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Whereas rhythm and blues had always been largely secular in its concerns, soul music's tone and message possessed a decidedly apocalyptic cast. The genre appropriated both the gospel stylings Ray Charles had grafted onto rhythm and blues and elements of religious imagery. Sam Cooke perhaps best exemplified the latter contribution, utilizing the smooth approach of sophisticated pop music as well as the ethereal harmonies reminiscent of the Soul Stirrers, the gospel quartet with whom he'd former sang. In the words of one of the genre's chief exponents, Atlantic Records artist, Solomon Burke, "The business of soul music was salvation."

Its ascendancy in the early 1960s owed much, however, to an opportune confluence of developments. Rolling Stone journalist Peter Guralnick has described soul as "a peculiarly good-hearted and optimistic sort of music," a reflection of a period when black pride was largely manifested in civil rights activism. More specifically, soul represented a kind of conscious anachronism; a prideful exploration of cultural roots in the face of a century-long movement toward assimilation into white mainstream society.

This explains the appeal of soul to the black community. However, it was also more popular with mainstream white society than had been the case with any predominantly African American music style up to that time. Crossover success was made possible by the record industry's broad-minded attitude regarding racial interaction combined with the efforts of British rock bands to champion the cause of American r & b musicians (a practice later adopted by many stateside rock performers as well).

The success of soul music, however, was most indebted to the availability of large roster of genuinely talented artists. Some, such as James Brown and Ray Charles, had spent the 1950s at the vanguard of the r & b cross-fertilization which led to the emergence of soul. Others--most notably Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin--were seminal in establishing the style's vocabulary. Burke, a vastly underrated artist who never was able to crack the top twenty pop singles chart, possessed a smooth, lush voice, which hinted at barely contained power, and exhibited a mastery of gospel techniques, including heartfelt sermonizing, caressing melodic interludes, and rumbling bass notes.

During its commercial heyday, soul split off into a number of regional styles. The most successful of these included:

(1) the Chicago Sound, a softer, ballad-oriented variant whose most distinctive feature consisted of male falsetto leads;

(2) the Memphis Sound, a loose, gritty blend of country and r & b, best exemplified by the Stax/Volt label releases;

(3) the Motown Sound, which employed gospel-like vocal work within a pop framework featuring a "hot" mix of shrill, hissing cymbals, booming bass, and a sweet overlay of strings;

(4) the Muscle Shoals Sound, a funky, countrified hybrid developed at Rick Hall's Fame Studios in Florence, Alabama;

(5) the Sound of Philadelphia, a direct descendant of the Chicago Sound featuring lush arrangements (masterminded by two production teams headed by Thom Bell and Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff) within which each instrument is clearly identifiable; and

(6) blue-eyed soul, a label embracing a wide stylistic array of white interpreters of the genre.

Each of these offshoots was built around a stable cast of producers and session musicians who were responsible for placing a recognizable stamp on all recordings. Nevertheless, most of the studios (and labels) involved had the collective insight--and flexibility--required to enable the particular strengths of individual acts to come through. For example, the rougher styles characterizing Jr. Walker's instrumental work and the singing of Martha and the Vandellas flourished amidst the slick professionalism of the Motown recording process.

By the early 1970s, despite the continued success of selective recordings (particularly the then peaking Philly Soul), the genre was beginning to succumb to its essentially conservative instincts: its insistence on a unified tradition, stylistic purity, and simplified mode of communication. Many of the record companies committed to soul were either undergoing growing pains in the process of reaching out for major label status (e.g., Atlantic, Motown) or on the threshold of going out of business (e.g., Stax, the Chicago-based Vee-Jay). Furthermore, newly emerging black musical styles were now vying for a larger share of the commercial marketplace, most notably funk and disco. In the face of constantly changing fashions, soul--already seen by industry taste-makers and record consumers as hopelessly old-fashioned--would be forced to assume a greatly diminished profile within popular music world.


Top Artists and Their Recordings

Chicago Soul

Jerry Butler--"For Your Precious Love" (1958; 1966); "He Will Break Your Heart" (1960); "Find Another Girl" (1961); "I'm Telling You" (1961); "Moon River" (1961); "Make It Easy on Yourself" (1962); "Need to Belong" (1963); "Mr. Dream Merchant" (1967); "Never Give You Up" (1968); "Hey, Western Union Man" (1968); "Are You Happy" (1968/9); "Only the Strong Survive" (1969); "Moody Woman" (1969); "What's the Use of Breaking Up" (1969)

Jerry Butler, and Betty Everett--Let It Be Me" (1964)

