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Of course any music which is played with feeling could be deemed soul music by the literal definition, but let's not complicate things! My interpretation is that it's an African American genre that can be traced back to the early 17th century with Gospel music and so-called “negro spirituals”, which were certainly being published in 19th century songsheets. The move towards the 60s soul explosion that we're all so familiar with, can be traced through such tracks as Lead Belly - Midnight Special (1940), Two Gospel Keys - I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (1946) and The Soul Stirrers - Touch The Hem Of His Garment (1956). I've included all the Wikipedia pages which highlight the regional variations of soul music, as well as Detroit's very specific Motown sound. I haven't linked in the Wikipedia pages for other sub-genres such as blue-eyed soul, brown-eyed soul, cinematic soul, Latin soul, neo soul, quiet storm or smooth soul, as tracks from these areas invariably end up in more appropriate genre tags. As always with my one song one genre policy, many soulful songs can often more appropriately land in the Blues / Rhythm n Blues, Blues Rock / Soul Rock, Disco / Funk, Jazz, Latin, Pop, Psychedelia, R n B or Tripbeat categories. Motown is one sub-genre which often has tracks more suited to the Pop category - each case on its own merit is the only way. Finally - and it's a massive finally - it should be noted that there is a tempo consideration to deal with also. Mid or fast tempo songs are filed under the normal Soul category, whilst slow tempo soul records are filed under the Soul Ballad category.

The Jukebox Pick (of 2,659):

 Bring It On Home To Me [live '63]

 (Samuel Cooke)

 Sam Cooke

 10 out of 10 “Utterly perfect” Soul

 Recorded live at the Harlem Square Club, Miami, Florida, on 12th January, 1963. That this stands as the greatest moment in soul music is not in doubt for me, Sam surpassing his own awesome May '62 studio single with an incredibly raw, visceral and intensely exciting performance in front of his adoring, most loyal African-American fans. The two-way feed between artist and his downtown audience is super-charged from beginning to end, almost reimagining the most frenzied of gospel sessions in a rock n roll environment. Shockingly, the RCA executives deemed the work too loud and raucous, and out of sync with their vision of Cooke, the palatable crossover 'race music' singer for a conservative pop audience. Unbelieveably, it was 22 years later when a curious and determined new recruit, Gregg Geller, rescued the tapes from the RCA vaults and persuaded the company to release the album, which was duly met with world acclaim. How can these people get it so wrong? Regards the song itself, somewhat audaciously, Sam has sole writers credit, even though it's entrenched in the melody and structure of Charles Brown and Amos Milburn’s 1959 duet single “I Wanna Go Home” (Ace Records 561). Cooke had been a fan of Charles Brown and would later record a number of his tunes on his live 1963 Night Beat album. Cooke apparently heard Charles Brown play the song in Cincinnati nightclubs, re-worked the lyrics, and, according to some sources, even invited Brown to play piano on the single session. The back story may be messy but, ultimately, who cares? The end result is an absolute triumph, and what a pleasure it is to hear Sam Cooke roaming free at the peak of his mighty, electrifying soul power.

Some favourite artists:

Otis Redding, Irma Thomas, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin

The Jukebox pick:


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