Thursday, March 29, 2007
Super Eagles: Love's a Real Thing
Superstars in their native Ghana, Super Eagles only recorded one album, Viva in 1972. This is a great track that really shows the strong influence of American soul and rock. You can find it on the 2001 collection Senegambian Sensation. Love eesa reel ting!
Peter King: Ajo
Originally released on his 1972 album Omo Lawa, Ajo features soulful horns with more traditional African percussion. This is a tough one for me to sing along with, but the groove is undeniable. You can find this track on 2005's Gilles Peterson In Africa.
Fèqadu Amdè-Mesqel: Asmarina
This is definitely more on the jazzy side of things. It's one of my favorite tracks from the Gilles Peterson's Africa compilation. Originally released in 1974 on the album Yekatit/Ethio Jazz, this tune features a killer jazz flute and electric piano backed by a solid horn section. This track simmers with an almost eerie vibe.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Angie Stone: Wish I Didn't Miss You
A standout track on her second solo album 2001's Mahogany Soul, Wish I Didn't Miss You borrows more than heavily from The O'Jays classic Back Stabbers. I love Angie's lyrics and new melody. She really makes this a brand new song. Best line: "Isn't it ironic, all you want to do is smoke chronic."
The O'Jays: Back Stabbers
Released on 1972's Back Stabbers LP, The O'Jays signal to everyone that the 70's are not going to be like the 60's. This song captures the paranoia and anguish of post Watergate America. I'm loving that ominous piano.
James Brown: Hot(I Need to Be Loved, Loved, Loved)
This 1975 single has sparked a lot of discussion among music fans. Let's start with the fact that this is bad ass funk to the highest degree. As most of you can tell, it's a total rip-off of Davis Bowie's 1975 hit Fame which was co-written by Carlos Alomar, a guitar player that actually played with JB and the Flames at one time. The story goes that Mr. Brown heard the song, played it for session musicians and quickly cut the track. JB thought he could disguise the stolen riff by rapping all over it. The Bowie track would go on to be #1 worldwide while Mr. Brown's version would be one of the first bumps in the road to his late 70's decline. Frankly, I prefer The Godfather's version! You can find it on the greatest box set ever released 1991's Star Time.
David Bowie: Fame
OK. This is the ONLY time you will find a non "soulful" track on this page, but I feel I have to include it for the sake of the discussion and besides it's a pretty funky track with a cool thumping bass line. And hey, that IS The Walrus on backing vocals! You can find Fame on 1975's Young Americans.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Aretha Franklin: Precious Lord, Take My Hand/You've Got A Friend
Aretha's started, like many, singing in the church and she never abandoned her gospel roots. In 1972 she released her unbelievable double album Amazing Grace. Recorded with James Cleveland the Southern California Community Choir it made the Top Ten, making it one of the greatest gospel-pop crossover records of all time. Here's Aretha's reworking of Carole King's You've Got A Friend. Take us to church!
Aretha Franklin: Maybe I'm a Fool
Aretha can absolutely sing the blues and thanks for asking. Recorded as one of her first singles in 1960, this song was released on the 1973 collection The Great Aretha Franklin: The First 12 Sides. Pretty powerful stuff from an 18 year old.
Aretha Franklin: Love The One You're With
Aretha also found success putting her own soulful twist on pop hits of the day. Here she covers Stephen Stills' Love The One You're With taken from her incredible 1971 set Live At Fillmore West. I could have posted any song on this album. Go buy it right now!
Friday, March 23, 2007
Gecko Turner: Fess It, Girl
from 2006's Chandalismo Ilustrado
Spaniard Gecko Turner puts out a unique mix of mellow soul/reggae/Brazilian he calls "afromeño". This is a particularly groovy track with a laid back wah wah guitar and a trumpet sprinkled throughout. Nice.
Curumin: Vem Menin
from 2005's Achados e Perdidos
Curumin is a Brazilian artist whose album blends elements of samba, reggae, soul and hip-hop. You can hear all of these styles in just this song alone. Be sure to stick around for the change at the 1:48 mark. I can't wait for summer with this tune!
