The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Another Sunday is upon us, which means the moment has come again for some music time travel. Hop on board, fasten your seat belt and let’s do this!

Santana/Welcome

Our journey today starts in 1973 with jazz fusion by Santana – very different from Evil Ways, Jingo, Soul Sacrifice, Oye Cómo Va, Samba Pa Ti and, of course, Black Magic Woman, which brought Carlos Santana and the classic line-up of his band on my radar screen 40-plus years ago. Welcome is the title track of Santana’s fifth studio album released in November 1973, and the follow-on to Caravanserai, which had marked a major departure from their classic seductive blend of Latin grooves and rock to free-form instrumental jazz fusion. I have to admit it was an acquired taste, and I still need to be in the right mood to listen to this type of music. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to give this a listen. It’s amazing music!

Joe Jackson/Friend Better

After a six-and-a-half minute-trance-inducing instrumental, it’s time to add some vocals and pick something a bit more mainstream. Enter Joe Jackson, a British artist I’ve admired since ca. 1980 when I received his sophomore album I’m the Man as a present for my 14th birthday. Initially called “an angry young man,” Jackson quickly proved to be a versatile artist. Over a 40-year-plus-and-counting recording career, he has gone far beyond his origins of punk-oriented pub rock and embraced multiple other genres like new wave, big band jazz and pop. Friend Better is from Jackson’s most recent 20th studio album Fool, which came out in January 2019. All songs were written, arranged and produced by Jackson. I also got to see him during the supporting tour and thought he was still the man. If you’re so inclined, you can read more about Fool here and the gig here.

The Church/Reptile

For our next stop, let’s jump to February 1988 and The Church, and I’m not talking about a house of worship. That’s when Starfish came out, the Australian rock band’s fifth album, which brought them their international breakthrough. Fellow blogger Bruce from Vinyl Connection had a great post about this gem a couple of weeks ago. When back in the day I heard the album’s first single Under the Milky Way, I was immediately hooked by the amazing sound and got Starfish on CD right away. Only mentioning Milky Way gives me some chills. Okay, admittedly, I’m also listening to the bloody tune as I’m writing this! While this song undoubtedly is the best-known track on Starfish, there’s definitely more to the album. Point in case: Reptile, the second single, credited to all four members of the group Steve Kilbey (lead vocals, bass), Peter Koppes (guitars, lead vocals), Marty Willson-Piper (guitars, lead vocals) and Richard Ploog (drums, percussion). Kilbey remains the only original member in the Aussie band’s current incarnation.

The Temptations/Get Ready

I trust Motown legends The Temptations need no introduction. When it comes to multi-part harmony singing, the Detroit vocal group ruled in my book. If you haven’t heard it, check out their heavenly rendition of Silent Night, and you quickly know what I mean. This brings me to Get Ready, released in February 1966, the group’s third no. 1 single in the U.S. on Billboard’s R&B charts and their second top 10 on the UK Official Singles Chart. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson, the tune also appeared on The Temptations’ fourth studio album Gettin’ Ready, released in June that same year. Motown founder and head Berry Gordy Jr. wasn’t impressed with the song’s performance on the mainstream Billboard Hot 100 (no. 29). Subsequently, he replaced Robinson with Norman Whitfield as the group’s producer. Whitfield would become instrumental in shaping what became known as psychedelic soul in the late ’60s. Among others, he co-wrote and produced the epic Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.

Counting Crows/Mr. Jones

We’re starting to get into the final stretch with one of my all-time favorite tunes by Counting Crows and the ’90s for that matter. Like I bet was the case for many other music listeners as well, Mr. Jones brought the rock band from San Franciso on my radar screen when they suddenly burst on the scene in December 1993. Not only marked Mr. Jones the group’s breakthrough, but it also was their very first single. Interestingly, the lead single off their studio debut August and Everything Thereafter, which had come out three months earlier, failed to chart in the U.S. but proved successful elsewhere. Mr. Jones, co-written by Counting Crows guitarist and lead vocalist David Bryson and Adam Duritz, respectively, hit no. 1 in Canada and no. 13 in Australia. In the UK, it reached a respectable no. 28. I wonder whether American audiences felt the tune sounded too much like R.E.M. – not an unfair comparison, though it never bothered me. Last year, Counting Crows hit their 30th anniversary (unreal to me!). Bryson and Duritz remain part of the current line-up.

