Every Tuesday, the Analog Kid blog goes back in time and features some groovy R&B/soul songs from a specific year. Sometimes you’ll hear songs from individual artists, and other times you’ll get an entire full-length classic LP ripped directly from the Analog Kid’s vast vinyl vault. Warning: by R&B/soul, I also mean disco. I could go all Chery Lynn on your ass at any given moment, so just be ready!

I was digging through my walls of vinyl last night because I wanted to find something truly special to feature on this Groovy Tuesday. I wanted it to be something that everybody knows, but is also very difficult to find.

Rose Royce? Warm. Gloria Gaynor? Warmer.

Rockwell? Disco!

I’ve owned a lovely copy of the original 1984 Motown LP for a number of years now, but I don’t think I’ve ever played it. Honestly, I think I was afraid of what I might find. I’ve never been a huge fan of “Somebody’s Watching Me,” primarily because Rockwell doesn’t really sing on the track. He just kind of talks his way through it, and lets a certain semi-famous singer do most of the heavy lifting. I assumed Rockwell likely couldn’t carry a tune and only got an album deal because he was Barry Gordy’s son, but I was wrong on both counts.

It turns out that Rockwell can sing a little bit, and that Somebody’s Watching Me isn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I’m not saying it’s great by any means, but I definitely didn’t wince as much as I thought I would when I listened to his version of “Taxman” for the first time. I’ve certainly heard worse Beatles covers, and by artists who had no direct family ties to presidents of major record labels. In actuality, Rockwell and his Dad didn’t really get along very well and Gordy only agreed to release his son’s record when he found out Michael Jackson was involved.

“Somebody’s Watching Me” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984, and the follow-up single “Obscene Phone Caller” cracked the Top 40 as well. That was pretty much it for Rockwell’s chart career, and as a result the Somebody’s Watching Me album is quite rare. It’s never been released on CD in the U.S., and only the title track is available for download from any of the major services. I ripped the copy below from my vinyl just this morning, and I have used a link format that will allow you to download the tracks should you desire (simply right-click the song link and then save-as). I normally don’t do this out of respect for the artists, but I am making an exception for two reasons:

1) You can’t currently buy or download the Somebody’s Watching Me album even if you wanted to, so I’m not taking money out of anyone’s pocket.

2) WordPress recently made a modification to the embedded mp3 player that I usually use, and my email and RSS feeds are currently broken because of this change. It’s been 30 hours since I opened up a support request, and I’ve still heard nothing back from them. Perhaps this direct link to the mp3 will work as designed.

I hope you enjoy this kitschy classic on this supremely Groovy Tuesday!

Somebody's Watching Me

Rockwell: Somebody’s Watching Me

Motown Records, 1984

Vinyl rip courtesy of the Analog Kid

1. “Somebody’s Watching Me” (Rockwell)

Somebody’s Watching Me

2. “Obscene Phone Caller” (Rockwell)

Obscene Phone Caller

3. “Taxman” (George Harrison)

Taxman

4. “Change Your Ways” (Rockwell/Nolen/Dozier)

Change Your Ways

5. “Runaway” (Dozier/Nolen/Rockwell)

Runaway

6. “Wasting Away” (Rockwell/Nolen/Dozier)

Wasting Away

7. “Knife” (Rockwell/Helms/Bottler)

Knife

8. “Foreign Country” (Dozier/Rockwell/Nolen)

Foreign Country

____________________________________________________________________

Bonus Tracks!

The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.

Rockwell_ Singles & B-Sides

Rockwell: “Somebody’s Watching Me [Single Version]” (Rockwell)

Motown Records, 1984

Somebody’s Watching Me [Single Version]

Rockwell_ Singles & B-Sides 1

Rockwell: “Obscene Phone Caller [12″ Version]” (Rockwell)

Motown Records, 1984

Obscene Phone Caller [12″ Vocal]

Tiffany

Tiffany: “I Saw Him Standing There” (Lennon/McCartney)

From the album Tiffany

MCA Records, 1987

I Saw Him Standing There

 

 

 

About The Analog Kid

"I'm 5-foot-8, 123 pounds. I have, uh, brown hair, blue eyes. I enjoy surfing, backgammon and men who aren't afraid to cry."

2 responses »

  1. Mark says:

    For some reason, I had “Somebody’s Watching Me” in my mind as a Michael Jackson tune. In either case, I could have lived the rest of my life happily without hearing this song again. : )

    • Completely understandable– the only thing even remotely memorable about the song is Jackson’s backing vocal. It’s really pretty damn awful all around, but sometimes I like to post bad music too (see my “Disco Duck” post for further proof of this!).

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