It's a Soul Thang

My son and I have been on a now extended Soul music kick. Late 60's-mid 70's stuff, after some of the artists evolved from pop, before a lot of artists turned to disco, and way before what is now consider R&B. You know, Al Green, Aretha, Stevie, Gaye, Withers, Billy Paul, Mayfield, Temptations, Spinners..etc. Looking for some of the perhaps less obvious choices that folks enjoy that they'd like to suggest for fleshing out and expanding our collections! Thanks.
A lot of what used to be "soul" was Motown music. I have a boxed set that is great -- Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971. If you don't want the earlier stuff, just looking through the song list on Amazon might provide some new names and titles.
Try Funky Nassau, The Meters, the Counts, early Commodores (from the 70s), Tower of Power, Graham Central Station, (most of these are a combo of funk and soul with horns) as well as the Five Stairsteps, Freda Payne, James Brown, Jr Walker, the Stylistics and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas just to name a few for the more sounful stuff you are referring to.
Just what I had on mind Fmpnd. Tower of Power performed a while back near here and were still great. I'd also add Harold Melvin among others. Many you mention are those that I remember well when mentioned. Funk is cool, too. Bootsy, Parliament and all.....and of course, JB goes without needed mention! :-)

How bout some specific titles, too. Some artists kinda were around the board. For instance, the Temptations. Many only think of My Girl and such as that, but Sky's the Limit and Psych Shack are very different - the long version of "Smilin' Faces" (on Sky) is to be blown away by - very "urban" and with a killer, repetetive bass lien that draws you in like a magnet.
I agree with the above posters but also look at Isaac Hayes. Black Moses, Movement, To Be Continued and Hot Buttered Soul are all classic albums.
Second the vote for Isaac Hayes and nominate Smokey Robinson, both with the Miracles and without. I just recently got a copy of Quiet Storm and it's a good one.
You must familiarize yourself with Stax if you want soul-Johnny Taylor,Otis Redding, Sam and Dave,Booker T.and the MGs were their headliners.

Motown, for all its strengths, unabashedly tried to reach the "wider" audience, while Stax, generally speaking, was, (in my opinion) way more soulful.

I will send titles and more later- I have to look through the albums.
Check out Eddie Hinton. Best blue eyed soul singer you will ever hear.
Second the Stax records recommendations. Try the Staple Singers as well.
All excellent nominations. Booker T has always been a favorite! I look forward to your titles Mknowles. Thanks to everyone so far. I generally find that Soul is very underappreciated and I'm glad to see some fans here.
Be sure to rent the film "Standing in the Shadows of Motown": a tribute to the "Funk Brothers"--the largely unacknowledged studio group that played on literally hundreds of classic hits, while being paid union scale. They literally defined the Motown sound, and it is quite remarkable to witness a small piece of their story. The bass player, James Jamerson, is one of the true masters of his instrument. This music makes my Meadowlark Blue Heron's jump for joy. On occasion, I've been known to join them!
Here we go 4 (I hope I can be so informal!)

First, my biases. I consider Soul music to have emerged after Doo Wop and before the emergence of Funk. The heyday was through the 60's and 70's.

Also, although I have tons of soul albums with only one or two great tunes, the following recommmendations have great tunes throughout the entire disc.

That being said, my mandatory must have, skip the mortgage payment to get 'em recommendations in the Soul "Male Group" category are:

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes- I Miss You

Creative Source- Creative Source

Delfonics- Super Hits

The Dells- Freedom Means

The Dells- There Is

Stylistics- The Stylists

Stylistics- Round 2

Please stay tuned for nominations in the Soul "Female Vocalist" category.

Don't forget Donny and Marie. LOL My kids(teenagers) are sold on the Temps. Don't forget the 4 Tops. Archie Bell and the Drells. Stevie Wonder. Rare Earth. Smokey Robinson(early). Jimmy Ruffin
Michael, thanks. We've only two of those you listed, so let the hunting begin!
David and Eric (when saying "4" I look at it as me, my wife, and two sons! So maybe "2" is more appropriate in this case. Ha!)
Nice to see all this "soul searchin" going on!!

