After possibly boring people with notes and blogs interwoven with my personal ramblings about how shitty my life is, how “colored folk” are hilarious and how politics makes me cry, oh, and cars too! I decided.. hey, maybe… now that I’m creating this shiny new soul music blog… I probably should do it here.
So in October, the songs that have held my attention, and demand a thought, a rethink, a ponder:
1) ” I Hear A Symphony”
The Supremes (Motown, 1965, #1 Pop, #2 R&B).
I normally ignore The Supremes string of #1 pop hits when I do these. But for some reason I’ve been playing this one (#6 from the fall of 1965) alot lately. I have to admit, the only part of the song I really like is the first 30 seconds: The vibe/triangle/electric guitar opening that bursts eventually into the “then suddenly I hear a symphony” … then I get over my disappointment that the sax solo comes in before a minute then after that it modulates to a climax and then, it ends. I wish it would have just exploded somehow. Like Diana Ross literally blew up, wig and rhinestones flying everywhere.
2) “Young Hearts Run Free”
Candi Staton (Warner Brothers, #1 R&B #20 Pop, 1976)
And it takes me no time to spool up some despair and depression. Trapped in a desperate marriage filled with cheating, lies and frustration… AND TWO KIDS! That of course what people wanted to be doing the hustle to in 1976. Really, this sad ode to NOT SETTLING DOWN AT 24! LISTEN TO CANDI Y’ALL! You don’t want nonedismess til your at least… 38… and not energetic as this tempo to really settle for love. I guess I always will like this principal, a song, by nature of tempo sounds really upbeat, but when you actually listen to the lyric, you wonder how you danced to this song, because it’s actually quite sad. Well… that’s soul music for ya….
3) “Is There Anything That I Can Do?”
The Four Tops (From The Four Tops Second Album, 1965)
Oh the realizations when you wake up to a bright sunny fall morning, that oh so awesome relationship you have concocted in your head, oh… isn’t really. Then you pour yourself a bowl of Cheerios, and you realize as you scratch your balls, oh yeah, umm, if I had someone, like that beautiful person that would fill your life with as much glee as you have in your dreams… how you’d be a little bit more content. Basically look at this as an equal to the sunny sadness given to us on an adjacent Motown Album (More Hits By The Supremes) on a song called “The Only Time I’m Happy” The misty region of ones mind is a spectacular place to play out the most wonderful alternate realities. Living in ones head didn’t get much more awesome.
4) “The Kitchen”
Little Jackie (From the CD The Stoop, 2008)
Hey, you know what? Naggin’ can drive a man/woman craaazy! Jackie here has got some good advice. Sitting at the kitchen table, fightin in the hottest room in the house will send those that can’t stand the heat, of your fire, that might not necessarily be productive clearing away the brush (and preventing wildfires) between two people
5) “(You Don’t Have to Be) a Tower of Strength”
Gloria Lynne (Everest 19428, 1961)
This was an answer record to the massive Gene McDaniels hit “Tower of Strength” (lyric “cause a tower of strength” I’ll never be). Although lyrically it sounds a bit like (in the 1960s sex roles) poor Gloria will put up with anything and be a slave (gotta love Mad Men culture right on the vinyl) to her man, even if he’s a total pussy. But, if you take it in a contextual way, it’s nothing but someone showing that nobody makes it through the big bad world alone, you can’t be all *that* strong anyways. And it has that early 60s Sanka Percolating groove thats soo fun to bob your head to.
6) “See Saw”
Aretha Franklin (#9 R&B #14 Pop, 1968)
Ok, I’m stepping away from my advocate stance over Reefa’s Columbia years and well, enjoying the hell out of her Don Covay cover. Yes, I believe there was something lost when she went into her histronics ( why I’m never been a super big Aretha fan, she overbakes alot of notes for me, especially during her Atlantic years), but she grooves on this one the same way Martha & The Vandellas should have been grooving (and did on B-sides like “Show Me The Way”) and it’s a groove with more dexterity that is normally associated with her (and deep soul in general).
7) “I Want To Go Back There Again”
Chris Clark (VIP 25041, 1967)
“…you don’t treat me gentle, like ‘ya used to do” seems to be ever sentiment of every blue eyed soul record. Why are white people in the soul vein so scorned by their lovers? Umm… I’m seriously just drawing some serious comparisons to the Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” with Chris Clark’s 3rd single on Motown’s VIP level. Not sonically as Epic as that Phil Spector #1 but just as deliciously overwrought, with harpsicords and howling Andantes…Chris Clark, growling, whispering and “proto Fergie Rapping” I’ll call it makes this one of those awesome places between soul and camp. And Chris Clark is a Bay Area Native. Gotta give a Motown Diva from my own back yard a shout out.
8) “I Dig You, Baby”
Jerry Butler (R&B#8, Pop #60, 1966)
Oh… poor Lorraine Ellison, she did the original, and if I’m correct hers has the same backing track. Maybe it’s because can you imagine a woman saying ” I Dig you, Baby?” umm, I really can’t (even tho Kiki Dee did an exquisite version for the british market). It’s one of those songs that, well, is so charming because it’s sooo dated. It’s like a song with “Groovy” in it.
9) “I Don’t Know if I’m Coming or Going”
Kim Weston (1965, unreleased)
Sometimes a Motown song can vaguely have a slightly broadway-ish feel to it. This epic Kim Weston gem from her 2005 Anthology (and from what the liner notes is most likely a Four Tops handmedown) Swells with voices during the chorus then gets claustrophobic during the verses. Some of Kim Weston’s most Streisand/Garland like affectations come through clearest here (one of the reasons I really have always loved her voice, in one woman you had a tabernacle burner and a lounge/broadway standards singer). More of a study of “Motown for Masters in Fine Art-Drama” kinda song than for your strict Motown purist.
10) “I’ve Got You”
Stevie Wonder (From the LP For Once In My Life)
Can I say I really don’t like much of Stevie Wonder after 1969. Because I’m a classic Motown fan, and after “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” it was over. No Andantes playing off of the tender pockets in his delivery and his way with a lyric, “political consciousness” that I think Curtis Mayfield did better, and crap like “Isn’t She Lovely” (hey at the same time Diana Ross was cranking out giggle factories like “Muscles” and “Work That Body”). On this 1968/69ish album track you see where Stevie could write a beautiful ballad that makes you just sway… something he forgot once he added a healthy dose of corn syrup to his ballads as an adult….
Moral of the Playlist this time? Remember to stay “with a childs heart”
Defacto song #11