Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#10 - A Word of Solace (Ten at Fifty)

"When you wake up early in the morning
Feelin' sad like so many of us do
Hum a little soul
Make life your goal
And surely something's got to come to you"
"It's Alright", The Impressions, 1963

A precursor of the Temptations' "The Way You Do the Things You Do", the relaxed, finger-poppin' "It's Alright" was one of the first top ten hits to broaden the appeal of the Southern Black Gospel sound, which Sam Cooke exemplified in songs like "There's Not a Friend Like Jesus" when he was with the Soul Stirrers, but was already diverging from with the more bluesy "Chain Gang" a couple of years earlier.

It was longish for its time, flirting with the three-minute mark sometimes considered a deal-breaker by labels. And it had more lyrics than any of the other top ten songs of that year. The Impressions had broken into the top ten a year earlier with another Curtis Mayfield creation "Gypsy Woman", which bore little relationship to either that gospel sound or "Superfly". But what "It's Alright" did have in common was enough appeal to push it beyond the R&B charts and into the mainstream, and it represented the charting apex for the group. It was one of two songs in the top ten which propelled artists formerly thus pigeonholed into the mainstream.

(Sixties icon Steve Winwood staged a comeback in 1987 with his upbeat, but decidedly non-disco "Roll With It", which as it happens was another song of reassurance. It was at position number ten for that year.)

"Upon the hill across the blue lake,
That's where I had my first heartbreak.
I still remember how it all changed.
My father said,
'Don't you worry, don't you worry, child.'"
"Don't you worry, child", Swedish House Mafia, 2013

If you type just the two letter "sw" into a browser at google.com today, it's a fair bet that the first match presented to you in the popup list will be Swedish House Mafia, a deejay trio of a short but prosperous life span. They are the only current top ten entry that no longer exists, having disbanded about three years into their history, just about the time I took my "top ten snapshot" early last month. They had pretty much one speed, the 130 beats per second well-known to ravers and American Idol fans, and they seem to have little difficulty keeping their hands free. Their videos are predominantly fleeting shots of the audience and long shots of the venue, and it's hard to imagine a show in daylight. (... but here's one...)

An unfortunate association they have is with violence at a concert in Ireland. The Irish Times reported, "... Saturday’s show by “rave” act Swedish House Mafia was characterised by suspected drug overdoses and multiple incidents of stabbings. The contrast between two nights of feel-good, all-in-it-together sentiment with the drugs-and-violence mayhem of Saturday’s show was striking."

No comments:

Post a Comment