News for the ‘Disco & Dance’ Category

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #83 – Lou Rawls: “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” b/w “Dead End Street”– Capitol/Collectables COL-6081

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #83 – Lou Rawls: “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” b/w “Dead End Street”– Capitol/Collectables COL-6081

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Most people remember Lou Rawls for his silky-smooth vocal delivery on his disco era hit “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” but by the time he had that hit in 1976, Rawls had already been recording albums, and yes many hits, for 14 years.

Chicago-born Rawls got his start by replacing Sam Cooke in the Gospel group, The Highway QC’s. After a stint in the Army, Rawls joined another Gospel group called Pilgrim Travelers. While on the road with Sam Cooke and The Travelers, Rawls was in a serious car accident that left him pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. He was revived but was in a coma for five days before regaining consciousness. After he recuperated, Rawls began doing session work, most notably singing background vocals on Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.”

He was signed to Capitol Records by staff producer Nick Venet (The Beach Boys, The Kingston Trio, Nat King Cole, Glen Campbell) and recorded his first album, Stormy Monday, for the label in 1962 backed by the Les McCann Trio. The Les McCann Trio was a stalwart of the Sunset Strip jazz clubs and was also signed by Nick Venet to Pacific Jazz Records. Their lineup included McCann on piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Ron Jefferson on drums. Rawls’ early albums featured a mix of jazz and blues standards, but it wasn’t until Rawls cut a proper soul album in 1966 that his star began to rise in the industry.

That album was called Soulin’ and it featured the top side of today’s double-sided reissue jukebox single, Rawls’ first top forty hit “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing,” which climbed to #13 on the pop charts, while topping the R&B charts in 1966. The song was written by Ben Raleigh and Dave Linden, and covered by several artists including The Temptations and Big Maybelle.

The flip of today’s single was one of Rawls’ patented soul monologues called “Dead End Street” which painted a bleak picture of Chicago ghetto life circa 1967. The song was originally on Rawls’ David Axelrod-produced 1967 album called Too Much.

The monologue or spoken recitation hit was not a new idea when Rawls brought it to the soul charts. Country artists had been doing spoken word records for years, whether by Hank Williams under the guise of Luke The Drifter, or songs like T. Texas Tyler’s “Deck Of Cards,” Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John,” Red Sovine’s “Phantom 49” and later on with songs like Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue,” Charlie Daniels Band’s “Uneasy Rider” and C.W. McCall’s “Convoy.”

The difference between these songs and Rawls’ take on the spoken hit is far more organic since Rawls’ recordings began as unprepared monologues that sprang up during concert recordings or recording sessions that in essence worked to set the songs up before launching into them properly.

Rawls: “I was working in little joints where the stage would be behind the bar. So you were standing right over the cash register and the crushed ice machine. You’d be swinging and the waitress would yell, ‘I want 12 beers and four martinis!’ And then the dude would put the ice in the crusher. There had to be a way to get the attention of the people. So instead of just starting in singing, I would just start in talking the song.” (http://www.lourawls.com/rawlsbio.html)

Rawls’ “Dead End Street” climbed to the #3 Position on the R&B charts (and #29 pop) and won him a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance in 1967. While the single was on the charts, Rawls performed at The Monterey Pop festival alongside such luminaries as Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.

He continued to record for Capitol scoring hits like “Tobacco Road” and “Your Good Thing (Is About To End),” plus many others. He also opened for The Beatles on their 1966 tour in Cincinnati. In total, Rawls recorded over twenty albums for the label before signing with MGM in 1970.

While he only recorded three albums for MGM, he did score his Grammy-winning hit “Natural Man” for the label. He signed to Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records label in 1976, where he had his greatest successes releasing million-selling albums and the hits “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” “Lady Love,” “Let Me Be Good To You,” and “See You When I Git There.” Rawls died of cancer in 2006 and left behind a legacy of gritty blues and silky soul recordings.

Edited: October 26th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #59– Manu Dibango: “Soul Makossa” b/w “Lily” – Atlantic 45-2971 (S6/T6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #59– Manu Dibango: “Soul Makossa” b/w “Lily” – Atlantic 45-2971 (S6/T6)

Hailing from Cameroon, Africa, Manu Dibango established himself as an in-demand saxophone player working with acts as diverse as Fela Kuti, Don Cherry, The Fania All-Stars and Sly and Robbie.

“Soul Makossa,” Dibango’s signature disco smash, was originally released as the flip side to the 1972 single “Mouvement Ewondo” (a song about the Cameroon national football team) on the French independent Fiesta record label. The song probably would have sunk without a trace if it had not been for Manhattan socialite David Mancuso.

Mancuso was known for throwing exclusive invitation-only loft parties in New York City that served as a precursor to the city’s thriving Disco scene of the 1970s. Mancuso found a copy of the record and gave it a spin at one of his parties where it was heard by DJ Frankie Crocker, who in turn played it on WBLS, New York City’s highest rated urban radio station at the time.

The song became very popular, but the single was so rare that nine cover versions sprung up to fill the demand for the record before Atlantic Records could rush-release Dibango’s original recording in 1973. As a result of the cover versions, Dibango’s recording only climbed up to #35 on the Billboard singles chart; however the chart position didn’t realistically reflect the enormous popularity of the track.

