Tag Archives: 1968

The Impressions – Stay Close To Me (1968)

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Close to you, close to me… get it? The pressing of the LP This Is My Country looks and reads as if it should be a protest album by Chicago-based The Impressions. However, aside of the title track, the album was anything but. For example, the Curtis Mayfield-penned track ‘Stay Close To Me’ sounds more like upbeat Motown than gritty Chicago soul. In fact, The Five Stairsteps & Cubie version would become a Northern Soul dance floor staple. Both records were released in 1968 on Mayfield’s Curtom Records label. Have a great weekend.

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Françoise Hardy – Comment Te Dire Adieu? (1968)

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Singer-songwriter, fashion icon, muse, Françoise Madeleine Hardy was a leading figure of the French music scene in the 1960s. By the latter part of that decade, she was working with such luminaries as Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg. ‘Comment Te Dire Adieu?’ is a composition by the latter and features on her untitled 1968 album, which has become also known by the title of the opening song. Smouldering lounge sounds and yé-yé.

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Otis Redding – Hard To Handle (1968)

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Otis Redding 1968

Kanye West and Jay-Z sang about Otis Redding in 2011 and took the opportunity to feature soul singer’s classic version of ‘Try a Little Tenderness‘. But to me, if someone asks me to think of a standout Otis track, I always call upon the funk sound and the vocal hooks of ‘Hard To Handle’. The single was released posthumously on ATCO Records, in the same year the world was tragically robbed of his talent.

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Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations ‎- I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (1968)

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The Supremes & The Temptations

Some Friday morning soul. ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ was released by Motown as part of Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations ‎– a collaboration between Motown’s two best selling groups that the label released in 1968. Written by Kenneth Gamble and Jerry Ross, the song was originally a hit for Dionne Warwick’s sister, Dee Dee. Have a great weekend.

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The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year (1968)

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The Zombies

The cold has set in and this week’s posts may be a little lower key than usual. ‘This Will Be Our Year’ is shorter and less well known than its set fellow ‘Time Of The Season’, but it is better in my humble opinion. Both tracks featured on The Zombies 1968 masterpiece Odessey and Oracle. I have an inkling that my preference may be because the piano work on this particular track reminds me of ‘Penny Lane’.

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Lorez Alexandria – I’m Wishin’ (1968)

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Lorez Alexandria

Dolorez Alexandria Turner was a jazz and gospel singer. She worked the local Chicago club scene before moving to L.A. in 1962 to further her career. In 1968, Alexandria recorded the soul number ‘I’m Wishin’’ for producer Paul Gayten’s Pzazz label. It featured on the album Didn’t We. Like the album, the song marks a move away from her jazz routes and showcases the most soulful of voices.
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Led Zeppelin – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (1968)

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Led Zeppelin 1968

Now for the real thing. The first song (‘Good Times Bad Times’) on Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut may have introduced the band’s confident and unique sound, but what followed did something more. While it sounded like another evil-woman blues “ramble”, Jimmy Page and gang had in fact selected and transformed a Joan Baez record for the second track. ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ would draw on folk music and give them the confidence to do so again and again, however heavy their journey became. Zep… what a great way to mark my 1000th post.” And I know that one day, baby, it’s gonna really grow, yes it is.”

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William Bell – I Forgot to be Your Lover (1968)

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William Bell

Many years before Van Morrison asked the question “Have I told you lately that I love you?”, William Bell used these charms on his biggest Stax hit, 1968’s “I Forgot to Be Your Lover”. The song was produced in collaboration with Booker T. Jones.

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Spirit – Taurus (1968)

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Spirit

It starts out like a TV theme, but then the unmissable sound of ‘Stairway To Heaven’… hold on, not quite… this was 1968, a whole 2-3 years before Zep’s untitled fourth album. Spirit were onto something.

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James Brown – Santa Claus, Santa Claus (1968)

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James Brown as Santa

Good Christmas music is an oxymoron, but if you look hard enough, you can find. And so I serve up another slice of melancholy with James Brown’s 1968 cut ‘Santa Claus, Santa Claus’. Brown is someone that invested in the festive season with a trio of Christmas-themed albums James Brown Sings Christmas Songs (1966), A Soulful Christmas (1968) and Hey America It’s Christmas (1970) during a time when he was reinventing soul. “Santa Claus, Santa Claus/Please, don’t make me suffer so.”

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Ramsey Lewis – Les Fleur (1968)

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Ramsey Lewis 1960

Minnie Riperton would go on to create her own classic version of ‘Les Fleur’ with Ramsey Lewis’s group providing the jazz rhythm. But not before she had already provided her incredible vocal range to Ramsey Lewis’s original of the Charles Stepney and Richard Rudolph-penned track. This arrangement featured on the pianist’s 1968 album ‘Maiden Voyage’. Riperton’s version was later covered by 4hero, with Carina Andersson trying to fill the impossibly large pair of vocal shoes/chords.

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The Doors – Touch Me (1968)

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the-doors-1969

Jim Morrison and the output of his band were in decline by their fourth album. But that descent was from a heady summit and there were still many high passes to enjoy. On The Soft Parade, the influence of The Beatles had Ray Manzarek’s playing his harpsichord against the backdrop of a full orchestra. ‘Touch Me’ also includes a level of crooning that Neil Hannon would be proud of and a sax solo by Curtis Amy that would not feel out of place on a Spandau Ballet track.

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The Turtles – You Showed Me (1968)

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The Turtles

‘You Showed Me’ was a song composed by Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark in the early 196os, before their partnership with David Crosby to form The Byrds. The song would never make to the front line of The Byrds’ canon, missing the cut of their classic debut long player Mr. Tambourine Man. In step The Turtles, who had first become acquainted with the song after hearing Clark, McGuinn and Crosby perform it at The Troubadour club in L.A. The Turtles added something distinct by giving it its familiar slow beat. And as for me, I became acquainted when De La Soul sampled that beat for the interlude ‘Transmitting Live From Mars’ on their 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising. “Ecoutez: ‘A midi’/ Quel heure est-il?” Have a great weekend.

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Friend & Lover – Reach Out Of The Darkness (1968)

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Friend & Lover

Jim and Cathy Post’s marriage didn’t last that long, but while they were together they wrote this enduring slice of psychedelic rock. They probably did not realise it at the time, but the combination of a pressing on Verve Records, that opening drum break and the upbeat “I think it’s so groovy now” would stand it in good stead as a regular funk sample.

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David Axelrod – Holy Thursday (1968)

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David Axelrod

In 2008, Lil Wayne announced that he was saving other rappers from their lack of concepts, originality and weak flow. While the metaphor of ‘Dr. Carter’ may not have been subtle with its use of life support machines etc., the selection of a David Axelrod production as the lead sample was clever. Axelrod was a producer for Capitol Records who recorded dozens of great jazz, funk and soul records in the 1960s. He released his own debut album, Song of Innocence in 1968. As exemplified in the grandeur of ‘Holy Thursday’, the sound was full of concepts and originality. Wayne was not the first to mine the Axelrod catalogue; fans of DJ Shadow will be familiar with his orchestrated breakbeats.

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