Saturday Night Music, September 1, 2012: “Best of My Love,” The Emotions, Live at Sinbad’s Summer Jam, 1998
You know that this is a woman’s jam because all the sistas at Sinbad’s Summer Jam in Aruba are up front and exuberantly singing and dancing along with the song. The men are far back. Yes, they are grooving, but this moment is strictly for women, albeit for heterosexual women for all shapes, sizes and ages and colors. This is also how women can feel about their men: like they wanna dance down the street and shout and testify!
Man, I know that I am not the only one who misses Sinbad’s Summer Jam festivals. Yes, they were our kind of soul nostalgia concerts, spotlighting the best of 1970s funk and soul music. The shows appeared live on HBO and Showtime in the mid- to late-1990s for about 3-5 years. They were repeated several times during the summer months if you missed them. Of course, in between, Sinbad MC‘ed and did some bits along with other invited comics. One of my favorite Sinbad routines had to do with women ditching guys for other guys during the festival.
Sinbad, also known as David Adkins, is a comic who appeared on TV shows like the Cosby spinoff A Different World in the Eighties. He also MC’ed Showtime at the Apollo, and also starred in movies like Jingle All the Way, and Houseguest. Once in a while, we see him guesting on a show or two, but he supposedly has spent much of the time raising his kids.
These summer shows got so popular that American whites who were into the old soul and funk music began to take trips down to Aruba as well around the time of the Jams. And they were being shown partying down, too. I heard that Sinbad was either marketing or helping to charter tours for people to come down to Aruba through his production company. True or not, this may have contributed to his later financial problems with the IRS.
I know that in 1977, when this song came out on the album Rejoice, I was in love, too and it made me tingle all the way from my head to my toes remembering all the good times with my special guy. It remains a great song for me and for thousands of other women who heard it that year as well. Everyone knows that declarative, almost thunderous horn, guitar and piano intro. “Best of My Love” spent five weeks as the Billboard number one single that year; I know, because it was a song that you couldn’t get away from that summer. Every DJ spinning Top 40 and Soul was playing it on the radio. From All Music, there’s possibly a reason why:
For their second album, Rejoice, White had written a song titled “Best of My Love,” featuring Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist Al McKay with the Emotions in mind. During the recording session for the song, producer White asked lead singer Wanda Hutchinson to sing in a very high register. Even though she felt like she was straining, she followed his instructions.
In case you’ve forgotten, their first two albums were produced by Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, who calls Rejoice his favorite of all the albums he produced outside of Earth, Wind and Fire. This particular single he wrote with Al McKay and produced with Clarence McDonald, who is not so well-known as a producer, arranger and pianist in the Los Angeles area. McDonald has backed up singers and groups as diverse as the Fifth Dimension, James Taylor, Ray Charles and Seals and Crofts. It’s McDonald’s piano that you hear on this record. “Best of My Love” won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and also won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single the following year.
What are the Emotions up to now? According to Soul Tracks, they are semi-retired. They occasionally regroup for appearances with EWF or for Maurice White on new albums, or they do private parties and small venues or one-time gigs like nostalgia shows. Their official website is here.
- There is Still Time to Book a Holiday Party Venue in San Francisco: Sinbad’s Waterfront Restaurant (prweb.com)
- Aruba Vacations (orbitz.com)
- Stache of the Day: Sinbad (therepublika.com)