I like Hall and Oates off GP, but recently I decided to play their music because I saw this guy in a Hall and Oates costume:
And I suddenly realized that I really wanted Hall and Oates to go on tour. I mean–really wanted them to go on tour, right now. Not just because they have great songs, but they sound fantastic live. For the longest time, I thought “Sara Smile” was done by a Black guy, mainly because it’s on Black radio stations all the time. But then I heard this:
And these guys killed it. And then I thought about all the other White bands–blue eyed soul, if you will–who get airplay on predominantly R&B stations. And I also thought about guys who get sampled by really soulful hip hop music. The output of all that rumination is the Soulful White Guy Tour. Now, you might notice that John Mayer is conspicuously missing (or inconspicuously, if you’ve never seen him live. Mayer’s down like four flat tires.) But I really am looking at guys who legitimately can come on the radio after Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, Babyface, R. Kelly’s “Can’t Sleep” or “Down Low”, or Tevin Cambell’s “Can We Talk” and fit right in. Also, I’m only including guys whose music is forward looking–meaning that it stands on its own, and rather than paying homage to a culture, it’s part of the culture. That means no Mayer Hawthorne. You’re cool, and I like your music Mayer Hawthorne, but I’m sorry. (For what it’s worth, I think Mayer maybe can be on the tour one day soon. I don’t know. You be the judge.) In addition to the awesome Hall and Oates, the other acts include:
Remy Shand. You already forgot about him, and that’s too bad. I’m giving him a three to five song set. But one of the three songs is definitely “Take a Message.” I don’t mind telling you I had this album. This dude is soulful, and he’s from Canada. For whatever reason, Canadian dudes are really well represented on the blue-eyed soul front. You could pull a random white man off the street and tell me he’s the most soulful person on the planet. I’d probably place the odds of that being true at 10%. But those odds go up to 50% if you tell me he’s from Canada. I always thought Remy was Creole or something, because his name is Remy. He’s actually of Scottish and Italian parentage, and was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
If you like this, you might want to check out the song “The Way I Feel.” It was the title track for Remy’s album. Speaking of Canadians, there’s no way Robin Thicke isn’t on this list. Robin Thicke’s rise to the Super Soulful pantheon is made even more unlikely by the fact that his dad is Alan Thicke. Yup, the Dad from Growing Pains. But maybe being from the Great White North is what helps these guys stay so cool. Robin set it off with Lost Without You, but one of my favorites is When I Get You Alone, which samples Beethoven’s Fifth. Robin also has excellent taste in women.
Here’s When I Get Your Alone
I also would include AWB–The Average White Band–because they were anything but, and they knew it. I love these guys–and the band is Scottish. Scottish, man. I didn’t know they had it popping like this in Scotland. One consistent theme for this tour is that a lot of these guys aren’t from America, or moved away and found bigger success elsewhere. “Love of Your Own”–it’s just so proper, in the MC Hammer drinking Pepsi sense of the word. It’s got so much swagger–not swag, swagger. “The sooner you give, the sooner you get to have…a love of your own.” I mean, it could just be about love. But it sounds like a conversation being had in a bedroom about much more.
Don’t forget AWB’s Pick Up The Pieces, School Boy Crush, and If I Ever Lose This Heaven which are so funky I feel like I need to turn on the bathroom exhaust fan.As a matter of fact, you really need to listen to If I Ever Lose This Heaven if you haven’t heard it. There’s this restaurant–Olean’s–and the lady who owns it–Olean–made some kind of delicious wings one day that my friend and I were there. And either me or my friend didn’t have much money that day, but this was some new recipe and she was like, “I just want somebody to taste this. It’s so good I just feel like people should taste it.” She was right. And that’s kind of like this song. I just want somebody to taste it. AWB is anything but. They did a great cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Work To Do.” Listen, they pulled off a song that starts off, “I’m taking care of business woman! Can’t you see? Got to make it for you, got to make it for me!” Man, that’s collllllld-blooooodded. (that link is worth it, trust me). What you need to know is that the W in the AWB logo makes a woman’s booty. A booty.
If it sounds like I’m a big fan of Average White Band, it’s because I am. These guys aren’t exploiting the culture, they’re just being themselves–and who they happen to be is some soulful Scottish guys who are as good or better live as they are in the studio. Between Hall and Oates and AWB, this tour is already legendary.
It’s bit of a risk, and probably reflective of what I’m feeling right now, but I’m going to include Alex Clare for “Too Close.” And this guy is from England…and there’s a ton of really soulful guys from England. Back in the day, everyone from Eric Clapton to Mick Jagger openly acknowledged how they’d been inspired and influenced by Black American soul and blues music. I don’t know, maybe people feel free of the cultural baggage when they’re from somewhere else. Maybe they can just jump into the music just because they like the music, without thinking too much about its cultural underpinnings. For his part, Alex says he grew up listening to his Dad’s Stevie Wonder and Donnie Hathaway, artists that will put anyone on the path to a great music education. Anyway, you’ve heard this song on the new Microsoft Internet Explorer commercial. I knew Alex Clare was for real when I heard him do the song acoustically in the back of a box truck.
Next up, Bobby Caldwell. I love this guy, and he belongs on this list of soulful White guys for one sentence from his Wikipedia entry: “For R&B and modern jazz fans in the United States, he retains the title of: “The white guy most often mistaken for an African American vocalist.” He’s also a legend in Japan. But the fact the he was the guy sampled by Common for “The Light”, by The Notorious B.I.G for “Sky’s The Limit” and by Tupac for four different songs lets you know he has real soul credentials. East Coast, West Coast, Midwest. Maybe you know him for his super soulful song, “What You Won’t Do For Love.” Or maybe for “My Flame.” Did I say I love this guy? Tell me the truth: wouldn’t you come up off a nice chunk of change for Bobby Caldwell, Hall and Oates, and AWB all on one night? I definitely would. I’m having a little YouTube SWGT concert at my computer right now, because that might be the closest I’ll ever get.
