Soul Recommendations

I really enjoyed the Jazz Recommendations thread, and it is refreshing to get away from the religious debates on equipment. An area of music I want to explore more is soul, and am looking for some help. There is some cross-over between what I like and R&B, but I don't like much R&B released in the last 15 years or so, and there is also much cross-over into Blues. So what I do like in this area is - James Brown, Junior Wells and Al Green. I also like the old Stax stuff (I have the boxed set). But that amounts to my entire soul-tinged music collection - a dozen or so CDs. I don't care for Parliament, Barry White and so-called "sweet soul music" - eg. "Sexual Healing". I know my Jazz and Blues very well, and have very extensive collections there, but in crossing over the line into Soul I have found some great stuff by the artists I have mentioned, but feel I am only scratching the surface and want some pointers (pardon the pun) as to what to go for next. Maybe you will tell me that JB, Junior and Al are it, but hopefully there is more to explore.
Curtis Mayfield, Fontella Bass, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Johnny Adams, Solomon Burke, Don Covay, Arthur Conley, and Barbara Lynn's "You'll Lose a Good Thing."
Thanks very much Barry. Curtis is kinda on the edge of what I like and don't like, but can certainly respect his artistry. Aretha - of course, and so too for Wilson. I actually have one Soloman Burke with a great version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" - I really do like that. I like Johnny Adams "One Foot In The Blues" a lot, but find his more ballady stuff less interesting. Given this, which albums by Fontella Bass, Don Covay and Arthur Conlay should I try, and should I try the Barbara Lynn disc.
Stevie Wonder-Innervisions,Talking Book,Songs in the.... Marvin Gaye-What's going on,Let's get it on,There my dear. Best book (music related)I read this year is A Change Is Gonna Come by Craig Weirner--a fascinating read about American politics/sociology and it's relationshipwith( for want of a better phrase)Black Music although he does cleverly draw in other influences such as Dylan,Springsteen,Creedence CR and rock musicians such as Hendrix as well as the focus on Soul,Jazz and Rap. Very balanced insightful and lots of great muiscal this book Redkiwi it'll open up this area of music for you... Regards, Ben
That sounds like a great idea thanks Bencampbell. I will track it down - sounds like a good read in front of the stereo. By the way, you wouldn't be a single malt kind of laddie would you?
What about the Four Tops, Temptations, definitely Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and does anyone remember "Fingertips" by Little Steve Wonder? Now that's Motown Soul. And Issac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Teddy Pendergass, The Friends of Distinction (great group btw), early Pointer Sisters and the real daddy of Soul JAMES BROWN, RIGHT ON!! Let's not forget Jackie Wilson.
Redkiwi-check out the Mowtown Chartbuster series of compliations as well on CD-they sell cheap here in the UK--and actually as a Scotsman I don't like whiskey I drink (as a large % of UK drinkers do)American beer. So maybe if I either patronise you to death and say what a great guy you are or enter into an endless series of abusive exchanges ..the intake of American beer will explain it.:-) Regards, Ben
Thanks Groovy Tube man. I have not explored two or three of those and will have to check them out. For some reason I have not liked any Marvin Gaye (except "... Grapevine ..." (and even then like the Gladys Knight version better), or liked any Stevie Wonder stuff (I am utterly allergic) - but JB sure is the hardest working man in show business, and a big fave of mine. Sad to here you are not a dram man Bencampbell - I was looking for some tips (I like the Islay and Skye stuff best - very peaty). Now beer I can relate to, but we don't get anything but the mass produced American stuff here. I like a dark roasted hop myself and my favourite is Monteiths Black - which is made here in NZ but the brewer is - coincidence or what? - American.
Oh Redkiwi a few more while I'm thinking of it. Now some of these aren't pure soul like The Godfather and Arthur Conley but still groovy man, how about the O'Jays, early Commodores ("Brick House" is funky man), Philly's own Delphonics and the Stylistics (not too funky but really soulful) and of course one of my fav's from the 70's Earth, Wind and Fire. And boy we almost forgot Aretha, the Queen of Soul.