I am ashamed of myself for forgetting some of the ones mentioned - I can still remember exactly where I was when I first heard "La La La Means I Love You" by the Delfonics and "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells. If you like soul, ya gotta love "Ooh Ooh Child" by the Five Stairsteps and the early Spinners and Stylistics stuff. "Wake Up Everybody" by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes did get overplayed but it's a great song.

I do admit though that I like to crossover into the funky soul stuff a lot. If you do like Tower of Power, their "Back To Oakland" LP is as good as it gets! "Bump City" the self titled LP and "Urban Renewal" are also top notch!!

Gee, there is so much I am forgetting I think I'll go change my Depends now and take my Metamucil!!!
Donny Hathaway and Minnie Ripperton are two that haven't come up yet. To push the envelope a little, check out Gil Scott-Heron.
In my opinion, female vocalists have been given a raw deal by record companies.

The quality and quantity of their work in the soul arena is sparse as far as albums are concerned. Singles are a different matter.

The short required list of albums follows:

Aretha Franklin- I Never Loved A Man the Way I love You.

Gladys Knight and the Pips- If I Were Your Woman.

Diana Ross- Touch Me in The Morning.

While not recorded in the day, Sade's "Promise" touches me.
I grew up listening soul and funk and for many years I looked for more obscure artists. In doing so I found I actually ignored or dismissed stuff because I thought it was too obvious or mainstream. I recently started re-listening to Stevie Wonder during his early 70s peak - starting with Music of My Mind and ending with Songs in the Key of Life (although some say that Where I'm Coming From should also be included.) To call this genius is an understatement - almost every song on every one of these albums (Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness First Finale are the others) are amazing and the best of of what soul has to offer imho. Same goes for Curtis Mayfield, Aretha and Marvin Gaye.

However if you're looking for inspiration, Solar Radio published a top 1000 of the century which I think is reprinted here:

in alphabetical rather than rank order.
this thread made me think about all those great old albums you forget about, for me it seems I'm always chasing another 'new' find. 'Superfly', Curtis Mayfield is going on next.
Check these out:

Irma Thomas - The New Rules: Sexy New Orleans soul chanteuse par excellence. Ideal combo of pipes and drama. She could sell oil to OPEC.

Sam Cooke - Ain't That Good News: Sam and Brother Ray really were the first to sew the Church and the Blues together into Soul. "A Change Is Gonna Come" will shake your molecules.

Isley Brothers - 3 + 3: Funkmeisters of the first order, but plenty of soulful licks here. Soulful treatments of pop songs are tight and tasty ("Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight", "Sunshine", etc.).


Superfly is a great example of an album that was dragged down by the movie. Even after you get past the tracks everyone knows there are still 4 or 5 more that are brilliant - Give me your love
this thread made me think about all those great old albums you forget about, for me it seems I'm always chasing another 'new' find. 'Superfly', Curtis Mayfield is going on next.
sorry for the double run, too much rhum, try "O.V. Wright, just how deep my love is"
Male Vocalists in mostly alphabetical order.

Marvin Gaye- I Want You
Marvin Gaye- Trouble Man

On each album, you are treated to explorations of themes introduced earlier on the album. Hypnotic.

I intentionally omitted the indescribably fabulous, and often noted "What's Going On"

Al Green- Call Me
Al Green- Explores Your Mind
Al Green- I'm Still in Love with You

With apologies to the Solid State fans, I think Al Green has tubes in his throat. He smokes on all of these albums. Seductive.

Donny Hathaway- Live. This is well worth searching for. The album alternately grooves and inspires. When I think of his performance of "We're Still Friends", I well up with emotion.