Later, the song’s “ma-ma so, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako-sa” refrain was featured prominently in Michael Jackson’s single “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” the lead track from his Thriller album which went on to be the biggest selling album of all time. It was used without Dibango’s permission and he later settled handsomely with Jackson for use of the lyric.

Dibango released an updated version of the track in 1994, and then again in 2011 under the title “Soul Makossa 2.0.” The flip of today’s jukebox classic is “Lily,” another soul groover written by Dibango that is also from the Soul Makossa album.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: July 29th, 2015

Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman

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Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman

For your Halloween party pleasure, cue this ghoulish playlist up in Spotify!

  1. This Is Halloween from the Nightmare before Christmas
  2. Monster Mash – Bobby Boris Pickett
  3. Boris the Spider – The Who
  4. Haunted House – Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
  5. I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  6. Theme from the Munsters – Billy Strange
  7. The Blob – The Five Blobs
  8. The Adams Family Main Theme – Vic Mizzy
  9. Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
  10. Witch Doctor – David Seville
  11. They’re Comin’ to Take Me Away – Napoleon XIV
  12. Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
  13. Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper
  14. Witchy Woman – The Eagles
  15. Season of the Witch – Donovan
  16. Hocus Pocus – Focus
  17. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  18. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  19. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
  20. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
  21. Ghost Town – The Specials
  22. Twilight Zone – Golden Earring
  23. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
  24. Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
  25. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  26. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie
  27. The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Dave Edmunds
  28. Pet Semetary – Ramones
  29. Zombie Zoo – Tom Petty
  30. Devil Inside – INXS
  31. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

Edited: October 30th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #31 – The Isley Brothers: “That Lady (Part 1)” b/w “That Lady (Part 2)” – T-Neck 45 RPM Single 2251 (A4/B4)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #31 – The Isley Brothers: “That Lady (Part 1)” b/w “That Lady (Part 2)” – T-Neck 45 RPM Single 2251 (A4/B4)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

From gossamer to “grit-tay”…the other day I featured a satiny-smooth jukebox classic by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles…today we’re going gritty with this funky 1973 track by The Isley Brothers.

They were one of the longest running R&B groups of all time forming in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959 and recording and touring together in some form through 2010.

The Isley’s were responsible for such indelible hits as “Shout,” “Twist And Shout,” “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You),” “Black Berries,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Pop That Thang,” “Love The One You’re With,” “Summer Breeze,” “Fight The Power,” “Harvest For The World,” plus many others. Today’s Song Of The Day comes from their 1973 album called 3+3.

The album’s title alludes to the fact that the three original members of the group, Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly Isley, made their brother-in-law Chris Jasper and brothers Ernie and Marvin Isley, the other 3, full time members of the group.

The album became their first platinum album, selling over one million copies. Along with “That Lady,” two other tracks from the album made waves on the R&B charts including their cover of Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” (#10 R&B) and “What It Comes Down To” (#5 R&B). The group also covered Jonathan Edwards’ hit “Sunshine” and James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” for the album.

Today’s Song Of the Day was originally recorded back in 1964 by The Isley’s under the title “Who’s That Lady.” That version was cut at a slower tempo and was driven by a spare staccato drum pattern, a roller-rink organ part and a full-blown horn section. The group decided to record the song again after Santana covered it on their Spirits Dancing In The Flesh album.

At first, Ronald Isley was against cutting the track again, however the rest of the group convinced him that the arrangement would be much different and it would highlight the guitar work of brother Ernie. Ernie’s guitar playing was informed by the Isley Brothers’ association with Jimi Hendrix who played with the group in 1964. Hendrix can be heard on the group’s “Testify” and “Move On Over And Let Me Dance” singles. The song became their first top-ten hit since 1969’s “It’s Your Thing,” climbing to #2 on both the Pop and R&B charts. Brother Ernie’s guitar solo was later sampled by The Beastie Boys on the track “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” from Paul’s Boutique.

Another distinction about today’s jukebox classic is that it is one in a long line of two-part singles. When 45 RPM singles ruled, it was customary to break longer tracks into two parts for the single release. The Isley Brothers were no stranger to the two-part single, and as far back as 1959, “Shout” was released as a two-parter.  Many of James Brown’s singles were released in the two-part format including “Say It Loud (I’m Black And I’m Proud,)” “Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine,” and “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.” Other notable two-part singles include Joey Dee’s “The Peppermint Twist,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Suzie Q,” Don McLean’s “American Pie,” Eddie Kendricks’ “Keep On Truckin’,” George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby,” Rick James’ “Super Freak,” Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” and Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane.” What other two-part singles can you think of?

Edited: November 18th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #28 – Average White Band: “Pick Up The Pieces” b/w “Work To Do” – Atlantic 45 RPM Single 45-3229 (Q3/R3)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #28 – Average White Band: “Pick Up The Pieces” b/w “Work To Do” – Atlantic 45 RPM Single 45-3229 (Q3/R3)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

“TSOP” by MFSB, “Love’s Theme” by The Love Unlimited Orchestra, “Space Race” by Billy Preston, “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter Group, “Popcorn” by Hot Butter,” “Joy” by Apollo 100, “Rock And Roll” by Gary Glitter, “Dueling Banjos” by Eric Weissberg & Deliverance, “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, “The Hustle” by Van McCoy, “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango, “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione, “Scorpio” by Dennis Coffey and “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield – the 1970s had its share of some of the greatest instrumental hits of all time.  While many of these tracks are truly not instrumentals because they either have wordless singing or minor vocal parts consisting of the title being shouted out several times over the duration of the song, they are still rightly classified as instrumental hits.

