Released in 1973 from the album, Neither One of Us, the song spent four weeks at number one on the Soul Singles chart during the spring of that year. The song was also one of their biggest crossover hits, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, behind “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence. It was one of the group’s last hits with Motown before leaving for Buddah Records. It also won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
“You’re a Special Part of Me” was a successful duet single for soul singers and Motown label mates Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, released in 1973. The original duet was one of the few originals featured on their famed album, Diana & Marvin, and was among the most successful of the songs the Motown label mates made reaching #4 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart and #12 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.
There are several mixes of this song which have been released: the single mix, the album mix, the Japanese Quadraphonic album mix, and an alternate mix released in 1995 on the “Motown Year By Year: 1973” CD, which clocks in at 4:29.
First off, I’ve been gone a long time. I know I popped back on late last year with the promise of new posts, but you know how life has a way of getting in the way of things on your “to do” list. Here we are six months later and I’m just now getting back to this blog. Sorry for the delay.
Before I get started, I would like to shout out a friend of mine who is battling brain cancer. He has shown nothing but courage during his initial fight and is a true example of how to handle a difficult situation. His name is Garnet and it would be really great if you could drop by his blog, http://garnetstevens.wordpress.com/, and leave a message of support. It would mean a lot to me. Also, if you’re on Facebook (which I know you are), please ‘like’ his page by clicking here.
Now, getting down to business, today’s post is about a song I’ve come to enjoy over the past six months. It’s called “So Many Ways..” and it’s by an artist named Barbara Jean English. I have been bumping the song in my iPod constantly as it puts me in one crazy mood. I’ll get to that in a bit. First, listen to the song:
Miss English is an artist that I wasn’t familiar with going into this post (aside from listening to the song), so what do you do when you don’t know something about someone? You go to Wikipedia. Unfortunately, in this case, there is no Wikipedia page for her. Weak. How can there be a raggedy Wikipedia page about me and not about her?
Fortunately for us (you and me), a quick Google search lead me to a few pages from bloggers who have already blogged about this particular song. A post on a blog called Funk My Soul reveals:
Barbara Jean English was a member of the popular New Jersey girl group the Clickettes and recorded many pop-soul sides with them in the late ’50s and ’60s. She returned in the ’70s to record two albums of lushly produced soul with a concentration on sensual ballads. After a brief hiatus, she re-teamed with the Clickettes in the ’90s to tour the oldies circuit. “I’m Living A Lie” is included in several northern soul compilations. A great cover of Bacharach/David “Don’t Make Me Over” and Francis Lai “Love Story” are the highlights of this forgotten gem.
Good Stuff. An additional blog named Classic and Rare Soul Sisters 50s – 70s gives a little more info:
Classic New Jersey soul from one of the best (and least-known) singers of the early ’70s! Barbara Jean English was a member of the popular girl group the Clickettes and recorded many pop-soul sides with them in the late ’50s and ’60s. Before that, she had been a member of The Gospelettes, The Bouquets, The Ding Dongs and The Avalons. In the early ’60 she recorded as Barbara English and The Fashions and, in the mid ’60s, she released five singles for Mala, Reprise, Warner Bros. and Aurora under the name of Barbara English (one of them appears here). She returned in the ’70s to record two albums for the Althia label (best known as the home of the Escorts) of lushly produced soul with a concentration on sensual ballads. Her first LP, So Many Ways… (1972), has sort of a hard soul feel to it. She has a very engaging, rich voice which is the perfect counterpart to the silky melodies and warm grooves on display here. After a brief hiatus in the late ’70s, when she recorded again as Barbara English, she re-teamed with the Clickettes in the ’90s to tour the oldies circuit.
Ok, so we know she’s from Jersey, her big group was The Clickettes, and she was in a group called the Ding Dongs. LOL. Whenever I hear the words ding dong, I think of Shorty from the Ice Cube fronted rap group Da Lench Mob and his classic line at the 1:43 mark of the song “Guerillas in the Mist” that was simply “SO MUTHAFUCKAS GET THE DING DONG”. Fuck it, peep for yourself and imagine him in the booth doing that punch in. Hhah
Moving on, I really do love the song “So Many Ways”. The first, and most obvious reason, is that she is singing her ass off and has beautiful voice. The cut is rock solid on all fronts. Soul.
Even more than liking the music and her voice, the song lyrics are pure magic to my ears. The main reason I listen to this song over and over is the personification of the river and how it’s out to get her. This is the shit dreams are made of to me as throughout my life I have always bugged and tried to figure out what non-human and inanimate objects are thinking. It’s true (and no I’m not going down to Bellevue…) Let’s look at the first and most important verse:
I’m gonna take me a walk by the river
And I’m gonna jump, jump right in
I’m gonna curse that muddy ole water
Cause that river knows that I can’t swim
Oh Lord, the trouble I’m in
Granted, this is far from the first song or cliche to say things are alive, but this definitely gets a hell the fuck yeah from me!! People that know me well often wonder how I lived in LA for 12 years and never got in the ocean. They are alarmed to find out that I’ve been to Hawaii for weeks and never stepped foot in the water. Now you know…it’s because that shit is alive and I know it wants to get me. Contrary to the lyrics in the song, I can swim, but P don’t fuck around with no ocean. Swimming pools, yes. Lake Michigan, yes. Ocean, no. The last time I got in the ocean, I was 18 years old in Negril Jamaica. I skeptically waded out to the sandbar and a dread came up, said his name was Star, and shook my hand. He had 12 fingers. The little vienna weenie looking shits dangling off his hands past his pinky fingers freaked me out so I promptly exited the water and made a b line for a spliff.
