According to this document made available by the University of Michigan called, “What Is Soul?” and “What Is Soul Music;” “The word soul found its way into the discourse of American popular culture initially through music and spread out from there. African American essayist and playwright Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) notes that in the 1950s the word was used by jazz musicians and critics alike to characterize a movement within jazz to reclaim and revitalize a musical tradition that had been repeatedly co-opted by mainstream and corporate culture.”
Artist: Alice Clark
Album: Alice Clark (1972)
Holy shit! Talk about a lost talent! Brooklyn born Alice Clark was so underrated it wasn’t funny. It’s really upsetting to learn just how much power these record companies had back in the day. Alice had rhythm, she had soul, and she sang her ass off. There was absolutely no reason why these record companies could not had promoted her a little more. In my opinion, her style and caliber was similar to Gladys Knight. There was no excuse for this labels. Such a damn shame. Listen to the song “Never Did I stop Loving You.” She tore this song up! Alice only produced one album as far as I can tell. There is a second album floating around, but that was a special edition/ vinyl reissue. Which means it probably costs a pretty penny.
Song: MacArthur’s Park
Artist: The Four Tops
Album: Four Tops Now (1969)
You know what? I totally forgot about this song. The song “MacArthur’s Park” was written by Jimmy Web, and first recorded by Richard Harris in 1968. Man, talk about dozens and dozens of redoes! This song was covered so many times by so many people, It’s not even funny. But, I have to say, Sammy Davis Jr., version of the song is boring as fuck!! And you know I’m open to all kinds of music. This song is not for everybody. You’ll probably more likely to like the original if you like classical music. Honestly, I think my ultimate version of this song, was when the late disco queen Donna Summer turned this in to a disco cult classic! Loved the 12 inch, on her “Live And More album.”
However, did you know that the legendary Four Tops recorded this song in 1969? The song peaked at #38 on the Top 100 Chart. I was only 2 years old then. I can’t say that I love it as much as I do Donna Summer’s version, but I really enjoyed it a lot. When you listen to how it was originally sung by Richard Harris, and the way song was was structured, almost immediately I said in my mind, this kind of music was out of their league! But, The Four Tops actually did a wonderful job. Not only was the song soulful, they managed to preserve the original essence of the song. Check it out when you get a chance. You may like it. By the way, it wasn’t until I was about 18 or 19 did I learn that the song was actually about snorting cocaine! 🤣 But, I bet you’re going to listen to it closer now, aren’t you?!?!?
I really do wish I discovered this guy earlier. Have my readers ever heard of Charles Bradley? Honestly I don’t ever recall listening to his music until about a couple of years ago. I really loved his soulfully funk sound. I was devastated to find out that he had died of stomach cancer shortly after I discovered who he was and his music 😢. He was 68.
This man (who I feel in many ways has a striking resemblance to the late Nipsey Russell btw), sung his ass off!! Oh my goodness, when Bradley sung a song, all his emotion emanated from each and every performance. His type of performances are just not seen anymore (relatively speaking). To hear his music, or to see him perform on video, was not only breathtaking at times, it was also refreshing to see real blues music performed like that, then in 2016.
The first album I heard by Bradley, was “Changes (2016).” I think this entire album is awesome to be quite honest. This album is so authentically 70s, that there is absolutely no hint of modern flair I could detect. I think most blues fans would like at least half of the songs on this album. If I were forced to pick a favorite song, I would have to go with “Things We Do For Love.” My goodness. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said this was recorded in the old Motown Studio or something.
There’s another album I think you should check out. It’s called “Black Velvet (2018).” I really liked the song called “Can’t Fight The Feeling.” I haven’t found a whole lot of juicy information on Bradley, which leads me to believe that either Bradley started his musical career late, or he was discovered late. Having said that, I’m kind of insecure as to the actual copyright dates to his songs. Often times when someone dies, the music label often re-releases music of a popular artist, and you wind up with a new copyright/release date. In any event, I think that Bradley’s music is worth exploring if you’re a blues/funk fan. I recommend that you watch his very short, but powerful interview on YouTube. Very humbling.Save an Extra 10% on Guitar Cases and Guitar Gig Bags: Use Code TOURGUITAR
Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces is an extremely rare band. In fact, at this point I’m sure most classic music enthusiast would consider this group obscure. If you’re lucky enough to find any of their physical songs/vinyl, it would most likely be on a compilation (and I do mean IF). However, a UK label called Jazzman Records, released a compilation of their most popular hits for digital streaming, and luckily Spotify has it.
Most, if not all the original band members, including their bandleader Bobby Moore are now deceased. Despite the band’s music not being played at all on mainstream radio or internet streaming, I was please to find that the band still exists and performing. Now that’s what I call longevity! To be honest, I am unclear as to just how many albums they’ve produced, because so little is written about them. But what I can say is that they’ve had one major hit on the R&B Category.
One Major Billboard Hit!
The band’s song “Searching For My Baby,” released in 1966, peaked at #7 on the R&B Charts! Now, I know for a fact this was a popular hit, because I remember hearing this a lot on the radio when I was still just a baby. This very short, 2+ minute song has a groovy rhythm and kicking bass.
