Moving out of the Sam Cooke and into the (real) Rhythm and Blues with the pioneering Otis Blackwell. This, his first cut, recorded/released in 1952 was the start of a long, illustrious career. Best known as a songwriter, (publicly), Otis was a DON of Rhythm and Blues and had a MAJOR influence on ‘Rock and Roll’ penning two of Elvis’ biggest cuts as well as tunes by, (among others), Jerry Lee Lewis and Dee Clark.
Ladies with Soul … Lots to choose from; Aretha Franklin, Carla Thomas, Candi Staton, Randy Crawford, Millie Jackson, Mary Wells, Gwen McCrae, Vicki Anderson, Marva Whitney, Lyn Collins, Barbara Lewis, Etta James, Dee Dee Warwick, Fontella Bass, Minnie Ripperton, Marie Knight, Dee Dee Sharp, Mitty Collier…as well as contemporary kittens such as Angie Stone, Brandy, India Arie, Beyonce…and those are just the ones off the top of my head !
As difficult as it was to choose..today’s cut, (courtesy of Doris ‘Just One Look’ Troy), has ALL the right ingredients; Vocals, Lyrics and Production..
Bronx born Doris Higginsen begun her career singing Gospel in her fathers choir but it was as a songwriter that she scored her first hit ‘How About That’ recorded by Soul pioneer Dee Clark in 1960. Three years later she was spotted by James Brown working as an usherette at the Apollo and in that same year she wrote and recorded the Mod/ernist classic ‘Just One Look’. Not sure how or why but Doris didn’t go on to receive the critical acclaim that her talents deserved. Employed by the Beatles at Apple as Artist, Writer and producer Doris sung backup and worked with some of the UK’s most established musicologists, (The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and The Moody Blues), but failed to make a commercial impact as an artist in her own right. After a few years in the wilderness Doris’s story became a successful stage show ‘Mama I Want To Sing’ which is scheduled for a cinema release this month? I didn’t know that before researching for today’s cut but musicology works in mysterious ways so it makes complete sense to me.
Waiting for the inspiration for a new theme it suddenly arrived yesterday out of nowhere… Soul. Why? well…above all musical genres Soul is in my flesh, blood and bones. Deeply ingrained from before I was born. allow me to outline my historicity
My mum and dad were both Original London Mod/ernists from 1962 and anyone who knows will agree that the authentic soundtrack to Mod/ernist is Soul…Rhythm & Blues too of course but whereas Rhythm&Blues had been around for many years Soul was ‘modern’ (albeit a fusion between Doo Wop and Gospel).
Between 1958 and 1960 the seeds of Soul were sown as the cultural boundaries began to be crossed in earnest and as is often the case it was music that blew the trumpet for change loud and clear. No more would the universal language be categorised strictly by ‘Race’ (my belief is that it’s the only language that speaks to all regardless of colour, nationality or creed). Artists such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Gene Chandler, Dee Clark, Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye, (along with a whole host of lesser known but just as illuminating singers, songwriters and musicologists), began to flex their musical muscles and craft the ‘new lick’ without the backing of Corporate thieves and vultures.
In December 1968 themusicologist was born with the soundtrack of Soul ringing in my heart and soul and from that day to this it has been ever present. Beginning with the ‘classics’ I have matured throughout the 70’s 80’s 90’s and into the 21st Century with the heartbeart of such priceless musicology as the soundtrack to my existence. There have been and are many other genres that have had a profound impact on the I but Soul still is (and always will be), my first musical love.
Kicking off with one of my favourite early Soul cuts courtesy of the pioneering ‘Miracles’ who first recorded in 1958 for Chess, but it wasn’t until hooking up to Berry Gordy’s fledgling Motown Label that the musical sparks began to truly fly. Just like to add that without doubt The Miracles were a foundation stone on which the Berry Gordy empire was built…