Cupid’s Hunt 2017: The Tenth Anniversary Special

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cupid hunt vintage artwork.jpgAs always, I am honored by an invite to the musical love fest known as Cupid’s Hunt. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Mr. Grundy’s open source rhythmic orgy, I’m serving up two episodes. Duets is 2017’s theme. We need each other and each others’ love right now, TODAY, more than ever. Solo play is necessary, fun and easier to clean up. However, these are tryin’ times and we need to be with our tribe- be they family, friends, lovers or others. Grab a partner and in the words of Jim Gilstrap, “Swing Your Daddy”.

Cupid’s Hunt 2017 Duets: The A Side

I Knew You Were Waiting (Aretha Franklin & George Michael)/Saturday Love (Cherrelle & Alex. O’Neal)/I Can’t Complain (Freddie Jackson & Melba Moore)/Take Me, I’m Yours (Michael Henderson & Phyllis Hyman)/I Don’t Do Duets (Patti LaBelle & Gladys Knight)/All I Want is Forever (JT Taylor & Regina Belle)/Two Hearts (Stephanie Mills & Teddy Pendergrass)/Street Corner (Ashford & Simpson)/Too Much, Too Little, Too Late (Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams)We Both Need Each (Norman Connors & Phyllis Hyman), Then Came You (The Spinners)/Islands in the Stream (Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers)/The Girl is Mine (Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney)

Cupid’s Hunt 2017 Duets: The B Side

Weakness (Stevie Wonder & Dionne Warwick)/Guilty (Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb)/Love All the Hurt Away (Aretha Franklin & George Benson)/Friends and Lovers (Carl Anderson)/What About Me (Kenny Rogers, James Ingram & Kim Carnes)/One More for the Lonely Hearts Club (David Ruffin & Eddie Kendrick)/Be Real Black for Me (Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway)/I Who Have Nothing (Luther Vandross and Martha Wash)/How Do You Keep the Music Playing (James Ingram and Patti Austin)/Mathematics of Love (George Clinton & Kim Burrell)/Hold Me (Teddy Pendergrass and Whitney Houston)/The Last Time I Made Love (Jeffery Osborne and Joyce Kennedy)/Tonight (Kem and Marissa Rose)/Send It (Ashford & Simpson)

 

Please check out the supremely talented music bloggers participating in Cupid’s Hunt over at http://www.cupidshunt.com

The Sunday Slowdown Episode 1: Back to the Old School

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Soft and warm, a quiet storm. Quiet as when flowers talk at break of dawn, break of dawn. A power source of tender force generatin’, radiatin’. Turn me on, turn them on.” Smokey Robinson, “Quiet Storm”

If you lived in Washington, DC, WHUR’s Melvin Lindsey was playing “Quiet Storm”,  as intro music devoted to three hours of slow tunes and love music. What Melvin Lindsey began at Howard University’s WHUR station would become a universal clock.  In Chicago, WJPC exchanged Smokey for Teddy, and every night at 7pm, WJPC would go down-tempo and slow-drag with the “Love for Two” program.  The program opened with a full play of Teddy Pendergrass’s  1985 hit single “Love 4/2”.   It signaled we could leave behind the fescennine promise that we’d be “moving on up” through devotion to the slaughterhouse 9:5 hustle. We exchanged the encumberances of our proletariat uniforms for freedom expressed through the honey soaked mercies of Minnie Riperton or  wood-aged agony of Bobby Womack.

Whether it was sensual Smokey, or Ready Teddy, the close of the evening bought the best in slow jams, relaxed soul and love songs. If you weren’t in love, you wanted to be in love. Brilliant interpretations were delivered by falsetto-singing men, alto-swearing women, and the harmonies of EWF, LTD, Enchantment, ConFunkShun, The Emotions, The Manhattans, The Dramatics.  Ear pressed to speakers, we sank into epiphoric melodies delivered on lips swollen and bruised from bursting air into horns and fingers scathed from a bare run across strings.

It was tortured love, everlasting love, forbidden love, first love, and lust. In as much as we looked for a mellow end to a hectic day, the DJ could pick a selection that drove us into the insane, darker corners of our heart. One night everything could be cured with Luther Vandross, a hot bath and a completely inoffensive glass of White Zinfandel. Other nights, rotating Enchantment’s “It’s You that I Need”, Al Green’s “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart”,  Sade’s “You’re Not the Man” and  ConFunkShun’s “Love Train” led to uncut Hennessy X.O.measured by the cup rather than the ounce, burning letters, ripping mementos, knocking phones off the hook, and waking up on a cold wooden floor in a puddle of tears and drained by a night screaming at the walls and cursing out shadows.

Forbidden and ridiculed in daylight, we seek loves’ favor with moonrise, and admit our desire for tenderness and the vulnerability of need.  Marvin or Anita, Roberta or Will, Peabo or Jill..gives us professional recitations of poetry that amplify our lamentations, exalt our desperation and scold our lust. Sounds extract mirrors from our heart, a matelasse reflection of soldered heartbreaks and triumphs.

