Retro Music 38

No apologies for featuring another Motown song from Holland/Dozier/Holland. This 1967 hit from the Isley Brothers was Motown magic, and it sounds as fresh to me today as it did back then.

This old heart of mine been broke a thousand times
Each time you break away, I fear you’ve gone to stay
Lonely nights that come, memories that flow, bringing you back again
Hurting me more and more
Maybe it’s my mistake to show this love I feel inside
‘Cause each day that passes by you got me
Never knowing if I’m coming or going, but I, I love you
This old heart darling, is weak for you
I love you, yes, I do
These old arms of mine miss having you around
Makes these tears inside start a-falling down
Always with half a kiss
You remind me of what I miss
Though I try to control myself
Like a fool I start grinnin’ ’cause my head starts spinnin’ ’cause I
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you, yes I do, yes I do
Ooh, I try hard to hide, my hurt inside
This old heart of mine always keeps me cryin’
The way you’re treating me, leaves me incomplete
You’re here for the day, gone for the week now
But if you leave me a hundred times
A hundred times I’ll take you back
I’m yours whenever you want me
I’m not too proud to shout it, tell the world about it ’cause I
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you
This is old heart, darling is weak for you
I love you, yes I do, yes I do
I love you, yes I do, darling is weak for you
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Brian Holland / Edward Jr. Holland / Lamont Dozier / Sylvia Moy
This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Retro Music 37

It was very rare for me to buy a completely instrumental record in my teens, but this 1967 release was an exception. Earl Van Dyke was the house keyboard player for Motown Records, and his organ playing on this song is great! Listening now, it sounds not unlike the theme to a contemporary TV show, but it brings back great memories for me when I was 15.

Retro Music 36

This song was the soundtrack to my summer in 1963. Another marvellous composition from Holland, Dozier, Holland, performed perfectly by Martha and The Vandellas. Released on the Gordy label in the USA, in Britain it was a Motown record. I cannot keep still when I hear this song, even now. My legs are jiggling away as I type this!

Whenever I’m with him
Something inside
Starts to burning
And I’m filled with desire
Could it be a devil in me
Or is this the way love’s supposed to be?
It’s like a heat wave
Burning in my heart (It’s like a heat wave)
I can’t keep from crying (It’s like a heat wave)
It’s tearing me apart
Whenever he calls my name
Soft, low, sweet, and plain
Right then, right there, I feel that burning flame
Has high blood pressure got a hold on me
Or is this the way love’s supposed to be?
It’s like a heat wave
Burning in my heart (It’s like a heat wave)
I can’t keep from crying (It’s like a heat wave)
It’s tearing me apart
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh, heat wave
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh, heat wave
Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face
I can’t explain it, don’t understand it
I ain’t never felt like this before
Now that funny feeling has me amazed
Don’t know what to do, my head’s in a haze
It’s like a heat wave
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
(But it’s all right, girl)
Oh
(Go ahead, girl)
Yeah, yeah
(Well, it’s all right, girl)
Oh
(Can’t miss it, that’s love, girl)
I feel it burning
(Don’t pass up this chance)
Right here in my heart
(It sounds like a true romance)
Don’t you know it’s like a heat wave?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (Burning, burning)
Oh (Burning, burning, burning)
Yeah, don’t you know it’s like a heat wave?
Burning right here (Burning, burning, burning)
In my heart (Burning, burning, burning)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (Burning, burning)
Oh (Burning, burning, burning)
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Lamont Dozier / Brian Holland / Eddie Holland
Heat Wave lyrics © Stone Agate Music

Retro Music 28

My 12 year-old self would never forgive me if I didn’t include this 1964 Motown hit from one of their most successful groups.

Another songwriting success for the talented trio of Holland, Dozier, Holland.

