Soul Music

Soul Serenade: Aretha Franklin, "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)"

aretha

On December 8, a day that was already sad enough by virtue of being the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, we got the terrible news that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is suffering from cancer. The news was closely followed by commentary from the Perfect People. Those are the people who felt it necessary to express their sadness while at the same time commenting that it was not unexpected given that Aretha is overweight. Fuck them. In these hard times, when we are all feeling the pressure of nearly overwhelming problems in this world, Aretha Franklin remains a brilliant light in the darkness. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

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Soul Serenade, Aretha Franklin, "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)", Jerry Wexler, Aretha Franklin Stevie Wonder video | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Ike & Tina Turner, "Come Together"

ikeandtina

This edition of Soul Serenade was going to be an attempt to take a sad day, the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, and make it better. Then news came from several sources that Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, is suffering from pancreatic cancer. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers, and I’ll write more about her next week.

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Soul Serenade: Ike & Tina Turner, "Come Together" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Sly & the Family Stone, "Stand"

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When “Everyday People” raced to the top of the pop and R&B charts in late 1968, it became incumbent on Sly & the Family Stone to come up with a great album. That is exactly what they did. Stand!, the band’s fourth album, would turn out the be the breakthrough that they had been looking for. The album was released by Epic Records on May 3, 1969, and reached #13 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, and #3 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart.

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Soul Serenade: Sly & the Family Stone, "Stand" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: A Soulful Thanksgiving

mashedpotato

We all know what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about. It’s all right there in the name. It’s a time for reflection, a time to appreciate the people that make our lives special. We also know what Thanksgiving has become, i.e. an excuse for a major pig out, the day on which we glorify the mighty turkey, and the lowly potato. So in the spirit of today’s food orgy, I’m happy to present a few songs from the musical gluttons in all of us.

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Soul Serenade: A Soulful Thanksgiving | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Bobby Womack and Peace, "Across 110th Street"

bobbywomack

Across 110th Street is a 1972 blaxploitation that was filmed on the streets of Harlem. It stars Yaphet Kotto, Anthony Quinn, and Tony Franciosa. The film is a fun watch, but real pleasure is to be found in the soundtrack, specifically in the title song which was written by Bobby Womack and film composer J.J. Johnson. The song was clearly inspired by Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly,” but it certainly has an awesome groove, and an attitude tough enough to allow it to stand on its own.

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Soul Serenade: Bobby Womack and Peace, "Across 110th Street" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Lorraine Ellison, "Stay With Me"

lorraineellison

This is the way it happens sometimes. The other night I was watching the film Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked). I had seen the film before, but I hadn’t stayed around for the end credits. I usually don’t at home. Do you? On the other hand, I tend to sit there through the bitter end when I’m in a theater, endlessly watching names that I don’t recognize crawl by. I do this because I’m waiting for the music credits, which invariably come last.

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Soul Serenade: Lorraine Ellison, "Stay With Me" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: James Brown and the Famous Flames, "I'll Go Crazy"

jamesbrownflames

I am embarrassed. It’s been more than six months since I started writing the Soul Serenade column, and not once have I featured the music of James Brown. Of course I always intended to include the King of Soul here, right from the beginning. It just seemed like something would always happen to bump him. It might have been a magical song that I heard on the radio. Perhaps a great soul artist had passed away and filled me with a memory that I wanted to share. Or maybe a record label or publicist proposed a contest with a prize that I wanted to share with you.

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Soul Serenade: James Brown and the Famous Flames, "I'll Go Crazy" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: The Showmen, "It Will Stand"

showmen

This is getting to be pretty unpleasant. We seem to be losing great figures in classic soul on a weekly basis. Just a couple of weeks ago we lost the “King of Rock ‘n Soul” Solomon Burke. That was followed closely by the death of General Norman Johnson, and just like that two of the great voices of soul have been stilled.

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Soul Serenade: The Showmen, "It Will Stand" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Solomon Burke, "Got To Get You Off My MInd" | Popdose

solomonburke

In July, 2002 I was in Philadelphia for WXPN’s Singer/Songwriter Festival. Now the great radio station always throws a good party, but there was a very special reason for being there that year; the King of Rock n’ Soul himself, Solomon Burke, was appearing in what amounted to a late-career homecoming show. King Solomon was born in Philadelphia in the year 1936, 1938, or 1940, depending on who you believe.

