Monday, January 30, 2017

"Gotta Give a Little Love (Ten Years After)" by Timmy Thomas

Song#:  1926
Date:  06/02/1984
Debut:  85
Peak:  80
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Thomas worked as a session player and performer in the Memphis area for several years before being able to cut a few sides for a couple of local labels. Nothing seemed to click until a demo of a song he wrote called "Why Can't We Live Together" got some attention. The sparse production simply featured Thomas singing and playing an organ while an early version of a drum machine provided the beat. Instead of having it recorded with a full band, the Florida-based Glades label thought the song worked as-is and released Thomas' demo. To everyone's surprise, the message song took off and ended up hitting #1 at R&B and #3 Pop. Thomas continued to record for Glades and other labels for the balance of the decade, but nothing clicked like his first hit. A few years into the 80s, Thomas signed on with the A&M offshoot label Gold Mountain and recorded the LP Gotta Give a Little Love (Ten Years After). The title track was issued as a single and it got some action at R&B getting to #29. It also crossed over to Dance (#28) and spent a few short weeks on the Pop chart. A follow-up single would only get to #90 at R&B and that would be the last charting song for Thomas. Apparently, he worked a bit in the 90s as a producer at LaFace Records and issued an album in 1994, but later returned to his original profession of being a teacher.

ReduxReview:  I have to say that I had never heard "Why Can't We Live Together." If I had, I would have definitely remembered the tune. It has to be one of the strangest sounding hits I've ever heard. I do know that I did heard the song prior to this because it appeared on Sade's 1985 debut LP Diamond Life. I just didn't realize it was a remake at the time. I have to say that at first I didn't think I liked it. But then that weird drum sound and Thomas' near-improvised organ playing started to get under my skin. The rest of his associated album is just like the hit - simple demos all done by Thomas. Whether you think it is cool or kinda bad, you have to admit that it's certainly interesting. This specific single, written by Thomas, doesn't stray too far from material he has written before, but at least it gets a proper 80s production. It's got a nice groove and I do like it. However, it doesn't have a hook solid enough to reel in a wide range of listeners.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Thomas' unusual hit "Why Can't We Live Together" ended up getting covered by many artists including Sade, Steve Winwood, and Joan Osborne. Thomas' song got a bit of a revival in 2015 when rap artist Drake significantly sampled the original recording for his hit "Hotline Bling." That song would be a major hit reaching #1 R&B/#2 Pop.


No comments:

Post a Comment