Written by Kat Birch


If you’re anything like me with music, then your Spotify playlists consist of a complete mishmash of genres, styles, and eras. I have no in-between when it comes to music, I can go from listening to chilled out lo-fi beats, to old school rock n roll, to drum and bass, without missing a beat.

I do however, have a big soft spot for the old school. “Dad music” if you will. I personally think that the period between the 1950s to the 1980s gave us some of the most brilliant music to date, and black musicians have been at the forefront of that. Keeping in with the Black History Month theme, I wanted to dedicate this article to my all-time favourite ‘old school’ tracks from black artists that I think should feature in every playlist.

This one is for my fellow golden oldie music lovers; the Blues fanatics, the Jazz fans, the rock n rollers. I’m going from the iconic to the cheesey with these track choices.

  1. Five Long Years – Freddie King

I dare say this is one of the most underrated blues tracks of all time. It’s moody, yet feel good. Sensual, bluesy guitar riffs, passionate vocals, and a beautifully stylish piano part put this song firmly in my top 5 favourite golden oldie songs.

  1. Mister Magic – Grover Washington

The only way I can describe this song is pure honey; it’s sticky, sweet, smooth and downright magical. It’s an instrumental track, but I somehow always forget this, mainly because the track is oozing with so much attitude that its almost unbelievable that it’s lyric-less. ‘Mister Magic’ features one of the ‘vibiest’ jazz beats you’ll ever hear, and saxophone riffs that are so silky smooth you could spread them on toast. ‘Just the two of us’ might be Washington’s most famous track, and don’t get me wrong, it is a truly iconic song – but it’s not a scratch on ‘Mister Magic’.

  1. Love Really Hurts – Billy Ocean

I know, I know, it might be cheesier than a bag of Wotsits, but I challenge you to listen to this song and not smile. I guarantee you won’t manage it. The mother of all feel-good tunes, this track is laced with sheer unbridled joy.

  1. Lucille – B.B King

No writer could ever do this song justice, and I won’t claim to, but what I will say is this: ‘Lucille’ is a song that deserves to be listened to. To call it a masterpiece would be a grave understatement. Named after King’s guitar; ‘Lucille’ tells the story of how the guitar allegedly saved King’s life. What makes the song so special is how B.B king plays in such a way that makes the guitar feel alive. The riffs are spirited and bubbling with character and attitude. The track has an unmatched energy –  it even feels wrong to call it a song, ‘Lucille’ is an experience.

  1. Something’s Got A Hold on Me – Etta James

Choosing my favourite track from Etta James felt like an impossible task – how can you pick the best when all the options are 10/10? I chose ‘Something’s Got A Hold on Me’ simply because of how iconic it is. You’ll recognise this track from Flo Rida’s 2011 song ‘Good Feeling’, which I think just pays homage to just how timeless James’ vocals are. The song is bursting with the iconic character and confidence of a woman who knows how to make music.


Photo Credit: Erik Mclean via Unsplash