Isaac Hayes- Hot Buttered Soul
Isaac Hayes- Shaft

Eddie Kendricks- All By Myself. Another album worthy of a prolonged search. Pay what you must to get it. After leaving the Temptations, Eddie cut this. Meditative, contemplative, and provocative.

Curtis Mayfield- Superfly. This album is as great as the movie was dopey. Another one that has to be played and savored from beginning to end. Curtis Mayfield laid the political themes down lyrically with a heavy hand. His guitar licks are real traditional and also speak volumes. The arrangements bring the orchestration like Soul music is supposed to. "Superfly" qualifies as one to take to the deserted island.

And if you like this, graduate to his album "Curtis". That's right, the one where he is sportin' the yellow suit on the cover.

Smokey Robinson-Smokey. His work with the Miracles is justifiably popular. This album, unlike my other recommendations, is not strong throughout, and is somewhat quirky. However, his performances on "Sweet Harmony" and "Baby Come Close" are riveting and make this album worth acquiring. Here, you can hear Smokey take his time with the microphone. On top of this, you hear all the sweetening -cello, harps,vibes,violins-and none of the syrup.

Bobby Womack- Communication. I believe Bobby Womack can grunt and scream 100 scales. He needs no words. On side two he grooves on "Close to You"(Yes-Bert Bacarach's composition) for nine and a half minutes. Put this on, and if you ask the old lady, you can get some grinding!

Stevie Wonder- Buy any and everything he ever recorded with the caveat that many of his albums have a theme and progession from tune to tune and side to side. As a consequence, avoid the collections, and enjoy each album on its own. If you play guitar, get the songbooks and play along.

Good luck, and thanks for initiating a great thread. Now, I have to turn the lights down low...

"There Is" by Delphonics - what a great driving song. Just try doin' the speed limit with that coming at cha from the dashboard! Don't forgot "Funky Broadway" by wicked Wilson Pickett (and anything else he did in the 60s - awww...pick it, Wilson!) and the Fantastic Johnny C "The Horse". He had another minor hit and I can't remember what it was.

Also, Clarence Carter "Looking for a Fox". "The Funky Chicken" and "Here Come the Judge" and I can't remember who did these last two (Pigmeat Markam for "Judge"?). All great driving songs.
Solomon Burke
Tomryan, you got me again!! Oh my GOD! The Horse!!!! WHAT an incredible memory that conjured up! I must have played that song a thousand times in high school!! Thanks for the memory!!!
Buy the complete Stax/Volt singles box set(Soulsville U.S.A.). I'ts the Holy Grail.
Say, Fmpnd, who did "Bugaloo Down Broadway"? I can remember my buddies and I driving 2 miles an hour down Dudley Street in Dearborn Michigan about 1968 with three of us walking outside the car doin' the bugaloo and shouting out, "Bugaloo down Dudley, the funky Dudley!". Soul music rules!!
Boogaloo Down Broadway? Johnny C!
Damn, 4yanx, you're right! The Fantastic Johnny C! Am I right about him also doing "The Horse"? If not, who was it??
I'm almost certain that The Horse was done originally by Cliff Nobles.
OK, I saved a few memory cells and looked it up. Apparently The Horse was done first by a group called The Preparations and the real title was Get-E-Up! Cliff did it later.
Has anyone made any compilations of their favorite soul music that they would be interested in trading for some jazz CDR's?
"The Horse" by Cliff Nobles (I would never have remembered that name!) is an instrumental and I wonder if The Preparations was the same. I gotta do an Amazon search for that song! Also want "Lookin' For A Fox" and "Bugaloo Down Broadway".
It seems the group is well versed in the older guard, which I agree. But how about some younger new guys? Here is one Van Hunt. Certainly not as good, but promising.
One Van Hunt what?
For newer Soul I think the Acid Jazz bands like Brand New Heavies, Incognito, perhaps Jamiroquai among others were keeping soul alive for a while. Then there's neo soul, Maxwell is one of the best, also Jill Scott and Angie Stone.