Otis Redding - Otis Blue (O.R. sings soul) is an absolute MUST HAVE! It's in glorious MONO and can be found on German-pressed LP with GREAT sonics. The standard-issue CD (remaster) is actually pretty good as well (bought it for a friend). The cool thing about this disc is that (to my surprise) 'Respect' was originally sung from a MAN'S perspective. O.R. 'Live at the Whiskey a Go Go' is reportedly great, haven't heard it. DCC has a great LP and CD of Ray Charles 'Greatest Country and Western Hits' showing how much better he is at singing 'the white blues.' R.C. Genius+Soul=Jazz - also great! Holiday Salutations, -John
Redkiwi, sounds like you like gutbucket over urbane, Memphis more than Philly. Ok, you don’t like Marvin Gaye, so why try any more – but maybe his duets with Tammi Terrell (remember the single “Ain’t No Mountain High”)? Arethra, yeah -- “Lady Soul” is a classic big hitter. My Otis Redding suggestion would be his “Dictionary of Soul.” Did you possibly mean Junior Walker (and the All-Stars) when you said Junior Wells? If not, Jr Walker (Shotgun, Butter Up Buttercup, How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You) absolutely smokes; I have a terrific “Anthology” LP. Smokey Robinson (and the Miracles) had to have been one of the best Motown songwriters as well as one of its most original voices. “Disco A-Go-Go” is a silly title but a great LP; there are probably some good Smokey compilations. I like Musikdok’s Ray Charles suggestions. Maybe since you’re into jazz you already have his stuff. (Speaking of jazz for a second, I love “The Genius of Ray Charles” with Ray singing in front of a big band.) I have a very special esteem for Sly and the Family Stone. What a funk-rock-soul-R&B innovator; too bad he couldn’t handle the business. “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” is not typical of his more pop stuff but is a progressive and highly influential album. Unique stuff like “Family Affair” and “You Caught Me Crying…Again” on it. Mind-bending, really – I love it. I don’t think Sly’s stuff has been remastered, which is sad.
I think you understand where I am headed Jayboard. I like Otis but have not known which albums to persue, so thanks to you and Musikdok. I actually did mean Junior Wells, even though I know people see him as a Blues player - but I hear a lot of soul in what he does. I am already on the track of some of the suggestions people have kindly made - looks like I may be giving myself some nice presents this year (bought two soul CDs yesterday - will go hunting again today armed with my new list).
Hi Redkiwi; Not an expert in the soul arena myself, but I've sure got to 2nd Musicdoks recommendation of Ray Charles "Greatest Country & Western Hits", in CD it's on the Rhino label and despite the title, doesn't sound much like C/W at all-- this is country swing, jazz, and beautiful C/W soul ballads. It's a 4 CD set,and has become one of my favorites. Also R. Charles GH is very good, a 2 CD set (don't remember label). Otis Redding; "Ultimate" CD, "Love Songs" CD, or "Dock of the Bay" CD are all well done. And yes Aretha. I'm a Junior Wells fan too, and have his music in my "blues" collection. Happy Holidays. Craig.
Of course, Junior is a blues man, I should have said I ALSO hear a lot of soul in him (but not much in the Telarc rubbish he did). Listen to James Brown and then Junior and tell me you do not hear it. I have always admired Ray Charles but have not heard the right CD - will definitely try the C&W thanks Garfish - shame about the title. I am on to the Otis stuff as we speak. Hope the world is treating you right Craig - how are Dogface and his wife?
Somehow no one has mentioned the most successful Motown group ever, right behind the Beatles in sales throughout the '60s -- the Supremes. You Keep Me Hangin' On, Love Child, Baby Love, Stop in the Name of Love -- these are great songs. The secret of the Supremes' appeal, besides Diana Ross's vocal talents, was the bass playing of James Jamerson. Amazingly inventive and fast, and he was really at his best, in my view, with the Supremes. Check out "Reflections." If you listen closely, you'll hear that there is no drum, just a tambourine and Jamerson's stunningly driving, rhythmic Fender P-bass. Since funk and soul is so heavily dependent on good bass playing, I think it's important to at least listen to this stuff closely at some point to appreciate the genre as a whole. By the way, Jamerson also played bass for Marvin Gay, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and Martha and the Vandellas during Motown's prime.
Redkiwi......have had reconciliation with Dogface and his woman. Thanks for asking. Craig.
Should have said..... yes, I agree that much of Junior Wells best music definitely has a soul "bent"-- I've often thought of it as soft Chicago blues. Craig
I love R&B particularly of the 60's, and for me, Aretha is Queen. A good way to explore Aretha is to buy the 4 CD boxed set called "Queen of Soul". I find that many of Aretha's ballads, covers of other people's material, as well as her not-well-known material endure for me even more than her great hits such as "Respect", "Chain of Fools" and "Baby, I Love You", which are also on this 4 CD box set. There is a string of these type of songs on the first CD which starts with track 14 "You are My Sunshine" and ends with track 18 "Prove It". IMO, this is her best material. I also love the last track, "Ain't No Way", which is well known. This is a great boxed set which my only wish for improvement would be that it was of top sonic quality. Other than Aretha, among the highest echelon of R&B artists, I would have to second Ray Charles, who like Aretha, can sing in any style be it Jazz, Blues, Country or Gospel. Others that I find in that highest category are Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and James Brown.
If you are into soul, you should -- no, scratch that -- you MUST check out "Beg Scream & Shout, The Big Ol' Box of 60's Soul" on Rhino. This 6 CD box set is packaged in what looks exactly like an old 45 box (hinges, lock and handle on top). The CD's are enclosed in facsimiles of 45 sleeves and, get this, included are "The Li'l Ol' Box of 60's Soul Cards". Think baseball cards, with photo on the front and bio on the back and you've got the idea. About 150 cards. Huge variety of artists, incredible packaging. This box set has it all! Rhino # R2 72815
Why Jim thanks for the tip and I'll be looking for it.