Baby, baby, baby don’t leave me
Ooh, please don’t leave me all by myself
I’ve got this burning, burning, yearning feelin’ inside me
Ooh, deep inside me and it hurts so bad
You came into my heart (baby, baby) so tenderly
With a burning love (baby, baby)
That stings like a bee (baby, baby)
Now that I surrender (baby, baby) so helplessly
You now want to leave (baby, baby)
Ooh, you wanna leave me (baby, baby)
Ooh (baby, baby)
Baby, baby, where did our love go?
Ooh, don’t you want me?
Don’t you want me no more (baby, baby)?
Ooh, baby
Baby, baby, where did our love go?
And all your promises of a love forevermore!
I’ve got this burning, burning, yearning feelin’ inside me
Ooh, deep inside me, and it hurts so bad
Before you won my heart (baby, baby)
You were a perfect guy
But now that you got me
You wanna leave me behind (baby, baby)
Ooh, baby
Baby, baby, baby don’t leave me
Ooh, please don’t leave me all by myself (baby, baby)
Ooh baby, baby, baby
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Brian Holland / Edward Jr. Holland / Lamont Dozier
Where Did Our Love Go lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Retro Music 20

More Motown, and another song from the dream team of Holland, Dozier, Holland. This time from 1966, released on the VIP label, part of The Motown group of companies, and performed by The Elgins. This was a top favourite song of mine, and remains so to this day. This song was reissued in 1971, when it became a hit for the second time.

I’ve cried through many endless nights
Just holding my pillow tight
Then you came into my lonely days
With your tender and your sweet ways
Now I don’t know where you come from, baby
Don’t know where you’ve been, my baby
Heaven must have sent you
Into my arms
Now in the mornin’ when I awake
There’s a smile upon my face
You’ve touched my heart with gladness
Wiped away all my sadness
So long I’ve needed love right near me
A soft voice to cheer me
Heaven must have sent you, honey
Into my life, ooh
It’s heaven in your arms
Boy, it’s the sweetness of your charms
Makes me love you more each day
In your arms I wanna stay
Wanna thank you for the joy you brought me
Thank you for the things you taught me
Thank you for holding me close
When I needed you the most
Now I don’t know much about you, baby
But I know I can’t live without you
Heaven must have sent you
To love only me, ooh
It’s heaven in your arms
Boy, it’s the sweetness of your charms
Makes me love you more each day
In your arms I wanna stay
It’s heaven in your arms
It’s the sweetness of your charms
It makes me love you more each day
In your arms I wanna stay
It’s heaven in your arms
Boy, it’s the sweetness of your charms
Makes me love you more each day
In your arms I wanna stay
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Brian Holland / Edward Holland / Edward / Jr. Holland / Jr. / Lamont Dozier / Lamont Herbert Dozier
Heaven Must Have Sent You lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Significant Songs (161)

Going To A Go-Go

In 1965, I was only 13 years old. I desperately wanted to go to clubs and listen to music in them, but I was too young. I didn’t have enough pocket money for the entrance fees, and I would have certainly been refused entry anyway. So I had to make do with jigging around in my bedroom, imagining I was in one of the cool clubs of the day. I would have to wait for another three years until I looked old enough to get in, and by that time, they were playing other stuff. But the drum intro of this great feel-good Motown song always got my heart racing, and my legs moving. It still does today, even though my club days are a lifetime behind me.

The group that I knew as The Miracles later became Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Not long after that Smokey went solo, and had a string of huge hits. He is now 77 years old, and his song writing career has had a huge influence on music across many genres. You may have to be a ‘certain age’ to really appreciate this one, I confess. But you can’t deny the youthful spirit in this memorable song.

Soulful sounds of my youth

Continuing what seems to be a musical theme this week, I am recalling some of the soul songs, and dance classics, of my teenage years. They are all from America on this occasion, as the main alternatives here at the time were the Mersey Sound, or belated Rock and Roll. I doubt that this selection will attract that wide an audience, or receive a great deal of appreciation, as it is all in something of a niche market. However, as a memento of the parties and clubs of my youth, it is a priceless personal souvenir.

Tell it like it is. ( 1967) The ultimate slow dance track, from the smooth voice of Mr Aaron Neville. I was not much past fifteen when this was released, and I have played it regularly ever since, for over forty-six years.

Louie Louie. Not the original 1957 version, but the 1963 release by The Kingsmen. This became a Mod classic in the UK during the early 1960’s. Covered many times since, nobody beats the early funky feel of this dance-floor essential. Despite sounding like a group of black singers, with very soulful lead vocals, they were actually all white, and appeared strangely camp, clad in cardigans, and wearing caps. Can’t beat the 60’s!

Seven Days Is Too Long. (1967) This simple soul dance hit from Chuck Wood became a big hit in the UK, on more than one occasion. It has become one of the hall of fame records for fans of so-called ‘Northern Soul’, the American records played almost exclusively in clubs in the North of England. Even at 61, I cannot keep my feet still!