Little Richard/Tutti Frutti

And once again, this brings us to our final destination for this Sunday. While he called himself Little Richard, there was nothing small about Richard Wayne Penniman. The flamboyant artist was a giant of the classic rock & roll era, one of the most exciting performers who also wrote and co-wrote gems like Tutti Frutti, Slippin’ and Slidin’, Long Tall Sally and Jenny, Jenny. And I’m only talking about tunes from Richard’s debut album Here’s Little Richard released in March 1957. As was common at the time, it essentially was a compilation of Richard’s singles that had appeared earlier. Tutti Frutti, co-written by Penniman and Dorothy LaBostrie, had first been released in October 1955 and become Little Richard’s first U.S. hit, a no. 2 on Billboard’s R&B charts. It also reached the top 20 on the mainstream pop chart (no. 18). Inexplicably, at least from a musical perspective, Penniman never had a no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. His most successful tune there, Long Tall Sally, reached no. 6.

This wraps up another installment of The Sunday Six, folks, but we’ll embark on a new trip next Sunday. Meanwhile, this post wouldn’t be complete without a Spotify playlist of the above tunes.

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube; Spotify

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15 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

    1. Joe Jackson is an interesting artist who is quite versatile. I can hear your Steely Dan comparison. There’s a bit of early Dan “Do It Again” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” flair in “Friend Better”. I thought Jackson was also great live when I saw him in 2019 during the tour that supported the “Fool” album.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. It was early one morning in the 90s and I woke up to my radio play Mr. Jones. For a second I thought…COOL…a new Van Morrison song. I guess it was because it was early morning…but that is a great song.
    I like the Joe Jackson song.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Mr. Jones” always reminded me of R.E.M., but I also could see Van Morrison have done it. As I told Lisa earlier, I find Joe Jackson intriguing, versatile artist. That being said, I’m still mostly drawn to his first two albums. I also think Graham Maby who still plays with Jackson is a great bassist .

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Jackson is a talented guy…and very different. Dave has featured him quite bit…he can go from one style to another quite easily.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice picks. I always like to hear what Joe Jackson’s upto…I actually got on board his train with the ‘Look Sharp’s debut in ’79, though honestly I lost track of what he’s done after early 90s. An under-rated artist. And ‘Reptile’ ? Cheers! Same as you, ‘Under The Milky Way’ blew me away, I heard ‘Reptile’ infrequently on radio & got the album…really liked it. ‘Milky Way’ was my fave on it but ‘Reptile’ was still in my top 10 or 12 for that year…& it was a good year for music to boot

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My entry to Jackson was his second album “I’m the Man,” which I still would call my favorite. His backing band, especially bassist Graham Maby, was awesome.

      Have you ever heard “Volume 4” from 2003? Jackson had put together his early band for that album. I like that one as well!

      As for The Church, I dig their sound throughout the “Starfish” album. While “Milky Way” and “Reptile” are the standouts, the other tunes are pretty good as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, but I’ll keep it in mind… only thing that pops into my head of his that I heard a little that is quite recent was the ‘Night and Day Vol 2’ or whatever he called it, which sounded OK but to me lacked the fresh charm of the first one. Yes, ‘Starfish’ was quite good end to end.

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  3. I like Joe Jackson but hadn’t heard that song before – it’s really good.

    I would like to cover Counting Crows sometime – my wife has most of their albums and I’ve heard them. The singer has an annoying personality though IMO.

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    1. I also like Jackson’s album, “Fool,” from which I took the tune, which is his most recent studio release. While I’m most familiar with Counting Crow’s first album “August and Everything After”, I also have listened and like tunes from their other albums. Notably, they haven’t released any new music since 2014. Don’t really know why.

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  4. I’ve had a busy and rather stressful week (family visiting plus having my Instagram account hacked), so finally getting around to reading blog posts. Anyway, this is a great selection of songs, Christian. Have always liked Joe Jackson’s music, though I haven’t followed him as much over the past few decades. Love “Under the Milky Way” too, but haven’t really explored a lot of The Church’s music either. I need to remedy that, better late than never! “Reptile” is really good. And I love, love, love “Mr. Jones”, which is also one of my favorite songs of the 90s. I can’t believe it never made the Billboard Top 40, but that chart began its decline in the early 90s in my opinion.

    Counting Crows released a 4-track EP “Butter Miracle, Suite One” in May of last year, which included the single “Elevator Boots”, which spent 5 weeks at #2 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart. A second EP, “Butter Miracle, Suite Two” will be released later this year, and the two EPs will together form a full album titled “Butter Miracle.” Kind of an odd way to do it, but whatever works.

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