Today’s jukebox classic stands taller than most on the above list of ‘70s instrumentals. With its propulsive disco beat and infectious horn part, “Pick Up The Pieces” managed to set throngs of dancers into motion on disco dance floors around the world.

But it wasn’t always that way…When “Pick Up The Pieces” was originally released as a single in the U.K. in 1974; it sank without a trace, completely failing to chart. Three months later, the single came out in the U.S. where it sold a million copies and climbed to the top of the charts. It was then rereleased as a single in the U.K. and it rose to the top five. Not to dis our friends across the pond, but what were they thinking the first time around…

The song crossed over into the disco charts and also spawned an answer record recorded by James Brown’s backing band The J.B.s, called “One By One.” On the record, the J.B.s were credited as AABB, or the Above Average Black Band in homage to AWB. It was also sampled by the likes of The Beastie Boys, TLC, Too Short, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, Arrested Development and A Tribe Called Quest.

The Average White Band originated in Scotland in 1971 and consisted of Allan Gorrie (bass, guitar and vocals), Malcolm Duncan (tenor sax), Onnie McIntyre (vocals, rhythm guitar), Michael Rosen (trumpet), Roger Ball (keyboards and sax) and Robbie McIntosh (drums) and Hamsih Stuart (guitar, bass and vocals).

Even though one of the group’s earliest gigs was as a support act to Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert in 1973, when their debut album Show Your Hand was released on MCA Records the same year, it sold poorly. For their second album, the group relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Atlantic Records.

The album, titled AWB was produced by Arif Mardin and ultimately topped the U.S. album charts on the heels of its chart-topping single. It was also known to AWB fans as The White Album as it featured stunning graphics on a white background that gave the band its memorable logo.

At the height of their initial fame, tragedy struck when drummer and founding member Robbie McIntosh died of a heroin overdose at a party in 1974. Allan Gorrie also overdosed at the same party, but Cher kept him conscious until medics arrived and he survived. Such was the “swinging” party scene of mid-70s Los Angeles. As a result, McIntosh was replaced by Steve Ferrone.

The band continued to release albums well into the 1980s (including a duo album with Ben E. King on vocals), and scored several hit singles including “Cut The Cake” (#31/1974), “Queen Of My Soul” (#23/1976) and “Let’s Go Round Again” (#12/1980). By the early 1980s, Ferrone left the group to work with Duran Duran, while Hamish Stuart went on to tour and record with Paul McCartney.

The group still exists today with McIntyre and Gorrie still on board. Their last album was a live album called Times Squared, released in 2009. The flip of today’s single is an exceptional cover of The Isley Brothers’ top twenty R&B hit “Work To Do,” which was also covered by The Main Ingredient and Vanessa Williams.

Edited: November 13th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10-4-13 – “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango

Hailing from Cameroon, Africa, Manu Dibango established himself as an in-demand saxophone player working with acts as diverse as Fela Kuti, Don Cherry, The Fania All-Stars and Sly and Robbie.

“Soul Makossa,” Dibango’s signature disco smash, was originally released as the flip side to the 1972 single “Mouvement Ewondo” on the French independent Fiesta record label. The song probably would have sunk without a trace if it had not been for Manhattan socialite David Mancuso.

Mancuso was known for throwing exclusive invitation-only loft parties in New York City that served as a precursor to the city’s thriving Disco scene of the 1970s. Mancuso found a copy of the record and gave it a spin at one of his parties where it was heard by DJ Frankie Crocker, who in turn played it on WBLS, New York City’s highest rated urban radio station.

The song became very popular, but the single was so rare that nine cover versions sprung up to fill the demand for the record, before Atlantic Records could rush-release Dibango’s original recording in 1973. As a result of the cover versions, Dibango’s recording only climbed up to #35 on the Billboard singles chart; however the chart position didn’t realistically reflect the enormous popularity of the single.

Later, the song’s “ma-ma so, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako-sa” refrain was featured prominently in Michael Jackson’s single “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” the lead track from his Thriller album which went on to be the biggest selling album of all time.  It was used without Dibango’s permission and he later settled handsomely with Jackson for use of the lyric.

Dibango released an updated version of the track in 1994, and then again in 2011 under the title “Soul Makossa 2.0.”

Edited: October 3rd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/2/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Lose Yourself To Dance” by Daft Punk

So Daft Punk has released a straight-up ‘70s Disco album and everybody is going nuts.

Daft Punk fans are going nuts because there are real instruments and, gasp, real voices on this record. Critics are going nuts because the group has made a ‘70s disco album, and a ‘70s disco album stands out because it’s the antithesis of the loud-soft dynamic of today’s EDM. This gives critics something to write about, which in turn makes them excited, resulting in amazingly positive reviews. Mind you, these are some of the same critics who back in the ‘70s, wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to a disco record.

That said, although Random Access Memories is indeed a departure for Daft Punk, the ‘70s disco left turn works well for them. Under all of the vocodered voices and electronic rhythms, the songs really have heart and emotion. It’s the clash of heart and transistors that is the key to this record, and you really can’t beat the rhythm section of Nathan East on bass and Omar Hakim on drums laying the groundwork for the guitar dynamics of Nile Rodgers funky-Chic style combined with the lighter, jazzier leanings of Paul Jackson Jr.