Here’s a live version of “Do For Love” followed by “My Flame.”
I put Bob James in here as one of the early opening acts, and he doesn’t even sing. Then how did he get on this tour, you ask? One word: “Nautilus.” Nas once said he could make a classic album just by sampling different parts of Nautilus. It’s no exaggeration: Many of hip hop’s greatest songs wouldn’t exist without this song. Literally, it’s been sampled by RUN-DMC, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan, Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest, and the list goes on. And his cover of “Feel Like Makin’ Love” is Super Cold. I am a proud owner of Bob’s two disc set, “The Essential Bob James.” Bob seems like he’s a history professor at a community college who secretly jams in the basement between classes with with head of maintenance, Jim from accounting, and some random homeless dude who happens to be a trumpet savant. To recap, Bob looks like this:
And sounds like this:
Yeah, I love Bob James. And because this is my little fantasy, I’m having N*Sync stop in on select tour dates to sing “Gone,” which happened to be the moment when I realized that Justin Timberlake was actually, you know, a real singer. People were trying to keep it a secret that they liked the song. It’s understandable: you’re a grown man listening to to N*Sync. I’m into music acceptance here, so I won’t judge you. But back to the whole Timberlake being a real singer thing: JT’s two albums, Justified and FutureSex LoveSounds are both quite good. Legitimately good music, not “pretty good for a guy who grew up on the Mickey Mouse Club and cried on Punk’d and kind of was a lame for shifting all the blame on Janet Jackson for the whole titty at the Super Bowl halftime show thing”–but good period. Nobody who hasn’t already heard Justin’s albums believes me. But they will after they JT rocks “Gone” (I decided we don’t need the rest of N*Sync–just Justin and some backup singers, which is pretty much what “Gone” is anyway) and “Til the End of Time.” Beyonce is on the “Til the End of Time” remix and well…I like Beyonce. But truth be told, Beyonce didn’t add anything on the End of Time Remix. As a matter of fact, I think she took away from it. And again, that’s no knock on B. It’s just that the song was so complete to begin with that it’s hard to really add anything to it.
Til the End of Time:
And these guys aren’t all white, but I gotta put in Color Me Badd, a mixed group. I remember my uncle back in the day making an interesting comment: we were listening to “I Wanna Sex You Up” and he was like: “Those boys grew up in the church. You can hear it. They got some church in them.” And he’s right. As a matter of fact, I’m working on a theory that I’ll write about in the future about how R&B and soul has suffered just because people ain’t going to church like they used to. Anyway, that “ooooh, ooooooOOOOoooOOOOO” was fire. You need to watch this just for the white dude with a fade and a mustache. He made it look legit at the time. “Makin love til we drown” was an acutal ad-lib. It sounds unpleasant in retrospect, but it works in this song. This joint is the real deal.
Clearly, this list couldn’t be complete without Jon B. I mean, Jon seems like he and I went to the same barber back in the day. Matter of fact, this dude is actually in a Black barbershop in the “They Don’t Know” music video. I remember the Black women were really feeling this dude…he was the original Something New.
And don’t forget that joint Jon B did with Babyface:
Jon B was like a Quiet Storm staple. Matter of fact, this dude is still on my personal Quiet Storm playlist. And if you don’t know about the Quiet Storm, it’s okay: it’s probably just that you’re either a) under 25 or b) White, and there’s nothing wrong with being either one of those things. No knocks on you whatsoever. I happen to know plenty of White people who listen to the Quiet Storm, but if you’re not one of them, it’s like listening to a slightly more sexual Delilah easy listening love song type radio show (yup, you now know a Black person who listens to Delilah sometimes), and it’s equally suited for quiet reading, going to sleep, or knocking the boots. Yeah, a lot of Quiet Storm songs end up on GDTs. (Y’all do know what a GDT is, right? Don’t worry, I’ll write about them in the future.)
Last but not least, I’m throwing another mixed group in: All-4-One. I never knew why they used the number 4 but spelled out the “one.” It doesn’t matter. These guys covered “I Swear,” which was actually written by country music star John Michael Montgomery. And then later, these guys performed “I Can Love You Like That” which was also originally by John Michael Montgomery. Both versions of each are great. It shouldn’t be a big surprise, really. R&B and country are cousins, but the families don’t really talk to each other because it leads to some uncomfortable conversations. And I think, honestly, that more Black people (the majority of R&B fans) should listen to country and more White people (the majority of country fans) should listen to R&B. The two genres have SO much in common, and I think both sets of fans are missing out if they exclude entire genres of music off GP. So I’d have John Michael Montgomery do a couple of guest appearances at various tour dates.
Here are the two versions of “I Can Love You Like That”
And, for good measure, All 4 One’s “So In Love.” A capella. Because they can sing for real, you see.
Who wouldn’t see this tour? AWB and Hall and Oates and Robin Thicke and Bob James anchored by the likes of Jon B, Remy Shand, Bobby Caldwell? AND you might see Color Me Badd and All 4 One with JMM guest starring? And if you hit the right leg of the tour you’ll see Timberlake. C’mon mannnn. If that’s not that fire I don’t know what is. All of these guys are legit. I love this tour…even if it only exists in my head right now. Personally, I think this tour is perfect, but if you think I missed somebody, let me know.