So this is the first of a few of what I call “Heavy Rotation” which in radio land means songs that are played frequently… since back in the day, radio stations used records which rotate! (There you go, you learned something today!) The term can still apply since a lot of us still use CDs, even though those are slowly becoming obsolete and now we rotate our fingers around our iPods’ wheel.
Anyway, I compiled a list of top albums I truly love and can have the title of being in Heavy Rotation when it comes to being played on my late stereos (may they rest in piece, collecting dust), car and computer CD players alike, and of course iSaac and other MP3 playing devices.
This list feature albums that came out before my time. Since we live in an age of countless “best of” albums, a majority of this list features those compilation albums or collections. However, I will provide the title of the album I actually own, just so you know I’m not making it up. So here are my favorite albums of my past. And by past, I mean before I was around in the later 80’s.
10. Earth Wind & Fire – Greatest Hits: Vol. 1 – This album only has 10 tracks on it, and this was the 3rd CD I ever owned I bought when I began my music listening career. Songs like Singasong, September and Getaway among countless others are always great songs to fall back on when I need to get out of a bad or gloomy mood.
9. The Jacksons – I don’t really have a specific album to cite here, but their music played a vital role while I was growing up. Yeah, I grew up in the late 80’s early 90’s, but this was the only music I was exposed to (besides Christmas songs and Disney tunes). Needless to say, I grew up listening to Michael’s entire catalogue and I have my reasons for not having the songs (not albums) Bad orThriller in iSaac’s memory. (Long story short, overplayed.)
8. The Isley Brothers –It’s Your Thing: The Story of the Isley Brothers – I found a 3 disc, “best of” collection. I love how half the songs can be upbeat and semi-partyish songs, especially a song like Shout, while others are for those making love songs like Don’t Say Goodnight. And hey, we all need a little romance in our lives sometimes. Even if there isn’t anyone around to romance with… as a writer, it puts me in the mood to pen something that needs that slow burn of seduction the Isleys easily churn out. Especially when such songs have their longer versions… and we can take a guess as to why they would make an extended version… Anyway, notable songs I love: Summer Breeze, This Old Heart of Mine, Love the One You’re With, Footsteps in the Dark, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, and my all time favorite For the Love of You.
7. Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On – I would choose again a “best of” collection for this guy, but I can’t find one that has ALL my favorites. So instead I’ll just pick the one that has the most, or at least one I actually own which features one of his most popular songs. This album is pretty much a baby-making album. Anytime you hear those beginning guitar wah-wahs, you know what time it is. But once I heard the EXTENDED version, I was like… I gotta own this. Little did I know that what I heard was someone who mixed Let’s Get It On with another track on the album called Keep Gettin’ it On. I don’t really need to explain what the song is about, do I? Anyway, there are some other lovely tracks. But by no means is that all of the Marvin Gaye songs I like.
6. Prince – Purple Rain – Thanks to some proofreading, scrolling through iSaac’s library, and some second and third glances, I realized I forgot to include Prince. There’s still so much more music I need to hear from this genius, but if I had to choose an album, it would be this one. I was going to include one of his many “greatest hits” albums, but c’mon now… Purple Rain! Plus this one qualifies to be on this list being released before I was born. The movie might be lacking in some respect, but the music is awesome, and for that I say it’s worth watching, especially when the title song is performed. When it comes to my iPod, this album is joined by many other Prince hits–past and present.
5. The Temptations – Emperors Of Soul – This is a 5 disc collector’s set. I begged my mom to loan me $70 at the time (I was 15 and refused to get a paper route). It was also a year or so after their bio-movie was on TV. Let me say this… I haven’t listened to the 4th disc of this collection at all. If I can, allow me to rate the discs: 2, 3, 1, 5, 4. Disc 2 contains what you would call “Classic Temptations” which has the legendary line-up including the one and only David Ruffin (My Girl, Losing You, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg). There are also a few awesome bonus previously unreleased tracks on that one (I love Heaven on Earth). Disc 3 has their rougher/psychadelic side (Cloud Nine, Can’t Get Next To You, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone) , disc 1 has their earliest “hits”… I say that because at that time, they were still struggling. Then disc 5 has their most recent material, and the only song I was familiar with was Treat her Like A Lady.