The record’s power will be in its ability to blend generations of fans, appealing to today’s dance music aficionado and the disco generation alike. This is probably why the record will end up not only being a multi-hit, multi format smash, but also one of the biggest records of the summer.

Nile Rodgers’ fingerprints are all over several of the album’s best tracks including the album’s lead-off track “Give Life Back To The Music,” “Get Lucky, which is sitting at the #4 position of the pop charts this week, and today’s Song Of The Day, “Lose Yourself To Dance,” which no doubt will also climb the charts in weeks to come. (Note: “Lose Yourself To Dance” and “Get Lucky” feature vocals from producer and Neptunes’ member Pharrell Williams.) The influence the man behind “Le Freak” and dozens of other Chic hits from the ‘70s and early ‘80s brings to this album humanizes Daft Punk’s mechanistic sound, as it harkens back to the production sheen he provided for David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.

Along with “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself To Dance,” the album’s centerpiece is clearly the Broadway disco showcase, “Touch,” featuring the dramatic vocals of Paul Williams. The song begins as a dark ruminating electronic soundscape and then bursts alive into Technicolor disco with Williams’ dramatic vocals. I can see this track crossing over big time and sending this album into the stratosphere.

“Georgio By Moroder” pays homage to the disco producer behind Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” with a nine minute moto-disco track that features Moroder talking about his craft over the music. Other cameos include Julian Casablancas, whose co-written track “Instant Crush” is not too different than the direction The Strokes have taken on their latest record, except that his collaboration with Daft Punk has a great hook which is something his own band has been lacking for a while. Elsewhere, Panda Bear lends a Beach Boy’s flavored vocal to “Doin’ It Right.”

I had the pleasure of seeing Daft Punk at Lollapalooza several years ago, and at the time their act relied heavily on spectacle more than songs. That’s not a slam. I love dance music and have for many years, but their live presentation was amazing complemented the music sending the audience into a literal frenzy. (I should know, I was up front for a good portion of their set and it was a crush.) Musically however, they were sonically closer to Kraftwerk than Giorgio Moroder or Nile Rodgers.

So who cares if the French duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter have a penchant for wearing robot disguises and appearing before audiences in a pod, their new musical direction has resulted in a record for the ages from this group, and one I’ll be coming back to again and again.

Edited: June 2nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/10/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred

I worked at Reader’s Digest in their recorded music division for five years compiling music collections for people who were much older than I was at the time. In effect, I was selling nostalgia to folks whose memories I did not share. The job proved research intensive and ultimately rewarding, and by creating these music collections, I got a pretty good idea about what makes people feel nostalgic for music while garnering a newfound appreciation for a whole host of music I might not have ever heard otherwise.

One of my co-workers at Digest was a musicologist named Gary Theroux. Gary used to say that “Nostalgia is the past with the pain removed.”  It was a very true statement, and one I subscribed to for the rest of my days working in the music industry selling people their musical memories. For it is nostalgia that turns yesterday’s songs into tomorrow’s standards.

In all my years of making music compilations, I came to the conclusion that the songs we feel most nostalgic for today, are the songs that were most reviled by the critics when they were new, and equally loved by the everyday radio listening fan. Many of them also have some kind of novelty value as well.

I’m not talking about songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan or even Rodgers & Hammerstein that are stone cold classics today. I’m focusing more on the fringe songs that crept into our consciousness mainly because they had some kind of novelty value. Songs like “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “Macarena” by Los Del Rios, “Rock Me Amadeus” by Faclo , “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc., “Walk Like An Egyptian” by The Bangles, “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys and today’s Song Of The Day, were all pretty much hated by critics upon their release, yet have managed to stand the test of time anyway.

They were all played to death on radio to the point where even fans of the songs never wanted to hear them again, and they all had some kind of novelty value. Many of them were co-opted by Madison Avenue for use in TV commercials in subsequent years after their run on the charts.

These are the songs we loved to hate when they were new, and today we kind of hate to love them. But we do love them. They make us feel good and warmly nostalgic when we hear them. Instead of hastily reaching for the dial to turn them off like we did when they were new, now we turn them up.

This brings me to a song that is ripe to become one of tomorrow’s golden classics, but only time will tell if PSY’s “Gangnam Style” will stand the test of time…

Today’s Song Of The Day, “I’m Too Sexy” is one such novelty song that has managed to stand the test of time. It’s the kind of song that was roundly panned by the music cognoscenti upon its release, but now when played on the radio or by DJs at parties, it is warmly received and remembered. The song was recorded by a British group called Right Said Fred that consisted of brothers Richard and Fred Fairbrass and Rob Manzoli.

Right Said Fred took their name from the 1962 hit “Right Said Fred” by Bernard Cribbins. They released their signature hit, “I’m Too Sexy” in 1991 and it swiftly topped the U.S. singles charts, as well as the charts in 32 other countries. Their follow up single “Don’t Talk Just Kiss” landed in the top ten of the U.S. singles charts.

So here’s a bit of Right Said Fred trivia for you to end today’s Song Of The Day.

Q: What does “I’m Too Sexy” have in common with David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan?

A: The Fairbrass brothers worked with all of the above named legends: Fred played guitar in Bob Dylan’s band in the film Hearts Of Fire, Richard appeared in David Bowie’s Jazzin’ For Blue Jean video and both took part in Mick Jagger’s home video Running Out Of Luck.

