A very cool sunshine pop style number from the soundtrack to the Brazilian soap opera 'selva de pedra'. This two-minute track has an irresistable groove and some nice harmonized group vocals. The vocals are mostly gentle and smooth, like strings, but there are also some jazzier scat phrases thrown in. The entire soundtrack is highly recommended.
I fell in love with this song this evening. At this point it's hard to find many words to describe it; I'm just dazzled by how wonderful it is. It's a mournful and spooky-sounding soul song, opening with some percussion, and then some harmonized background vocals, drums, brass and piano. I guess the kicker for me are the shimmering strings in the arrangement, which come in with the main vocal. The vocals are fraught with emotion, and there is a very interesting use of vocal sounds as the song fades out.
Being a Five Stairsteps novice, I'd like to know if they recorded many other tracks like this. I gather that the record was produced by Curtis Mayfield, but I've never heard anything by him with quite such a delectable arrangement. Any advice would be appreciated!
available on CD - The First Family of Soul (Buddah)
30 Sep 03 ·Arthur: The Five Stairsteps have a history going back to the mid sixties -they recorded for Curtis Mayfields 'Windy C' label and later for George Harrison's 'Dark Horse' label
Group main man Kenni Burke is still active in the music business, having co penned the much copied and sampled "Rising To The Top" and has recently (last year) visited the UK where he performed a number of PA's and recorded at least one song. I have to confess I never heard "Danger! She's a Stranger" but will make it my mission to do so! 01 Oct 03 ·tinks: oh my god, this is one of my all-time favorite songs! i can't believe i never thought to put it up. i love the backing vocals..."danger! stranger!" 16 Oct 03 ·delicado: You have excellent taste! For the record, I was able to find one other Five Stairsteps track that has a similar moody feel to it. It's called 'Something's Missing', and is almost like a prototype version of 'Danger...' 31 Mar 04 ·bobbyspacetroup: Sampled by Outkast incidentally (check out "Two Dope Boyz In A Cadillac").
31 Mar 04 ·delicado: Yeah, I read about this and checked out the Outkast song. I have to say I wasn't that impressed. I think maybe the big beat over the piano and gentle shimmering strings killed it for me a bit! 26 Apr 07 ·artlongjr: Fascinating to read the comments here...I didn't know Outkast had sampled this. I remember first hearing this song when I got their first album way back in 1981, and it is my favorite tune on there. It's a classic of Chicago soul. The strings, horns and Clarence Burke Jr.'s lead vocals and the group harmonies add up to a delightfully foreboding, almost sinister mood on this number. This came out in 1966, I also have "Something's Missing", which came out on Buddah in 1967. I keep telling everybody I know that the Stairsteps are easily the equals of the Jackson Five! They also did a terrific funk-psychedelic number in 1969 on Curtom called "Madame Mary"...I can't figure out the lyrics but it may be about marijuana! 06 May 07 ·karen: If you like "Danger She's a Stranger", you will love "You've Waited Too Long". I remember the Five Stairsteps, and they were a lot more talented than the Jackson Five (and better looking). But unfortunately they were not on a major label like Motown, but they got a lot of respect and admiration in the Black community and plenty of airplay in DC, NY, Philly, etc. "Oooh Child" was a major hit...I wonder what they are doing now and how they look.
I recently found this LP in a stack that I had bought years ago and stored somewhere without having listened to them. It's on Evolution, which is the Command/Project 3-inspired label that was set up by former Command arranger Bobby Byrne. Many of the standard Command session players are featured, including Dick Hyman. Indeed, it's Hyman's moog playing that is the highlight of the album for me.
This song has never been a particular favorite of mine, but there's something in the mix of brassy, beaty late 60s pop and Hyman's delightful moog sounds that is very catchy in this version. The album also features a cover of 'Barbarella', along with a great 'Respect' and the best version of 'Delilah' that I've ever heard.
Another recent rediscovery from a record I bought long ago, and another song I'm not normally crazy about. But the arrangements are too outrageously groovy for me to ignore here. I'm a sucker for beaty late 60s instrumentals, and I can forgive the lack of musical variation when the production is as cool as this.
from A taste of Zack Laurence (Silverline DJSL007)
A really lovely version of this song, which was more famously recorded by The Left Banke. The introduction nicely recalls the melody of The Association's 'Never my love'.
The instrumentation has a folk flavour, with a nice strummed acoustic guitar. The production is superb, with great, slightly distant sounding vocal harmonies and occasional sparkly percussion sounds. Overall, it's a sound not millions of miles away from groups like Spanky and Our Gang, but it has a melancholic edge to it that makes it more listenable to my ears. Something has happened to me over the last couple of years, and some of the more lightheartedly happy music I used to like appeals to me much less.
from Ascending (MGM MGM 4569) available on CD - The Very Best Of Orpheus (Varese)
25 Nov 03 ·executiveslacks: I had just finished recommending Belle & Sebastian's "Piazza, New York Catcher" when I came across this recommendation. They namecheck "Walk Away Renee" in "Piazza..."
I haven't heard this song, but now I want to hear it! 10 Dec 04 ·WayCool: Orpheus' version of "Walk Away Renee" is a classic example of how this group effortlessly applied their distinctive sound to material by other bands. I enjoyed the original version by The Left Banke but always thought the wimpy vocals could have used some testosterone. The Orpheus version is without fault and I'm totally puzzled why it failed to eclipse the original. 13 Dec 04 ·jeanette: I hear the legendary Pink Lady have also recorded a version - what a treat! Anyone heard? 11 Oct 06 ·delicado: Having heard several versions of this song (most recently, The Blades of Grass), I'd just like to reiterate that this for me is THE rendition of the song - I'm with WayCool on this one! 19 Apr 07 ·artlongjr: I have a 45 of this by the Four Tops...I like their version, it sounds very mature the way Levi Stubbs sings it, compared to the youthful innocence of the original! I have the Orpheus version and it's great, but I will always like the Left Banke original best...I wonder if anybody ever covered "Pretty Ballerina"?