Tag: Soul

1969, Music

First Take (1969) by Roberta Flack

I know Roberta Flack from “Killing Me Softly” and that’s about it. I’m sure I’ve compared her with any number of other female soul/R&B singers throughout my life. I really don’t know anything about her. And so I wasn’t really prepared for this in any way, which is good because I didn’t have expectations.

1984, Music

Private Dancer (1984) by Tina Turner

For my entire album-listening life I’ve struggled with interpretative records (i.e. albums where every song is a cover or, at least, not written by the performer) which didn’t explicitly market themselves as covers record. I think I have struggled with this kind of music so much because of the music I listened to in my …

1974, Music

Winter in America (1974) by Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson

I knew one thing about Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” And I don’t know it well. So I came into this expecting a record of spoken word with few expectations about the music backing the poetry. All I basically knew is that this guy was regarded by some as the first MC.

1969, Music

The Young Mods’ Forgotten Story (1969) by The Impressions

Despite his fame, I don’t know Cutis Mayfield’s music very well and I don’t know the Impressions at all. I have only ever heard Mayfield’s most famous record and this is my first ever Impressions record. The little I know of Mayfield is that his music is slicker than I like my soul.

1989, Music

Club Classics Vol. One (1989) by Soul II Soul

This is a review of a the original British album and British tradition dictates that the big single from the album is not released on that album, so that consumers have to buy both. So the song you know, “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” is only present here in an a cappella …

1979, Music

Bad Girls (1979) by Donna Summer

I do not like disco. I do not like disco for both intellectual reasons and emotional ones. My intellectual reasons? Disco, to me, sounds like robotic, neutered, safe funk where everything musically interesting within funk has been abandoned to emphasize repetitiveness and sameness. My emotional reasons are more complex. I am pretty self-reflective and can …

1969, Music

It’s Our Thing (1969) by Isley Brothers

If you are sick to death of “It’s Your Thing” from all those TV ads masquerading as female self-empowerment messages you could be forgiven for never wanting to listen to this record, ever. I mean, that’s sort of where my mind was at when I saw the title. That song is one of the most …

1964, Music

Ain’t That Good News (1964) by Sam Cooke

I can understand the reluctance to listen to pre-British Invasion LPs individually. So many of them are scattershot collections of singles, b-sides and filler and you’re often better off listening to a curated greatest hits package, unless you’re a really big fan of the artist, and want to hear them even at their laziest or …

1998, Music

1965 (1998) by The Afghan Whigs

I did not particularly enjoy the critically acclaimed Gentlemen and I think so much of that has to do with when I heard it, in my late 30s. I suspect had I heard it when I was, say, 22, I might have really liked it a lot. It’s still a fine record but, as a …

1973, Music

Imagination (1973) by Gladys Knight and the Pips

I basically only know Gladys Knight & the Pips from “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I assume it was their biggest hit. But it turns out I’ve also heard the second track, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination.” Hence the first two tracks make this album almost feel like a Best Of, because it contains the …

1973, Music

3+3 (1973) by The Isley Brothers

I know the Isley Brothers more by reputation than by their music. I know their most famous song, and I know the most famous song from this record, but that’s about it. (Also, I may have forgotten that “Shout” and “That Lady” were by the same band until I listened to this record.) This record …

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.

2013, Books, Music, Non-Fiction

Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion (2013) by Robert Gordon

This book tells the story of Stax Records, but it isn’t just a the story of Stax the record label, as it also places the story in the context of Memphis and the civil rights movement, and there are some very interesting parallels between the rise and fall of Stax and other American businesses.

1973, Music

Fresh (1973) by Sly and the Family Stone

I don’t know enough about the history of Sly and the Family Stone to know whether or not There’s a Riot Goin’ On was something sustainable on an emotional level – I suspect it wasn’t – or a commercial level. But this record feels like a major step… not back, exactly, but to the side, …

1968, Music

Dance to the Music (1968) by Sly and the Family Stone

It’s easy to understand why this band captured everyone’s attention; though the music is undeniably funky for the era, and soulful, there’s also enough of other elements that it’s accessible to people who would not have listened to James Brown or Stax or what have you.It’s significantly less psychedelic than I assumed it was, but …

1968, Music

Lady Soul (1968) by Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin’s fourteenth studio album could have almost tricked me into believing it was a Greatest Hits/Best Of album focused on a particular era of her career, except for the fact it is missing “Respect” and a few other songs.

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 …