Gene Chandler--"Duke of Earl" (1962); "Just Be True" (1964); "Bless Our Love" (1964); "What Now" (1964/5); "Nothing Can Stop Me" (1965); "Groovy Situation" (1970)

Dee Clark--"Nobody But You" (1958/59); "Just Keep It Up" (1959); "Hey Little Girl" (1959); "How About That" (1959/60); "Your Friends" (1961); "Raindrops" (1961)

The Impressions--"Gypsy Woman" (1961); "It's All Right" (1963); "Talking About My Baby" (1964); "I'm So Proud" (1964); "Keep on Pushing" (1964); "You Must Believe Me" (1964); "Amen" (1964); "People Get Ready" (1965); "Woman's Got Soul" (1965); "You've Been Cheatin'" (1965); "We're a Winner" (1967/8); "Fool For You" (1969); "This is My Country" (1968); "Choice of Colors" (1969); "Check Out Your Mind" (1970); "Finally Got Myself Together (I'm a Changed Man)" (1974)

Curtis Mayfield--"(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go: (1970); "Freddie's Dead" (1972); "Superfly" (1972); "Future Shock" (1973); "Kung Fu" (1974)


Motown Sound

The Contours--"Do You Love Me" (1962)

The Four Tops--"Baby I Need Your Loving" (1964); "Ask the Lonely" (1965); "I Can't Help Myself" (1965); "It's the Same Old Song" (1965); "Something About You" (1965); "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)"; "Reach Out I'll Be There" (1966); "Standing in the Shadows of Love" (1966/7); "Bernadette" (1967); "7 Rooms of Gloom" (1967); "You Keep Running Away" (1967); "Walk Away Renee" (1968); "If I Were a Carpenter" (1968); "It's All in the Game" (1970); "Still Water (Love)" (1970); "Just Seven Numbers" (1970); "MacArthur Park (Part II)" (1971)

Marvin Gaye--"Stubborn Kind of Fellow" (1962); "Hitch Hike" (1963); "Pride and Joy" (1963); "Can I Get a Witness" (1963); "You're a Wonderful One" (1964); "Try It Baby" (1964); "Baby Don't You Do It" (1964); "How Sweet It Is to Be Loved By You" (1964); "I'll Be Doggone" (1965); "Pretty Little Baby" (1965); "Ain't That Peculiar" (1965); "One More Heartache" (1966); "Your Unchanging Love" (1967); "You" (1968); "Chained" (1968); "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (1968); "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" (1969); "That's the Way Love Is" (1969); "The End of Our Road" (1970); "What's Going On" (1971); "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" (1971); "Inner City Blues" (1971); "Trouble Man" (!972/3); "Let's Get It On" (1973); "Come Get to This" (1973); "Distant Lover" (1974); "I Want You"(1976); "Got to Give It Up--Pt. 1" (1977)

Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross--"You're a Special Part of Me" (1973); "My Mistake" (1974)

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell--"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (1967); "Your Precious Love" (1967); "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" (1967); "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" (1968); "You're All I Need to Get By" (1968); "Keep on Lovin' Me Honey" (1968); "Good Lovin' Ain't Easy to Come By" ((1969)

Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells--"Once Upon a Time"/"What's the Matter With You Baby" (1964)

Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston--"It Takes Two" (1967)

Gladys Knight and the Pips--"Everybody Needs Love" (1967); "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (1967); "The End of Our Road" (1968); "It Should Have Been Me" (1968); "The Nitty Gritty" (1969); "The Friendship Train" (1969); "You Need Love Like I Do" (1970); "If I Were Your Woman" (1970); "I Don't Want to Do Wrong" (1971); "Make Me the Woman That You Go Home To" (1971/2); "Help Me Make It Through the Night" (1972); "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" (1973); "Daddy Could Swear, I Declare" (1973)

Martha and the Vandellas--"Coma and Get These Memories" (1963); "Heat Wave" (1963); "Quicksand" (1963/4); "Dancing in the Street" (1964); "Wild One" (1964/5); "Nowhere to Run" (1965); "You've Been in Love Too Long" (1965); "My Baby Loves Me" (1966); "I'm Ready For Love" (1966); "Jimmy Mack" (1967); "Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone" (1967); "Honey Chile" (1967);

The Marvelettes--"Please Mr. Postman" (1961); "Twistin' Postman" (1962); "Playboy" (1962); "Beechwood 4-5789" (1962); "Too Many Fish in the Sea" (1964); "I'll Keep Holding On" (1965); "Don't Mess With Bill" (1966); "The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game" (1967); "When You're Young and in Love" (1967); "My Baby Must Be a Magician" (1967/8)

