Stevie Wonder – I’m Wondering

Stevie Wonder - I'm Wondering

Hello good folk of the interweb! I haven’t forgotten about you all (you wish), I’ve just had a lot of stuff to deal with over the last few weeks but I’m definitely not leaving you for good so no need to worry.

I last featured today’s artist a couple of years ago and any regular readers of the blog will know that Stevie Wonder is my numero uno musical hero. What put Stevie in my head for this week’s update was the reminder that I caught him live at Hyde Park 2 years ago today, so in tribute to the great man I thought he would be a welcome return to my blog updates.

There’s been many things written about Stevie Wonder over the years (some of them by me) so I’m not going to repeat anything about his history, childhood, Motown etc as I’m sure you’ve read most of that stuff before, and let’s be honest, if that’s all news to you, you’ve probably arrived on the wrong website!!

All I will say is that the record I’ve selected today is probably a little bit underplayed given that it was a 45 release during one of Stevie’s most successful/prolific periods and reached number 22 in the UK charts. Released in 1967, this was paired with the also excellent “Every Time I See You I Go Wild” which seemed to be the better known of the 2 tracks – I think this always goes to show why you should flip over those 45s as there’s often great (and at times better) tunes on the other side. I hope you’ll dig this fantastic slice of Stevie history.

Just to note, I’m working on a few other things at the minute including interviews etc, so keep checking in as there will be some very interesting features over the next few weeks/months.

 

Barrett Strong – Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher

Barrett Strong - Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher

 

As I’m bringing you this update on a Sunday I thought I’d go for something a little more “spiritual” today. I’m sure many of you are aware that Barrett Strong recorded Motown’s first big hit with “Money” way back in 1959 and recorded right through until the early 80s. However, more than any of his other releases, Strong was probably better known for his songwriting alongside Norman Whitfield. Together they would pen legendary hits like “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, “War”, and most notably much of the Temptations’ late 60s/early 70s output.

Today’s choice vinyl cut sees Strong at his most funky, with the largely unknown but super cheap 45 “Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher”. It’s no surprise when listening to this record that you can hear a lot of the similar sound to the Temptations at this period. I don’t know who all played on this track, but that guitar sound certainly sounds like Dennis Coffey. There’s some great strings on here as well as nice backing vocals and much like The Isley Brothers you’ll appreciate the journey from the late 50s r&b sound to the early/mid 70s funky vibe that they both progressed to. Stand up & cheer indeed!!

Shorty Long – Here Comes The Judge

Shorty Long - Here Comes The Judge

I’m returning to an all-time classic today in the shape of Shorty Long’s “Here Comes The Judge”. Released on the Soul label (which was part of Motown) in 1968 this record was one of a number of “Judge” tracks cut around the same time. The first of these came from comedy singer Pigmeat Markham also in ’68, although today’s “version” is different, it was undoubtedly inspired by Markham’s “original”.

I’ve got a number of these different “versions” by various artists but I still have a fondness for Shorty’s version as it was the first one I heard and although somewhat overplayed now, it’s still just a fun, great danceable record. I hope you enjoy the track and it brings back a few memories for you (like it did for me)

Earl Van Dyke – 6 By 6

Earl Van Dyke - 6 by 6

With the Snap! reunion just around the corner (this Friday actually) I thought I’d dig into my crates and pull out a track that used to be a bit of a staple on the mod scene and a record that had it’s fair share of plays over the years at Snap!

Those of you who know their Motown history will undoubtedly have heard of the legendary hammond organ player Earl Van Dyke. Van Dyke was the bandleader of the legendary Funk Brothers and his organ playing was an integral part of the sound featured on such tracks as The Temptations “Run Away Child, Running Wild” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. As well as performing the soundtrack to those monster hits, Van Dyke recorded some of his own compositions, this one being arguably his most well-known.

6 by 6 must rank as one of the funkiest pieces of music ever put out by Motown records – with the driving bongos, horn section & hammond assault whipping up a piece of dancefloor dynamite! If you can’t make it to Snap! on Friday at least you’ve got a little teaser of the groove we got going on. Enjoy!