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Brick? The Commodores Without Lionel Richie: Seven Lost Songs of the Seventies

Let’s play Where’s Lionel…




















“Bra,” Cymande. Cymande were a ten man English funk band that reached #20 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1972 with their pre-Grandmaster “The Message.” The group specialized in a light, jazzy funk vibe that wouldn’t have sounded out of place next to War on your ‘70s AM pop dial. As you know, “Bra” was later sampled by De La Soul for their song “Change in Speak.” I have no idea what the title means, but it’s an uplifting tune (pun of the year right here -Ed).

“Apache,” Incredible Bongo Band. You may have never heard of the Incredible Bongo Band, which wasn’t really a band but a loose affiliation of studio musicians, but after listening to a few seconds of the intro, you’re probably familiar with the music. This track has been called “the national anthem of hip hop” and has been sampled by Missy Elliot, Kool Herc, LL Cool J, Moby, Nas, and Grandmaster Flash. Drummer Jim Gordon, who had played with Derek and the Dominoes, was responsible for the endlessly funky beat. Eleven years later, Gordon became a schizophrenic and murdered his mother, but that’s another story for another day.

“I Don’t Know What I Want,” The Raspberries. From the 1974 album Starting Over, this song wasn’t a single, but is an amazing Who rip replete with non-stop drum fills and slashing power chords. “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” from the album peaked at #18 on the pop charts and the Raspberries broke up in 1975. Two years after recording this outstanding rocker, Eric Carmen went to #2 on the pop charts with the tissue weeper “All By Myself.” I need a good cry just thinking about all of this.

“Dazz,” Brick. Brick were the Commodores without Lionel Richie, a Southern based funk band that had R&B hits for six years. “Dazz” was so hook filled and undeniable that it hit #3 on the pop charts, but you probably don’t hear it on your favorite ‘70s nostalgia station. Most bizarre use of a lead flute this side of the Marshall Tucker Band. The band’s last Top Ten R&B hit was 1981 “Sweat (Til You Get Wet)” a disco funk protest number about the dangers of dry perspiration.

“Stick to Me,” Graham Parker and the Rumour. There were no sissies in the Rumour, a British pub group that arose from the ashes of Brinsley Schwarz and Bontemps Roulez. The Rumour, who backed Geep and recorded their own albums, were a dynamic, propulsive rock ‘n’ roll band, always ready to ignite Parker’s righteous anger. The Stick to Me album gets lost in the catalogue due to some weak material and production issues, but the lead/title track is the band’s most ferocious number. They were squeezing out sparks well before they stated that as their intention.

“Uptown Top Ranking,” Althea and Donna. Virtually unknown in the United States, this reggae number hit #1 on the U.K. pop charts in 1978. The structure of the song had originated with Alton Ellis’s “I’m Still in Love” in 1967 and in Marcia Aitken’s “I’m Still in Love With You” in 1977. Jamaican teenagers Althea Rose Forrest and Donna Marie Reid wrote the lyrics about their stylish clothes and Mercedes Benz and giving men heart attacks. These ladies didn’t need to watch Dynasty to have an attitude.

“Jingo,” Candido. This is a tune with a HISTORY, folks. Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji recorded this number in 1959 as “Jin-go-lo-ba” in 1959 for his Drums of Passion album. Well, Mr. Carlos Santana wasn’t going to let a good beat slumber and he recorded the number on the first Santana album, taking the number from Nigeria to Woodstock. Cuban born percussionist Candido Camero really brought down the polyrhythmic funk hammer on the number in 1979, giving you the conga and bongo fantasy of your ‘70s hippie dream. Enjoy this disco, funk, jazz percussion freak out, peeps. Then, go get a haircut.

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