I had been kicking this idea for a while: crowd-sourcing a soul music “Common Core,” i.e. inexpensive singles that are inarguably awesome. There is a tendency to fetishize the rare/obscure/expensive and while I’m as responsible for fueling that kind of mentality as anyone, I also equally enjoy perfectly “common” singles that are just as magical and sublime.
*It should be a soul/R&B song (we can do other genres later). LP cuts are acceptable but we’re not recommending LPs.
*It should be something that can be had for $10 or less in 2014.
*Please write a few lines about what you like about the song. Please don’t just post a youtube link with no commentary.
My pick to kick things off:
The Manhattans: Follow Your Heart (Carnival, 1965)
Personally, I prefer the early Manhattans sound/line-up, back when they were recording on Carnival – gorgeous arrangements/production/vocals and this one, in particular, has haunted me for the last year or so after first hearing it. “Sparkling” is what comes to mind every time that intro drops. And you can find a stock copy for $10 or less. Crazy.
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “Baby Baby Don’t Cry”
I’ve been hung up on this song for the past month. Hearing the song first as a hip hop sample played a strong role in making it sound simultaneously fresh, relevant, and classic. Also, that voice, c’mon.
If anyone asked me which 45 should they buy to start a soul collection, it would be this.
See the Smokey description above. Classic artist, overlooked single. I would love to hear this every Sunday morning.
(I know this is a 45 discussion, but seriously I could probably live off of only the Donny Hathaway Live and Curtis Live LPs for the rest of my life.)
The Fuzz “I Love You For All Seasons”
This track is a samplers dream. Filled with breaks, great vocals, and not to mention an instrumental version of the track on the flip side. It has a very elegant way about it with the strings and the backing vocals really filling the track up with soul. Didn’t know what it was, but I nabbed it on good faith from a Boston Radio DJ’s private collection for a buck. However, It’s pretty easy to find if you were looking for it.
Give Me One More Chance / Get It by Wilmer & the Dukes
Reminds me of Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers, both bands from New York state. You can hear how hard they work. I usually see it for like 7 or 8 bucks.
The Drifters, “Chains Of Love”, Atlantic 45-2285, 1965. B-side of “Come On Over To My Place”, a pretty pedestrian soft-soul production. This is one of those cases where the B is better than the A! It’s co-written by Kenny Gamble and produced by Bert Berns just before he left Atlantic to found Bang Records. Johnny Moore lead vocal, and he digs down deep and gets gritty (at least, as gritty as he ever got) to sell the tale of heartbreak and passion. When the horns kick in at the break, I’m totally gone.
Frankie Karl and the dreams
male backup singing is bossalicious nuff said
def. should be owned by any classic soul dj/collector
Sugar Billy “Super Duper Love”
To be honest, I don’t care too much for that Billy Garner “I Got Some.” “Super Duper Love” on the other hand is some classic, instantly enjoyable business that costs less than a Snickers bar.
The Mad Lads “I’ve Never Found a Girl” LP only
Classic cut that somehow retains a bit of an edge (probably the drum beat).
The Natural Four “Why Should We Stop Now”
Solid classic. That horn fanfare intro hits hard every time.
Marvin Gaye / “Hello There Angel” / 1963
The flipside of â€œHitch Hikeâ€ on the Tamla label. This is such a wonderfully innocent love song. Lyrics and musical style are almost a throwback to the 1950s, but vocal delivery is all Marvin Gaye, especially the suggestive groans he makes in the last few seconds of the recording. Do these growls represent the roots of â€œLetâ€™s Get It Onâ€?
Funny – I’ve just been trimming down my 45s, and it surprised me how often I felt more inclined to hold onto the great, but relatively common/cheap 45s. There’s definitely a mix of sonic appeal and sentimentality happening in my head, but anyway:
D.J. Rogers (It’s Alright Now) Think I’ll Make It Anyhow
Rogers’ delivery, to my ears, is so utterly compelling and heartfelt. It was a must-have the first time a record dealer friend of mine spun it for me. I never tire of it.
Mary Wells – Dig The Way I Feel
Wells’ vocal is almost a whisper at times, but rather than sounding melancholic or theatrically seductive, it’s warm and playful.