The Miracles(, Smokey Robinson and)--"Shop Around" (1960/1); "What's So Good About Good-By" (1962); "I'll Try Something New" (1962); "You've Really Got a Hold On Me" (1962/3); "A Love She Can Count On" (1963); "Mickey's Monkey" (1963); "I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying" (1963/4); "I Like It Like That" (1964); "That's What Love Is Made Of" (1964); "Ooh Baby Baby" (1965); "The Tracks of My Tears" (1965); "My Girl Has Gone" (1965); "Going to a Go-Go" (1965/6); (Come 'Round Here) I'm the One You Need" (1966); "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage" (1967); "More Love" (1967); "I Second That Emotion" (1967); "If You Can Wait" (1968); "Yester Love" (1968); "Special Occasion" (1968); "Baby, Baby Don't Cry" (1969); "Doggone Right"/"Here I Go Again" (1969); "Abraham, Martin and John" (1969); "Point It Out" (1969/70); "The Tears of a Clown" (1970); "I Don't Blame You at All" (1971); "Do It Baby" (1974); "Love Machine (Part 1)" (1975)

Diana Ross--"Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" (1970); "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (1970); "Remember Me" (1970/1); "Reach Out I'll Be There" (1971); "Surrender" (1971); "Good Morning Heartache" (1973); "Touch Me in the Morning" (1973); "Last Time I Saw Him" (1974); "Theme From Mahogany" (1975/6); "Love Hangover" (1976); "One Love in My Lifetime" (1976); "Gettin' Ready For Love" (1977/8); "The Boss" (1979); "Upside Down" (1980); "I'm Coming Out" (1980); "It's My Turn" (1980/1)

Diana Ross and Lionel Richie--"Endless Love" (1981)

The Supremes--"When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" (1963/4); "Where Did Our Love Go" (1964); "Baby Love" (1964); "Come See About Me" (1964); "Stop! In the Name of Love" (1965); "Back in My Arms Again" (1965); "Nothing But Heartaches" (1965); "I Hear a Symphony" (1965); "My World Is Empty Without You" (1966); "Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart" (1966); You Can't Hurry Love" (1966); "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1966); "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" (1967); "The Happening" (1967); "Reflections" (1967); "In and Out of Love" (1967); "Forever Came Today" (1968); "Some Things You Never Get Used To" (1968); "Love Child" (1968); "I'm Livin' in Shame" (1969); "The Composer" (1969); "No Matter What Sign You Are" (1969) ; "Someday We'll Be Together" (1969); "Up the Ladder to the Roof" (1970); "Everybody's Got the Right to Love" (1970); "Stoned Love" (1970); "Nathan Jones" (1971); "Floy Joy" (1072); "Automatically Sunshine" (1972); "I'm Gonna Let My Heat Do the Walking" (1976)

The Supremes/Four Tops--"River Deep--Mountain High" (1970/1)

The Supremes/The Temptations--"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (1968/9); "I'll Try Something New" (1969)

The Temptations--"The Way You Do the Things You Do" (1964); "I'll Be in Trouble" (1964); "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)" (1964); "My Girl" (1965); "It's Growing" (1965); "Since I Lost My Baby" (1965); "My Baby" (1965); "Get Ready" (1966); "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (1966); "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" (1966); "(I Know) I'm Losing You" (1966); "All I Need" (1967); "You're My Everything" (1967); "It's You That I Need" (1967); "I Wish It Would Rain" (1968); "I Could Never Love Another" (1968); "Please Return Your Love to Me" (1968); "Cloud Nine" (1968/9); "Run Away Child, Running Wild" (1969); "Don't Let the Joneses Get You Down" (1969); "I Can't Get Next to You" (1969); "Psychedelic Shack" (1970); "Ball of Confusion" (1970); "Unena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World)" (1970); "Just My Imagination" (1971); "Superstar" (1971); "Take a Look Around" (1972); "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (1972); "Masterpiece" (1973); "The Plastic Man" (1973); "Hey Girl" (1973); "Let Your Hair Down" (1973/4); "Happy People" (1974/5); "Shakey Ground" (1975); "Glasshouse" (1975)

Jr. Walker and the All Stars--"Shotgun" (1965); "Do the Boomerang" (1965); "Shake and Fingerpop" (1965); "(I'm a) Road Runner" (1966); "How Sweet It Is" (1966); "Pucker Up Buttercup" (1967); "Come See About Me" (1967/8); "Hip City--Pt. 2 (1968); "What Does It Take" (1969); "These Eyes" (1969); "Gotta Hold On to This Feeling" (1970); "Do You See My Love" (1970)

