”; and “Love Train.”

    And who could forget the range of Marvin Gaye hits from “What’s Going On” to “Let’s Get It On.”

    ConcernedPatriot on October 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    There is one song that personally I could never stand and still cannot stand today. It is “I shot the sheriff”.

    I can’t stand it either. ALSO, it is the most played-to-death song in entertainment history.

    Miranda Rose Smith on October 15, 2010 at 3:02 am

Murray Head’s ‘Superstar’?

Norman Blitzer on October 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

Lovely Day is also my favorite Bill Withers song. Grandma’s Hands is a close second.
The Isley Brothers have a few: Who’s That Lady?, Summer Wind, Voyage to Atlantis and Climbing Up the Ladder, to name a few.
If you want funk/rock, try Fire by Mother’s Finest.
Teena Marie: Square Biz, Sucka for Your Love, etc.
As stated in a previous post, Earth, Wind and Fire took the genre to a new level of musicianship. Mighty, Mighty is a killer tune.

Gregg on October 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

“On the Way Home” by the GREAT Neil Young.

Signed: Neil_Young_at_Heart_2006

As goes on October 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Hey Debbie, very nice post and I’m going to quote Mr. Withers on my thoughts of you:

It ain’t too bad the way you’re using me
Cause I sure am using you to do the things you do

richardporter on October 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I know when I want some great 70s funk I listen to John Denver and Fred Astaire.

One of my all time favorites is “Move on Up” by Curtis Mayfield. I’m at work right now, but when I get home I’ll find my YouTube link of a live version that’s just astounding. Of course, there is also “Superfly” by Mayfield, too. I loved funk when “The Man” was putting down everyone!

“Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players of course.

“Get Down Tonite” and others by KC and The Sunshine Band.

Of course a ton from James Brown.

He’s not from the 70s but I loved Prince.

Thanks a lot, Debbie. Great reminder about music when music was music, and not “pretty” people lip synching and rapping about thuggin’.

Jeff_W on October 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Oh, oh, oh…..sorry to post yet again, but I just can’t forget to post “Theme from Shaft” by the late, great Isaac Hayes.

That Debbie Schlussel, she’s one bad….SHUT YO MOUTH!!!…I’m talkin’ ’bout Debbie, now!

Jeff_W on October 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

“Disco Duck” by Rick Dees, always put my dates in the mood. oh yeah.

Truth on October 14, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, The Temptations

Scott Spiegel on October 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Sean R—(Bob Wills is immortal, albeit dated)

[L]ittle bee sucks the blossom, big bee gets the honey,
Dark man picks the cotton, White man gets the money.

#1 Vato on October 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm

“Drowndin’ in de Sea ob Lub”, by Joe Simon. :)

Graty Slapchop on October 14, 2010 at 3:56 pm

No offence Debbie, but first you post the “Enhanced” version of “Summer Breeze” and now this? I’ll never understand why you and so many others seem to prefer all these old classics with a lot of unnecessary electronic percussion added on to them. To me, it’s a bit like favoring the Mona Lisa with a mustache painted on to it. Here is the version I like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYi7uEvEEmk

Irving on October 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Tower of Power, of course. They blow the rest of them away. AND they’re still going strong, tighter and funkier than ever…

Funky Kop on October 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Oh, I love Vehicle by the Ides of March, What You See Is What You Get by the Dramatics and Are You Ready? By PGE!!

Skunky on October 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Since The Dramatics was mentioned, I’d add “In the Rain” to the list of faves. Plus Luther Ingram’s “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right”; “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul; and Billy Preston’s big hits “Outa-Space,” “Will It Go Round in Circles,” “Space Race” and “Nothing from Nothing.”

ConcernedPatriot on October 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Oldies-but-Goldies Faves? Lets see. “Sometimes in Winter” and “Spinning Wheel.” “Bobby Goldsboro”s “Honey” and “Danny.” “Sugar, Sugar,” by the Archies. “Starry, Starry Night.” “Seasons in the Sun.” “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” “You’re My Guardian Angel.” “Top of the World.” “Close to You.” “My Way.” “I’ve got to be Me.” ANYTHING by Johnny Cash or Louis Armstrong, they should both rest in peace.

Miranda Rose Smith on October 15, 2010 at 2:58 am

    How could I forget “Smile a Little Smile for Me, Rosemarie,” “You Light Up My Life,” “Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall?”

    Miranda Rose Smith on October 17, 2010 at 5:39 am

What’s with that video of the obese black dad(?) singing with the kids? It’s supposed to be cute and/or inspiring? If so, please explain why, exactly.

united states of sharia on October 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm

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