Brenda Holloway – You’ve Made Me So Very Happy (1967)

February 26, 2020 – Day 248

I like Brenda Holloway’s version of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” because it is understated compared to the bigger, louder version by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Once you hear it with Holloway’s voice and without the horns, you’ll be sold. Holloway was a co-writer of the song along with her sister Patrice, Motown stalwart Frank Wilson and Motown founder Berry Gordy. The Blood, Sweat & Tears version was also, obviously, very popular and having written a hit helped Holloway to make a comeback after she took some time away from the music industry. “‘Cause you came and you took control / You touched my very soul / You always showed me that / Loving you was where it’s at”

Jimmy Cliff – Many Rivers To Cross (1969)

February 25, 2020 – Day 247

The single from Jimmy Cliff’s 1969 self titled album has been covered by some of the greatest musicians and performers of the last 50 years – it really is one of those songs that songwriters probably wish they wrote. Lennon and Nillson famously turned up the emotion dial to 11 when Cliff already had it at a 10. It starts out with an organ which wouldn’t be out of place at a funeral but thankfully it gets a lot better from there, Cliff’s voice gives us hope that everything is going to be ok. “And this loneliness won’t leave me alone / It’s such a drag to be on your own / My woman left me and she didn’t say why / Well I guess, I have to try”

Prince – Little Red Corvette (1982)

February 24, 2020 – Day 246

The first time I ever heard a Prince song was “Little Red Corvette” and it was only a clip – there was a box set called “The Rolling Stone Collection – 25 Years Of Essential Rock.” I watched the infomercial quite a few times back in the early 90s and some of the songs that I remember being featured are Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy”, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” and Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” I liked it so much that I never bought the album for some reason – it was well before streaming services and I guess it never made the cut. I didn’t think much about Prince again until the 2007 Superbowl performance where I learned what his millions of fans already knew – he is an amazing guitar player and a great performer. “Little Red Corvette” was one of the first songs by a black artist to go into heavy rotation on MTV and it is at #108 on Rolling Stone’s list of greatest songs of all time (they put it on their own compilation so that shouldn’t be a surprise. “Believe it or not / I started to worry / I wondered if I had enough class”

War – Don’t Let No One Get You Down (1975)

February 23, 2020 – Day 245

“Don’t Let No One Get You Down” is the leadoff track from the album “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” It is co-written by War’s long time producer Jerry Goldstein who also wrote the big hit from this album “Low Rider.” Eventually Jerry Goldstein would sue for control of the name War, leaving the original members to tour under the name “The Low Rider Band.” Back in friendlier times, Goldstein and War recorded some great songs together. “Don’t Let No One Get You Down” has a latin rythym and nice harmonies and, while it isn’t iconic like “Low Rider”, it is a great song and sets the mood for the album. “Don’t let no one, no one get you down / Cause if they do, if they do I’ll be around”

The People’s Choice – I Likes To Do It (1971)

February 21, 2020 – Day 244

Although “I Likes To Do It” by People’s Choice was a minor chart hit from 1971 – #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on Billboard’s R&B chart. However, if you recognize it, it’s probably because it was sampled for De La Soul’s 1989 song “Tread Water.” It’s a perfect song to sample for a hip hop song because it’s almost an instrumental besides some improvised scatting. This was the debut single by The People’s Choice and they would go on to release 10 R&B songs that hit the charts. Instrumental.

Funkadelic – Funky Dollar Bill (1970)

February 20, 2020 – Day 243

“Funky Dollar Bill” is the sole song on which rhythym guitarist sings lead on Funkadelic’s second album “Free Your Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow.” George Clinton’s goal for this album was to record an entire album on LSD and mission accomplished, because this is some weird music. Unfortunately, it was a bit too much for the band because Tawl Ross left the band the next year due to a bad LSD trip and left the music industry. Great song though, with lyrics questioning the value we place on the mighty dollary bill in our society. “You don’t buy a life, you live a life / A father learns much too late / He was a-never home”

Death – Let The World Turn (2009/1975)

February 20, 2020 – Day 242

If you haven’t seen the documentary “A Band Called Death”, a quick synopsis is this: one of the pioneers of punk music is a band called Death formed by three brothers from Detroit, Michigan. They were funded by Columbia Records to record an album, but were shut down after 7 of 12 songs were recorded because they refused to change their band name (it was deemed uncommercial but The Grateful Dead were doing just fine in 1975.) They were rediscovered because the son of band leader David Hackney (David Hackney Jr) formed a band in tribute to his father’s band and was discovered by the eventual director of the documentary. I can’t even call this music proto-punk, because it’s every bit as punk as any other band that comes to mind from The Ramones 1976 album and on. Anti-establishment lyrics paired with power chords is punk, that’s all there is to it. “Let The World Turn” seems to be an exception at first, with singer Bobby Hackney singing over some gently strummed chords from brother David. But brother Dannis’ drums kick in soon enough with a speedy punk beat. “Can’t hold on to their established mold / Because the greed will stop their ways / Could have been just like them years ago / But then I wouldn’t be livin’ life this day”

Fugazi – Bed For The Scraping (1995)

February 19, 2020 – Day 241

“Bed For the Scraping” was one of the songs Fugazi could use to really whip the crowdy into a frenzy. A very catchy bassline with some of the best melodies Fugazi ever wrote on a primitive Televisionesque two part interlocking guitar attack. It feels like a call to action even though I”m not sure what the lyrics are about, besides the obvious repeated call of “I don’t want to be defeated.” At the end of the song both Ian and Guy are pleading for us to go outside and look around… I’m happy to do so but I’m not sure what I’m looking for. Maybe we’re supposed to find our own way from here. “My own sweet time says it’s ten twenty four / Hardly recognise simple things anymore”

Sleater-Kinney – What’s Mine Is Yours (2006)

February 18, 2020 – Day 240

Sleater-Kinney’s “major label” debut (I put the quotes because I still don’t think of Sub Pop as a major label decade after they sold part of the business to Warner Brothers) and they turned into a classic rock band! Not really, they were still more or less the band they had been for all those years but the production is so powerful that reviewers couldn’t help but compare them to hard rocking male giants of the past. If there is a song on the album which deserves the classic rock label, I’d say it is “What Mine Is Yours” because it does have all of the elements Corin Tucker wails so loud that you think her vocal chords might give out while Carrie Brownstein plays a guitar riff that would’ve sounded good on any big guitar album from the 1970s. This leads into a noise freak out and finally a Zeppelin stomp that could’ve been taken from The Song Remains The Same. No, not really, but I get the comparisons. Maybe all of the lazy comparisons bummed them out because this was their last album for 10 years. “Said the teacher in the classroom /I thing there’s something wrong / But your desks are too heavy / And your walls are too white / Your rules are all wrong / And it’s either run of fight”

Sugar – Feeling Better (1993)

February 17, 2020 – Day 239

Sugar’s Beaster EP was recorded at the same time as their classic album “Copper Blue” but these songs are wilder and less commercial although I do wonder how a few of them would’ve done on the alternative charts in the 90s. “Feeling Better” is not an atypical 90s song, with loud guitars, barely discernable lyrics and some keyboard effects to give the song a hook listeners can grab onto. There’s even some cowbell during a drum break bass solo! In the second half, on the other hand, the song takes a turn for the experimental – a wild number of overdubs to achieve a sort of sound collage – tons of overdubs of sounds and riffs from earlier in the song while lyrics from earlier in the song are repeated as Bob Mould sings a new verse directly at someone. It’s unique and a great listen and stands among Bob Mould’s best. “Try to get away but I fall back again / I get up off the floor I’m coming back for more”