Martin Radio

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Righteous Apples ‎– Righteous Apples
US 1982
Soul / Funk / Boogie
Righteous Apples Records

The Righteous Apples, which aired in the early ’80s on PBS (American public television) followed the actions of five young musicians in Boston, helping out people in need along the way. Though (as was typical with TV programs with a “message” of the day), the lessons imparted could be rather ham-fisted, what was undeniable was the soundtrack — high quality, disco-flavored pop of the time, with killer instrumentation. The success of the show eventually led to a (super-rare) full-length album, released in 1982, and the results do not disappoint.

On Side B, cast member Mykel T. Williamson (who is known more for his role as Bubba in Forrest Gump nowadays) handles the lead vocals, which are mostly rapping over upbeat, drawn out funky dance numbers that are hard to put down. The heavy-handedness of the TV show is certainly present in the lyrics of “Merry Go Round” (an anti-drug dance scorcher) and “Stay In School” (self-explanatory), though on the gospel-inflected “I’m Walking Happy”, a call to honor civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., you get something a little different (and dare I say it, a little subversive) — while the subject of honoring King (never done better than Stevie Wonder on “Happy Birthday”) is nothing new, the tone and direction of the lyrics — indignant and speaking truth to power (the phrase “power structure” is used; “Jim Crow” is namedropped, and later on, Mykel fancies confronting a senator on his hypocrisy and racism) is not something you would find in an otherwise “squeaky clean” program aimed at the youth of the day, particularly in the ’80s. Overall, an enjoyable listen; the rarity of this LP often fetches high prices when it is found, and though one may debate whether the songs are worth the price of admission, they certainly deserve a second chance to be heard.

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