Millie Jackson - (If loving you is wrong) I don’t want to be right (Spring, 1974)
I have a theory about this song. Or, rather, I have a theory about Lee Fields’ “It’s all over (but the crying)”. I’d be willing to wager that Fields definitely had Jackson’s 1974 release “Caught Up" in mind while writing that song as well as the rest of the material on his 2012 release "Faithful Man”. Lee was active in 1974, known for his raw, screeching tenor. Caught Up had several charting hits and is well-liked by soul fans, so it’s very possible that Lee knew this record. Definitely the song, it had been done by so many great singers.
The reason why I’m so compelled to suggest ties between the two records is for two primary reasons. First, Fields’ “It’s all over…” has several melodic, harmonic and rhythmic components that are similar to Millie’s “If loving you..”. Follow the form and development of each song. Listen to the delivery of her gritty alto. They’re in the same key. Those string parts. In true 4/4 soul ballad form they play a lot on the plagal (i-iv) chord progression, as well as the passing bassline (1-b7-b6-4).
Still not convinced?
How about this: Track 06 on the record is entitled “It’s all over but the shouting”. Granted, the roots of that song likely go back to the 40s with Patty Andrews singing the torch song “It’s all over but the memories,” and many nonrelated versions have been written across many genres with similar sentiment but different lyrics. Still though, it’s convincing to me and I like to think about the relationships between artists, listeners, and artists as listeners.
NOTE: This track ends abruptly because it’s a part of a 3-track epic medley. I highly recommend listening to both albums, they’re heartbreaking, intense, and exceptionally well-written. You can find them on spotify.
What an unrelenting onslaught of a piece. Will someone please soothe her? Tender introduction, short development section then this endlessly building passing chord progression cascading onto itself; featuring violin solos, flamenco guitar, a support vocal track en espanol, a small choir. Pretty nuts.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what the nature of “good” work is. The Numero Group does good work. There’s a word artists use for what happens to your body when you listen to music and it gives you chills, makes your arm hair stand on end, or you well up with sudden sadness or joy. Frisson. This is that emotion.
Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr - A World without You (Capsoul, 1972)
The most unremarkable band name ever. A brilliant song nonetheless. I’ll tell you musically what’s happening. The bass line is essentially the bass line to the Four Tops song "Burnadette". The bass line can be described as a ground bass, or ostinato. That same 1-b7-b6-5 bass line has been used literally since the beginning of Western music in the Medieval age. But this song has so much spirit and is so short-lived. I don’t know who is who but it’s super fun and heartbreaking. Cheers.
Mr. Bland was one of the reasons why I got into soul music. His record “Two Steps From The Blues” had a really big impact on me. I view it, in a historical sense, as a true pivot album; perfectly bridging Blues, R&B, and soul. In 1960, no less. A time when soul music was in its very early stages. He had all of the elements of a true soul singer: melismata that would utterly defeat you. Melismata that singers, for generations, tried to emulate. A scream that would send chills up your spine and make your hair stand on end. Ballads that would leave you in a pool on the ground. I stood over his gold star embedded in the sidewalk on Beale Street in Memphis and silently had a moment to myself, giving respect and thanks. You will be missed, sir.
Not a question, but a response to the Dee Dee Warwick mystery. I happen to have a copy of Foolish Fool, but there is no mention of a specific guitarist (unless I'm not recognizing anyone) in the liner notes. Here's the details from the back cover... Arranged by Rene Hall/Technical Advisor: Buddy Smith/Produced by: Ed Townsend. Doubt that helped at all. Cheers!
Thanks, square-wax. As I suspected, and is often the case, the musicians are noncredited session players. Such is the way the industry goes. Thanks!
Hi I asked the question about the guitarist on the Foolish Fool record. I have been looking too and read something about Keith Richards. I don't think that could be him, do you?
I think you may be referencing this article, which describes the guitarist’s style as “Keith Richards-esque”. I think it’s unlikely that in 1969 Keith was doing anything but being a rock & roll superstar. It’s funny to me that the writer would say that the Foolish Fool guitarist was doing something like Keith Richards, when all Keith Richards ever did was emulate Blues, R&B and Soul guitarists.
who played the guitar on dee dee warwick's foolish fool single
Did some digging around, and unfortunately I could not determine who played guitar on that excellentDee Dee Warwick track. What I do know is that it was written and produced by the venerable Ed Townsend at Mercury records in 1969, and if it’s the house band vetted by Townsend, that could point you in the right direction. Tried to find a high res photo of the LP hoping they’d list the performers, but I didn’t find one. Anyone have the LP and wanna help out on this?
Also if you like the writing and production style of that song, check out this Thelma Jones track called “Gotta Find A Way”. Kills me!
The Ambassadors - Ain’t Got The Love (Arctic, 1969)
Can’t get enough of this groove and those backup parts. Also, this song’s kind of about being a dick. But while sounding so good.
