We have an awful lot on our minds these days and much work to do, but with summer arriving for the northern end of the globe in just a few days, here’s hoping you can find some moments of fun and comfort during this favorite of seasons.
In the early 70’s, War put out a string of hits ranging from the socially restive – “The World is a Ghetto” and “Slippin’ into Darkness” – to the upbeat – “All Day Music” and “Summer”.
This recording of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess is by Stan Getz from 1964’s Getz au Go Go. Performing on the track is then 21-year old vibraphonist Gary Burton, already showing his budding virtuoso talent (see this post from 2017 celebrating his retirement).
For songs that evoke the joy of summer, Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” can’t be beat. Please try to boop boop ba boop boop when you want to this summer.
A few weeks ago, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for the Class of 2015, with 16 acts spanning a broad range of styles and eras. The annual announcement is always a great chance to remember acts who may have faded a bit from memory, but were very important in their day.
From the era of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (the same one where Jimi first set his guitar on fire) and Woodstock, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band played classic Chicago blues fronted by their singing and harmonica playing namesake. Butterfield was a talented young man from a well-to-do Chicago family. He studied classical flute in high school, was offered a track scholarship to Brown, and studied at the University of Chicago where he met bandmate Elvin Bishop. Fellow Chicago native Mike Bloomfield was another notable member of the band. Here’s a performance from Monterey. That’s Bishop on guitar, and Bloomfield clapping enthusiastically at the end of Butterfield’s soulful singing and harmonica work.
War formed in the 1960’s in L.A. and hit the big time when Eric Burdon, formerly of the Animals, joined the band in 1969. Who can forget their first big hit, “Spill the Wine”. Burdon only stayed with the group for a couple of years, but War kept bringing the funk well into the 1970’s. Enjoy these live versions of “Spill the Wine” and “Slipping into Darkness”.
Bill Withers is still around, though not performing anymore, and he put up a string of hits beginning with 1971’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” and running through 1981’s “Just the Two of Us”. Both songs won Grammy’s for Best R&B Song. Wither’s highest charting single, though, was 1972’s “Use Me”. Here’s a live performance of that tune by Bill, and a truly out-there cover by Mick Jagger from his 1993 solo album “Wandering Spirit”. Lenny Kravitz contributes.