Fat Freddy's Drop: Wandering Eye
from 2005's Based on a True Story
They've dubbed themselves "hi-tek soul," but New Zealand band Fat Freddy's Drop could just as easily be considered a modern reggae band that incorporates soul and dub. This track is a definite highlight from this stellar debut.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Luther Ingram, the soul singer who seduced audiences with his hit "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right," has died of a heart attack at age 69, his family said on Wednesday. Ingram, who also co-wrote the Staple Singers' hit "Respect Yourself," died Monday in Belleville, Illinois, near his home in O'Fallon. Ingram had diabetes and suffered kidney failure in 2003, his son, Eric, said."He couldn't tolerate the dialysis," said Eric, an aspiring music producer. "It began to take a toll on his heart, which caused his heart to fail."Luther Ingram had been a part of the deep talent pool at Stax Records, the influential Memphis, Tennessee, label, and its subsidiaries that included soul-music stars like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, Booker T and the MGs and Rufus Thomas. Two other acts had recorded "(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" before Ingram but neither version was released. Ingram decided to slow the song down and his version was released in May 1972. With his intimate, gospel-flavored vocal, it quickly hit No. 1 on the rhythm and blues chart, went to No. 3 on the pop chart and became a radio standby that summer. His other best known hits were "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)" and "I'll Be Your Shelter." Ingram was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and grew up in Alton, Illinois. After singing with his family's gospel group, he and his brothers and friends formed the Gardenias and recorded with Ike Turner. In the 1960s Ingram went to New York, writing with Johnny Nash and living across the hall from Jimi Hendrix. He did not have a hit until 1969, when he recorded "Pity for the Lonely" and "My Honey and Me" for KoKo Records, a Stax Records partner.
Here's the guitar virtuoso's cover of Donny Hathaway's classic groove. Mr. Benson really gets with the Latin vibe but it's at the 5 minute mark where he really takes off to Cuba with a flourish featuring his signature guitar style and scatting vocals. The man is smooth. This track can be found on Mr. Benson's 2000 release Absolute Benson on GRP
Donny Hathaway: The Ghetto
This is Donny's incredible live version from his 1972 Live! album. This is truly one of the greatest live soul recordings ever. Recorded at the Troubadour in Hollywood, you really feel as your in the middle of the intimate crowd who play just as large a part on this record as any of the musicians. This version showcases the dynamic band as well as Donny's command on the electric piano not to mention his ability to work an audience into a frenzy.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Curtis Mayfield: Soul Music
Taken from Curtis' Give Get Take Have album from 1976, this track is bright and cheery. Curtis sings of the virtues of soul as a healer for life in the city. This music will take you to a higher place. The disco strings are almost too much, but Curtis' honest falsetto vocals keep it real.
Edwin Starr: Funky Music Sho' Nuff Turns Me On
Edwin Starr's vocals are as raw as Curtis' are gentle. This track is as funky as it gets. Again the music will take you higher. Released as a single for Motown in 1972, Funky Music... can be found on numerous Best of's.
The O'Jays: I Love Music
Cleveland based trio The O'Jays were one of the most successful (and in my opinion the best) acts to come from the direction of Gamble & Huff. Released in 1976 on the stellar Family Reunion album, this track was a disco smash but make no mistakes, this one is pure soul.
Flunk: I Love Music
Not much musically going on here, but hey, that's Brother Ray talking! This late night fare from Norway can be found on Flunk's 2002 release For Sleepyheads Only.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Van Morrison: Chick-A-Boom
This is taken from Van's 1967 Bang Records sessions recorded just after his departure from his band Them. Not typically considered an essential Van recording, it has always been one of my personal favorites. It has a great bouncy energy and almost Latin vibe with it's LaBamba-esque guitar riff. I have to dance like a Muppet to this one!
Van Morrison: Bein' Green
Speaking of Muppets...Van does a great job interpreting this Joe Raposo classic made famous by the one and only Kermit the Frog. Taken from 1973's Hardnose The Highway Van's vocals and great backing band really tell the story. Border lining on schmaltz, Van manages to reel it in just enough to make it quite a moving tale of self acceptance.
