“Breakdown” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1976)/Grace Jones (1980)

Grace Jones’ 1980 rendition of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” was the first version of the song I became familiar with. It was the flip of her all-world jam “Pull Up To The Bumper”, and without knowing who the hell Tom Petty was (or that it was a remake), I enjoyed it as much as the “A”… Read More “Breakdown” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1976)/Grace Jones (1980)

“Bad Boy/Having A Party” by Luther Vandross (1982)

A popular Luther Vandross trope became songs that were a combination of original compositions with established classics. “Bad Boy/Having A Party” was the first and wound up being one of the best. There’s at least two more of those on this list, and several that are not, including “Power Of Love/Love Power” (a top 5 pop… Read More “Bad Boy/Having A Party” by Luther Vandross (1982)

“Always Something There To Remind Me” by Naked Eyes (1982)

Some entries call for a more connected narrative, some entries call for bulletpoints. This entry will be the latter. -Just about any non-R&B or dance song I discovered in the early ‘80s came to me via American Top 40 (or its television equivalent, “America’s Top 10″ or Solid Gold. I’m pretty sure Casey Kasem was responsible for “Always… Read More “Always Something There To Remind Me” by Naked Eyes (1982)

“Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1968), The Jackson Five (1972)

Another great song that has two definitive versions, IMO. Also, here are the first two entities that have two songs each on this list. “Real Thing” has been bastardized a bit by being overused in commercials. It’s a testament to Nick, Val, Marvin and Tammi that the overexposure hasn’t lessened its classic status. To me,… Read More “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1968), The Jackson Five (1972)

“Ain’t Nobody” by Rufus & Chaka Khan (1983), Mary J. Blige (2011)

Here are a couple of random observations. God damn, Chaka Khan is a hell of a singer. I know, Aretha’s great. You saw my last post: I love me some Reefa. But if we’re putting great female vocalists against one another (*yeah, I know) then I’d take Chaka and arguably Patti over Aretha. One thing… Read More “Ain’t Nobody” by Rufus & Chaka Khan (1983), Mary J. Blige (2011)

“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers (1971); Michael Jackson (1971)

In Bill Withers’ hands, “Ain’t No Sunshine” is a sober lament. Bill knows his “young thing” is gone, and he knows damn well she ain’t coming back. The song’s acoustic guitar intro calls to mind a guy in his backyard, making up stream of consciousness lyrics, a shot (or bottle) of whiskey at his side. When Bill goes… Read More “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers (1971); Michael Jackson (1971)