Sound Screen’s Spotify Sunday: Super Soul Sunday
David Ellis strikes back with Super Soul Sunday after a one-week hiatus from our regular feature. Sometimes, it’s worth the wait for a good playlist, and it seems like young David has delivered the goods after a short break.
If evidence where ever needed to prove that the sixties stands head and shoulders above all other decades of music like an expensively-employed basketball player with a set of preteen pygmies, it is that the predominant pop-music of the period was pure-bred Motown soul.
And so, sit back and prepared to be crooned into a daze of contentedness with sweetly sensuous alliterative eloquence of Sound-Screen’s one and only Spotify Super Soul Sunday.
Where better to start than with the roots of soul music, blues may be more apparently associated with the Mississippi delta anguish of the black Americans who lived in the last era of official racial segregation in America, but as it originated from the black gospel choirs, soul music also has a prominent place. As such we begin with Sam Cooke, who left behind the role as church choir tenor to become gospel soul’s first cross-over superstar and social commentator.
Prominently-positioned in the early advancement of blues and rock and roll, it would be impossible not to mention the part of the up-tempo ragtime piano of the immortal Ray Charles in popularising the gospel choir influence on mainstream music.
Otis Redding, the greatest voice ever recorded? Very possibly.
Just like the modern day record companies, the real financial turnover for Motown came in the form of universally successful manufactured girl groups, however feel free to compare and contrast with vitriol The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas to the cultural contributions of Girls Aloud et al.
There are few bigger soul stars than Solomon Burke, ahem, literally. He has performed in a specially enlarged throne for the last twenty years (from which he has fathered over 30 children!), but the former lay preacher is also a formidable soulster with almost unequalled stage presence.
If you are known by one name, you have to be a big star and are in no need of introduction, it’s Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul.
There are too many bona fide legends of soul to include all in one Sunday playlist, for this we apologise sincerely, but to finish off I thought I’d throw in a couple of left-field and lesser-remembered options, so please lends your ears warmly to Little Milton, Barrett Strong and Mable John.
And finally if your appetite is sufficiently whetted, and while Super Soul Sunday has missed a multitude of magnificent artists off this playlist, it would be irresponsible not to mention the two films which have done much to keep the soul time groove popular into the modern day. The Blues Brothers has a wicked comedy streak from John Belushi, as well as many guest appearances from the legends mentioned above and laudable reverence for soul alongside rhythm and blues. The Commitments is equal in its reverence of the genre and comic styling having been written by Roddy Doyle, and features the incredible vocal talents of the then 15-year-old Andrew Strong, and is very much to blame for the pre-ponderousness of ‘Mustang Sally’ as a karaoke classic.
By David Ellis
Full track listing:
Sam Cooke – Chain Gang
Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come
Ray Charles – This Little Girl of Mine
Ray Charles – I Got a Woman
Otis Redding – Hard to Handle
Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness
The Supremes – When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes
The Supremes – Run, Run, Run
Martha and the Vandellas – Nowhere to Run
Martha and the Vandellas – Dancing in the Street
Solomon Burke – Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
Solomon Burke – Cry to Me
Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools
Aretha Franklin – Respect
Little Milton – Grits Ain’t Groceries
Barrett Strong – Money (That’s What I Want)
Mable John – Sweet Devil
The Commitments – Treat Her Right
The Blues Brothers – Gimme Some Lovin’