Van Morrison: Georgia On My Mind
Here we really see the true soul of The Man. Taken from one of the many live bootlegs Van has left in his wake, this one has it all. Performed in the late 90's we hear Van's John Lee Hooker influenced wordplay and as a bonus two tremendous solos from none other than Fred Wesley and Candy Dulfer. I saw Van perform Georgia at a show several years back in LA and it nearly moved me to tears. He later recorded it on 2002's Down The Road where it somehow falls flat. It just shows the fragility of Van's talents. He can hit clunkers, but when he's feelin' it, Van IS the Man!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Mary Love: Baby I'll Come Right Away
Mary Love was one of many soul singers from the 60's that, for what ever reason, were never able to make it to that next level of success. Mary found most of her fan base as part of the Northern Soul market in England. As you can hear on this track, she definitely has the skills needed. "All you gotta do is call me and I'll come" is certainly not a groundbreaking lyric, but Mary delivers it with such sincerity that one can't help but be moved. This track was recorded in 1967 and can be found on her Then & Now compilation from Kent.
Brenda Holloway: Every Little Bit Hurts
Every Little Bit Hurts is Brenda Holloway's biggest hit for good reason. Released in 1964, Brenda tells a tale of a shattered relationship that lay in ruin. This guy ain't coming back. The strings and tempo are more reminiscent of a funeral than a soul ballad. I honestly cannot get enough of this song. This track can be found on Brenda's 20th Century Masters collection. Also worth a listen is Steve Winwood's version with The Spencer Davis Group from 1967.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
West Coast Revival: Feelin' Alright
Here's a track from West Coast Revival's 1977 self titled LP. More familiarly recorded first by Traffic and soon after by Joe Cocker, this tune was produced by War producer Jerry Goldstein. This version has many of the same qualities in style and atmosphere as the War recordings of the seventies.
Courtial: Losing You
A Latin piano riff opens up this track from 1976. Once the guitar kicks in it's pure soul. I love that bridge, too!
Sons And Daughters Of Lite: A Real Thing
All at once jazzy, soulful & mystical, Oakland based The Sons And Daughters Of Lite exemplified the more spiritual side of seventies soul music. This track quickly turns into a jazz exploration in the style of Fela Kuti and Sun Ra. Mad horns, vibes, keys & yes...jazz flute!
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Booker T & The MG's: Time Is Tight
Chairmen Of The Board: Give Me Just A Little More Time
God knows I don't want to be pigeonholed as someone who just digs the old stuff. Soul can be found wherever you look for it. Case in point, Groove Armada's Hands of Time from 2003's Lovebox. Obviously it's Richie Havens' vocals that I immediately respond to, but the mellow electric piano and steady beat make this one a good choice for any occasion, Saturday night OR Sunday morning. This works. Groove Armada: Hands of Time
Groove Armada: Hands of Time
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
First up is the Godfather's ultra groovy Transmorgrapfication from 1973's Slaughter's Big Rip Off. Fred Wesley's trombone is featured along with a loping bass line that drives the groove. At a mere 2 minutes, the fade out comes far too soon. I could listen to this jam all night long.
James Brown: Transmorgrapfication
Arguably the greatest of all blaxploitation soundtracks was Curtis Mayfield's Superfly. Released in 1972, the Superfly soundtrack stands on it's own as a no holds barred testament of life on the city streets. Here is the instrumental version of Eddie You Should Know Better, a bonus track taken from the 25th Anniversary Edition. This smooth, atmospheric groove is classic Curtis.
Curtis Mayfield: Eddie You Should Know Better
Finally a track from the film that started it all, Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song from 1971. A pre-glitter headband wearing Earth, Wind & Fire provides this electric piano driven jam that was written by Van Peebles himself. Once those hand claps come in, it's all over.
Earth, Wind & Fire: Sweetback's Theme
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Betty Wright: Shoorah! Shoorah!
Here's a classic Allen Toussaint composition from 1974. Betty's vocals echo the power of Mavis Staples. The tight horn section punctuates the every line. It's hard to sit still with this one.
Betty Wright: Let Me Be Your Lovemaker
This 1973 tune shows off Betty's sassy side. She sounds ready to me! Her scream at the end peels the paint off the walls.
Friday, March 2, 2007
Samuel L. Jackson: Just Like A Bird Without A Feather
That's right Sam sings the blues, too! This is an R.L. Burnside tune. Kenny Brown's on guitar.
Bobby Rush: Chicken Heads
This one's pretty soulful. Jackson, Mississippi born Bobby Rush still performs across the south on what's left of the chitlin' circuit with no less than three dancers who make risque costume changes between every few songs. Nice!
North Mississippi All-Stars: Mean Ol' Wind Dies Down
This is from the All-Stars last album. A little Delta, a little Allman Bros. this track explodes into joyous gospel right around the four minute mark. If you don't like this, I don't want to know you!