Edited: May 9th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 4/13/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Where Life Begins” by Madonna

It’s a dirty little song…from a dirty little record!

“My name is Dita, I’ll be your mistress tonight…” so began Madonna’s fifth and most artistically accomplished record with this introduction from “Erotica,” its title track. In it, Madonna took on the alter ego of Dita which was inspired by 1930s actress Dita Parlo.

Erotica came out at a time when many people believe Madonna jumped the preverbal shark from overexposure, resulting from the simultaneous release of the record, an erotic picture book called Sex, a worldwide tour dubbed The Girlie Show and a role in the film Body of Evidence.

For me, Erotica signaled Madonna’s creative apex.

Much of the activity surrounding the release of Erotica stemmed from the formation of Madonna’s multi-media company which she based on Andy Warhol’s Factory. Maverick became her record label and dabbled in the world of book publishing, photography and film.

By the time of the record’s release, Madonna was an icon at the height of her popularity. It also appeared during the height of a full blown Aids outbreak that made sex dangerous. As a result the icon began to challenge her audience in ways it didn’t want to be challenged, by appearing in videos as a gold-toothed dominatrix (Dita) in various forms of bondage, foisting tales of pleasurable and deviant sex onto an unsuspecting audience, and appearing totally naked for the entire world to see in the Sex book.

Sure Madonna had titillated and challenged her audience before, specifically in the realm of religion with the video for “Like A Prayer,” but many believed the Erotica project took it a step too far. For instance, the album’s title track and biggest single takes on the topic of bondage and poses the question “If I take you from behind, push myself into your mind when you least expect it, will you try and reject it?”… “Like A Virgin” this wasn’t! The video for the song was pulled from most outlets when it came out, and MTV deemed it to racy to be aired during the daytime, choosing to air it only after midnight.

Most of the record was produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone, however the two strongest tracks, “Secret Garden” and today’s Song Of The Day, were produced by Madonna and André Betts. Betts had worked with Madonna before on the single “Justify My Love,” while Pettibone had remixed many of Madge’s singles for several years and was fresh off helming the production duties for the single “Vogue.”

Erotica was Madonna’s most clubby record featuring frosty beats and a cold, remote sound throughout. Today’s sextastic Song Of The Day about the pleasures of cunnilingus features a sinuous bass line and the very clever lyrics “I’d like to direct your attention to something that needs directing to, A lot of people talk about dining in eating out, I guess that’s what this song is all about…” and “Colonel Sanders says it best, finger licking good. Let’s put what you learned to the test, can you make a fire without using wood. Are you still hungry; aren’t you glad we came, I’m glad you brought your raincoat, I think it’s beginning to rain…”

While I wouldn’t say the record creates the ultimate party atmosphere, it does have several audacious dance tracks including the clubby disco house of the single “Deeper And Deeper,” “Thief Of Hearts” and a cover of Little Willie John’s “Fever,” in which Madonna channels an even icier Peggy Lee than on the original hit version.

The songs “Bad Girl” and “Rain” come closest to the sound of Madonna’s earlier hits with Madonna singing in full on voice, and “Why’s It So Hard” offers a plea for peace and solidarity that is also a throwback to earlier triumphs. These songs provide some necessary relief from the somewhat steely, detached word speak of tracks like “Bye Bye Baby” (“This is not a love song…”) and “Words.”

Elsewhere Madonna get personal in the lounge jazz of the record’s best cut “Secret Garden” in which Madge ponders “You plant the seed and I’ll watch it grow, I wonder when I’ll start to show” and on “In This Life” that mourns the loss of artist Keith Haring and one of Madonna’s mentors from early in her career to the Aids epidemic.

Along with Bedtime Stories which was this record’s follow up, Madonna would never reach the creative heights she did here. While she managed to come close six years later with her album Ray Of Light, it was sadly all downhill from here.

Edited: April 12th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 12-30-12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Rock On” by David Essex–

It was the era of T. Rex’s “Electric Warrior,” David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardus”t and Lou Reed’s “Transformer.” Glam rock was all the rage as were Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople and The New York Dolls. And there was also a new brand of power pop taking the charts by storm at the same time with hits like “Little Willie” by Sweet, “Go All The Way” by Raspberries and later “Saturday Night” by Bay City Rollers.

Enter David Essex…British actor and future glam rock pinup star. Essex had an acting career appearing in the musical Godspell in 1971 and later in the film That’ll Be The Day where he came to the attention of British and American audiences alike.

So it was just a matter of time for him to take on the world of recorded music with this self-penned two-time hit from 1973. The bass player on this sinuous track is Herbie Flowers who went on to play bass for David Bowie on the album “Diamond Dogs” the following year. This song is the ultimate glam-pop confection, a sticky piece of ear candy with a slicing string arrangement and echo-laden bass riff. It should be no surprise that the track made it into the U.S. top five by 1974. Such was the popularity of the song that it would eventually top the charts again in 1988, when it was recorded by TV soap opera star Michael Damien.

While Essex will forever be associated mainly with this song in America, and perhaps his appearance in Jeff Wayne’s musical interpretation of “The War Of the Worlds” from 1978, he has led a long acting career primarily in the UK, where he has performed in the musicals “Evita” (and scored the top-five British hit “Oh What A Circus.”), “Aspects Of Love” and “Footloose.” Today, Essex continues to act on stage and on British TV in “The EastEnders.”