Tubegroover, this thread prompted me to listen to these soul CD's today (thanks Redkiwi!). I haven't listened since I got my tube amp (too busy with more hi-fi sounding stuff and looking for audio nirvana). This sounded sooooooo much nicer with tubes than I remember my solid state gear sounding, (listened in two-thirds triode/one-third pentode). By the way, one feature I forgot to mention, inside the 45 sleeves are cardboard/plastic 45's with the CD's housed in the back of each one. So it really gives you the singles experience. All tracks are the original single versions, remastered very nicely, too. Listening today also reminded me of how much some of my favorite artists drew from soul... like Erma Franklin's "Piece of My Heart" (Aretha's younger, deeper voiced sister). Janis Joplin really did a gutsier version of exactly the same song. Exactly. Ditto with Garnet Mimms' "Cry Baby". Not only did Janis cover the song, she was obviously so influenced by the original version. Nothing wrong with this. I make the point only because it's very cool to go back "farther" and connect with the original music that influenced of some of my favorite artists from the past. Janis is just one of many examples.
It's interesting to notice that Buddy Guy (and you've got to include Junior Wells) comes up on threads for rock guitarists and now on the soul thread. Shows you how many people love these guys. Buddy and Junior are among my favorites and I have many of their releases on LP (including appearances on some interesting Chicago Blues anthologies that were popular in the day). A little different take on these blues legends is the "Alone and Acoustic" CD on the Alligator label (ALCD 4802). Same blues feeling and style delivered in a more intimate way. So now you can have Buddy & Junior both ways.
I just discovered "The Baby Huey Story" - wow, gutbucket and Memphis is it Jayboard? I like it. And James Brown's Funky Divas album is cool too. The record stores here are experiencing a boom in soul sales right now.
Tell me something about Baby Huey, kiwi -- don't know that one. (I know a Baby Laurence, but he was a jazz tap dancer ;-) ) I repeat myself, but do try out Junior Walker and the All-Stars. Lot of grit and drive; I think right up your alley. Have the Staples Singers (singles like "I'll Take You There" and "Respect Yourself") been mentioned yet? You might have some on your Stax collection. Mavis Staples is an awesome voice; rhythm section is lean and mean; good family values from their gospel background to boot! For accuracy, need to correct a Smokey Robinson reference I made earlier. It's "Away We A-Go-Go", not "Disco A-Go-Go." After all, it was only 1966! Still a silly title, I guess. "You're like a broom, I'm like dust in the room... 'Cause I'm swept for you, baby."--Smokey Robinson
You have got to check out the works of Mighty Sam McClain. He is the Best soul/blues singer alive today. His recording are on the Audioquest and Telarc labels. Start with "Give It Up To Love" and "Sledgehammer Soul And Down Home Blues."
Hi Jayboard. I have been chasing down most of the suggestions here and have picked up 8 or 9 CDs with more on order. Thanks to you and everyone else here! Now Baby Huey was just a suggestion from my favourite CD shop when they saw what I was buying. I wouldn't say Baby Huey is quite in the class of either of them but he is somewhere between Sly and JB. His real name was James T Ramey, he was big (350 to 400 lbs of him), and he died in the same month as Janis J and Jimi H - when quite depressed about the death of his friend Jimi, apparently from natural causes. His group - Baby Huey and the Babysitters apparently included Chaka Khan and Deacon Jones at various stages. His music was always very brassy and he called it a "cleaned up version of the funky sound - it's like rhythm and soul, man." It is pretty wild stuff. The CD I bought is called "The Baby Huey Story" - NEBCD 405 - which is a posthumous collection put together by Curtis Mayfield. I don't think he ever released a CD in his lifetime, just a couple of singles.
Toni Braxton. Try any of her 3 cd's, but the 2nd is great, with the latest (the Heat) a close second.
Hi Redkiwi; Uncontop mentioned Mighty Sam McClain (very good), which reminded me of Terry Evans. You're maybe familiar with T. Evans as Stereophile has always highly recommended him as a blues singer-- But, I have all of his CDs and there is a great deal of "soul" involved in his music. He's one of my favorite Blues/Soul singers, and Ry Cooder plays slide guitar on his CDs-- a bonus. Before striking out on his own, he and Bobby King made a lot of great music together too-- their version of "Dark End of the Street" is truly great. Also, If you don't have "The Committments" soundtrack, (and Vol. 2 also)-- they're very worthwhile-- mine and my daughter's favorites. Happy Holidays. Craig
Regards To James Ramey - Baby Huey
have a look in Yahoo , there is a discussion group there.

Yes he never had an LP (Not CD) released in his lifetime.
The Curtom Curtis Mayfield produced album was released nearly a year or so after his death.
I think four singles though.
And a couple of them didn't appear on the album.