Wednesday 6 July 2011

On soul music

Two events of extraordinary good fortune have made life on earth possible. The first was a collision with a celestial body when the Earth was little but a flaming ball of boiling rock, which tilted it off its axis to a degree perfect for organisms to develop and evolve. The second was when gospel music fused with its secular cousin rhythm and blues to produce soul music.

Needless to say, everyone alive today is astonishingly lucky that either of these things happened, so to have both is remarkable indeed. Here are my ten favourite soul songs in no particular order.

1. The Supremes - You Keep Me Hanging On
2. Jackie Wilson - Higher and Higher
3. The Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself
4. Aretha Franklin - Think
5. Stevie Wonder - Uptight
6. Martha and The Vandellas - Dancing in the Street
7. Marvin Gaye - Chained
8. Smokey Robinson and The Miracles - Tears of a Clown
9. Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?
10. Otis Redding - You Made A Man Out of Me

Honourary mention: part of the great joy of soul music is its conciseness and immediacy. The shortest track of the four which make up Isaac Hayes' Hot Buttered Soul clocks in at over 5 minutes, the longest over eighteen and a half. However, it remains my favourite soul record of them all. It's soul, funk and rap music's Kind of Blue, if that's not too glib.

Late edit: I'm going to replace number 10 with Joy Inside My Tears by Stevie Wonder. Sorry Otis, but you know the nature of music, if you ask me again tomorrow you might get 6 or 7 in.

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