musicology #386


Modernist #14

(The Valentinos – Darling Come Back Home)

Today it’s the turn of youth cult ‘observer’ and prolific writer on the subject Paolo Hewitt with what I think is a worthy insight into Mod/ernist that resonates throughout the whole spectrum from conception right up to today and beyond.

“Modernism has remained Britain’s most enduring youth cult because it’s originators created a blueprint that has proved timeproof. By doing so, they put up a safeguard against the transient nature of fashion. Mod has never withered against the ravages of time because it is so particular. About everything, Detail is all. Mod created, for the very first time, a twenty four hour lifestyle that totally revolved around clothes, music, drugs and attitude. They did not oppose society, they simply ignored it. They created their own simple sign language, devised fashion codes and style statements to develop their very own culture of cool. That they were initially hidden from view did not stop them contributing heavily towards the society that ignored. Their demands for clothes and music laid the foundations for the emergence of these industries in Britain and their style demanded a complete shift in attitude towards menswear. The true Modernist transformed London and made it the centre of ‘Hip’. Their clubs were the best in town, The Dj’s played the best and most exciting records and they danced the best dances.

All this because they had no problem mixing other cultures into their own. They were many things, arrogant, contemptuos, sometimes cruel and peacockis to a ‘man’ but they were also open minded and ambitious. One of their credos was simple; if it’s good, absorb it, wherever it’s from. Consequently Mod musical taste was immaculate an it’s development is entwined with the history of Soul music’s triumphant entry into Britain and when it was time to move on they did so. Which is so perfectly right, so perfectly Modernist”.

Today’s cut is one from themusicologist’s vaults recorded and released in 1962 for Sam Cooke and J.W Alexander’s trailblazing SAR label. Hold this quote from the book ‘Dream Boogie’ about the year in question..

“There was a new kind of pride in the air and a new kind of proclamation. Sam’s ‘natural’ hairstyle, (what became known as the Afro), was finally beginning to catch on and a few months later the Philadelphia Tribune defined ‘Soul’, a term confined for the most part at this point to the downhome instrumental sounds of Jazz musicians such as Bobby Timmons, Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderley as “the word of the hour…a spiritual return  to the sources, an emotional intensity and rhythmis crive that comes from childhood saturation in Negro Gopspel music”. “Oh we all heard it said onetime ‘Wonder Boy’ preacher Soloman Burke, a lifelong Soul Stirrers devotee who had positioned himself somewhere between Sam and Brother Joe May in his own persuasive style, of Sam’s new Soul sound. “Pop audiences heard that yodel…like it was some shiny new thing. But if you knew Sam from Gospel, it was him saying, ‘Hey, it’s me’.

This was in the early months of 1962 at the same time that young working class kids in London were beginning to galvanise a new movement of their own and were instinctively drawn to this fresh sound coming out of America’s big cities. The group in question had a name and sound change from The Womack Brothers to the Valentino’s and it was their preceeding cut ‘Looking For A Love’ that provided them with their first breakthrough but for me this one takes some beating.


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4 thoughts on “musicology #386

  1. Yes, I read that bit in ‘Dream Boogie’ too. I thought immediately of Ray Charles [again!], and his 1960 release “A Bit Of Soul” [b-side of “Early In The Morning”, must be one of the earliest mentions outside of ‘jazz’. And he interjects the phrase “…just a little bit of soul…” on that killer organ/big band instrumental “One Mint Julep” [on the LP “Genius + Soul = Jazz] too, which I think is 1961 or maybe your pivotal year of 1962

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  2. Steve,
    Last year during a six/six/six tribute theme of artists who have been a great inspiration for me throughout my life I threw down a Sam Cooke selection and engaged in dialogue with Mr Soul’s nephew who was very dismissive of ‘Dream Boogie’ as he felt that it painted a distorted and negative picture of his uncle. That wasn’t the impression I got from reading but I said to him that what I enjoyed most about the book was the insights from those who lived and worked around ‘the Lion’…which I think are priceless for a musicologist like myself.

    As for Brother Ray…funny you mention that cut as
    I threw it down on the recent ‘Hustler’ theme, (#335), and I thought exactly the same thing regarding the use of the word Soul…Also love the A side, fantastic version of Rhythm & Blues pioneer Louis Jordan’s 1947 cut. Ray Charles must have been a Louis Jordan fan as he also covered ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying’ and ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ to great effect.

    Youre right ‘Genius + Soul = Jazz’ was released in 1961.

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  3. Yes musicologist’, I read the book [bought as a cheap remainder], thinking that I wouldn’t enjoy it as I had read a couple of disparaging reviews. But I was fascinated by the detail, and as you say, the others in Sam’s life talking about him. And to be honest, I like a lot of detail even over ‘writing style’ – it gives you a lot of ‘concrete’ leads to pursue. notably in gospel [influences on Sam C, and who were his gospel contemporaries etc]. Wonderful singer, onbviously – records like “Havin A party”, “Twistin the night away”, were, as they say ‘big tunes’ [another Ja dancehall-minted term….] as well as the more obvious hits. Big influence in Ja too, almost as big as Curtis.
    RC did love Louis Jordan – he recorded him
    on Tangerine in mid-sixties, when his career was really long over [same with Percy Mayfield – Ray had great taste in those days. It’s a drag that a lot of the 60s ABCs & Tangerine label stuff isn’t on CD – about 10 albums at least.
    Yes, Ray, Sam, Curtis, JB,Bobby ‘Blue’ – foundation of soul – then came motown, NY soul and Stax et al….

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    1. Steve..for me them ‘cheap’ bookshops are a blessing and a curse. Blesssing as I have picked up so many excellent books from one on my local High Road.
      Curse because I would like to buy many more but never have enough ‘reddies’ in the ‘sky’.
      ‘Detail’…nailed it. The place where the essence resides.
      Both Sam and The Impressions, (as well as others I’m sure), were regulars on the JA circuit I do believe?

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