Tag: Rhythm and Blues

1965, Music

The “Angry” Young Them (1965)

When I was younger, I was really into British R&B. But the older I get the less essential it seems to me: it’s not the genuine article and so much of it sounds the same. 55-60 years later, do we really care about British interpretations of American music? I mean, it made sense at the …

1965, Music

Dance Party (1965) by Martha and the Vandellas

Dance Party by Martha and the Vandellas

This album has the reputation as being the group’s best, but I have no idea if that’s true or not, as it’s my first experience of the group in LP form. (I know their hits from oldies radio.) This album contains three of the group’s biggest hits – at least one of which had been …

1965, Music

Here Are The Sonics!!! (1965)

If you know anything about this record you know the hagiography is really strong. It’s only through actually listening to the music of 1965 and before a lot (as I have and do) that you can maybe see through the canonization of this band as “punk before punk” and see the real band, a band …

1965, Music

The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads (1965)

Can I tell you how great it is to listen to a Stax record right after a Motown record? It’s pretty damn great. And I must admit that there is a nonzero chance that listening to The Temptations prior to listening to Otis made me like this record even more than I would have normally.

1965, Music

The Temptations Sing Smokey (1965)

The Temptations’ second album has a couple of really iconic songs and an overall quality of material that I feel like is relatively uncommon in Motown records. (That opinion isn’t the most informed, but I have listened to the odd Motown.) But there are some problems with the record, too.

1980, Music

Get Happy!! (1980) by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

I don’t know Costello’s career as well as perhaps I should, given his sheer volume and his reputation as perhaps (British) New Wave’s preeminent songwriter. But I feel like I know it well enough to mark this as the first record when he began his genre-driving. It’s not as drastic as a departure as some …

1975, Music

The First Minute of a New Day (1975) by Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson and the Midnight Band

This is only my second experience of Scott-Heron, so I don’t know enough about the history, but it seems like this is (mostly) a somewhat radical departure from his earlier work. That’s in part because there is a large band here now, rather than just a trio (or nobody) backing Scott-Heron.

1970, Music

Moondance (1970) by Van Morrison

When I was young I associated Van Morrison only with “Brown Eyed Girl”. As my high school best friend might have put it, “Brown Eyed Girl” was a “12 year old girl song” and I basically ignored Van Morrison, despite liking some of his other songs I heard on classic rock radio, until I finally …

1974, Music

Caught Up (1974) by Millie Jackson

For the most part, R&B doesn’t do high concept. The only thing I can really think of from the ’70s which is an exception is Funkadelic (and Parliament, too, I guess), where there is a concept, only it’s extremely nutty and kind of impenetrable. (Well, I can think of other albums which are built around …

1959, Music

The Genius of Ray Charles (1959)

I genuinely love musical left turns, they are among my favourite experiences when handled well, especially when I’m around to experience them. (Obviously I was not around for this one.) But I am much more ambivalent about musical left turns towards the mainstream – it’s a lot harder to get excited by a drastic change …

1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, Music

Chuck Berry is On Top

This is one of those weird records from the 1950s where they hadn’t quite figured out how to sell music yet – it’s a compilation of previously released singles (released over the previous four years) now looked upon as a regular LP because these singles hadn’t been released on his earlier LPs. So, if you’re …

1973, Music

The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle (1973) by Bruce Springsteen

I have never heard a Springsteen record like this one. Maybe that’s because I just haven’t heard that many Springsteen records but I suspect or at least wonder that it’s because, at some point later on, he figured out who he was, and this version wasn’t part of that (or wasn’t normally part of that).

1963, Music

Night Beat (1963) by Sam Cooke

The Sam Cooke I’m familiar with is a slick, polished soul singer, backed by lush, professional arrangements, singing catchy songs that blur the line between soul and pop. Not on this record. The story with this record seems to be that Cooke and his band recorded these songs over a few nights. I doubt they …

1963, Music

Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul (1963) by Ray Charles

This record was a big success but, despite some positive reviews, doesn’t have the greatest reputation. (Example: the Allmusic review is 4 stars but really feels like a 3 star review.) The idea is that its source material is [i]too[/i] diverse. I call bullshit.

1973, Music

In the Right Place (1973) by Dr. John

Really listening to the (sort of) title track for the first time (instead of just being aware of it playing on the radio), it’s clear to me why it’s Dr. John’s biggest hit – the song has much more immediacy to it than anything else of his I’ve ever heard.

1967, Music

Nina Simone Sings the Blues (1967)

Simone’s second of three albums in 1967 was her first for a new label and one wonders if that had a lot to do with the rather drastic left-turn on this record. As you can tell from the title, this is a blues record, where influence on her sound was rather muted on the previous …

1967, 2017

High Priestess of Soul (1967) by Nina Simone

Aside from her voice and her piano playing, the thing that stands out most about Nina Simone among her fellow soul singers of this era is her variety and versatility: listen to most other 1967 soul albums and you will hear one thing, soul. Yes, there will be slow soul songs and their will be …

1967, Music

Wild Honey (1967) by The Beach Boys

I am not sure anything could have prepared me for this record, a bizarre left turn from Pet Sounds and Smiley Smile (and Smile presumably) in terms of ambition and overall sound, but also in some ways a logical follow up to Smiley Smile‘s bizarre lo-fi aesthetic. The first record the rest of the band …

1962, Music

Modern Sounds in Country and Wester Music, Volume Two (1962) by Ray Charles

Ray Charles’ radical reinterpretations of country standards sound so dated now it’s really hard to appreciate them both for their radical boundary-breaking (black performers didn’t perform white music much at all at the time) and for the way in which Charles reinvigorated soul music with a new source of inspiration and a new avenue down …

2017, Music, RIP

RIP Chuck Berry

With guitar-based rock music decidedly out of fashion it is possible – probable? – that many people don’t understand how important Chuck Berry was to the music of the second half of the 20th century. But just because the electric guitar isn’t currently popular doesn’t mean it wasn’t the central vehicle for musical expression of …