On second thought, perhaps he’s simply being brutally honest with himself - that he’s a jerk and a player and he’s telling the listener exactly his romantic habits, however harsh they may seem. Though the lines are delivered confidently, almost with pride, I can’t help but indulge a certain self-hatred with himself. Maybe this is the confession that makes him turn around and be a better man. I dunno. Maybe he’s just an asshole.
A striking and unusual piece here. It’s kind of eerie, kind of sweet, kind of dirty. From the great and unsung Detroit producer, composer and musician Dave Hamilton. It appears this is the house band and singers getting down and getting weird.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
Hello! I am a college student in need of help. I have to write an essay for monday about the birth of soul music, and I've been googling stuff but the only thing with actual information I've found was the wikipedia page lol. I was wondering if you knew any websites or books I can read about it, and if you could tell me something I'd be eternally grateful. Thank you so much, your blog rocks! :)
Thanks for your question. It is such an impossibly huge question, the birth of soul, you could take it academically in dozens of directions. In a very general sense, realize the intersections of black/white gospel, blues from various regions, tin pan alley, jump-blues, jazz of varying styles and regions, country music, doo wop, country & western. Here are a few articles to consider and a couple books:
One big problem you’re probably running into is research that falls into the “nonacademic” category. Collectors, bloggers, Rolling Stone-level musicology. This isn’t very helpful for a college-level paper. Musicologists and cultural anthropologists have yet to create a sizable body of work that explores the cultural tradition and history of soul music. Basically, it’s not a paper you can write in a weekend as you need to take time to read and absorb many snippets of information, verifiable or not. I’ve been “studying” it for a long time and I’m still trying to understand.
WHATEVER YOU DO, please don’t reduce your paper to Motown, Stax and Hi records. It’s so much greater than that.
A 1966 single from Tobi Lark, a revered singer particularly in Northern Soul circles. This is a second track from Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Dancers compilation. I love the backup singers. Hope all is well with you fine looking people.
Hello! LOVE this site. I'm a singer and i'm singing at a soul night but i have to have a backing track to my songs!! I've chosen to do 'Rueben Bell and The Casanova's' 'It's Not That Easy' BUT there is no way of removing the vocals from the track. I was just wondering if you knew of anyone in the world who has instrumentals of old soul tracks??? Do they exist, where they ever recorded? Leila
If the recording were in stereo, there’s a trick to mostly cancel out the vocal track, however that recording is in mono, so it’s not possible. Your best bet is to 1) Start a band or 2) Record an instrumental version yourself.
I usually don’t post songs that are warm or fuzzy. Music expressing happiness doesn’t really make much sense to me. This one is nice, though. Darrell had a great voice. Finding my groove with my new job, will be posting more often, probably in the evenings.
I had the grand pleasure of spending a little time with Mrs. Thomas as well as introducing her onstage at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass last year. I was chatting up some of her bandmates and I happened to mention how excited I was to see her, as I adore her recordings. I also mentioned how I have a classic soul group of my own down in Santa Cruz and how we cover her tunes. They were stoked. The keyboardist was so happy to see me excited that he grabbed my hand, dragged me over to her trailer, opened the door and pushed my scrawny ass inside. Irma was sitting down eating dinner and I was able to talk with her for a little while about this and that. What a lovely person she is. I really didn’t want to bother her while she was eating so I politely excused myself, but I was able to tell her how much her recordings meant to me, especially those recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals in ‘67, like this one entitled “Somewhere Crying”. More Irma recordings here.
I only had my crappy camera phone but did snap this one:
Baby Huey had a very limited output but had some really incredible songs. This song was written by Curtis Mayfield and deals with a few topics, including social phobia, shame, paranoia and self-regulation (or lack thereof). Baby Huey was a huge man and I get the impression his heart matched his size. He died of a drug-related heart attack before his only album “The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend" was released. I posted his unique 10-minute version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” in an earlier post. Photo credit to Garage Hangover, who wrote a brilliant bio, complete with really rare photos and news clippings.
First person to tell me (without google!) who sampled this gets a follow and the grand pleasure of impressing me. haha. ????
Inez Foxx - You Shouldn’t Have Set My Soul On Fire (Dynamo, 1970)
Such an awesome groove during the verses only to be paired with such an uncomfortably anthemic and over-the-top chorus section. Inez kills it though and the arrangement and performance are really impressive.
Woke up with this song in my head. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve woken up with Dee Dee’s voice in my head. Expertly arranged and performed in the big-budget uptown style. Hear a couple of other Dee Dee tracks here.
Tarheel Slim & Little Ann - It’s Too Late (Fire, 1959)
Tarheel Slim & Little Ann have this dark, condemned style that either gives you the creeps or makes you weep. Or both. It certainly makes Little Ann cry out in a sea of creepy reverb in the last leg of the tune.