17/08/2018: “Thank You Lord” by Bob Marley & The Wailers

A lot of Bob Marley’s early stuff was recorded in the studios of early 70s Jamaica. As I said in the “Trench Town Rock” post, this means that it isn’t crystal clear and perfectly mastered.

However, with Marley there is so much great music that would never have made it onto Legend in a million years. I’m not knocking that album; I think everyone should own a copy, but it represents a certain side of Marley’s music, with no room for some of the more militant stuff.

However, there were some lovely songs about love and upbeat religious songs even before the fame. As the title would suggest “Thank You Lord” is one of the latter.

The song is one of sweet vocal harmonies, gently swaying drums, and a simple but effect piano riff that meshes with the trumpets. It’s a simple thanksgiving song, with no deeper meanings.

The song was released as a single in 1967 but didn’t see widespread release until its inclusion on the 1992 Songs Of Freedom boxset.

Such a lot of soul…

 

14/08/2018: “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder wrote this song just before he was in a bad car crash. Coincidentally, the song deals with reincarnation; it’s just one of those funny things, that he had written a song that dealt with death and second chances just before a close shave. One prominent line is “I’m so darn glad he let me try it again “. Whatever your views on all that, it never goes amiss to live as best you can while you still can.

The song is a colourful wave of easygoing funk brilliance. Even more impressive, and indicative of Stevie Wonder’s enormous talent, is that he wrote and then recorded the whole thing in a 3 hour burst of inspiration. Oh, and that he plays every instrument on it…

Apart from Stevie’s singing, the main elements of the song are an electronic clavinet (sort of piano-ey thing), and bass from a Moog synthesizer, which is now viewed as “classic” and “retro” but was pretty fresh back then!

The track was released on his Innervisions album in 1973. It has a great 70s mood that conjures up imagery of sunny drives and strolls along the beach front, full of optimism.

Positive vibrations in abundance…

 

 

29/04/2018: “Celestial Blues” by Andy Bey

andybey

Sometimes less is more. Andy Bey proves this with “Celestial Blues”, which saw the light of day in 1974, on Experience and Judgement. It’s a rather sparsely populated track by some jazz-funk standards; the bass patiently twangs up and down in stops and starts, the drums flash on and off, and Andy Bey’s voice rings out above as he preaches meditation and spirituality with lines like “Expand your mind, don’t let it wither and die”.

That’s not to say there isn’t any layers or complexity to the song. In fact, as the track progresses, the synths and organs build up to produce a wonderful symphonic sound, dancing over and around each other. It’s an extraordinarily meditative track, perfect for times you want to relax. Very soothing harmonies…

The album must have been rare in the past, as it’s hard to track down a reasonably priced copy on vinyl, but luckily it is available on YouTube and Spotify.