Vintage Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

15 12 2010

I just found this old video of The Miracles from 1967. At this point they were just billed as The Miracles. It wasn’t until later, that Smokey’s named was brought to the fore.  Despite The Miracles being Motown’s first really successful group, Berry Gordy decided it was clever marketing to lead with Smokey’s name. After all, he  was one of the biggest songwriters and producers in the business. In their almost 20 years, The Miracles charted over 50 hits, 26 of which reached the top ten. Not to mention that Smokey has written and/or produced countless other hits for Motown.

I’m not exactly sure where this footage is from, but it’s a great little medley of two early 60’s classics, “(Come ‘Round Here) I’m The One You Need” and “More Love”. Whether you’re a Motown fan or not, it’s hard to deny that this was truly a great era in music.

While we’re checking out some vintage Smokey, here are just a few more. The first is “You Really Got A Hold On Me”. While the second is “I Second That Emotion” …and in color no less! Take a look at these dance routines. They’re where it’s at, no?

Aretha Franklin | I Say A Little Prayer

12 10 2010

This is a great video of Aretha Franklin performing “I Say A Little Prayer”. It was originally released on her 1968 album Aretha Now, but I like this live version from 1970 better. Actually, it’s a Burt Bacharach tune that was written for Dionne Warwick, who recorded it in 1967. Her version is also very good, but Aretha is the best.

Jacqueline Taïeb | 7 Heures du Matin

18 08 2010

This is a really great tune from the late 60’s. Tunisian-born French Yé Yé/Pop singer Jacqueline Taïeb released it in 1967 on Impact Records. “7 Heures du Matin” was a huge hit in Europe, easily the biggest of her career. It’s remarkable considering she was only 18 when it was recorded. The song is about a teenage girl who is obsessed with Paul McCartney. Although, as someone who doesn’t speak French you’d never know. It has a very mid/late 60’s mod feel, with a lot of rawness to it. A very fitting mix of the British beat sound and the garage rock that was emerging. This was the beginning of The Runaways or The Corvettes. Basically,  female-driven edgy rock. Check out the original French version below:

Now, there is also an American version that was produced after it had achieved so much success in Europe. All the lyrics are in English on this one. I typically don’t care for alternate langauge versions because most  languages have a very specific cadence that often doesn’t translate. But, this one made me curious because I was really interested to hear these lyrics about a girl who is obsessing over Paul. Curious? PS- The English version is called “7am”.


More info on Jacqueline Taïeb

More info on Yé Yé Rock

More info on Impact Records

“7 Heures du Matin” Lyrics (French)

Brenton Wood | Gimme Little Sign

23 06 2010

This 1967 release from American soul singer Brenton Wood, is an R&B classic that you may catch on satellite radio but has since gotten little attention on terrestrial radio. Despite numerous covers and even a few remixes, the original which was written by Wood himself still proves to me the most successful, reaching #9 on the R&B charts back when it was released. I recently discovered this old footage of Brenton performing “Gimme Little Sign” live. The footage is from Top of the Pops, circa 1968.   It’s truly some authentic late 60’s soul. I really love his energy in this performance… and his moves are pretty great too.

As a side note, Brenton’s real name is actually Alfred Jesse Smith. A Louisiana native, he changed it to Brenton Wood after relocating to Southern California as a boy and graduating Compton High School. It has been rumored that he came up with the stage name as an homage to the tony area of Los Angeles, Brentwood.   Oddly enough, Brenton has not totally disappeared. He released an album of new material as late as 2001, called This Love Is for Real.


Brenton Wood’s Official Site

More info on Brenton Wood

More info on “Gimme Little Sign”

Stax/Volt Revue | Live! in Europe 1967

17 05 2010

Back in 1967 Booker T & The MGs, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Arthur Conley and a host of other Stax artists took to the road. This was no ordinary tour either, this was a super charged European Tour that included some of the biggest names in American soul music. It was setup like a revue where every night was essentially the same program, starting out instrumental with Booker T, then it would slowly ramp up to Otis running through some of his biggest hits. A night in Oslo, Norway was captured on video and has since been released on DVD. That footage was edited down for a PBS special entitled “Sweet Soul Music: Stax Live in Europe 1967”. Below are six videos that together make up that PBS special. If played in their entirety, they will run right into each other. It’s about an hour of foot stomping fun, featuring some classic songs from some amazing talent.

The full set list is available at the bottom of this post. Keep in mind only a portion of that is captured in this abbreviated footage. Nevertheless, there are Stax hits like “Green Onions”, “Sweet Soul Music”, “Hold On, I’m Comin”, “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” and Otis’ cover of The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction”. I really love the final moments of this footage. To the surprise of the M.C., Redding struts offstage and returns again and again and yet again, barking out the chorus while the band thrashes away and the crowd relishes the chance to rush the stage. Just minutes later the show is over, and the Norwegian audience neatly files out wondering what the hell had just hit them. Just a few months later Otis was killed in a plane crash, marking this as one of his last recorded performances. It’s truly remarkable. The whole revue is an amazing show that captures the essence of the Stax label and it’s contribution to American Soul music.

Full Sweet Soul Music Setlist:

Booker T and the MGs
1. Red Beans And Rice
2. Green Onions

The Mar-Keys
3.Philly Dog
4.Grab This Thing
5.Last Night

Arthur Conley
6.In The Midnight Hour
7.Sweet Soul Music

Eddie Floyd
8. Raise Your Hand

Sam and Dave
9. You Don’t Know Like I Know
10. Soothe Me
11. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
12. Hold On! I’m Comin’

Otis Redding
13.Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)
14. My Girl
15. Shake
16. Satisfaction
17. Try A Little Tenderness


Buy the full Sweet Soul Music DVD on Amazon

More info on Stax Records

All About Jazz article/review

NY Times article/review

Press Release for the archived footage

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