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Soul Serenade: Solomon Burke, "Got To Get You Off My Mind" | Popdose http://popdose.com/soul-serenade-solomon-burke-got-to-get-you-off-my-mind

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Soul Serenade: Dionne Warwick, "Anyone Who Had A Heart" | Popdose

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In 1962, Burt Bacharach and Hal David signed Dionne Warwick to their production company after Bacharach heard her sing background on a Drifters song that he had written. Bacharach and David were in turn signed to Scepter Records. Together, their amazing string of hit singles began with the November, 1962 release of “Don’t Make Me Over,” which reached #21 on the pop chart, and #4 on the R&B chart. But it was Warwick’s fourth single, audio_mp3_play“Anyone Who Had A Heart”, that became her first top ten hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January, 1964. A few months later, in April of that year, the follow-up single “Walk On By” made Warwick an international star.

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Soul Serenade: Dionne Warwick, "Anyone Who Had A Heart" | Popdose http://popdose.com/soul-serenade-dionne-warwick-anyone-who-had-a-heart

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Soul Serenade: Al Wilson, "Show and Tell" | Popdose

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“Show and Tell” is just one of those songs that thrills me whenever it comes on the radio. It’s been doing that since Al Wilson released it in 1973. I was only vaguely aware of the original version, written by Jerry Fuller and released by Johnny Mathis the previous year. It’s Wilson’s version that has stuck with me, and no wonder. The single was a massive hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 19, 1974, and selling over two million copies. Cashbox named “Show and Tell” a top single of the year.

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Soul Serenade: Al Wilson, "Show and Tell" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: The Originals, "The Bells" | Popdose

originals

Last week, as you will no doubt recall, Soul Serenade focused on the great Laura Nyro and her song “Timer.” This week’s column has a Laura Nyro connection as well. When I first heard “The Bells” it was Laura’s version from her wondrous 1971 covers album Gonna Take A Miracle, which she recorded with the vocal group LaBelle. I liked the song so much that I went in search of the original version which was by, oddly enough, the Originals.

Read more: Soul Serenade: The Originals, "The Bells" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Laura Nyro, "Timer" | Popdose

laurasoul

I have written extensively about Laura Nyro for Popdose. There was my review of the splendid Iconoclassic reissue of her live album Season of Light, and more recently, a review of One Child Born, a one-woman show devoted to Nyro’s music. The bottom line is that I have been a fan of her music since the ’60s, and yet somehow fan doesn’t seem like a strong enough word. I’ve turned to Laura Nyro on dark days for more than 40 years, and I’ve always found comfort and compassion there. There are few people whose music has meant more to me over the years.

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Soul Serenade: Laura Nyro, "Timer" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: The Delfonics, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" | Popdose

delfonics

The other day I was listening to my favorite radio show, Ron & Fez, on satellite radio. The discussion turned to Quentin Tarantino’s film music. As one example after another was played, I realized that as unlikely as it may seem, Tarantino has actually surpassed the great Martin Scorcese when it comes to the use of music in his films.

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Soul Serenade: The Delfonics, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time) | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: The Temptations, "You're My Everything" | Popdose


temptations

It’s surprising to me that we’re now several months into Soul Serenade, and I have yet to feature a track by the Temptations. They are, after all, my favorite soul vocal group, and one of my favorite acts of any genre ever. I did feature a David Ruffin track (“Walk Away From Love”) in week three, but that was from his solo years after he left the group.

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Soul Serenade: The Temptations, "You're My Everything" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" | Popdose

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

The story of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell is one that ends tragically, but begins in glory. Together they stormed the charts in 1967 with a series of indelible soul pop classics that retain an honored place in popular culture to this day, and are among my favorite recordings in the soul canon.

