Two Headed Monsters by Butch Ford

the ojays

Two Headed Monsters by Butch Ford

As I sit here reminiscing about days long since passed (I’m just nostalgic that way). I began to hum a few classic oldies but goodies to myself, which brought about a debate I had with some friends a while ago.  The conversation was about…who we believed the greatest “One-Two Punch” in R&B history was.

The 70’s and 80’s brought about some undeniable timeless pieces…delivered by some of the most gifted & phenomenal singers.  And by “One-Two Punch” I mean a duo or tandem within a group or band that brought different flavors or elements to the music (within that unit) that we all grew to love.  The three choices that were mentioned most were: The O’Jays, The Whispers and Earth Wind & Fire.  Let’s settle this once and for all.

First was the O’Jays, with the sweet, smooth silkiness of Walter Williams, in direct contrast with the rugged, I didn’t come here to fuck around with y’all, begging & pleading delivery of Eddie Levert.  Great choice.  Next, was the identical twins Walter and Wallace (Scotty) Scott from The Whispers.  It was magical…almost mystical how they seamlessly and effortlessly dazzled us by swapping lines and alternating powerful individual lead parts with flawless, deceptive unison. Can’t argue that choice either.  Then there’s Earth Wind & Fire’s co-lead vocalists, the incomparable Maurice White (baritone) and the dynamic Philip Bailey (1st tenor) who provided another whirlwind “two headed monster” worthy of being crowned the greatest of all time, as well.  EWF’s genius touched our spirits and souls on some other level. Didn’t it?  To be honest, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices.  BUT WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE TANDEM???  And why?  Is it one of the groups mentioned above?  Or are we sleeping on some folks?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Hutchinson sisters, Wanda and Sheila of The Emotions; Bobby Smith and Phillipe Wynne of The Spinners; Ron Banks and LJ Reynolds of The Dramatics & Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin of Chic…who were all spectacular in their own right.  And if there’s anyone else I failed to mention, it’s probably because they had one primary lead vocalist during their run, which doesn’t qualify them as a tandem.  So…no shade intended towards anyone whatsoever.

But I’d like to know everyone else’s thoughts.  Who do you believe the greatest One-Two Punch in R&B History is?  Let’s have some fun with this.

 

Butch Ford

 

Soulless Music by Butch Ford

listen to music.jpg

Soulless Music by Butch Ford

In the early 90’s, approximately 1993, the public school system began shaving numerous programs as a part of massive budget cuts Nationwide.  The biggest impact arguably was the loss of music education in our schools.  The cuts didn’t immediately affect the music industry, but it began to rear its ugly head about a decade or so ago.

In years long since passed, music had meaning, feeling and substance.  Every artist had the freedom to create as he or she saw fit.  And it was reflected in their productions.  There were raw, unadulterated emotions embedded deep within the music.  Joy, pain, sadness, elation and rage could all be felt through the gift of song.  Strong horn sections, string arrangements and later synthesizers enhanced the distinct identity of each artist and what they shared with the world.

Now let’s fast forward some two and a half decades.  Today’s music is very impersonal and lacks substance and creative arrangements.  The subject matter is often disrespectful with very little depth.  And full compositions have made way to simple and repetitive beats programmed by unaccomplished musicians.

Program Directors at radio and television stations rely heavily on “oldies but goodies” to carry daily playlists and product endorsements due to the absence of quality new music.  Great music is still being composed and produced by incredible talent.  However, “the powers that be” are targeting a different demographic.  That would be the millennials. Those who were directly affected by the Music Education cuts in the 90’s and beyond.

Mainstream music, national award shows, and product advertisements are painful to watch/listen to.  And it’s mainly due to what’s being pawned as music today.  What did the masses think the results of the music cuts were going to be?  It’s plain to see.  Music with no soul.

 

Butch Ford