Gem of the Week: “Move On Up”-Curtis Mayfield

Song: “Move On Up” Artist: Curtis Mayfield Album: Curtis (1970) The legacy of Curtis Mayfield is one stamped with eternal coolness. In addition to lead-producing blaxploitation film scores, he mixed his own records, played the guitar, piano, and sang with a kind of velvety richness paralleled by few other than Marvin Gaye or Al Green.  His…

Gem of the Week: “Bra”-Cymande

Song: “Bra” Artist: Cymande Album: Cymande (1972) As far as Afro-Brit 70s funk goes, Cymande takes the cake for cuckoo rhythms and multi-cultural dimension. Flavored with vibrant, West Indies percussion, Jamaican tempos, Calypso-ed out vocals—and hollow, electric American familiarity to neutralize the bongo-heavy atmosphere—the free-flowing 9-piece, though now dissolved, brought all their roots to the surface…

Gem of the Week: “Squonk”-Genesis

Song: “Squonk” Artist: Genesis Album: A Trick of the Tail (1976) For criminal-themed macabre swaddled in art rock bizarro–with a young Phil Collins on vocals–try Genesis’ 1976 A Trick of the Tail on for size. The obscure LP hosts Collins’ first trial in Peter Gabriel lead vocal-succession; the spark of his pop-and-beyond relevance and perhaps the band’s best…

Gem of the Week: “Apple Tree”-Erykah Badu

Song: “Apple Tree” Artist: Erykah Badu Album: Baduizm (1997) Neo-soul’s queen Erykah Badu, ever-decked out in headwrap and nasal-tinged funk vocals, entered the R&B scene during one of its most pivotal, female-dominated generations. From the mid-90s onward, the songstress’ beatnik presence, whiny tonal oddity–and preference for scratchy, old-school beats as her instrumental canvas–made her and her…

Gem of the Week: “Tell Me To My Face”-The Hollies

Song: “Tell Me To My Face” Artist: The Hollies Album: For Certain Because… (1966) Call to mind the words “British Invasion” and the brain likely floods with the Beatles—in all of their deserved regalia—or maybe the Stones…and eventually, members of the 1960s’ ‘less-exposed’ stratum: The Animals, Kinks, Zombies, or The [insert other noun-monikered band(s) here]. You…

Gem of the Week: “It Takes Two To Tango (This Is For The Girls)”-Todd Rundgren

Song: “It Takes Two To Tango (This Is For The Girls)” Artist: Todd Rundgren Album: Something/Anything? (1972) Todd Rundgren’s 1972 dual-record, magnum opus LP Something/Anything?, in all of its seeming productional bravado, Rolling Stone chart-topping acclaim, and enveloping retro mystique, actually had a simple recipe. The masterwork’s ingredients? Todd, Todd, and more Todd…–on vocals, instrumentals, and…

Gem of the Week: “Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)”-Billy Ocean

Song: “Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)” Artist: Billy Ocean Album: Suddenly (1984) Deep in the subconscious of most radio-hip ’80s teens-now-moms (specifically, mine) likely still lingers the vintage, isle-disco sounds of Trinidadian-British singer Billy Ocean and his peppy dance legacy. The R&B slash pop figure upheld a catchy status, yet remained a step above…

Gem of the Week: “You Never Change”-The Doobie Brothers

Song: “You Never Change” Artist: The Doobie Brothers Album: Minute By Minute (1978) Between the time of the Cali-birthed blues-rock band’s formation in 1970 and its hiatus 12 years later, The Doobie Brothers’ lineup experienced a lot of alterations–but all of which usually seemed for the better. The early years of Tom Johnston’s vocal leadership and Patrick…

Gem of the Week: “Four On Six”-Wes Montgomery

Song: “Four On Six” Artist: Wes Montgomery Album: Impressions (1965) Wes Montgomery is just as much ‘Jazz God’ as Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, and all the genre’s other ’50s/’60s essentials…though perhaps less often credited as so. By 1965, jazz’ turn to spicier, South American-flavored sounds and fidgety tempos had diminished the popularity of slow, softer…

Gem of the Week: “Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)”-Marvin Gaye

Song: “Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)” Artist: Marvin Gaye Album: What’s Going On (1971) While Marvin Gaye’s soulful legacy can be traced back to short and sweet Motown hits with Tammi Terrell (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “You’re All I Need To Get By”) or other snappy, mid-’60s radio classics (“I Heard It Through the…