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Soul Serenade: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" | Popdose
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CD Review: Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, "Come and Get It" | Popdose

elireed

Last year I saw Eli “Paperboy” Reed and his band the True Loves at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. I came away a little disappointed. I’d been following their career for a year or so at that point, and their performance that night, while oozing with potential, seemed unfocused, and somewhat chaotic. Not long after that, I heard the news that they’d been signed to Capitol Records, and I was curious about what the label would do to, and for them.

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CD Review: Eli "Paperboy" Reed, "Come and Get It" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Gene McDaniels, "Tower of Strength" | Popdose

genemcdaniels

Gene McDaniels is an artist who saw success during the years between the rise of Elvis Presley, and the rise of the Beatles. Many people think that popular music was in the doldrums before the Beatles came along, but the fact is that some of the most amazing singles in pop music history were released in the early ’60s. Among those great records were two enormous hits by Gene McDaniels in 1961.

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Soul Serenade: Gene McDaniels, "Tower of Strength" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: The Esquires, "Get On Up" | Popdoser

esquires

“Get On Up” by the Esquires was a huge record on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in the summer of 1967. It was a perfect song for the a cappella groups that lived for the echo, with its dynamic bass part and outstanding group harmonies. It seemed like everyone in town was singing it a


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Soul Serenade: The Esquires, "Get On Up" | Popdose

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Soul Serenade: Bobby Lewis, "Tossin' and Turnin'" | Popdose

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This week I bring you another one of those classic soul songs that I just couldn’t stop listening to back in the day. I played the 45 over and over at home, and when I was in a place that had a jukebox, the song demanded my spare change like a homeless man outside an Acoustic ’80s gig in the Village. The single was so infectious that I just had to hear more, resulting in one of my very first album purchases. It’s one of those albums that I managed to lose over the years, but that’s it, over there on the left.

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Soul Serenade: Bobby Lewis, "Tossin' and Turnin'" | Popdose

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Soul Serenade: Ben E. King, "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" | Popdose

beneking

Everyone knows Ben E. King. He’s the guy who co-wrote and sang the immortal “Stand By Me,” which was a Top Ten hit in 1961, and again in 1987. True enough, but he is also a lot more than that. In 1958, still using his birth name, Benjamin Earl Nelson, the future Ben E. King became the lead singer of a doo wop group called the Drifters. He only recorded ten songs with the group, but among them were classics like “There Goes My Baby” (which he co-wrote), “This Magic Moment,” and the great Doc Pomus-Mort Shuman hit “Save the Last Dance For Me.”

Read more: Ken Shane | Popdose

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Soul Serenade: The Moonglows, "Sincerely" | Popdose

moonglows

Harvey Fuqua died on Tuesday. He was 80 years-old. Fuqua was from Louisville, KY, where in 1951 he founded a group called the Crazy Sounds. After the members of the group moved to Cleveland, they were taken under the wing of the legendary DJ Alan Freed, who renamed them the Moonglows.

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Soul Serenade: The Moonglows, "Sincerely" | Popdose

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Soul Serenade: "Do What You Gotta Do" (Three Covers) | Popdose

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On Tuesday, my review of the new Jimmy Webb album, Just Across the River, ran on Popdose. If you read it, you know that I am a huge fan of Mr. Webb. The mp3 that I provided from the album was a song called “Do What You Gotta Do,” which, though it had been recorded by many other artists, had never been recorded by the songwriter himself until it appeared on the new album.

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Soul Serenade: "Do What You Gotta Do" (Three Covers) | Popdose

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Soul Serenade: Bobby Brown, "Every Little Step"

bobbybrown

OK, I admit it. I know fuck-all about Bobby Brown. Week after week I use this space to pontificate about the great soul music of the past. You put up with it because I provide you with some pretty cool songs to download. If you’ve been following along, you already have the makings of a pretty good soul music compilation. This week, as a result of my overwhelming need to watch every moment of the World Cup, and my even more overwhelming need to earn a living, I’ve run out of time. So, this one’s a softball, well out my usual strike zone.