Edited: December 30th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 12/19/12 – Top Albums Of 2012 by Eric Berman

1. Deerhoof: Breakup Song (Polyvinyl)
Emanating from San Francisco (Greg Saunier & John Dieterich) by way of Japan (Satomi Matsuzaki), Deerhoof have released 12 albums of unpredictable music with a sound that would have made Yoko Ono proud and John Lennon jump for joy. It has finally come to pass that the ingredients of Yoko Ono’s recordings circa “Double Fantasy” that were championed by John Lennon have somewhat reached the mainstream with Deerhoof and their brand new release Breakup Song. Part electro-crunch, part sing-song melodies, part twee vocals and completely infectious in the dance rhythm department.

 

 

2. Divine Fits: A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge)
When I first started playing Divine Fits’ debut album, I immediately gravitated to the songs that featured Britt Daniels on lead vocals. Daniels formed the band with Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks while on hiatus from his band Spoon. In fact, it was Britt Daniels and the Spoon connection that led me to this album in the first place. What I found was that this record is chock full of terrific glam-infused tunes written by each band member with a heaping helping of ‘80s synth-pop and punk rock thrown in for good measure.

 

 

 

3. Ian Hunter: When I’m President (Slimstyle)
Ian Hunter is making records today that stand ever so tall in a catalog that includes classics by Mott The Hoople and solo staples like his eponymously titled debut album from 1975 and 1979’s classic You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic. The 73-year old and his current Rant Band have been on a roll, releasing several killer albums in a row, culminating in this year’s When I’m President. Hunter is supplied with pliant backing by the Rant Band featuring James Mastro (of Bongos fame) on guitar, Steve Holley (Elton John, Paul McCartney) on drums, Paul Page on bass, Mark Bosch on guitar, Andy Burton (Tiny Lights) on piano, Mark Rivera on sax and Andy York (Jason & The Scorchers) on backing vocals. Together they make a MOTTly sound on this solid collection packed with full-on Mott rockers with the brand of Dylanesque wordplay we’ve come to expect from Ian Hunter.

 

 

4. Japandroids: Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
Two Guys! No, not the department store from the 1960s, and not The White Stripes or Black Keys either. I’m talkin’ about two Canadian guys, Brian King on guitar and vocals and David Prowse on drums, who brought a firestorm of fury onto these shores with their aptly titled second full-length record Celebration Rock. Having seen these guys in action, I’m here to tell you that once they leave the stage, they leave a cadre of spent bodies with bleeding ears in their wake. And that’s a good thing, if your thing is high-powered, adrenaline producing walls of sound (think Husker Du) with the kind of chant-along hooks that haven’t been heard since U2 last fired up stadiums around the world.

 

 

 

5. Alabama Shakes: Boys And Girls (ATO)
Not your garden variety genre exercise. The Alabama Shakes’ debut record is a fine old-school, STAX-inspired soul record with sturdy songs sung by newcomer powerhouse vocalist Brittany Howard. They’re not just emulating a sound here, it’s totally genuine.

 

 
 

6. Bettye LaVette: Thankful N’ Thoughtful (Anti)
After over 40 years of obscurity, Bettye LaVette has come back, and since 2005 she’s recorded four excellent albums for the Anti record label, mostly consisting of well-chosen covers by her and her producer Craig Street. Her latest, and greatest, features inventive takes of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” Bob Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken,” The Pogues’ Dirty Old Town” and Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” It takes a big set of pipes to take on a song like Gnarls’ “Crazy,” but like the other tracks on this record, LaVette makes them all her own.

 

 

 

7. Jimmy Cliff: Rebirth (UME)
It would be easy to report that Rebirth is a return to form for Jimmy Cliff, but A. Cliff never left for me to proclaim he’s returned, and B. since you could always count on Cliff for the kind of sturdy Reggae album he released this year, he remains in very fine form. That said, the state of Reggae is alive and well in the hands of Jimmy Cliff who released one for the ages this year.

 

 

 

 
8. Jack White: Blunderbuss (Third Man)
He may have changed his color schemes from red and white to blue for his first solo record, but this album isn’t a White of a different color musically…and that’s a good thing! Mr. White looks at love from all sides now on Blunderbuss and has come up with a collection featuring biting lyrics and songs that get under your skin and stay there. With a tune stack that includes the White Stripe-ean bluster of “Sixteen Saltines,” the Led Zep folk of “Love Interruption” and the loosey-goosey rockabilly of “I’m Shakin’,” a new color scheme and not one, but two backing bands (one female one male), White has proven that even though he likes to lean on visual themes and shticks, his music speaks the loudest.

 

 

 

9. Frank Ocean: channel Orange (Def Jam)
I saw OFWGKTA perform at the Pitchfork Music Festival several years ago and utterly disliked their set. So when I began hearing the pre-release hype surrounding the album channel Orange by one of the members of Odd Future, I pretty much dismissed it in turn. That, my friends, was a big mistake. Upon finally hearing this record, my ears weren’t prepared for the pure soulful sounds (think Talking Book era Stevie Wonder or the “Superfly” sound of Curtis Mayfield) packed into superb tracks like “Sweet Life,” “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You,” “Super Rich Kids,” and “Crack Rock” which is both ethereal and gritty at the same time. Like too many of the hip hop records that come out today, the songs are surrounded by brief skits that, if anything, take away from the blissful experience of Ocean’s performances throughout this essential record. There’s a reason why this album is on everyone’s top albums of the year list this year (including mine), and the proof surely is in the grooves!

