Results tagged “Soul”

DeepSoul: Marvin Gaye's Posthumous Album You're the Man

The planned followup to What's Going On was shelved in 1972; 47 years later, it finally sees an official release.
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After a slew of successful singles in the 1950s, Marvin Gaye started the next decade with a staggering work: What's Going On, a socially conscious album commenting on topics of the day. He continued his exploration of topics including sexuality and divorce in works such as Let's Get It On, I Want You, and Here My Dear. But in 1972 Gaye recorded the followup to Let's Get It On: You're the Man, an album that further examined political issues. However, when the lead single "You're the Man" failed to cross over to the pop charts, he decided to shelve the

Single Review: Lillimure - Something

Lillimure offers an uplifting view of some of life's harsh realities with her bouncy new single.
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Singer-songwriter Lillimure's latest single, "Something," gives a positive spin on some of the negative aspects of everyday life and making the best of everything. Its chorus stresses that "everything happens for a reason" and while Lillimure may not believe it, it is "Something to hold onto." The song showcases electric pianos played over a bouncy, jazzy, beat with sparse guitars tastefully accenting the track. Lillimure's vocals are strong, powerful, and soulful, sounding like those of a seasoned veteran and not a 19-year-old newcomer. She wanted to write a song about the obstacles one faces in life to succeed and she

DeepSoul: James Ingram - "One Hundred Ways"

The late singer's voice could dig down deep or reach the highest peaks, as on this Quincy Jones classic.
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Music recently lost one of its classiest vocalists: James Ingram, a Quincy Jones protege who scored an impressive number of hits in the 1980s and early 1990s. His January 29, 2019 passing from early onset Alzheimer and Parkinson disease marks the end of not only a successful career, but an era when smooth, pop-tinged R&B ruled the charts. Even though musical trends changed, Ingram never strayed from his strength, namely skilled interpretation. Born in Akron, Ohio, Ingram taught himself piano and sang in the church choir. When he reached his teens, he joined the group Revelation Funk and took part

DeepSoul: Otis Redding and Carla Thomas - "New Year's Resolution"

Start off 2019 right with a resolution to hear classic Memphis Soul.
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Today Otis Redding may be best known for his solo hits, but he also recorded with his Stax-labelmate Carla Thomas, the Queen of Memphis Soul (and daughter of Rufus "Walkin' the Dog" Thomas). Hoping to replicate the success of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Stax paired two of their greatest stars for the 1967 album King & Queen, which produced the hit "Tramp." The album featured their takes on classics such as "Knock on Wood," "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," "Bring It on Home to Me," and "It Takes Two" (a further indication of Stax's desire for a

DeepSoul: The Emotions - "What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?"

For those who like their Christmas tunes tinged with melancholy, the soul trio's 1973 song fits the bill perfectly.
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Christmas carols may be filled with cheer, but others prefer their holiday songs tinged with some melancholy. For those in the latter camp, the Emotions' 1973 single "What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?" fits the bill perfectly. The Hutchinson sisters' exquisite, heartfelt harmonies, lead singer Sheila's sincere performance, and the stellar songwriting team of Carl Hampton and Homer Banks. Hailing from Chicago, the Hutchinson sisters--Sheila, Wanda, and Jeanette--got their start in the church. While they had formed a gospel act, the Heavenly Sunbeams, they shifted their focus to secular music by the late 1960s. Signing with the Stax label,

DeepSoul: Betty Wright - "Secretary"

Need some advice with a dash of sassiness? This 1974 deep cut may do the trick.
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Like the sassy friend who doles out advice, Betty Wright's blues-inflected voice warned women of straying men. Her messages may not exemplify today's feminism, but her vocals come from a woman who has experienced life's rollercoaster and wants to share her hard-won lessons with fans. Best known for her 1972 hit "Cleanup Woman," Wright scored other hits including "Tonight Is the Night" and the 1974 thumper "Secretary." Born in Miami in 1953, Wright started singing in her family's gospel group Echoes of Joy. By 13 she transitioned into secular music by singing background on other recordings and embarking on a

Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady

DeepSoul pays tribute to the Queen of Soul with one of her funkiest tracks.
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Music fans remember August 16, 1977 as the day the King of Rock 'n Roll, Elvis Presley, died. This year, the day marks another profound loss: Aretha Franklin passed on August 16, 2018 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She may be best known as the "Queen of Soul," but Franklin contributed even more to music. By bringing in elements of gospel, pop, and blues, Franklin transformed soul and R&B, shaping it to her own unique talents. Today artists still try to emulate her vocal style--passionate, wide-ranging, and spine-tingling. The church was at the root of everything she recorded,