Nothing Can Stop Me. (1965) Snappy suited, with a Motown look and feel, Gene Chandler got feet tapping with this one. Better known for the huge hit ‘Duke of Earl’, Chandler moved on to greater things with this track, another adopted by those Northern Soul aficionados.

Barefootin’. Again in 1965, Robert Parker ensured that dance floors were filled with this upbeat recording. The subject of a few covers over the years, this is the original, and best, from the man himself.

Cool Jerk. A year later, in 1966, The Capitols released this one-off. Almost in its own genre, it is still undoubtedly a classic; as the numerous cover versions, and inclusion in film soundtracks, can testify.

Comin’ Home Baby. This 1962 song, by Mel Torme, is not a soul song at all. It could be called Jazz, possibly even Swing. Looking back at Mel through modern eyes, he seems somewhat ridiculous. Sharp suit, bulging eyes, college-boy haircut, and snapping fingers clutching a cigarette. But he was the epitome of cool in 1962, and to my mind, this is still one of the coolest records ever made. This video is like watching a history documentary, but they are still doing this sort of crap on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. Perhaps better to not watch him though. Close your eyes and listen.

I Get The Sweetest Feeling.  Already well known for ‘Reet Petite’, and ‘Higher and Higher’, Jackie Wilson made the journey from Doo-wop, to modern soul, throughout the 50’s and 60’s. This track is on my list for the memories it brings back to me, from 1968. His influence is self explanatory, when you recall the Van Morrison song ‘Jackie Wilson Said’, recorded in 1972.

When I’m Gone. Saving the best until last perhaps, this short love song from the wonderful Brenda Holloway sums up the early years of Tamla Motown, from 1965, and I simply love it.

There are many, many more, but this is just a snapshot of the party tunes of my youth. I enjoyed them, then and now, and I hope that you do too.

Pete’s playlist (1)

I have tried to imagine that I had to make up a CD, using the tracks that I listen to a lot. These are not necessarily my all-time favourite tracks, and I do not assert that they are the best songs ever written, far from it; neither are they always the best songs from a particular artist’s repertoire. They are just the tracks that I play a lot, select from compilations. or choose to play first, when listening to a CD. They do not really encompass my wide taste in music, represent a special time in my life, or have deep meaning. I just enjoy them. This will be a long post, 20 tracks to get through. So, bear with me…

When Doves Cry. Love him or hate him, Prince, the diminutive musician from Minneapolis, has talent, and that cannot be denied. This song has an opening riff that gets you from the first seconds, and goes on to be a complete pop song of the 1980’s, despite having no bass line, and adding orchestral ‘clashes’. It was at number one in America for five weeks, and became a massive hit all over the world. And for good reason.

This Is Your Life. Banderas are virtually unknown today, and to be fair, almost unknown in 1990, when the two female singers formed this short-lived duo. Previously backing Jimmy Sommerville in the Communards, they released an album in 1991, titled ‘Ripe’. It was to be their only collaboration, and made little impact on the music scene, with the chosen track reaching number 16, in the UK top twenty. Yet it is a highly infectious song, with a great chorus, sampled beats, and a crystal clear vocal from Caroline Buckley. The lyrics have good intentions, and a meaning that can be identified by any listener. One from the archives, as good as anything around today.

Ordinary People. This song, co-written with Will-i-am from the black eyed peas, was a massive hit in 2004, for John Legend, previously unknown to me until that year. It is the strongest song on his album release ‘Get Lifted’, and won a Grammy award. The simple construction, piano and voice format, alongside lyrics that mean something to everyone, is just a perfect ballad.

Digging Your Scene. From 1984, until they split in 199o, The Blow Monkeys brought a new style and sound to British pop. Fronted by the effete Dr Robert, the swooning vocals, seductive saxophone, and political lyrics, were as fresh as a mountain stream.  Collaborations with Kim Mayzelle, Curtis Mayfield, and others, established the band’s credentials, yet they split in late 1990, after only 5 albums had been released. There was a reformation of the band in 2008, but I confess that I have heard none of their latest work. I only have to hear the rich sax intro to this track, and I am swept away, even after almost 30 years. It is really that good.

