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The CHIRP Blog

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Don Cornelius Edition

He was a journalist who came up with one of the most popular syndicated music programs ever, bringing soul, funk and hip hop stars to larger audiences. There had been tons of record hop shows on television, but none geared so specifically towards black music until Cornelius started up Soul Train here in Chicago, on WCIU-TV, Channel 26, in 1970. The show was an instant sensation, and within a year, Cornelius moved it to L.A. as it went national. He hosted the show until 1993, closing every show by saying "... and you can bet your last money, it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!" Soul Train broke out beyond the African American community and became a trendsetting show, as everyone watched the Soul Train dancers (who included, briefly, future Chicago Bears great Walter Payton), the Soul Train Scramble Board and a lengthy list of great performers. Cornelius was the epitome of laid back cool, emphasizing a positive message and adding legitimacy to great music and a culture that wasn’t seen before on national TV. Let’s salute Don Cornelius by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. The Features – The Drawing Board (Some Kind of Salvation): This song somehow melds an Eastern folk feeling with a bit of R & B, with The Features built in new wave meets alt-rock (the good kind) sonics. The result is a very cool tune.
  2. Tommy Keene – We Started Over Again (Ten Years After): One of my favorite Tommy Keene song, which starts soaring with the chorus right at the beginning. This is wide screen power pop. The verses are warm, thoughtful and mid-tempo, and make passing the time until the next awesome chorus quite enjoyable.
  3. Blitzen Trapper – The Tree (Destroyer of the Void): A folk duet with guest vocalist Alela Diane. These guys won me over during a Pitchfork appearance. While Blitzen Trapper dabbles in other genres, I like ‘em best when they recreate ‘70s folk pop to perfection, like on this track.
  4. Big Boi (featuring Little Dragon) – Descending (Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors): The second Big Boi solo album didn’t have as many great tunes as the first, but it’s pretty interesting. On this track, he works with the Swedish electronic band Little Dragon. Big Boi doesn’t rap, instead singing on this nice, but unexceptional, languid track with a simple rhythm and acoustic guitar.
  5. Fugu – The Best of Us (Fugu 1): French artist who is inspired by the baroque pop of the ‘60s, like The Left Banke and The Zombies. This is silky smooth pop with a nifty horn arrangement.
  6. Boz Scaggs – Near You (Moments): A laid back number from Boz’s third album. His earliest music was sophisticated take on blues rock. On this album, Boz really began transitioning to more R & B/pop oriented material, and this song certainly foreshadows the type of material that made Silk Degrees a classic.
  7. Stiff Little Fingers – Sad Eyed People (Now Then...): SLF was running out of steam creatively by the time of this 1982 album, but they still had some fine numbers up their sleeve. This is a big guitar number that is somewhat punky but edges closer to the anthemic post-punk that was on the way from folks like U2 and Big Country.
  8. K-os – Catdiesel (Atlantis: Hymns For Disco): A really funky rhythm track on this tune from the Toronto hip-hop artist. I like how he contrasts that with the stately melodic verses. A best of both worlds approach.
  9. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Spanish Castle Magic (Axis: Bold As Love): Hendrix just tears into this riff, and Mitch Mitchell really drives things with his drums. I love how basic the foundation of this song is, but the band’s overall creativity takes it to another level.
  10. Brian Wilson – Barnyard (Smile): A short interlude, with the expected animal noises, on Wilson’s version of this Beach Boys album. I actually prefer Wilson’s solo version, as I think his aged voice is a better fit for Van Dyke Parks’ lyrics.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: don cornelius, ipod, mp3

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