Solomon Burke

I often wonder when R&B legends like Solomon Burke hear decidedly non-funky white people like Phil Collins or Dan Ackroyd (?) covering their songs, do they think, “How cute. That decidedly non-funky white person is trying to sing my song,” or do they think, “If it weren’t for the royalty checks, I’d rip that [politically incorrect term for a white person]’s vocal cords out”? Just curious.

Solomon Burke AllMusic page

Ruth Brown

You know what would have been fun? Growing up when mambo was a thing. Can we bring that back? And while we’re at it, can we bring back singers who sound like Ruth Brown? Thanks.

Ruth Brown AllMusic page

Quiet Storm Divas

The reigning queens of 90s quiet storm (anyone remember when that was a thing?) present a study in contrasts. On the one hand, I actually really like Anita Baker, although more than one person has pointed out that it often sounds like she is singing with a mouth full of pebbles. On the other hand … I once read a review of Sade’s album Stronger Than Pride that read, in its entirety: “… and faster than Sominex*.” I couldn’t agree more.

*For you youngsters out there: Sominex is what we used to help us fall asleep before they invented melatonin.

Anita Baker AllMusic page

Sade AllMusic page

LaVern Baker

If someone told me that the only way I could ever hear LaVern Baker’s “Saved” again was to actually become saved, I’d … well, I’d need to think about it. On the one hand, it would be hard to give up boys. On the other, especially when you consider my luck with boys, LaVern starts to look pretty good.

LaVern Baker AllMusic page

King Curtis

Every time I see the name King Curtis, it makes me think of prog rock band King Crimson. That’s about all they have in common. For one, you could probably play King Curtis’s entire discography in less time than it takes to play one King Crimson song. For two, I actually like King Curtis.

King Curtis AllMusic page

Gil Scott-Heron

You know the whole Charlie Parker/Rhianna thing? Same with Gil Scott-Heron and … well, pretty much any rapper who came up after about 1995.

Gil Scott-Heron AllMusic page

Eighties Funk

By the time the 80s morphed into the 90s, the hard “thump” of funk had given way to the smoother “bip-bap” of hip-hop. This is a tribute to the last great group of funksters, who kept things interesting by adding plenty of new wave synthy weirdness. It was fun while it lasted …

Funk AllMusic page

Donny Hathaway

How much do I love Donny Hathaway? I even love his Christmas song—which, if you know how I feel about holiday music, is a very big deal. And yes, I’m including it. It’s December, so sue me.

Donny Hathaway AllMusic page


Big Mama Thornton

No offense to my fellow dudes, but if Big Mama Thornton took on Big Joe Turner, I’d put my money on Wille Mae every time.

Big Mama Thornton AllMusic page

Big Joe Turner

Proof the universe isn’t fair, part infinity: The little guys and the fat guys from the 50s (and before) have become legends, while the big guy (and girl) are barely remembered. And that doesn’t even touch Bill Haley’s weak cover of “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.”

Big Joe Turner AllMusic page