LISTENING LOUNGE – INSTRUMENTAL JAMS OF THE 60’s

Incredibly, in the 60’s there was wave of INSTRUMENTAL hit records that were played on the Soul radio stations.  As a kid, I didn’t know it at the time but, it turns out, they were cross-over R&B songs from JAZZ musicians… and boy were they the sho’ nuff JAMS.  What would the skating rinks have been like without these hits blaring through the speakers back then.  I don’t know what kind of music I thought these INSTRUMENTAL JAMS were back in the day but I loooooooooooved these songs!!!  In fact, who didn’t?  This article features a sampling of some of the hottest INSTRUMENTAL HITS of the 1960′s.  Please enjoy this musical trip down memory lane in the LISTENING LOUNGE.

SOULFUL STRUTYoung Holt Unlimited was made up of drummer, Isaac “Red” Holt and bassist
Eldee Young, former members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, along with pianist Ken Chaney.  In 1968, “Soulful Strut” charted in the Top 10 and was certified Gold after just three weeks of sales.  They never scored a bigger song but “Soulful Strut” was a song that still identifies the 60’s as a fun music decade.


posted by Xpinger

JAMILAHTenor saxophonist and band leader, Houston Person, scored big with “Jamilah” in 1969 for Prestige Records.  A South Carolinan, Houston came up playing with Jazz greats, Eddie Harris, Cedar Walton, Etta Jones, Lou Rawls, Lena Horn, Charles Earland, Johnny “Hammond” Smith and Dakota Staton to name a few.  He’s recorded everything from Jazz, R&B, Disco, Gospel, Pop and his trademark, Soulful Hard Bop“Jamilah” was his biggest hit to be played on the R&B stations.


posted by danielrubiodisla01

THE HORSECliff Nobles & Company put out a song in 1968 that made you wanna “Giddy Up” big time!  “The Horse” was a rollicking, infectious dance record that defied you to listen to it standing still.  Even your perpetual Wall Flowers had to get up and dance to this one at the basement party.  Funny story… Cliff Nobles, a vocalist from Philly by way of Alabama, doesn’t perform on this instrumental classic at all.  He played no instrument… not even a Triangle or TambourineJesse James, writer and producer of the song, helped Cliff get a record deal with Phil-L.A. of Soul Records“The Horse” is simply the B-Side Instrumental version of the A-Side vocal song, “Love Is All Right;” (sung by Cliff Nobles) which makes sense since Cliff Nobles is a vocalist.  Members of (later) MFSB were the musicians who rocked the track.  Turns out, radio focused on the Instrumental B-Side and this vocalist’s most famous song ends up being an Instrumental which he had nothing to do with creating.  Go figure!!  How funny did live TV appearances have to be?  What exactly did Cliff Nobles do while his Hit, Gold Record song was playing?  None the less, Cliff Noble’s “The Horse” is still one of the most electrifying dance records of all time.


posted by 60otaku3

GRAZING IN THE GRASS:  South African Jazz trumpeter, Hugh Masekela’s touch of genius is the cowbell that starts this classic 1968 instrumental, “Grazing In The Grass.”  This fun Jam came at a time of political strife for the performer that a youngster like myself at the time, wasn’t remotely aware of; South Africa’s dreaded Apartheid race discrimination system.  After the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, where 69 peacefully protesting South Africans were mercilessly mowed down and the government banned gatherings of ten or more people, Hugh finally left South Africa.  He did not return until Apartheid was dismantled.  Who knows what Hugh Masekela had in his mind when composing this song but for me, “Grazing In The Grass” was as uplifting and full of inspiration as a song could possibly be.


posted by GetWitit100

CISSY STRUTThe Meters, not to be mistaken for The Funky Meters, unleashed “Cissy Strut” on their first album in 1969.  The Meters were fronted by keyboardist and vocalist, Art Neville (one of the famous Neville Brothers), which, of course, let’s you know they are from New Orleans.  This laid back and funky, funky track is full of sass and playfulness“Cissy Strut” is one of those Jams that you may not be able to remember the melody to… until you hear it again… then you’ll inevitably have that, “Ahhhh, Yeah” moment as it all comes back to you.  “Cissy Strut” was one of those sho’ nuff Instrumental Jams!


posted by lavinder11

Honorable Mention goes out to K-Jee by The Nite-Liters which missed the cut by two years.  “K-Jee” was released in 1971 but, otherwise, would be high up on any list of All-Time Greatest Instrumental Records.