This is Old Soul Music, a blog dedicated to deep soul gem digging. Old Soul Music is a counterpart to She Thinks I Still Care, a traditional Country & Western music blog.
HOW TO USE THIS BLOG: Click the "Play" button at the bottom right, open new tab, go on about your business. Everything will be okay.
The Dave Hamilton Voices - Because I Love You
Linda Jones - Seeing Is Believing (Loma, 1967)
While we’re still talking about playing behind the beat, this is a good example. Check the hits right before “seeing is believing”. Gorgeous song. From her popular Loma record “Hypnotized”.
Debbie Taylor and The Hesitations – All That I Have (GWP, 1969)
One common and very essential intuitive skill while playing soul/funk/R&B is the ability, especially for the rhythm section, to play “behind the beat”. It’s not as simple as rushing or lagging, speeding up or slowing down. It’s a stylistic and expressive mode of playing that can drive the listener to beg for the next note, or sock you in the gut when it finally arrives.
Imagine a point in time that represents the ultimate, precise beat on say 1,2,3 or 4. Then, imagine a circle around that point that dynamically represents the surrounding non-metered time. We’re talking milliseconds before or after said beat. A “perfect” landing of say a bass note would be right on that point. Right on time and sounds perfectly normal. A landing of that bass note slightly before or “ahead” that point would give a different feeling, often a rushed sense of urgency. A landing of that bass note slightly after or “behind” that point also gives a different feeling, which could be described as a feeling of deprivation-then-relief. Or as we’d say in my band, “sitting back on it”.
Psychoacoustically, I believe it’s one of the most fundamentally individuating features of soul/funk/R&B music. This, of course, happens in many styles of music, especially jazz. But this is a soul blog. A 4/4 mid-tempo polka and a 4/4 mid-tempo soul tune feel very different, even though they’re made up of the same essential elements of music, and I think that playing behind the beat is one of the most distinctive reasons why.
This song, sung by Debbie Taylor (a total ace), is one of the more obvious examples of playing behind the beat, ESPECIALLY when the song arrives at the triplet hits on “To give you back” and then moves to the subsequent arrival back to the steady beat ( right after “All that I have”). It almost sounds like they’re on ‘ludes. Listen for the interplay between the drummer and the bass player and then how they interact with the rest of the group. Beyond all of that, it’s just a really great song and performance.
Z.Z. Hill - You’ve Got Me Chained To Your Love
There are a handful of really great songs and performances on this Clay Hammond/ZZ Hill comp. This song has been floating in and out of my head for the better part of two weeks. Note some of the melodic and referential elements that may have been derived from OV Wright’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is”
Syl Johnson - Half A Love (Twinight, 1967?)
I love this recording. It’s got so much grit and weight behind it. I love how the bass and drums interact. Syl’s the man. This is from the Numero Group boxset. Note: I’m unsure why the title on the 45 is inaccurate.
Swamp Dogg - Total Destruction To Your Mind
Alive Naturalsound records recently reissued this notoriously awesome record by “Maverick” soul singer Swamp Dogg.
David Marchese over at SPIN wrote an excellent article on Swamp Dogg to accompany a reissue of his sought after record “Total Destruction To The Mind”. It is deeply entertaining, motherfucker. -RICKY
“Total Destruction to Your Mind, the first Swamp Dogg album, begins with the title track, wherein Williams, winking at the Beatles, sings about sitting on a cornflake riding on a rollerskate as his voice is surrounded by curling guitars and blammo horns and the music keeps freaking out from there. He prophesizes a post-bomb wasteland where kids have never known rain or rock’n’roll. Psychedelic music blows his mind, so his patience grows thin with the synthetic world we’re living in. He laments being born blue instead of orange-skinned and green-haired like everyone else. He razzes rednecks. He pitches snake oil called “Sal-a-Faster.” He wonders about mama’s baby and daddy’s maybe. His voice is boisterous, jovial, quizzical; his melodies sly and punchy. The music — given perfect shape by its craftsman’s hand — suggests a quirky avenue that black music might’ve pursued if funk hadn’t fomented instead. And it came packaged with a cover that showed Swamp sitting in shorts on a garbage truck, wearing a graduation cap.”
Read the entire article by clicking below:
Apologies for not posting, I’ve been on a bit of a break from the internet. I miss this blog.
Truth & Soul is at it again with a debut release from Lady. If you enjoyed Lee Field’s “Faithful Man”, I think you’ll like this. It has a lot of pop crossover potential while still being really well-written, produced and performed. Stream the entire album via the link below and Pre-Order over at T&S. (via Lady Fuse Motown, Hip-Hop on Self-Titled Debut Album Premiere | Music News | Rolling Stone)
Marvin Gaye - I Want To Come Home For Christmas
Merry Christmas to all of you lovely soul people. Here’s a really beautiful song by the man Mr. Gaye.
Every Christmas I release the complete Old Soul Music archive for you to download and enjoy. I’ll be compiling it today and will post soon. Much love, xoxo.
MY GOODNESS THIS IS GREAT -RICKY
(links appreciated) All y’all follow this blog for a reason, what have you been listening to?
The Persuaders - Love Gonna Pack up
I’d be surprised if Lee Fields’ “Do You Love Me”, intentional or not, is unrelated. When you continue on a tradition of an era or musical style, borrowed idiomatic elements are important. You make it yours as Lee does by simultaneously paying homage while doing your own thing. Both of these tracks are good shit.
ZZ Hill - The Chokin’ Kind
ZZ’s take on Joe Simon’s tune. Great arrangement, great groove. It contrasts the heavy sentiment of the lyrics. ZZ’s got some smooth grit, yes sir.
Also, congratulations, President Obama. We’re better off.
Dyke and The Blazers - Runaway People
I got a root canal the other day and was listening to this on my headphones in a vicodin-induced state and realized how brilliant of a song, arrangement and performance this is.
And I say performance because realize the way they recorded records was live, or at least in a series; rhythm and horns with strings, then vocals, then maybe lead. Most modern albums rely heavily on technology to order and dictate the performances, the sound quality. This is a room full of people playing music (noting, possibly that they may be in relative isolation booths). It’s a sign of the times nowadays when they try to emulate how they used to make records, when all they’re really doing is trying to capture how people actually perform music.