THE BLACKBYRDS, NATALIE COLE, MARVIN GAYE, ?UESTLOVE: LOVE’S HERE AND NOW IT’S GONE


The Blackbyrds: Mother/Son Bedroom Talk
From Cornbread, Earl and Me OST (Fantasy, 1975)

Natalie Cole: Good Morning Heartache
From Natalie (Capitol, 1976)

Both featured on ?uestlove Presents Babies Makin Babies: Misery Strikes Back…No More Babies.

Heartbreak Bonus:
Marvin Gaye: When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You?
From Here My Dear (Motown, 1978)

Just in time for Valentine’s Day…

I have to admit, the first time I heard ?uestlove’s Babies Makin Babies compilation from 2002, I was left a little underwhelmed. After all, an album of slow jams is hardly that unusual; you can watch late-night television and see them advertised. True, most K-Tel comps don’t have Stanley Cowell or early Patrice Rushen but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into it.

This new sequel, on the other hand, is a collection of “anti-love songs” (as Betty Davis would say – and her awesome track by that name is included here). That’s a concept I can definitely roll with. It’s easy to pick good love songs – anyone with a radio can do that – but anti-love songs require both a wider breadth of musical knowledge as well as a certain mindset that allows you to revel in the beauty of other people’s misery.

What’s also nice about this volume is that there’s no obvious “hits” here – some may have heard the Davis song, I assume many are familiar with Al Green’s cover of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” but it’s not like Albert King’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” are in heavy rotation anywhere.

The Blackbyrds’ song comes from what I consider to be an underrated blaxploitation era soundtrack: Cornbread, Earl and Me (which happened to star a very young Laurence Fishburne in his first film role). “Wilford’s Gone” is the track most people mention but I dig on how smooth and laid back “Mother/Son Bedroom Talk” is (however clunky the title, but hey, that’s soundtrack names for you). Of course, as noted in the last post about Lyman Woodard, these days, anything with electric piano + string arrangements = our kind of song.

As for the Natalie Cole, not only is “Good Morning Heartache” one of my favorite standards but I love the musical approach on this version of it. As we said last time we discussed a Natalie Cole song from this era, I plead ignorance to how good she sounded back in the day and it’s always nice to be surprised by how good her mid-70s stuff was.

Now – I have no problems with the songs that ?uest included on this volume though I do have to say that I was really surprised that the grand champion of love-gone-wrong albums wasn’t represented here (maybe it was clearance issues?): Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear.

I’ve been meaning to do a post on this album for ages (and I still might) but the long and short of it is this… Gaye had to cut this album as part of a divorce settlement from Anna Gordy and as such, this album was literally created to commemorate their final dissolution of their relationship. It’s actually a mind-boggling idea if you think about and the pain Gaye expresses on here is palpable, especially on the song, “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You,” which Gaye reprises twice on the album. Shit is real. No break-up comp could be complete without this, dripping in bitterness, regret and sorrow.

If you don’t own this album, you should – the concept alone should sell it but Gaye’s songs on here rank among some of his most interesting, and by far, personal.

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