Groove Is In The Heart. In 1990, the American club scene produced this strangest of collaborations, Deee-Lite. Fronted by the weird and wonderful vocalist, Lady Miss Keir, and backed by Japanese keyboard player Towa Tei, and producer Super DJ Dimitri, originally from Ukraine. Although the group made several albums, and had many hits in the US, this song was their only UK hit, and still manages to get people up on the floor. I dare you not to get involved in it!

Let Me Be Your Fantasy. Still going, since their formation in 1987, Baby D is probably the most successful, and best known Dance music group to come from the UK. They have had many hits, but none have surpassed the worldwide success of this completely classic track from 1992, re-mixed and re-released twice, in 1994, and 2000. I was almost 40 when I heard it for the first time, so not the target audience, by a long way. Despite my age, I was overwhelmed by the scope of the production, the changes, the samples, the orchestration, and the incredible vocals. A legendary track, by anyone’s standards.

Breakout. This was the first hit for the UK band Swing Out Sister, and literally took the music scene by storm, in 1986. It even gave a rise to a new genre name, sophisti-pop, though that is best forgotten. Sounding unlike nothing else around at the time, this trio produced songs of complex construction, with great use of horns, and electronic synthesizers, and the amazing vocals of Corrinne Drewery. They went on to great worldwide success, though their blend of jazz and pop brought them limited attention in the UK. Still working today, and one of the biggest foreign attractions in Japan, their talent and sound remain undiminished by time. I saw them live some years ago, in the intimate surroundings of the Jazz Cafe, in London. It was without doubt, the best live gig I have ever attended, and I was only sorry that I did not book for all three performances, as they rarely perform live these days.

Like A Star. With what is possibly the most soulful voice ever heard from a British artist, Corrine Bailey Rae broke my heart, with this first track from her debut self-titled album. For me, she can do no wrong, whether it is this song about love, or the life affirming ‘Put your records on’ ; the whole thing is a work of huge importance in British pop and soul history, and one of the best CD discs that I own.

Try A Little Tenderness. I have associated Otis Redding with this song for so long, it is easy to forget that it was first performed as long ago as 1932. Covered many times since, notably by Ruth Etting, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby, it is the Otis Redding version that remains one of the anthems of my youth. Starting slowly, always mournful, then building into a rousing soul crescendo, backed by the organ music of Booker T, it has to be one of my all time favourites. This version has achieved great recognition, making the Rolling Stone top 500 of all time, and featuring on film soundtracks. When Otis was killed in a plane crash, in December 1967, I was only 15 years old; yet his music has endured throughout my entire life, and I enjoy it as much today, as I did as a teenager.

Jackie Wilson Said. In 1972, Van Morrison released the album’ Saint Dominic’s Preview’, which contained this track. This happy, uplifting song references the great Jackie Wilson, and his hit, ‘Reet Petite’, and is also believed to be a swipe at the falseness of the music business in general. You cannot help but sing along, carried with the pace, and easy lyrics. This was later covered, and unaltered, by Dexys Midnight Runners, the cultish British group fronted by Kevin Rowland, who ran the outfit like a military formation. Released in 1982, ten years after the Van Morrison original, it is equally as good, and brought a new audience to the song. I would probably include either version, to be honest, although I have every record that Morrison has ever released.

Uncle Remus. In 1973, Frank Zappa released the album ‘Over-nite Sensation’, and the following year, ‘Apostrophe’. Although he had been around since 1965, and I already had his 1969 release, Hot Rats, these two albums were his most accessible yet, and contained many songs that were to become classics, at least to his many fans. He was not that commercially successful in Europe, despite a prolific career, releasing a total of 94 albums; and in many respects, he is almost unknown in the UK. His clever songs, a mixture of salty lyrics, innuendo, political comment, and outright comedy, are brilliantly constructed, and musically perfect. This is one of my favourites, and a nice introduction to his style. As he died in 1993, we will not hear from him again, but happily, he left a great legacy behind, and lots to choose from.

Maid In Heaven. Bill Nelson is arguably one of the best guitarists of all time, and he formed the British group, Be Bop Deluxe, in 1972. Their second album, released in 1975,’ Futurama’, contains this track,which to my mind, is a complete and perfect single. With crashing guitars, an excellent vocal from Nelson, and a sublime solo on lead guitar from him also, it doesn’t get much better than this. The band had limited success, and broke up in 1978. This song remains rockingly good, and it will make you feel like jumping.

