Monday, August 29, 2011

Never ever ever

Family Brown: "Never Had a Love" (United Artists, 1977)

Did someone sample this recently? It's been stuck in my head for a few days. (EDIT: figured it out, somebody did sample it. Pretty forgettable despite a Kurupt verse that starts off very strong.)

The Family Brown was (duh) a family act composed of four Browns and a Lewis. Imaginary World, which this is from, contains a number of strong tracks. I think it was their lone LP, although they also cut a decent boogie 12" years later.

"Never Had a Love" sounds a little bit pre-chipmunked, but maybe Renee Brown just had a high voice. I wish groups still took the trouble to arrange voices the way they cascade and answer here.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Nick Ashford, R.I.P.

Nickolas Ashford died today. He was 70 and was being treated for throat cancer.

Ashford was best known for his hits with his wife Valerie Simpson, but before their own pop success they had a long track record as songwriters, like their remarkable run of hits for Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell ("Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough").

Here are a handful of my favorites:

Ray Charles: "I Don't Need No Doctor" (ABC, 1966)

So rough.

The Geminis: "A Friend of Mine" (RCA, 1966)

The chords on this always make me think of this Scott Bradford song, which is like an extra-beautiful version of Ronnie Foster's "Mystic Brew".

Marvin Gaye: "When I Feel the Need" (Motown, 196?)

So soulful.

Marlena Shaw: "California Soul" (Cadet, 1969)

So classic.

Ace Spectrum: "Don't Send Nobody Else" (Atlantic, 1974)

So classy.

Sylvester: "Over and Over" (Fantasy, 1977)

Most jubilant disco ever?

Ashford & Simpson: "It Seems to Hang On" (Warner Bros., 1978)

So smooth.

Collins & Collins: "Top of the Stairs" (A&M, 1980)

For those who want to dig deeper into their catalog as songwriters, a few years ago Kent released a cool comp that focused on their early years co-writing with Joshie "Jo" Armstead.

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