Posts Tagged soul album
Here’s a sampling of the great albums of 60s, 70s and 80s rock and pop – the best music ever made! – which were released this week:
● Dylan, Bob —— Highway 61 Revisited >> 1965
● Byrds, The —— Sweetheart Of The Rodeo >> 1968
● Beach Boys, The —— Surf’s Up >> 1971
● Rolling Stones, The —— Tattoo You >> 1981
● XTC —— Mummer >> 1983
● Miami Sound Machine —— Eyes Of Innocence >> 1984
● Scaggs, Boz —— Other Roads >> 1988
● REO Speedwagon —— Earth, The, A Small Man, His Dog And A Chicken >> 1990
● Oasis —— Definitely Maybe >> 1994
● Death Cab For Cutie —— Plans >> 2005
● Ventures, The —— Going To The Ventures’ Dance Party! >> 1962
● Beach Boys, The —— Sunflower >> 1970
● Rolling Stones, The —— Goats Head Soup >> 1973
● Jackson, Michael —— Bad >> 1987
● Charles & Eddie —— Duophonic >> 1992
● Mayall, John & The Bluesbreakers —— Crusade >> 1967
● Stevens, Cat —— Teaser And The Firecat >> 1971
● Grateful Dead —— Blues For Allah >> 1975
● Jethro Tull —— A >> 1980
● Bowie, David —— Tonight >> 1984
● Turner, Tina —— Break Every Rule >> 1986
● R.E.M. —— Document >> 1987
● Mötley Crüe —— Dr. Feelgood >> 1989
● Rolling Stones, The —— Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits, Vol. 2) >> 1969
● Van Der Graaf —— Quiet Zone, The/The Pleasure Dome >> 1977
● Moody Blues, The —— Present, The >> 1983
● UB40 —— Baggariddim >> 1985
● Joel, Billy —— Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 (1973-1985) >> 1985
● Bowie, David & Tin Machine —— Tin Machine II >> 1991
● Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark —— Universal >> 1996
● Genesis —— Calling All Stations >> 1997
● Fleetwood Mac —— Future Games >> 1971
● Iron Maiden —— Powerslave >> 1984
● Rush —— Roll The Bones >> 1991
● Nicks, Stevie —— TimeSpace >> 1991
● Rolling Stones, The —— Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out >> 1970
● Queen —— Queen >> 1973
● Scott-Heron, Gil & Brian Jackson —— Winter In America >> 1973
● Who, The —— It’s Hard >> 1982
● Summer, Donna —— Cats Without Claws >> 1984
● Triumph —— Sport Of Kings, The >> 1986
● Love And Rockets —— Love And Rockets >> 1989
● System Of A Down —— Toxicity >> 2001
● Poco —— From The Inside >> 1971
● Jethro Tull —— Minstrel In The Gallery >> 1975
● Skinny Puppy —— Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse >> 1986
● Motörhead —— Rock ‘N’ Roll >> 1987
● Grim Reaper —— Rock You To Hell >> 1987
● Siouxsie And The Banshees —— Peepshow >> 1988
● Soundgarden —— Louder Than Love >> 1989
● Big Audio Dynamite —— Megatop Phoenix >> 1989
● Jones, Mick —— Mick Jones >> 1989
Marvin Gaye almost single-handedly revolutionized soul music when Motown released his self-produced What’s Goin’ On on March 20, 1971. The first overtly socially and politically charged soul album, it’s full of statements (hence no question mark in the title) about war, race, hate, inner cities, abandoned children. It rolled up all of the late-60s social issues into one neat package that Motown leader Berry Gordy would have rejected save for Marvin’s threat to walk if Gordy withheld the album.
But What’s Goin’ On is far more than a period piece. It was a radical departure from the upbeat, soul-pop of 60s Motown. It’s lush and languid and it flows without the sugar coating of Gaye’s earlier Motown classics. It allows long-time Motown session band the Funk Brothers to open up and deliver a jazzy river of drifting funk underneath Gaye’s experimental double vocals. It led the way to a new Motown sound from Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and others. And it was the last Motown release before Gordy left Detroit for Los Angeles, leaving Hitsville, USA and all that great music behind.
The best soul album ever? Possibly. The best Motown album by a solo artist? Absolutely! What’s Goin’ On sat at the top of the U.S. R&B charts for 9 weeks and reached a remarkable but not surprising #6 on the pop album chart. It’s ranked #1 on my Top 25 R&B/Soul album list and Marvin Gaye’s best tracks are in the Playlist Vault at DrRock.com. What’s Goin’ On can be downloaded or purchased as a CD from Amazon and iTunes.
