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Derrick Dunn

Slow Jam Saturday : Blue Magic, Spell

It’s been six years since audiences experienced the rating-breaking three-part mini-series, The New Edition Story. I still remember my excitement walking into an advance screening of Part 1 on a cold January night. One of my favorite scenes occurs in this part when a young Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins are supporting a pre-teen Bobby Brown in a talent show. The local Boston-based group, The Untouchables, is performing a cover of Philly soul group Blue Magic’s “Spell” before Bobby takes the stage. After hearing another cover version of the song in Michael Bivin’s documentary, The Hustle of 617 Biv, I decided to feature it for Slow Jam Saturday.

Blue Magic consisted of lead tenor Ted “Wizard” Mills, lead baritone Wendell Sawyer, second tenor Keith “Duke” Beaton,” bass Richard Pratt, and second baritone Vernon Sawyer. The group’s signature was their dreamy ballads and choreographed stage moves. “Spell” was the lead single from their self-titled debut album, which hit stores in January 1974.

Group member Ted Mills wrote the song, while Sigma Sound Studio’s legendary house band MFSB provided the music. The ballad explores the theme of being completely captivated and controlled by someone’s influence. The lyrics describe a sense of trouble and inner turmoil experienced by the narrator. They are constantly thinking, dreaming, and seeing visions of this person, unable to get themselves together.

The narrator’s repetition of the line “Must have put a spell on my mind” implies that they feel like they have been bewitched or influenced by this individual. This “spell” symbolizes this person’s inexplicable power and influence over the narrator’s mind and behavior. The bridge emphasizes this individual’s profound impact on the narrator, causing them to feel euphoric and utterly transformed. It implies that the spell has altered the narrator’s identity, leaving them entirely subject to the whims of the person who cast it.

The conclusion emphasizes being under someone’s control, recognizing the spell as the reason for this strong bond and inability to escape. It portrays a feeling of surrender and acknowledgment of their destiny to be with this individual. Anyone who has ever been in lust can relate to the song just as much as anyone who has been madly and deeply in love.

Final Grade: A

“Spell” from Blue Magic is available on all streaming platforms.

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Slow Jam Saturday: The Whispers, “I’m Gonna Make You My Wife”

Yesterday was the sixteenth anniversary of my marital union. In honor of this occasion, I have selected a song for this week’s Slow Jam Saturday that celebrates the sanctity of marriage. While I considered several options, such as Robin Thicke’s “Angels,” Luther Vandross’ “So Amazing,” or Myron’s “Give My All to You,” all of which played a significant role in my wedding, I ultimately decided on The Whispers’ “I’m Gonna Make You My Wife” due to its particular resonance with me.

Second Listen Sunday: B5, Don’t Talk Just Listen

For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I took a trip back to 2007 and revisited “Don’t Talk Just Listen” from the group B5. Hailing from the Peach State, B5 comprised the Breeding Brothers, Bryan, Carnell, Dustin, Kelly, and Patrick. Initially finding success two years earlier with their cover of The Jackson 5’s “All I Do,” their debut did just enough with their preteen fans to warrant a second album.

Slow Jam Saturday: Jagged Edge, Whole Town’s Laughing At Me

With the exception of a few cases, R&B groups experienced a period of stagnation in 2007. While some groups continued to tour and perform their renowned classics, releasing new music was infrequent. To commemorate this week’s Slow Jam Saturday, I would like to acknowledge a notable piece from Jagged Edge’s sixth album, “Baby Makin Project,” titled “Whole Town’s Laughing At Me.”