Read more: Soul Serenade: Bobby Brown, "Every Little Step" | Popdose

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Soul Serenade: The Isley Brothers, "Work To Do"

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This week’s Soul Serenade column for Popdose features the Isley Brothers with their 1972 hit “Work To Do”:

Marvin Isley died on June 6. He was the youngest of the Isley Brothers, and together with his older brother Ernie Isley and brother-in-law Chris Jasper formed the instrumental force that was fused to the Isleys’ original vocal trio in 1973. Marvin held down the bass chair for the band until 1984, when the group split. The vocalists kept the Isley Brothers name, with the instrumentalists becoming Isley-Jasper-Isley. Marvin returned to the Isley Brothers in 1991, and remained with them until complications from diabetes put him on the sidelines in 1997.

Read more:
Ken Shane | Popdose http://popdose.com/tag/ken-shane/#ixzz0rE3TtaJi
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Soul Serenade: Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, "Wake Up Everybody"

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My latest Soul Serenade column for Popdose features Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and their hit “Wake Up Everybody”:

“Last weekend I attended a Triple-A radio conference in Philadelphia. The event is called Non-Comm (as in noncommercial radio), and I’ll be writing more about it soon. One of the highlights of the conference, which blends live music with industry panels, was the appearance of John Legend, performing with the Roots. The hometown heroes played a stunning set. Of special interest to me was a
audio_mp3_playcover of the song “Wake Up Everybody,” which was originally recorded in 1975 by Philly soul legends Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.”

Read more: Soul Serenade: Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, "Wake Up Everybody" | Popdose http://popdose.com/soul-serenade-harold-melvin-the-blue-notes-wake-up-everybody/#ixzz0rE27Kq4k
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Soul Serenade: The Four Tops, "Ask the Lonely" | Popdose

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My latest Soul Serenade column for Popdose features the Four Tops with their 1965 single “Ask the Lonely.”

Levi Stubbs never left. While Diana Ross split from the Supremes, Smokey Robinson migrated from his Miracles, and David Ruffin took off from the Temptations (ok, technically he was fired, but only after clearly demonstrating by his actions that he wanted out), Levi Stubbs never went solo. The offers must have been extensive, the opportunities endless. Still, Levi stayed. It could only have been out of love for his fellow Four Tops, at least I would like to think so. It was nearly 50 years before he left the group, and then only because his health was failing him. It’s one of the greatest stories in rock and roll.”

To read the entire column, please click
here.
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Soul Serenade: Gene Chandler, "Just Be True" | Popdose

genechandler

My latest Soul Serenade column for Popdose features Gene Chandler with his 1964 hit “Just Be True.”

“Last week I wrote about the Magnificent Men, and their hit “Peace of Mind.” One of the songs that the band included on their 1967 album “The Magnificent Men Live” was a cover of Gene Chandler’s 1964 hit “Just Be True.” It was one of those times when a great cover version of a song inspired me to seek out the original.”

To read the entire review, please click
here.
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Soul Serenade: Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters, "A Quiet Place" | Popdose

mimms

My latest Soul Serenade column for Popdose features Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters with "A Quiet Place”:

I was in Atlantic City this morning. Despite the advent of the casino era, it remains a magical place for me, overflowing with childhood memories, including this one.

The first time I heard
audio_mp3_play“A Quiet Place” it was being sung by a four-part acapella choir on the boardwalk at Chelsea Avenue in Atlantic City. It must have been 1967 or 1968. I had never heard the song before, and I had no idea who the original artist was. For some reason the song stuck with me through the years.”

To read the entire column, please click
here.
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CD Review: Otis Redding, "Live On the Sunset Strip" | Popdose

otislive

My review of Otis Redding: Live On the Sunset Strip has just been posted to Popdose:

“By the time a 24 year-old Otis Redding arrived in Los Angeles in 1966 for appearances that included a Hollywood Bowl show with Donovan, Sonny & Cher, and the Mamas & the Papas, and a four-night Easter weekend stand at the Whiskey A Go Go on the Sunset Strip, he was an established star in the Stax galaxy. What hadn’t happened for Redding yet was crossover success. That would take place a little more than a year later when he performed at the Monterey International Pop Festival. The good news was that there was still an opportunity to see him in a small club with his smoking hot ten-piece road band.”

To read the entire review, please click
here.
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