Mary Wells--"I Don't Want to Take a Chance" (1961); "The One Who Really Loves You" (1962); "You Beat Me to the Punch" (1962); "Two Loves" (1962/3); "Laughing Boy" (1963); "Your Old Stand By" (1963); "You Lost the Sweetest Boy"/"What's Easy for Two Is So Hard for One" (1963); "My Guy" (1964)

(Little) Stevie Wonder--"Fingertips" (1963); "Workout Stevie, Workout" (1963); "Hey Harmonica Man" (1964); "Uptight" (1965); "Nothing's Too Good for My Baby" (1966); "Blowin' in the Wind" (1966); "A Place in the Sun" (1966); "Travlin' Man" (1967); "I Was Made to Love Her" (1967); "I'm Wondering" (1967); "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" (1968); "You Met Your Match" (1967); "For Once in My Life" (1968); "I Don't Know Why"/"My Cherie Amour" (1969); "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday" (1969); "Never Had a Dream Come True" (1970); "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" (1970); "Heaven Help Us All" (1970); "We Can Work It Out" (1971); "If You Really Love Me' (1971); "Superwoman" (1972); "Superstition" (1972/3); "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (1973); "Higher Ground" (1973); "Living For the City" (1973/4); "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" (1974); "You Haven't Done Nothin'" (1974); "Boogie on Reggae Woman" (1974/5); "I Wish" (1976/7); "Sir Duke" (1977); "Another Star" (1977); "As" (1977/8); "Send One Your Love" (1979); "Master Blaster (Jammin')" (1980); "I Ain't Gonna Stand For It" (1980); "That Girl" (1982); "Do I Do" (1982)

Memphis (Stax) Sound

William Bell--"I Forgot to Be Your Lover" (1969)

Booker T. and the M.G.'s--"Green Onions" (1962); "Hang 'Em High" (1968/9); "Time Is Tight" (1969)

James Carr--"You've Got My Mind Messed Up" (1966); "The Dark End of the Street" (1967); "A Man Needs a Woman" (1968)

Arthur Conley--"Sweet Soul Music" (1967); "Shake, Rattle and Roll" (1967); "Funky Street" (1968); "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" (1969)

Eddie Floyd--"Knock on Wood" (1966); "I've Never Found a Girl" (1968); "Bring It on Home to Me" (1968)

Isaac Hayes--"Walk on By"/"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" (1969); "Never Can Say Goodbye" (1971); "Theme From Shaft" (1971); "Do Your Thing" (1972); "Theme From the Men" (1972); "Joy--Pt. 1" (1973/4)

Mar-Keys--"Last Night" (1961)

Otis Redding--"Mr. Pitiful" (1965); "I've Been Loving You Too Long" (1965); "Respect" (1965); "Satisfaction" (1966); "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa" (1966); "Try a Little Tenderness" (1966/7); "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" (1968); "The Happy Song" (1968); "Amen" (1968); "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (1968/9)

Sam and Dave--"Hold On! I'm a Comin'" (1966); "Soul Man" (1967); "I Thank You" (1968)

Johnnie Taylor--"Who's Making Love" (1968); "Take Care of Your Homework" (1969); "Testify (I Wonna)" (1969); "Steal Away" (1970); "I Am Somebody, Part II" (1970); "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone" (1971); "I Believe in You" (1973); "Cheaper to Keep Her" (1973); "We're Getting Careless With Our Love" (1974); "Disco Lady" (1976); "Somebody's Gettin' It" (1976)

Carla Thomas--"Gee Whiz" (1961); "B-A-B-Y" (1966)

Rufus Thomas--"Walking the Dog" (1963); "Do the Funky Chicken" (1970); "(Do the) Push and Pull, Part I" (1970/1); "The Breakdown (Part I)" (1971)


Muscle Shoals Sound

Arthur Alexander--"You Better Move On" (1962); "Anna" (1962)

Aretha Franklin--"I Never Loved a Man" (1967); "Respect" (1967); "Baby I Love You" (1967); "A Natural Woman" (1967); "Chain of Fools" (1967/8); "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone"/"Ain't No Way" (1968); "Think" (1968); "The House That Jack Built"/"I Say a Little Prayer" (1968); "See Saw"/"My Song" (1968); "The Weight" (1969); "I Can't See Myself Leaving You" (1969); "Share Your Love With Me" (1969); "Eleanor Rigby" (1969)

Jimmy Hughes--"Steal Away" (1964)

Percy Sledge--"When a Man Loves a Woman" (1966); "Warm and Tender Love" (1966); "It Tears Me Up" (1966); "Love Me Tender" (1967); "Take Time to Know Her" (1968)