4. & 3. Definitive Collections – I can’t choose between the next two greats. I mean, I had a hard time putting the Tempts in 5th place on this awesome list. And the next few all deserve #2 next to my #1. So without really saying there’s a 3rd or 4th, find their defining best of’s…
Al Green – I never owned an actual Al Green album, but he recently came out with one last year that he’s been nominated for a Grammy. I shall definitely pick it up in the near future. But he’s been making hits all his life and idolizes my idol, Sam Cooke. The songs on this best of album, truly hit after hit. Tired of Being Alone, Love and Happiness, L-O-V-E… Those three alone I could set on repeat for an hour. Between the lyrics, the instruments, and the voice only Al Green could sing with… However, thanks to this album I gained some new favorites like Perfect to Me which I swear I’d sing to some lucky girl some day. ;o) I just want to make an honorable mention of Simply Beautiful which isn’t on this album, but worth checking out. I wrote it into a scene and I pray whenever I get to make the movie I wrote it into, I get the clearance for it.
Stevie Wonder – Another living legend that has a career that puts so many to shame. Well, I don’t know who I’m referring to by that… but this double album speaks for itself. I got to be honest (as I usually am) but I seriously forget that this man is blind. And once I take that into account, I just marvel that much more about the wonderful music he has created. However, on this album, one of my favorite songs, As, is the short version. If you can find it, and you upload it to your iPod, make sure you switch it out with the extended version of that song. Other favorite songs of mine: I Wish, Yester-me Yester-You Yesterday, Signed Sealed Delivered and Living For the City. And I guess it’s a song that wasn’t that well known, but I’ve grown to love I’m Wondering. Needless to say (yet I’m saying it anyway) there are tons of other greats on here. Me being picky, I shortened this double album to just one… but that’s just me.
2. Curtis Mayfield – Live 1971 – I don’t really know if that’s the name of the album, but it’s one of my favorites at the moment. It was hard to choose just one because there’s the Superfly soundtrack and yet another collection of his greatest hits when he was solo, and with The Impressions–which by the way are must owns–but I chose this live album because I felt it contained some real soul, groove and funk of his personality and music. It just felt raw and I loved that. And I love hear the audience react to what he was saying and singing. The other thing it did is made me feel like I was there, at that time, and I know a little bit of history so I know what was going on and how Blacks in America were going through. Mayfield knew it to and kept it real with his audience. Besides that album, I highly respect all the music he has made over his impressive career. Notable songs I really enjoy are The Makings of You (this version I think is better than the studio version), I Plan to Stay a Believer, We’re a Winner and People Get Ready. A song very few people seem to know about but is supremely awesome and deserves an honorable mention: P.S. I Love You. The album it’s on is hard to find, so I suggest picking up the Superbad movie soundtrack. There are a number of other awesome songs on that album, but it doesn’t fit this list.
1. Sam Cooke – One Night Stand! Live at the Harlem Club Square, 1963 – According to history, this album didn’t get it’s first release date until about 20 years after it was recorded. Instead, Sam at the Copa was released but compared, this album was much more superior. Similar to the Curtis’s live album I mentioned before… it’s raw, it’s real, it’s what soul is all about. This is one album I refuse to listen to any old way–it must be played beginning to end. It’s only under 40 minutes, but it’s the best 40 minutes I can spend in my life. It’s the subject of one of my recent screenplays. And it’s the album I say time and time again that if I had to take one CD with me on a deserted album, this is the one I’d bring. There’s so much I could say about this but I don’t think even I could do it justice… but I’m willing to do my best if I ever get the chance to get that script produced. Now I’m still just talking about the music and emotion that the album sets you in, as a listener. This is the album that made me wish I was alive and able to be at this show. But let’s talk about the legend. Mr.. Soul. I’ve said it countless times before, but he needs his own biopic. Sure, the movies we have so far of Ray Charles, The Temptations, Little Richard and the rumored biopic of Marvin Gaye are all well deserved… but this is the man who started it all! I even have the perfect teaser trailer for it. But more on that later. If you don’t know Sam, I suggest you do some homework. Fortunately, the CD people have made it easy and released a 4 disc album with practically every song he’s recorded. Almost. They gave his gospel recordings with the Soul Stirrers it’s own collection of discs. Surprisingly, I don’t own all of these, shame on me. However, any recording of him live? Awe. Some. You want some real singing? Bump American Idol! This is what it’s all about. No, A Change is Gonna Come isn’t sung live here. According to my research, he didn’t record or release it yet. However, what I believe is the highlight is the intro to and the actual song Bring It On Home to Me. To get a taste of what this album is, I suggest checking out the first 10 minutes of the movie Ali starring Will Smith. In fact, this is the very movie that started my fascination with Sam Cooke’s music and I was determined to find that song and specifically that version. David Elliot, who starred as Sam, was good and it is on the Ali soundtrack… but it still doesn’t compare to the original. And you can believe I nearly exploded once I learned that there even was an original. Since it came in the mail, this has been the #1 album that has the heaviest rotation of all time. Well, with me anyway.