DeepSoul Salutes Ashford and Simpson: "It Seems to Hang On"

The pair proved their worth as skilled composers and charismatic performers with this 1978 track.
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While the songwriting duo Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson experienced great success at Motown as the creators of some of the label's biggest hits ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand," and "You're All I Need to Get By"), by the late 1970s they were ready to reignite their performing careers. Although not their first album on their own, 1977's Send It proved to be their chart breakthrough. They grasped onto the flourishing disco trend, but the pair retained their unique chemistry and superb harmonies. The followup, Is It Still Good to Ya, produced their best-performing

DeepSoul: Johnny Nash - "Hold Me Tight"

Artists such as Rihanna can thank this Houston-born singer for bringing Caribbean music to worldwide audiences.
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Say the name "Johnny Nash," and one song comes to mind: "I Can See Clearly Now," the 1972 smash that found renewed success when Jimmy Cliff covered it for the 1994 Cool Runnings soundtrack. However, Nash should also be known for bringing reggae into the mainstream, combining it with American pop and soul to create crossover hits. In addition, he became one of the earliest American artists to record in Jamaica. While "I Can See Clearly Now" remains his chief legacy, the 1968 single "Hold Me Tight" became a crossover success four years before that classic song. Due to his

DeepSoul: Cameo - "Feel Me"

While best known for the electro-funk classic "Word Up," this slow jam reveals more dimensions of this unique band.
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Unlike other '70s funk outfits, Cameo successfully updated their sound to match the 1980s synthesizer era. After experiencing a dip in sales, the band came roaring back with 1986's "Word Up," a futuristic groove featuring Larry Blackmon's robotic vocals. The song served as younger listeners' introduction to the group, but in fact Cameo had been recording quirky funk since the late 1970s. Dipping into their earlier work, one can find stripped-down arrangements without the electronic sound. "Feel Me," a 1980 slow jam, typifies their first wave of success. Cameo began as a group of 13 New York City musicians led

DeepSoul Tribute: Yvonne Staples, "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)"

The passing of the Staple Singers' Yvonne Staples reminds listeners of her important role in the legendary family group.
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In the 1970s, soul music took on a new conscience. Songs containing lyrics addressing social injustice such as Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)" and the Isley Brothers' "Fight the Power Pt. 1" filled the airwaves. While those artists tapped into energy fueled by the 60s Civil Rights movement, the Staple Singers focused on self-esteem and empowerment. The Stax legends scored a number of crossover hits in the 1970s fusing soul and gospel, with "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There" becoming modern classics. While lead singer Mavis Staples has enjoyed a lengthy solo career, even collaborating

DeepSoul: New Birth - "I Can Understand It"

The group's cover of a 1972 Bobby Womack track proves that passionate funk never goes out of style.
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Funk never goes out of style, and no song proves that notion better than "I Can Understand It" by New Birth. Originally written by Bobby Womack, "I Can Understand It" transforms into a James Brown-esque soul workout, and while it performed well on the R&B and pop charts in 1973, it is inexplicably rarely played on the radio today. According to New Birth's website, the group was the brainchild of Vernon Bullock, a songwriter responsible for classics such as "If I Can Build My Whole World Around You" by Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell as well as "What Does It

DeepSoul: Bob and Earl - "Harlem Shuffle"

The 1963 single has experienced an unlikely resurgence of interest through covers, samples, and an appearance in a 2017 summer film.
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With its prominent use in the Summer 2017 film Baby Driver, "Harlem Shuffle" by Bob and Earl has gained renewed attention. The Rolling Stones previously scored a hit with their hit 1986 cover (featuring Bobby Womack on backing vocals), accompanied by its humorous Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi-directed video. The 1963 original features not only a more soulful vocal performance but also funky horns and drums. Over 50 years later the question remains: just who were Bob and Earl? The duo originally consisted of Bobby Day and Earl Nelson (aka Jackie Lee), two singers who had previously recorded classics still

DeepSoul Salutes Bill Withers: "Soul Shadows" (with the Crusaders)

The final entry in DeepSoul's salute to the legendary singer looks at one of the more obscure - and underrated - tracks in his catalog.
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By 1980, Bill Withers began collaborating with other artists; he subsequently scored one of the biggest hits of his career with 1981's "Just the Two of Us," a smooth track also featuring Grover Washington, Jr. A year before that single, however, Withers worked with the famed group the Crusaders on the track "Soul Shadows." The band's brand of smooth jazz-funk perfectly suits Wither's unadorned voice, resulting in a sophisticated song that should have received more attention upon its release. Due to ongoing disputes with his label Columbia, Withers was unable to record his own albums from 1979-1985. To remain in