Joe Tex--"Hold What You've Got" (1964/5); "I Want to (Do Everything For You)" (1965); "A Sweet Woman Like You" (1965/6); "S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song)" (1966); "Show Me" (1967); "Skinny Legs and All" (1967); "Men Are Gettin' Scarce (1968); "I Gotcha" (1972)

Sound of Philadelphia

Blue Magic--"Sideshow" (1974); "Three Ring Circus" (1974)

The Delfonics--"La-La Means I Love You" (1968); "Break Your Promise" (1968); "Ready or Not Here I Come" (1968/9); "You Got Yours and I'll Get Mine" (1969); "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" (1970); "Trying to Make a Fool of Me" (1970)

The Intruders--"Cowboys to Girls" (1968); "(Love Is Like A) Baseball Game" (1968); "I'll Always Love My Mama (Part 1)" (1973)

MFSB--"TSOP" (1974)

The Manhattans--"Don't Take Your Love" (1975); "Kiss and Say Goodbye" (1976); "Shining Star" (1980)

Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes--"If You Don't Know Me By Now" (1972); "The Love I Lost (Part 1)" (1973); "Bad Luck (Part 1)" (1975); "Wake Up Everybody (Part 1)" (1975/6)

The O'Jays--"Back Stabbers" (1972); "Love Train" (1973); "Time to Get Down" (1973); "Put Your Hands Together" (1973/4)' "For the Love of Money" (1974); "I Love Music (Part 1)" (1975/6); "Livin' For the Weekend" (1976); "Use Ta Be My Girl" (1978); "Forever Mine" (1979/80)

Billy Paul--"Me and Mrs. Jones" (1972); "Thanks For Saving My Life" (1974)

The Spinners--"I'll Be Around" (1972); "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" (1972/3); "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" (1973); "Ghetto Child" (1973); "Mighty Love--Part 1" (1974); I'm Coming Home" (1974); "Love Don't Love Nobody--Part 1" (1974); "Living a Little, Laughing a Little" (1975); "They Just Can't Stop It the (Games People Play)" (1975); "Love or Leave" (1975/6); "The Rubberband Man" (1976); "Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl" (1979/80); "Cupid/I've Loved You For a Long Time" (1980)

The Stylistics--"Stop, Look, Listen" (1971); "You Are Everything" (1971/2); "Betcha By Golly, Wow" (1972); "People Make the World Go Round" (1972); "I'm Stone in Love With You" (1972); "Break Up to Make Up" (1973); "You'll Never Get to Heaven" (1973); "Rockin' Roll Baby" (1973); "You Made Me Feel Brand New" (1974); "Let's Put It All Together" (1974)

The Three Degrees--"When Will I See You Again" (1974)

Blue-Eyed Soul

Hall(, Daryl) and (John) Oates--"She's Gone" (1974; 1976); "Sara Smile" (1976); "Do What You Want, Be What You Are" (1976); "Rich Girl" (1977); Back Together Again" (1977); "It's a Laugh" (1978); "Wait For Me" (1979); "How Does It Feel to Be Back" (1980); "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" (1980); "Kiss On My List" (1981); "You Make My Dreams" (1981); "Private Eyes" (1981); "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)"; "Did It in a Minute" (1982); "Your Imagination": (1982); "Maneater" (1982)

The (Young) Rascals--"I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" (1965/6); "Good Lovin'" (1966); "You Better Run" (1966); "Come On Up" (1966); "I've Been Lonely Too Long" (1967); "Groovin' (1967); "A Girl Like You" (1967); "How Can I Be Sure" (1967); "It's Wonderful" (1967); "A Beautiful Morning" (1968); "People Got to Be Free" (1968); "A Ray of Hope" (1968/9); "Heaven" (1969); "See" (1969); "Carry Me Back" (1969)

The Righteous Brothers--"Little Latin Lupe Lu" (1963); "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (1964/5); "Just Once in My Life" (1965); "Unchained Melody" (1965); "Ebb Tide" (1965); "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" (1966); "He" (1966); "Go Ahead and Cry" (1966); "Rock and Roll Heaven" (1974); "Give It to the People" (1974); "Dream On" (1974)

Mitch Ryder (and the Detroit Wheels)--"Jenny Take a Ride!" (1965/6); "Little Latin Lupe Lu" (1966); "Devil With a Blue Dress On & Good Golly Miss Molly" (medley; 1966); "Sock It to Me-Baby!" (1967); "Too Many Fish in the Sea & Three Little Fishes" (medley; 1967); "What Now My Love" (1967