The incomparable Nina Simone takes “Feeling Good” and wrests from it just about every depth of meaning imaginable about a new beginning in life…and that’s just with the gorgeous, floating, melismatic “…ooooooh…” at the end of the a capella first verse before the band kicks in.
“Who’s that white girl on Soul Train?”
“That’s no white girl. That’s Teena Marie.”
Some variation of that conversation happened all across the country back in 1979 when Teena Marie, singing her duet, “I’m A Sucker For Your Love”, with Rick James, became the first white performer on Soul Train.
Actually, because Motown had put out her first album without a cover photo, a lot of conversations went something like this:
“Hey, why is Rick James doing “I’m A Sucker For Your Love” with some white girl?”
“Yeah, where’s Teena Marie?”
File under: things that happened before the Internet.
You’d think a song titled “Hippy Skippy Moon Strut”, recorded by The Moon People and released in 1969 would be some sort of dreamy, psychedelic, acid-influenced, Haight Ashbury hangover…and you could hardly be more wrong.
The Moon People were actually The Latin Blues Band, “a sort of Latino Booker T & The MGs” for the New York City indie label scene, firmly rooted in the Nuyorican Boogaloo music scene of the mid-60s (check out Brother Cleve’s fascinating underground history on Spectropop.com); and “Hippy Skippy Moon Strut” was the fourth re-cutting/re-mixing in less than two years of what was basically the same song as one producer after another tried to find the key to unlock the hit single (and its ensuing riches) they all could hear…but never quite succeeded in locating.
Fast forward to 2006 when Staten Island native Christina Aguilera wants to go Back To Basics and is working with DJ Premier who has a seemingly bottomless collection of obscure riffs and samples to work with…a collection that includes “Hippy Skippy Moon Strut” which becomes the foundation of Christina’s Top 10 hit, “Ain’t No Other Man”.
Sometimes it’s hard out here for a hook.