DeepSoul Salutes Bill Withers: "Hello Like Before"

The 1975 ballad typifies the soul singer's deeply personal songwriting and vocal style.
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By 1975, Bill Withers was at a professional crossroads. His previous record label, Sussex, had collapsed, forcing him to sign with Columbia. While he subsequently released albums containing hits such as "Lovely Day" and "I Want to Spend the Night," Withers was unhappy with the label. He felt he had lost control over his material, thus in the late 70s/early 80s he focused on collaborations with the Crusaders and Grover Washington, Jr. After the unhappy experience recording 1985's Watching You Watching Me, Withers would depart Columbia and struggle with career direction. Before that stage, however, Withers seemed to be off

DeepSoul Salutes Bill Withers: "Who Is He (and What Is He to You)?"

Infidelity, jealousy, and pain never sounded so good in this 1972 classic.
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Bill Withers may be known for feel-good hits such as "Lean on Me" and "Lovely Day," but he could also speak of the darker sides of love, namely jealousy and betrayal. His 1972 cut "Who Is He (and What Is He to You)?" stands as one of the finest in the soul genre, with an unforgettable bass line and guitar riff (along with quivering strings) creating a sense of paranoia along with sorrow. For his masterpiece album Still Bill, Withers wrote most of the material. One exception is "Who Is He," a collaboration with lyricist Stanley McKinney. McKinney may have

DeepSoul Salutes Bill Withers: "I Want to Spend the Night"

DeepSoul celebrates the organic soul of the "Lean on Me" singer, beginning with this sensual slow jam.
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Few artists embody the very essence of soul as much as Bill Withers, a consummate singer, songwriter, and musician. His lyrics are highly personal yet universal in theme, addressing romantic, political, and familial topics. Never oversinging, his voice can soar, only to descend into a grittiness that expresses deep emotion. He implemented his gospel roots, into his blending of soul and R&B (with a touch of folk), making Withers a standout among his peers in the 1970s. While Withers has largely retired from performing, his music is everywhere, still played on the radio, used in commercials, and incorporated into films.

DeepSoul, Sampled Edition: Timmy Thomas - "Why Can't We Live Together"

This 1973 hit features a one-man-band, and has inspired numerous covers and hip hop samples.
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AllMusic's Andrew Hamilton labels it "the cheapest Top Ten hit ever made." Regardless of its minimalist production, the 1973 single "Why Can't We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas ranks as one of the most unlikely and influential hits of the 1970s. Its hypnotic beat, Latin percussion, and heartfelt lyrics retain timeless appeal, with artists such as MC Hammer, 3rd Bass, Leaders of the New School, and (more recently) Drake sampling its distinctive elements. Born in 1944 in Evansville, Indiana, Thomas gradually honed his keyboard skills and later performed with jazz legends Donald Byrd and Cannonball Adderley. After a brief stint

DeepSoul: Al Jarreau - "Mornin'"

Celebrate the singer's legacy through classic tracks such as this perfect blend of jazz, pop, and soul.
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On the same day as the Grammy Awards, the music community suffered a great loss. Al Jarreau, a gifted artist that seamlessly blended jazz, pop, and R&B, passed away February 12 at the age of 76. The only vocalist to win Grammys in the jazz, pop, and R&B categories, Jarreau never stopped exploring different musical genres while maintaining his distinctive singing style: rapid-fire scat and using his voice as a percussive instrument. Even when he charted crossover hits such as "We're in This Love Together" or even the Moonlighting TV theme, he never lost sight of his jazz roots. Such

DeepSoul: The Cadillacs - "Gloria"

This 1950s doo-wop group pioneered combining soul and pop to reach mass audiences.
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Soul music has produced so many subgenres including doo-wop, its close harmonies still impacting acts such as Manhattan Transfer and Pentatonix. The 1950s act The Cadillacs were pioneers of the tradition, introducing soul to wider audiences with their smooth harmonies and heartfelt delivery. While best known for their 1955 hit "Speedo," the gorgeous ballad "Gloria" perfectly represents the doo-wop genre's unique blend of lush vocal arrangements, soul, and just a touch of jazz. The Cadillacs began in New York's Harlem in the early 1950s under a different name: The Carnations. Teenagers Earl "Speedy" Carroll, LaVerne Drake, Robert Phillips, and "Cub"
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