Heaven Must Have Sent You. Motown had to feature, and this song, released by The Elgins in 1966, and again in 1971, is one of the best examples of this distinctive style of song-writing and production. Like most of the early Motown output, it was written by the successful team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, and has the essence of Motown running through every note and word.

Deadline For My Memories. In 1995, the German singer Billy Ray Martin released her first solo album, with this as the title song. I had heard her before, as the singer fronting Electribe 101, and I was keen to get this album, as soon as it came out. I was not disappointed. With tracks covering every style, from Disco, Electro Pop, through to heart-wrenching torch song ballads, it is one of my favourite records of all time, and one that I play more than most. She is still working, mostly as a DJ in her native Germany, but has never achieved the same success as she enjoyed with tracks from this marvellous album.

Lately. It is hard to make a choice from the huge amount of work produced over the years, by Stevie Wonder. This ballad, from the album ‘Hotter Than July’, dates from 1981, and is not the first of his hits that might spring to mind. Listen again, and this very sad song, about the break up of a relationship, is as complex and rewarding as a song can ever be. With a slow start, the long runs of lyrics start to increase in complexity, and the notes get higher as the song goes on; it seems as if he will never be able to continue to hold the thread. But he does, and in doing so, shows us the genius behind this man, whose career has spanned five decades. Simply masterful.

Mister Blue Sky. I defy anyone not to be entertained by this 1977 song, from the Electric Light Orchestra. This British band have been around since 1970, and their use of strings, electronics, and obvious songwriting talents, have brought us many memorable hit records. This track, from the album ‘Out of the Blue’, is probably their best known, and none the worse for that. It is happiness personified, optimistic, and singalong, all wrapped up in one delightful listening experience.

Family Affair. Sly and the Family Stone was an American Soul and Funk group who were very successful, even appearing at the Woodstock Festival, in 1969. They had a large line up, and concentrated on presenting impressive stage shows. They were also involved in what came to be described as ‘Psychedelic Soul’, alongside other bands, The Isley Brothers, and The Temptations. In 1971, they released the album ‘There’s a Riot goin’ on’, and this single comes from that. This song was a diversion for the group, and featured a slower, deeper vocal, and electronic backing tracks. It relates the difficulties of family life, something relevant to them, as their group contained many members of Sly’s family, over the years. It is completely funky, and notably timeless.

The Time Is Now. I do not often buy CD singles, as if the track interests me enough, I generally risk buying the whole album. In 2000, aged 48, I made an exception, and had to go straight out to get this one, by the group Moloko, a half English, half Irish duo who had been prominent in the electro-pop/ trip-hop scene, of which I knew absolutely nothing. What I did know, and still do, it that this is a great pop record. The pulsing bass line drags you straight in, and the husky Irish-accented tones from singer Roisin Murphy, complete the entrapment. It is a bit of everything, with a catchy chorus, a short repetitive verse structure, and an overall wall of sound bounding out. It may not endure with time, yet will always remain definitive of its own time, and that says a great deal.

Someone To Watch Over Me. This Jazz standard goes all the way back to 1926, and has been covered by all the ‘greats’, in its time. The inclusion is something of a personal indulgence, as it is the record I intend to have played at my funeral. I am choosing the version by Jimmy Scott, for me the best by far, from the album ‘Falling In Love Is Wonderful’, originally released in 1962. Jimmy suffered medical problems as a child, and they affected his development and voice. This left him sounding like a young woman throughout his career, and with a vocal range in the high notes, including a falsetto. Far from being a drawback, this gave him a unique, and easily identifiable tone. I was lucky enough to see him on two occasions in London, at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, and despite his old age, they were memorable performances.

Watching The Detectives. The first UK hit from Elvis Costello and The Attractions, this single came from the 1977 album ‘My Aim is True’. It is simplicity itself, a song about a girl who would rather watch TV, than be with her boyfriend. Yet it is so much more though. Lyrically brilliant, with a beat somewhere near Reggae, and Costello’s vocals instantly recognisable. This is British pop at its peak. It also contains one of my favourite lines of all time; “She’s filing her nails, while they’re dragging the lake.” Fantastic.

So, that is my first list of suggested tracks. A fair mixture, I hope you will agree. It took forever, researching all the dates, getting the spellings right, and just trawling them all from my mind. There will be others, occasionally. I will be interested to see what you think.