The Pleasure Palace is incapable of matching the selections from the crates of the grates. In this inaugural episode of the Sunday Slowdown, we’ve gerrymandered a sample of the best by the best. It probably helps to be on the evening shade of 35 to enjoy this love affair with the classics. Whether these sounds make you walk backwards in your mind or it’s your freshman course in Love Songs,  experience love as it is meant to sound…..

Sunday Slowdown Ep. 1: Back to the Old School.

(Click Highlighted Words)

Spotlight: Maxwell

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Don’t ever wonder…..if this brotha can still make sweat taste sweet. Whether or not he gets as much “babymaking” cred as Barry White and Teddy Pendergrass, he is one of the most original, melodic and sophisticated soul crooners of the 21st century.

In the earlier 90’s, Hip-Hop, West Coast Rap and New Jack style powered R&B radio. In 1996, Maxwell competed with Tupac, R.Kelly, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, The Fugees, Ginuwine and Keith Sweat for positions on the Pop, Rap and R&B charts. But where his contemporaries bragged about raping, robbing, killing and accumulating street life credibility, he was crooning returning to the basics of life: love, and lust. He was Uptown afro-boho elan. He was that kid always rocking no-name gear that suddenly became the hotness just because HE was stylin’ it.  Everybody knew him without knowing a damn thing about him. He was that dude, that cat, that cool-ass mofo everybody touched but could never quite embrace. Who was this cat?

Before Maxwell, a half-smooth, quarter-cool cat could charm the naivete off a preachers daughter with some Manischewitz Blackberry Wine & Olive Garden take-out, Night Queen incense and Keith Sweat.  Despite profit-making success, neither Sweat nor his “drop your drawers” contemporary R.Kelly, possessed a true balladeers voice.  Dismissing the loving nature of his songs, Keith Sweat was accused of whining and begging his way into the bedroom. He lost favor with male fans and was ridiculed out of the R&B slow-drag spotlight.  R. Kelly, having released both 12 Play (1993) and R. Kelly (1995), was busy building bridges of contractions as he produced albums  intertwining sexually aggressive jack-n-jill rhymes with cathartic gospels. The mind behind “Bump-n-Grind” and “I Like the Crotch on You”, delivered an apogean spiritual in “I Believe I Can Fly”.

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite awakened the Kundalani sensuality absent from soul’s music. In truth, we were probably confused when “Ascencion (Don’t Ever Wonder)” hit R&B radio in Spring 1996. We’d ceded love songs to Luther,  and while Luthers’ genius was without question, he was not an heir to the musical complexity and depth of Marvin or Stevie. The cool heat of his delivery was no match for Barry’s baritone. His refined expressions, and fully clothed head to toe, were a counterpoint to Teddy’s Mandingo superlover persona- half-naked, chocolate sweat dripping down to crotch-straggling hot pants.  Luther was great, but  he was clean. Inasmuch as love songs are about romance, they are also about sex. In real life expression, sexuality is dirty, naughty, lustful and incoherent. Vanilla ice cream has its place, but the fully developed tongue desires more palatial adventures in dining.

Maxwell’s, fluid, mollitious and evocative debut was soul rebirthed at its most voluptuousness. It was sandalwood oil and patchouli incense mixed into Egyptian cotton sheets, stroked dry with Turkish towels, and boozy with fresh fruit and Eiswein.    He had Lenny Kravitz looks, and Smokey Robinson smooth. He gave grace and a grown-man gentleness to the new R&B movement. He was a  welcome antidote to the  heavy rotation of hard rap hegemony of R&B radio. If R. Kelly was the speed-dial “break your back-out” type that handled “meet you at the HoJo” 4am service calls, then Maxwell was The Peninsula, with imported roses, honey-n-milk baths, hot stone massages, and Grand Siecle.

From 1996 through 2001, Maxwell delivered four albums, ripe and indulgent pleasures.  After 2001’s Now, he took a hiatus long enough to make us serious wonder if he and D’Angelo were living on the same island. In his absence the rising contemporary male R&B singers would replace depth and artistry in love songs with empty, juvenile lyrics and hyper-swagger. Love-making was for metrosexuals and sissies. Real men banged it in, tore it up and wore it out.  R.Kelly ascended into unrivaled stardom.  His reductive lyrics and on-stage antics denigrated love. R&B music began to sound like a porn flick soundtrack.

When 2010 bought Maxwell back with BLACKsummers’night, erotic sighs of relief sang from between womens’ legs. Funkier than Maxwell’s fanbase might be used to, its’ first two releases, Pretty WingsBad Habits, reestablished Maxwell’s  grown-man blueprint for smooth seduction.

Spotlight: Maxwell