Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: Raydio, "You Can't Change That"

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 3:00 PM

The Singer: When there’s something wrong in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ray Parker, Jr., of course. The Ghostbusters theme brought Parker his greatest acclaim, but the guitarist and singer had his first top-ten hit as the leader of the terribly named Raydio with the 1978 hit “Jack and Jill.” “You Can’t Change That” came the next year, landing at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The Song: Driven by a squishy synth line that sounds lifted from a Wings record, “You Can’t Change That” bounces along with a springy bass guitar and plenty of honeyed backing vocals. Lyrically, the song fits in with such Motown classics as “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “The Way You Do the Thing You Do” – sweet, simple devotion driven home with a killer hook and air-tight chorus.

The Video: It’s unclear if this clip was produced as a stand-alone video or if the performance was mimed for a long-forgotten television program, but video technology was coming into its own by this point: Check out the slo-mo jumps from the drum riser and the endless split-screens and super-impositions. The members of Raydio appear to be dressed in the Earth, Wind and Fire line of casual wear while Parker plays a bass guitar that looks like a cross between Bo Diddley’s box guitar and Bootsy Collins’ starburst bass.

Hipster Cachet: A Detroit native, Parker first made his name as a session guitarist, playing behind such Motown greats as the Temptations and the Spinners. Later, Parker was part of Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra and contributed to Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book and Innervisions albums. Below is a video of Parker playing lead guitar with Stevie Wonder and Wonderlove, performing “For Once in My Life” and “If You Really Love Me.”

-- Christian Schaeffer

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