The Rascals were the quintessential 60s blue-eyed soul band, a blend of hard R&B with gospel influences, pounding rhythms and tight harmonies in the Motown and Memphis veins. In their peak years from 1966 through 1969, they released six Top 20 albums and thirteen self-composed Top 40 hits, including two #1’s (for a Rascals playlist, click here). But the internal desire to expand their music and the external pressure to retain relevance in the days of psychedelic rock caused the group to stray from their core competency – pop/soul singles – as the decade came to a close. Two experimental, near “concept” albums (1968’s Once Upon A Dream and March 1969’s Freedom Suite) delved into broader genres and were thus less focused on what the band did best. But they sold well anyway and each included a big single (“It’s Wonderful” and “People Got To Be Free,” respectively). With the release of their seventh LP, See, on December 15, 1969, the Rascals returned to their roots as a singles band, but it was too late. See was the beginning of the end and was the last Rascals’ album to have any measurable impact.
See is not a bad album at all, it just lacks a monster single or two to grab the listener and carry the band’s return to the gritty, exuberant white soul of their earlier albums. It’s available as a CD on Amazon (click here) but not on iTunes.
Four Tops’ Second Album was released on November 13, 1965 and immediately catapulted the quartet to the top of the pop and R&B charts. The album also moved The Four Tops (mid-50s high school classmates lead singer and baritone Levi Stubbs, bass Renaldo “Obie” Benson, and tenors Abdul “Duke” Fakir and Lawrence Payton) to the top of the heap at Motown Records, where they’d started two years earlier as back-up singers for The Supremes and others. But Second Album meant second singing no more. With three terrific jazz-soul-pop hits, the gritty “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” the upbeat “It’s The Same Old Song” and the soulful “Something About You,” the album launched The Four Tops on a four-plus decade run of great singles, albums and concerts, all without a personnel change until Payton’s death in 1997. While their top-selling singles and albums were mostly clustered in the eight years from November 1965, for good reason the group has proved uniquely durable and long-lived in the history of rock, pop and soul music.
Despite its three chart hits, Four Tops’ Second Album stalled at #19 on the Billboard pop chart but did make it to #9 on the “Black Albums” chart. It’s available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).
Prince found national prominence with his October 27, 1982 release, 1999, which set the table for his blockbuster 1984 LP, Purple Rain (check my Prince playlist at www.DrRock.com).
A double album, 1999 was Prince’s first Top 10 release (it peaked at #9) and the fifth best-selling album in all of 1983. And rightly so. 1999 is great electro-pop-R&B-soul as only Prince (or Michael Jackson) could deliver. Prince beat Michael’s Thriller LP into the record stores by all of five weeks, giving him a leg up of sorts in the race for supremacy atop the Top 80s R&B charts. Of course, Jacko ultimately won that contest, but not before Prince and 1999 delivered three big, enduring hits: the title track, “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious,” plus the lesser hit “Let’s Pretend We’re Married.” The album benefited from heavy airplay on the-fledgling MTV, which was barely 15 months old when 1999 came out. Rolling Stone Magazine lists 1999 as #163 on its Top 500 Albums. Jacko’s Thriller is #20.
Southern soul team Sam & Dave were arguably the greatest all-male R&B/soul duo of all time. Samuel Moore and David Prater recorded a string of hits in the mid-60s on the Stax label, the hugely influential Memphis-based affiliate of Atlantic Records. With songwriting, production and leadership from Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Sam & Dave topped the R&B and pop charts with “Soul Man” (1966), “Hold On! I’m Coming” (1967) and “I Thank You” (1968). “Soul Man” became the (sort of) title track to the duo’s October 26, 1967 album, Soul Men, which included several great non-hit songs penned by Hayes and the superb backing by Booker T. & The MG’s, the renowned house band at Stax.
Actor DeWayne Jessie had more than a dozen small movie roles, but none were as memorable as his lip-synced appearance as the frontman for the fictional R&B/soul band, Otis Day & The Knights, in the classic 1978 frat house movie Animal House. Cashing in on the success of the film, Jessie formed a real band, kept the name (presumably with the blessing of the movie’s producers), and toured extensively during the 80s. A lone album, Shout, was released on October 3, 1989. Master funkster and Parliament/Funkadelic leader George Clinton produced it, which accounts for the funk flavoring on most tracks, including remakes of the two songs from the film, “Shout” (an Isley Brothers original) and the shuffling doo wop ballad “Shama Lama Ding Dong.” Shout and the Animal House soundtrack are available as CDs on Amazon.