The band formed in 1952, and performed a variety of music. I believe they started playing mostly New Orleans style music. Listen to their version of “Cheek To Cheek,” with then bandleader Max Collie. I’ve heard the do some crazy sweet reggae music too. Check out “Return Of The Bullet,” with Rico Rodriquez. Eventually they progressed to performing funk, rock, until finally mostly soul music. I’d like you to check out one last song I think you’ll enjoy. It’s called “What Is That You Got?” This is an amazing song! Lots of rhythm to groove with!10% off your purchase with code LNK10. Excludes clearance.
Today’s topic is, “An Artist’s Magic In The Background.” I guess, unless you’re an actual musician, the average person doesn’t know who Michael Anderson is. Michael has had a couple of R&B hits, one song is called “Take Me I’m Yours (1978),” which unfortunately although it hit #6 on R&B charts, it only got as high as #88 on the Top 100 Billboard. That was a shame because the man can sing. By the way, I think this song would be a perfect for this coming Valentine’s Day.
Henderson Reminds Me So Much Of Ray Parker Jr.
Back in the day, I just couldn’t get over the uncanny resemblance between Henderson and fine ass Ray Parker Jr. I’ve been going crazy trying to find any evidence that Henderson is Parker’s brother. However, I could not find anything, so I guess it’s just a coincidence. But, interestingly enough, Henderson has worked with many artists in the background, and that included Ray Parker Jr.
In addition to Henderson being a talented vocalist (although I think he doesn’t project his voice enough), he’s also an accomplished bass player. As a result, he’s been able to work with lots of very famous people, such as the late Miles Davis, Bob Seger, Phyllis Hyman, and even Adele. The list goes on and on. He is very much sought after.
Probably one of the biggest projects (that I can remember) Henderson has been a part of, is his collaboration with Norman Connors. Henderson was featured on the #4 R&B hit “You Are My Starship (1976).” Another great collaboration was with the legendary Phyllis Hyman, on the song called “Can’t We Fall In Love Again.” The song hit #9 on the R&B charts; but only #57 on the Top 100 Charts in 1981. Great song! Check it out.
“If I Ruled The World (1968),” was brilliantly performed and recorded by James Brown and his long-time band, The Famous Flames. The beautiful song was composed by Leslie Bricusse and Cyril Ornadel. The song was originally from a Broadway musical, turned TV movie called “Pickwick (1969).” I guess no one saw it, because IMDB has zero ratings!
James Really Poured His Heart
Many artists performed this song throughout the years. However, with the exception of Stevie Wonder, in my opinion, I don’t think there were any vocal artist that performed this song as well as James Brown. James really poured his heart in to this song. When I think of James’s tireless contribution to the civil rights movement, and I listen to him sing this song, be it live or in a recording, I know he meant every word sung in this song.
Both Black & Whites Owed James Thanks
If I’m not mistaken, I think “Living In America (1986)” was James’s last hit song before he died. The song shot up to #4 on the Top 100 Charts. I remembered seeing that live performance on TV. I’m thinking to myself; everyone is watching a great old performer that “still got it.” Or maybe you’ve made fun of him like many people did when his incarceration photo showed up all over the internet. But few people knew that if it were not for James Brown, we could have had a blood massacre the world has never seen!
James Brown Prevented A Blood Massacre
“What Do You Mean, When You Say Blood Massacre?” Well, I’m glad you’ve asked! In 1968, the same year “If I Ruled The World” was released. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Also keep in mind that this is now 50 years after the fact, which from my perspective was not long ago. When MLK was assassinated, 100s of cities turned to rioting. Neighborhoods were destroyed and many casualties. Despite the cries for a peaceful protest by the late MLK’s colleagues, it went on deaf ears.
It Was James’s Love For His People
James Pleaded with the Black community to stop the rioting. More and more people were getting hurt, killed, and communities were being destroyed by their own. Our then, 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, called a state of emergency, and ordered armed guards throughout the city to try and take control in order to reduce the violence. Long story short, James held an unforgettable concert performance in Boston. The concert was so powerful and moving, it literally shifted the mindset of the Black community. Now, this is not to say other Black leaders were not, or could not do anything; but James’s music and presence was a very very powerful influence.
Tommie Young is another one of many forgotten soul artists in the industry. Damn! Even today, when I listen to er voice, I would have sworn to you, all up and down that this was Aretha Franklin. Other than Aretha’s sister, Erma Franklin, I can’t remember hearing anyone that sounded so much like Aretha. Tommie, now in her 70’s, performed at a time when soul music was REAL soul music. I mean, it was soul because artists actually wrote more of their own songs from personal experience. Back then, artists didn’t need an arsenal of people to write one song, to a single artists, who can’t relate to what they were singing about. “Do You Still Feel The Same Way,” was not a chart topper, and it should have been. The song only peaked at #28, and this woman tore this song to shreds in my humble opinion. Also, on this same album, check out “Hit and Run Lover.” It’s a pretty decent album I think.
Damn, Chuck Jackson was gorgeous when he was young, wasn’t he? It’s unfortunate that Chuck never had a number one hit (according to what I was able to find on Billboard). However, the one song I remember hearing all over the radio growing up (even though I wasn’t born yet, it was still popular long after its release, I still heard it a lot on the radio, and my grandpa used to play it a lot too), it was called “Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird),” released in 1962. The song only peaked at #23, but it still was a very, very popular song, and it has remained one of my favorites all these years. It’s a beautiful song, asking the one he loves not to leave him in the form of a poem. This music I would put in the category of true soul music! Hardly anybody knows about this kind of music, unfortunately.