Any Major Soul 1974-75
By the mid-1970s, soul had by and large left behind its R&B roots and the influence of funk and what would become widely known as disco was beginning to manifest itself — many soul acts of the period crossed back and forth between soul, funk and disco.
A few notes on some of the featured acts:
The Impressions had soldiered on after Curtis Mayfield went solo in 1970 (you might want to revisit the Mayfield tracks posted here). By the time they had a trio of hits in 1974/75, Mayfield’s successor as lead singer, Leroy Hutson had departed as well, having been replaced by Reggie Torian and Ralph Johnson (the latter left in 1976). The song featured here was not a hit, but might be the best Impressions song of the period. The Natural Four, incidentally, were signed to Mayfield’s Curtom label and produced by Leroy Hutson at the time of Can This Be Real.
William DeVaughn sounds vaguely like Mayfield channelling Timmy Thomas. DeVaughn paid $900 to record Be Thankful For What You Got in 1972 in Philadelphia, with the MFSB band backing him. On its release in 1974 it became a massive hit. Yo La Tengo and Massive Attack fans will know the song from those groups’ covers. It’s a boss groove which Squeeze must have known when they conjured the chorus of 1987’s Hourglass. Everybody now: “Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean.”
The Soul Children were formed in the late 1960s by Isaac Hayes and David Porter for Stax. The group included John Colbert (who would take the stagename J Blackfoot), who before becoming one of the four soul children had been serving a prison sentence with Johnny Bragg of The Prisonaires. After his release he met Otis Redding who invited him to travel on the plane that would kill Redding and most of the Bar-Keys. There was no room on the plane… I’ll Be The Other Woman, written by Homer Banks and Carl Hampton, belongs in the canon of great cheating songs. Here “the other woman” warns her adulterous lover not to cheat on her.
Sidney Joe Qualls was billed as “the new Al Green” when he appeared on the scene. He never reached the Reverend’s great heights, but his How Can You Say Goodbye To Someone, written by Sam Dees, might well be one of the best Al Green tracks Al never recorded.
The Moments, whose Sexy Mama is much better than the title would suggest, soon would have to change their name for contractual reasons, despite having recorded under that moniker for close to a decade, even scoring two UK Top 10 hits and a UK #3 hit with Girls, their collaboration with the Whatnauts. We will meet them again in this series as Ray Goodman Brown. Sexy Mama would be a great companion piece to Billy Paul’s Let’s Make A Baby (posted here as a bonus track).
Gene Page, whose instrumental All Our Dreams Are Coming True is this set’s most conspicuous nod to disco, was noted more as an arranger, having worked with artists as diverse as Buffalo Springfield, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, Elton John and Barbra Streisand.
Syreeta featured on the second ’60s soul mix as Rita Wright, and on the 1970/71 mix as a co-writer of Stevie Wonder’s If You Really Love Me. She was briefly married to Wonder, who continued to promote her career after they split, to the extent that the 1974 album on which the bluesy Black Maybe appears was titled Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta.
1. Billy Preston – Nothing From Nothing
2. The Main Ingredient – Just Dont Want To Be Lonely
3. The Tymes – You Little Trustmaker
4. Blue Magic – What’s Come Over Me
5. William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You Got
6. Sydney Joe Qualls – How Can You Say Goodbye
7. Major Harris – Love Won’t Let Me Wait
8. Rufus & Chaka Khan – Sweet Thing
9. Minnie Riperton – Simple Things
10. Latimore – Let’s Straighten It Out
11. Soul Children – Ill Be The Other Woman
12. The Impressions – If It’s In You To Do Wrong
13. Aretha Franklin – I’m In Love
14. Syreeta – Black Maybe
15. Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes – Wake Up Everybody
16. The Moments – Sexy Mama
17. Gene Page – All Our Dreams Are Coming True
18. Natural Four – Can This Be Real
19. The Spinners – Mighty Love
20. Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s The Way Of The World (Latin Expedition)