FYI, these inanimate objects can be anything. I’m on some ole Thomas The Train shit when I see the stankin ass C train coming into the station. I can actually see a face on the front and I know that shit wants to take people out. Chairs are on some Pee Wee Herman Chairy shit. Really, anything and everything around you could be plotting your demise right now. A plasma TV wants to fall on you. A toilet seat wants to crack and cut that ass so you bleed to death. A door may want to slam on your face while the ceiling caves in on you. The ground could one day just open up and swallow you. Crazier shit has been known to happen. For real.
Anyway, one of the blogs I mentioned above had a link to the album in the comments section. I checked the link and it’s still good …so knock yourself out:
The Ruffin Brothers – I Am My Brothes Keeper (OG Ad for the single “Stand By Me”)
The Ruffin Brothers – I Am My Brothes Keeper (Color cover)
Damn, is David’s head really that much smaller than Jimmy’s head?
Anyway, I just listened to this entire record and it was soulful for sure…just wasn’t the most amazing LP I’ve ever heard. I could def chop some of it up into some hot tracks, which I may do, but as far as listening to it again…it’s gonna get buried in my itunes so it’ll resurface here and there. I think my favorite joint on here is definitely “Your Love Was Worth Waiting For” as I like the song and these brothers were doing their thing.
If you want to grab the album, download it here.
Btw, I’m a huge fan of David Ruffin….his life, his music, The Temptations, and his legacy as one of the best voices of all time. RIP Mr. Ruffin.
The Ruffin Brothers – Didn’t I Blow Your Mind (This Time):
Dope and tripped out packaging…very reminiscent Jimi Hendrix’s, non nude, Electric Ladyland cover, eh? Don’t believe me, take a look for yourself (below). Old school style biting.
Regardless of the blatant bite, which still happens all the time and is actually something I enjoy when its done well or in tribute, the songs on the album speak for themselves. I wish Ghostface was here inside of this post to pop out and say “Niggas bit off Nas Shit!!!!”..
Btw, Tina is the original Beyonce….She would’ve gotten the business so bad and still looks amazing to this day (for her age).
Ike & Tina Turner – Let Me Touch Your Mind
This some some serious ad copy: “Six hours of contemporary history edited to the essence of human entertainment”.
The Wattstax lineup was stellar and I wish I could go back in time to be there. Who can forget Rufus Thomas’s loud suit, Isaac Hayes rockin a chain shirt, and the Bar Kays putting in work on “Son of Shaft”. I haven’t watched or listened to Wattstax in a long time, but I’m definitely due for a refresher viewing…even if it’s just to see the mega infield dancing that resembles the world’s biggest Soul Train line. It’s not the absolute greatest shit of all time, but def worth your time if you’re not in the know. Also, If you listen close to the record, you’re going to hear a few famous vocal samples.
For those of you on phones and garbage monitors, the album lineup is: Issac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, The Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas, & The Soul Children
Richard Pryor narrated trailer:
The caption on this one is:
“Never before in the history of show business have so many working black entertainers congregated in one city at the same time. During one week this winter, the above performers were appearing in Las Vegas with still additional stars (see marquees on opposite page) starting the next week. Pictured 1st row, left to right, George Kirby, Harry Belafonte, Nancy Wilson, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald (half hidden), Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams; 2nd row, Redd Foxx, Billy Daniels, conductor George Rhodes, Herb Mills, and Donald Mills of the Mills Brothers, Jimmy Randolph and 3rd row, Harry Mills, Sonny Charles, music conductors Bobby Tucker, Paul Curry, and Tommy Flannigan.”
My question to you…do we even have enough black star power today to make a photo worthy of being in the same class with this?
James Brown & Beer = Two of my favorite things in my life and world.
This might be one of the dopest ads of all time as it combines live action concert shots, JB hippin’ you to some game on how to stay on top, pushing some brew on you, and it has a big ass frosty mug filled to the top with beer at the bottom.
RIP JB…I, and millions like me, will never forget you. Good God!!
Stevie Wonder is one of my favorite artists of all time. I’ve seen Stevie at least 6 or 7 times and he just keeps getting better and better. He will definitely be a reoccurring theme in my posts. I’ve got some Stevie stories…but I’ll save them for future posts. For now, I’ll just appreciate this beautiful ad.
Btw, Tammi was looking good in that little bubble. It’s interesting to note the Motown slogan at the bottom, “The Sound of Young America”. They sure were.