Tag: Soul

2000, Music

Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1

I don’t know if I can tell you who Jill Scott is, but I can tell you what she is: she’s ambitious. Scott wants us to both accept her as a very talented singer and a poet. That’s something very few people can pull off.

1995, Music

Brown Sugar (1995) by D’Angelo

So I sat down to write this thinking I was going to write something and then I skimmed some reviews and saw this record categorized as “smooth soul” and it got me thinking: this record sure didn’t strike me as “slick” or “smooth” when I listened to it. Why did it strike others that way?

1980, Music

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (1980) by Dexys Midnight Runners

If, like me, you are born after this record came out, you likely know one and only song by this band, “Come on Eileen”. (In North America, anyway. Their other biggest hit, the one from this record, was not a hit here.) Moreover, you’ve heard that song so much that you hate it and the …

1975, Music

Why Can’t We Be Friends? (1975) by War

This is my second ever War album but I didn’t remember The World is a Ghetto until I looked up my review. I was going to say they reminded me a little of Earth, Wind and Fire on this one, but not that much. (In the sense of combining ballads and funk on the same …

1975, Music

The Heat Is On (1975) by The Isley Brothers

When a band attempts more than one style, I usually prefer when they mix things up in the sequence. I find the “one side this, other side that” a bit annoying. I’m not sure why I don’t like it, but it bothers me enough that I often find myself docking a point for sequencing like …

1975, Music

Steppin’ (1975) by The Pointer Sisters

This is the extent of my knowledge of The Pointer Sisters: I’ve heard “Jump” a million times. Sure, it’s possible I know some other hits of theirs. If I played all their Top 20 hits maybe I’d recognize a few of them, but the only one I could identify by name (and would know as …

1975, Music

There’s No Place Like America Today (1975) by Curtis Mayfield

My general, um, impression of Curtis Mayfield is that his version of soul is just way too slick for me. I’ve felt this about the limited albums of his I’ve heard, be it solo or the Impressions. I don’t feel that way as much about this record and I’m not sure if that’s me getting …

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 …

1980, Music

Sugarhill Gang (1980)

I know just about zilch about the history hip hop which means I know nothing about the history of record labels and producers thinking they know better how to market the genre of hip hop. But I know a fair amount about how they did that to other genres which, I hope, gives me some …

1965, Music

People Get Ready (1965) by The Impressions

Of all the various soul scenes, I must say I’m pretty unfamiliar with Chicago. I don’t know to what extent its distinct from other scenes beyond what I hear on this record, because I think this is my first ever (’60s) Chicago Soul record. (My wordpress tags argue otherwise, but I can’t remember what that …

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.

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 …

1974, Music

Perfect Angel (1974) by Minnie Riperton

Jimbo: Not that sure. I think we better come up with a backup plan. Uhh, let’s see here. Hey, bookie! Wha- what’s the halftime show gonna be?Bookie: You haven’t heard?! John Stamos’ older brother Richard Stamos is gonna sing ‘Loving You’.Ned: I love that song.Jimbo: ‘Loving You’? That’s perfect! Come on Ned, Middle Park’s gonna …

1964, Music

Where Did Our Love Go (1964) by The Supremes

A lot of Motown albums don’t hold up that well 55 years later, as many of them if not most of them are sort of built the same way that rock and roll albums of the ’50s were built – a bunch of hit singles, their b-sides and then a bunch of dross that was …

1974, Music

Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974) by Stevie Wonder

Good Stevie Wonder does nothing for me. Middling Stevie Wonder does less for me. It’s hard for me to even care enough about this record, which doesn’t have any of his biggest hits on it, and which fails to move me, like all of his records. But I guess I have to try. (That’s what …

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.