Song of the Day: The Temptations, “Psychedelic Shack”

The other day, we had an example of "psychedelic soul," Sly & The Family Stone’s "Dance To The Music." In his effort to please Clive Davis at Columbia/Epic Records and produce music with a little more crossover appeal, kind of like what Berry Gordy was doing at Motown, Sly managed to combine soul music with elements of psychedelic rock, primarily the effects-laden sounds of the guitar (fuzz, wah-wah, chorus, phaser etc.). This proved popular with the young listeners, and by 1969 other soul acts like The Temptations, The Fifth Dimension, Diana Ross & The Supremes, and Stevie Wonder were doing the same.

The Temptations’ first foray into psychedelic soul was "Psychedelic Shack," which was released in 1969 and became a hit in 1970. The album release ended with an extended jam by The Funk Brothers, the house band at Motown. The single, shortened to around three and a half minutes, reached #7 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart in 1970.

Song of the Day: The Capitols, “Cool Jerk”

One last song of the "everyone stops but the drummer, then comes back in one at a time" genre, and maybe my favorite of the bunch (I play it all the time here), is "Cool Jerk" by the Detroit-based vocal trio The Capitols. They were (secretly) backed on this track by The Funk Brothers, the house band at Motown Records. According to one Funk Brother, the song was originally named "Pimp Jerk," which, according to Wikipedia, was inspired by "watching neighborhood pimps, who would dance in the clubs, but were too ‘cool’ to do the jerk like regular folks." Ollie McLaughlin, the producer, was concerned that stations would either ban the record or not give it sufficient airplay with that title, and the song as given its current name.

Released in 1966, it went to #2 on the R&B chart, #7 on the Hot 100, and #9 on the Canadian charts. It placed #36 on the year-end Hot 100.

Song of the Day: Sly & The Family Stone, “Dance To The Music”

My other “everyone stops but the drummer then comes back in one at a time” song is Sly & The Family Stone’s 1968 hit, “Dance To The Music.” It was the title track for their second studio album, which was influential in the formation and popularization of the “psychedelic soul” subgenre. Not long after this album came out, The Temptations produced “Psychedlic Shack,” and The Four Tops and The Impressions soon followed with songs of their own. The album itself was a response to Clive Davis’s (president of CBS records) request for a more commercial sound, similar to what Berry Gordy was doing at Motown Records. The album reached #11 on the R&B chart, but only #142 on the Hot 200 albums chart, while the song rose to #8 on the Hot 100 and #9 on the R&B chart.

If you can think of any other songs which fit this “genre,” let me know. I think I’m forgetting something…

Song of the Day: The Beginning of The End, “Funky Nassau (Part 1 & 2)”

I ended last week talking about the genre I call “everyone but the drummer stops, then everyone comes back in one at a time.” I can think of two other songs that belong to this genre: this one, and the one we’ll do tomorrow.

“Funky Nassau (Part 1)” was The Beginning of the End’s only hit. They were a Bahamian funk group built around the Munnings brothers, Ray (organ), Roy (guitar), and Frank (drums). Fred Henfield (bass) and Livingston Colebrook (guitar) rounded the quintet out. Horns for the song were provided by the Funky Nassau Horns. This reached #15 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B chart in 1971. Both parts of the song are in this video, and you’ll notice that Part 2 is a reprise of the instrumental break from Part 1. My guess is they took that part out, got rid of as much of the vocal track as they could (you can still hear it if you listen through headphones), and called it Part 2.

Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: The Beatles, “Do You Want To Know A Secret”

Jim’s prompt(s) for today is (are) “Did/Didn’t/Do/Don’t/Does/Doesn’t,” and this seemed to be a good one to go with. “Do You Want To Know A Secret” was a song off The Beatles’ first album, which depending on where you live is either Please Please Me on Parlophone (UK) or Introducing… The Beatles! on Vee Jay (US). It was released as a single in the UK in March 1963 and exactly a year later in the US.

The song was written by John Lennon, who decided to give it to George Harrison to sing because “it only has three notes and he wasn’t the best singer in the world.” Wikipedia tells us that it was inspired by the song “I’m Wishing,” from Walt Disney’s 1937 animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which John’s mother used to sing to him when he was young. Paul McCartney disputes this, saying it was a 50-50 collaboration written for George to sing. For the longest time, I thought John sang this one… Anyway, this came in at #2 on the Hot 100, kept out of the top spot by “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Until “Something” in 1969, this was the most successful Beatles song to have George doing the lead vocal.

The lyrics according to AZLyrics:

You’ll never know how much I really love you
You’ll never know how much I really care

Listen
Do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, whoa oh, oh

Closer
Let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I’m in love with you

Listen
Do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, whoa oh, oh

Closer
Let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I’m in love with you

I’ve known the secret for a week or two
Nobody knows, just we two

Listen
Do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, whoa oh, oh

Closer
Let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I’m in love with you

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday and Song of the Day for November 17, 2019.