Smooth Sailing: Radio Grooves & Funky Sounds

Picture: Joan Smalls by Matt Jones for I-D Magazine October 2013
An automatic alarm turns my radio on… Spring is in the air, so it’s time for some fresh episodes of Smooth Sailing! One of the tracks is 'On the radio' by Donna Summer, released in late-1979 on the Casablanca record label. It was written for the soundtrack to the film 'Foxes' and included on Summer's first international compilation album 'On the radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II'. It came out as a single and became, in January 1980, her tenth top-ten hit in the U.S. as well as her eighth and final consecutive top five single. 'On the radio' peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and number nine on the soul chart. Especially the lyrics about a message from an old boyfriend to his ex-lover over the radio are worth listening to:

“Yeah, it kinda made me feel proud
When I heard him say
You couldn't find the words to say it yourself
And now in my heart I know
I can say what I really feel
'Cause they said it really loud
They said it on the air
On the radio...”

Journalist Dave Marsh wrote about these lyrics in his book 'The heart of rock & soul': “That's a message the King of Rock and Roll himself would have to salute.”

Petite Meller
The track by The Blue Denim Band is from the new compilation album 'Supafunkanova Volume 2'. The tracks have been selected by Joey Negro and Sean P who together have compiled many previous albums including 'Disco (Not Disco)', 'Destination Boogie' and the ever-popular 'Soul of Disco' series. The dynamic duo continues to dig deep, compiling high quality albums filled with lesser known disco and boogie. As the title suggests, Supafunkanova focuses on the funkier end of the seventies and eighties, showcasing some of the bumpier grooves recorded in the disco era when even James Brown had to take notice of the Saturday Night Fever inspired disco explosion.

I hope the album by Petite Meller will be out soon. Her videos are a little bit Wes Anderson style (The Royal Tenenbaums) and her image seems to combine the best of Lady Gaga, Brigitte Bardot and Lolita (the character in Nabokov's story). She also reminds me a little bit of Mandy Smith (remember her?). In interviews Petite Meller claims to be influenced by seventies soul. I like that woman!

Edwin Starr had one of the most impressive voices on Motown. Born Charles Edwin Hatcher on January 21st, 1942 in Nashville, Tennessee, Starr was raised and educated in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1962, after completing two years of military service in the USA and Germany he moved to Detroit, the automobile city. By the middle of the decade he was a member of the artistes on the up-and-coming RicTic label under Ed Wingate. Together they released one immortal Northern Soul hymn after another. Songs like 'Agent 00 Soul', 'S.O.S (Stop her On Sight)' and 'Headline News' laid the foundations for Edwins' continuing world-wide fame. In 1968 mogul Berry Gordy swallowed up the Ric Tic artistes and Edwin suddenly found himself on the great Motown record label. He got off to a good start with 'I Am The Man For You Baby', but it was with '25 Miles' in 1969 that things really took off. His biggest hit, which cemented his reputation, was 'War' in 1970. He turned the Temptations song into an anthem with his incredible vocal power. It sold over three million copies. Starr left Motown in 1973 and reappeared on the charts with a pair of memorable disco hits, 'Contact' and 'H.A.P.P.Y. Radio', in 1979. The latter reached #28 on Billboard R&B Singles and #79 on Billboard Hot 100. On April 2, 2003, at the age of 61, Starr suffered a heart attack and died while taking a bath at his home.


Petite Meller – Alarm Call (2014)
Janelle Monáe – The Chrome Shoppe / Dance Apocalyptic (2013)
Esperanza Spalding – Radio Song (2012)
Bohannon ‎– Run It On Down Mr. D.J. (1973)
Donna Summer – On The Radio (1979)
Anthony David – Reach Ya [Mass Sheen Remix] (2012)
Heston – Radio (2008)
Denise LaSalle ‎– Hung Up, Strung Out (1975)
Zhané – Request Line (1996)
Parliament – P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) (1975)
The Blue Denim Band – Spunk In The Funk (1983)
Graham Central Station – My Radio Sure Sounds Good To Me (1978)
Edwin Starr – H.a.p.p.y. Radio [The Apple Scruffs Edit] (1979)
M + M ‎– Black Stations / White Stations [ dub edit] (1984)
Rock Master Scott And The Dynamic Three – Request Line (1984)
Ford & Lopatin – Channel Pressure (2011)


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