10. Animal Collective: Centipede Hz (Domino)
In a musical world where little is truly ever new, Animal Collective consistently tap into the past to create a sound that’s wholly their own. Like a wigged out Yes or a Beach Boys on acid, the sound of Animal Collective is like nothing else you’ve ever heard. Coming in on the heels of their breakthrough record, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective took a left turn away from the bright lights of fame and has offered up a far denser platter that gives it up in spades upon repeated listening.

 

 

 

Runners Up
11. Dr. John: Locked Down (Nonesuch)
12. Ravi Coltrane: Spirit Fiction (Blue Note)
13. dBs: Falling Off The Sky (Bar None)
14. G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer (Kanye West) (Island/Def Jam)
15. Branford Marsalis: 4 MF’s Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis Music)
16. Bob Dylan: Tempest (Columbia)
17. Aimee Mann: Charmer (Superego)
18. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Americana (Reprise)
19. Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas (Columbia)
20. Grimes: Visions (4AD)

Best Of The Rest
21. Bela Fleck/Marcus Roberts Trio: Across The Imaginary Divide (Rounder)
22. Green Day: Dos (Reprise)
23. Flaming Lips: Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends (Warner Bros.)
24. Redd Kross: Researching The Blues (Merge)
25. Dwight Yoakam: 3 Pears (Reprise)
26. Kelly Hogan: I Like To Keep Myself In Pain (Anti)
27. Rhianna: Unapologetic (Island/Def Jam)
28. M. Ward: A Wasteland Companion (Merge)
29. Various Artists: Chimes Of Freedom – The Songs Of Bob Dylan (Amnesty International)
30. Beach Boys: That’s Why God Made The Radio (Capitol)

Reissues
1. Merle Saunders/Jerry Garcia: Keystone Companions – Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings (Fantasy)
2. Johnny Cash: The Complete Albums Collection (Columbia)
3. Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue – The Complete Sessions (Nonesuch)
4. Velvet Underground: Scepter Acetate LP (UME)/Velvet Underground: Verve/MGM Albums (Sundazed)
5. Captain Beefheart: Bat Chain Puller (Zappa Family Trust)
6. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Catalog Reissues (Hellcat)
7. Carole King: Legendary Demos (Hear Music)
8. The English Beat: Complete Beat (Shout Factory)
9. The Who: Live At Hull
10. Paul McCartney: RAM (Hear Music)

Edited: December 18th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/13/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Oblivion” by Grimes

One of the stranger headliners of this weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago will be Grimes…and it is one of the things that makes the Pitchfork Festival so great is that an artist as off the beaten path as Grimes can indeed end up as a headliner. Canadian born Claire Boucher made a splash on these shores with her latest record, “Visions,” that features an intoxicating mix of helium-voice vocals, pulsing electronic beats and hip-hop, girl-group flavors. She first made her mark by releasing two cassettes in 2010 which led to her signing to the 4AD Record label and this year’s critically acclaimed album. She is also a member of the group L$D who released their first single last month called “Don’t Smoke My Blunt Bitch.” Haven’t heard it…don’t know if I want to…

Edited: July 12th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/24/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls

The duo of Martha Wash and Izora Armstead were originally called Two Tons O’ Fun for obvious reasons before they took on the moniker of The Weather Girls. The song was written by producer Paul Jabara and “Late Night with David Letterman” band leader Paul Shaffer. The group also provided backing vocals for the likes of Bob Seger, Sylvester and Aretha Franklin. Martha Wash later went on to sing lead vocals on Black Box’s “Everybody Everybody” and C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” Over the years, this song has become a gay anthem…just in time for Pride Day!


Edited: June 24th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/2/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani

Shouldn’t everyone have four Harajuku Girls with them everywhere they go? I think so…and so does Gwen Stefani. After all, it was Stefani who put Harajuku fashion on the map in America anyway via her L.A.M.B. line of clothing. While not designing fashion, Stefani also has children with rock stars, launches perfume lines, records solo records and tours the world with her multi-platinum pop Ska group No Doubt. This song comes from her first solo record, “Love, Angel, Music, Baby” and was the first single to sell over a millions downloads. I’ve not much more to say about this track other than this sh*t is bananas…b-a-n-a-n-a-s…

Edited: June 2nd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/12/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Disparate Youth” by Santigold

American born Santi White got her start as an A&R rep for Epic Records before joining the band Stiffed who released two punk rock records in the early two-thousands. In 2008 she went solo in a new direction as a singer, songwriter and dance music maven and scored with the hit “Creator” from her self-titled debut album. Many months touring supporting acts like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Bjork and M.I.A. led her to an afternoon Lollapalooza slot in 2009 where I caught her act and realized that she was much more than a product of some record company boardroom. Turns out she’s quite the performer who writes most of her material and seldom needs to lean on auto-tune to make her voice sound good. Several weeks ago she released her sophomore album “Master Of My Make Believe” with an assist from Karen O and Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs to much critical acclaim. She will again be featured at this year’s Lollapalooza Festival.

