Song of the Day: Earth Wind & Fire, “September” #rmf

It’s the last day of October, meaning it’s the last day of the Rocktober Music Fest. Mary has, once again, done a great job with coordinating everything and has been patient despite the fact that some of us (i.e. me) keep forgetting to post our links to her daily post. This is a fun blog hop and I encourage everyone to join us next October to play along.

For my last selection for this month, I’ll go with another band from my home town of Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire. They do a little bit of everything: R&B, funk, soul, jazz, disco, pop, dance, Latin and Afro pop. They’ve been around since 1969, been nominated for 17 Grammys and received 6, been nominated for 12 American Music Awards and won 4, they’re members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame, and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They’ve sold 90 million records worldwide, too. And everyone loves them. (Well, almost everyone, but I don’t know too many people who don’t.)

"September" was released as a single in 1978 and was included on the album The Best of Earth Wind & Fire Vol. 1 from that year. It came on the heels of their cover of "Got To Get You Into My Life" and outdid that, reaching #1 on the R&B chart, #8 on the Hot 100, and #3 on the UK Singles Chart. The Russian tribute band Leonid And Friends do a spectacular cover of the song as well.

Song of the Day: Otis Redding, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay” #rmf

An encore presentation from last year

Otis wrote "(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay" with guitarist Steve Cropper in 1967, and it seemed no one liked it: Otis’s wife Zelma didn’t like the melody, Stax cofounder Jim Stewart didn’t think it was R&B, and bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn thought it might damage Stax’s reputation. However, Otis wanted to expand his style, and they recorded the song with backing by Booker T. & The MG’s, Isaac Hayes, and The Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love) in November, completing the overdubs in early December, right before his untimely death in a plane crash. Stax released it on its Volt label in 1968, and it became the first posthumous release to reach #1 on the Hot 100. It also reached #1 on the R&B chart.

Song of the Day: Booker T. & The MG’s, “Hang ’em High” #rmf

We’re getting ready to wind up this year’s Rocktober, and I wanted to get a few of my favorites in at the end. Truth is, they’ve all been favorites, but these are special.

First up is the house band at Stax, Booker T. & The MG’s: Booker T. Jones on organ and piano, Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass (replacing their original bassist, Lewie Steinberg, who left in 1965), and Al Jackson Jr. on drums. In addition to playing on many of the Stax hits, they had a number of instrumental hits on their own, beginning with "Green Onions" in 1962, maybe their best-known song. I chose a personal favorite, "Hang ‘Em High," from 1968, theme song from the Clint Eastwood movie from that year. It reached #9 on the Hot 100 and #35 on the R&B chart.

Song of the Day: Rufus Thomas, “Walking The Dog” #rmf

Rufus Thomas was an R&B/soul/funk/blues singer, songwriter, comedian, disk jockey and dancer who recorded for Stax throughout the ’60’s and ’70’s. His most famous songs were his novelty dance songs, such as "Do The Funky Chicken," "Do The Funky Penguin," and his highest-charting single, "Walking The Dog," which reached #10 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the R&B chart in 1963.

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Song of the Day: Sam & Dave, “Soul Man” #rmf

Sam Moore and Dave Prater recorded for Stax Records from 1965 to 1968, during which time they recorded 7 Top Ten hits on the R&B chart, two of which crossed over to become Top Ten hits on the Hot 100, "Soul Man" and "I Thank You." "Soul Man" was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter and released as a single in late 1967, reaching #1 on the R&B chart and #2 on the Hot 100. Their backup band was Booker T. & The MG’s, and the phrase "play it, Steve" was directed at guitarist Steve Cropper, who also backed The Blues Brothers; John Belushi says it as sort of a tribute.

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