Friday, April 09, 2004

"Caravan of Love," Isley Jasper Isley (11/30/85)
No, this ain’t an Isleys single, and that ain’t Ronald on leads. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an unexpected gem from, frankly, the not-quite-as-talented branches of the Isley family tree. If this had been the theme for Hands Across America, it might’ve done better - HAA, I mean. B+

"Part-Time Lover," Stevie Wonder (10/19/85)
"Lover" roughly splits the difference between the genius of "That Girl" and the wretchedness of "I Just Called...," so it’ll be graded accordingly. B-

"You Are My Lady," Freddie Jackson (10/5/85)
Still a wedding classic – for suckas. Just as he used his prodigious gifts to make some genuine classics, Jackson was also prone to the occasional bathetic lapse, this being one of them. This "Lady" is just mediocre. And when you set the bar with "Rock Me Tonight," you need to follow it up with greatness. B-

Monday, April 05, 2004

Rock Me Tonight now has an older brother, Doing It To Death (Part 1). Of course I couldn't stop here, so I'm concurrently taking on the '70s #1s now, as well.

Bandwidth issues dictating taking down the download of "Oh Sheila" after not even 24 hours; I apologize, and will try to get it back up later in the month.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

"Oh Sheila," Ready For The World (9/21/85)
Not only is this the bomb, it's the motherfucking bomb. Everyone knows what a superb Prince rip this is - i.e., the generic version - but what I'm not sure if everyone realizes is how incredibly salacious lead singer Melvin Riley sings. Even when he's singing about love, he sounds dirty, and that's what gets the best RFTW singles over (they had no "best" albums, trust). That and their identikit Purple instrumentation, that is. Unbelievably, "Sheila" is almost on par with any R&B #1 Prince himself had in the '80s. Almost. But this ain't horseshoes, so almost is enough (and if you don't believe me, listen for yourself). A+

"Cherish," Kool & the Gang (9/14/85)
Oh, no we shouldn't, not with this dreck soundtracking the proceedings. D+

"Saving All My Love For You," Whitney Houston (9/7/85)
C'mon, really sit down and listen to this like you're hearing it for the first time. It's astounding, this 21-year-old (as she was when she recorded her debut) singing with such power and knowing when to pull back - that's the key. Come back to the five and dime, Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston. A-

"Freeway of Love," Aretha Franklin (8/3/85)
She never went away, but thanks to producer Narada Michael Walden catching lightning in a bottle, this marked one of the bigger comebacks of the decade (especially in the pop world, where she'd not hit the top 10 in 11 years). "Freeway" is a testament to the power of the voice - especially this voice, that of the Queen. In the hands of most anyone else recording at the time, it would've been, in all likelihood, a wholly average single. But hearing the joy Re pours into it changes everything. [Docked a bit, however, for its incredibly bland production.] B+

"Save Your Love (For #1)," Rene & Angela (7/20/85)
Significant for one very significant reason: this is basically the first song to top the R&B charts featuring a rap (it's an uncredited performance by no less than Kurtis Blow). Rene Moore and Angela Winbush (now the wife of Ronald Isley) specialized in machine-driven funk-lite and sumptuous ballads; they did better before and after this fairly pedestrian slice of R&B, very much of its times. But Blow, Kurtis, Blow! B

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