Edited: May 12th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/5/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls

Records don’t come any smoother than this one! Frank Sinatra once said that Lou Rawls had “the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game” and you can certainly hear why in the grooves of this late 1970s Philly Soul million selling hit. Rawls’ career began in the 1950s singing Gospel in groups that also included his friend Sam Cooke. He sang background vocals on numerous records including Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” In the 1960s Rawls recorded a whole slew of popular albums on the Capitol label and scored with a string of Chicago jazz hits including “Stormy Monday,” “Love Is A Hurting Thing,” “Tobacco Road” and “Dead End Street.” The early 1970s saw Rawls win a Grammy Award for his MGM hit “Natural Man.” But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that Rawls underwent a career renaissance resulting in his biggest hits on the Philadelphia International record label under the tutelage of writers and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. While some might dismiss this record as a kitschy pure cabaret concoction, Gamble and Huff created a smooth and soulful masterpiece featuring silky strings and an infectious disco bed for Rawls’ vocals to lie down in.

Edited: March 5th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 2/17/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Block Rockin’ Beats” by The Chemical Brothers

Along with Fatboy Slim, The Crystal Method, Groove Armada, The Propellerheads and The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers introduced the world to an influential dance oriented “Big Beat” music driven by heavy breakbeats in the early 1990s. The duo of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons called themselves “The Dust Brothers” after the influential U.S. producers of early Beastie Boy records. Once they began to become famous with their own records, they were forced to change their name to The Chemical Brothers after their early hit “Chemical Beats.” In the mid-1990s they released an album called “Exit Planet Dust” referencing the name change. They were asked by mega-fan Noel Gallagher of Oasis to work on a track together that became the U.K. #1 single “Setting Sun” landing them at the forefront of the British music scene. Which brings us to the 1997 album “Dig Your Own Hole” and its lead single “Block Rockin’ Beats” that broke them in America. It is not only a landmark dance record, but it is also one of the greatest albums for a workout in the gym. By the end of the 1990s, the Brothers were headlining the Glastonbury Festival in England. They still tour, produce other artists and release records today.

Edited: February 17th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 11/10/11

Song Of The Day – “Din Daa Daa” by George Kranz

Here’s one for the crate diggers. You may not know this by its title, but if you listen to it you probably will. Kranz was a German-born dance artist and a true one hit wonder. It might not sound like much now with its dated ‘80s production and such, but if you were in a club circa 1983 this song signaled some serious bizness on the dancefloor.

Edited: November 10th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 10/18/11

Song Of The Day – “This Is The Right Time” by Lisa Stansfield

Stansfield first appeared on Coldcut’s dance floor classic “People Hold On” and followed it with her 1989 debut album, “Affection.” She wrote and scored several sophisticated Barry White-inspired disco hits off of the record and then seemingly disappeared. In reality, she did release several follow-up albums but failed to reach the heights of her debut.

Edited: October 18th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 10/15/11

Song Of The Day – “I Love A Man In A Uniform” by Gang Of Four

By 1982′s “Songs Of The Free” album, bassist Dave Allen left Gang Of Four for the greener pastures of Shriekback to be replaced by Sara Lee. This found remaining members Andy Gill and Jon King trading in their agit-Punk for a more dance-oriented sound creating a bona-fide Gay anthem in the process. After the initial shock, fans shut up and danced…

Edited: October 14th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/10/11

Song Of The Day – “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer

Certainly the most cutting edge dance track of 1977 and perhaps one of the greatest of all time. The brain child of German producer Giorgio Moroder and the Queen Of Disco herself, it was the first disco hit to use totally synthesized backing tracks paving the wave for techno. Its robotic energy took the sound that fellow Germans Kraftwerk pioneered to the top of the charts.

Edited: September 9th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 7/5/11

Song Of The Day – “Cherchez La Femme” by Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band

Before going on to form Kid Creole and The Coconuts, August Darnell established himself with this 1976 disco era outfit.  Their fusion of 1930s Cab Calloway-inspired big band sound and state-of-the-art disco resulted in this top-30 hit.

 

Edited: July 5th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 6/5/11

Song Of The Day – “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward

Whoever said “Disco Sucks” wasn’t listening. Sure she was a one-hit wonder, but that one hit out-sold Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls” going all the way to number one on the charts in 1979. All these years later, this song still rings my bell!

Edited: June 4th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/22/11

Song Of The Day – “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied) by B.T. Express

I actually purchased this album back in 1974…and I still like it today. Brooklyn’s B.T. Express had a clutch of hits in the mid-seventies with this song, “Express” and “Give It What You Got” and then they stopped coming until a brief comeback in 1980 with the monster hit “Give Up The Funk (Let’s Dance).” I’m satisfied…

Edited: April 23rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 11/5/10

Song Of The Day – “Oh Father” by Madonna from the album “Like A Prayer”

While many go ga-ga over Ga-Ga, if there wasn’t a Madonna 20 years prior, she wouldn’t exist at all!  Don’t get me wrong…I do think Lady Ga-Ga has some good songs and outfits to match. But while watching our good Lady in concert at Lollapalooza this summer, I realized how similar the two are…right down to their messages of empowerment, sexual freedom and religion. Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” album was seen as pushing the envelope back in  1989 with its merging of religious imagery and sexual prowess in both lyrical content and the videos that accompanied the songs.  With over 20 years of hindsight available, it amazes me what we thought was shocking and titillating then is pretty tame by today’s standards. “Oh Father” finds Madge in a semi-autobiographical introspective mood highlighting one of her most gorgeous melodies.

Listen: “Oh Father” by Madonna

Edited: November 5th, 2010