Rock Artists Sing Soul
I’ve blogged about Soul and there are dozens’ of songs sprinkled throughout my posts, but I want to focus on covers by Rock artists. While R&B was the main inspiration of most Rock musicians, Soul music is not far behind. Most of the biggest names in Rock history covered Soul songs and the influence can often be heard in their original material. Most notably this was a trend in the 1960’s and there are plenty to choose. As with the Blues, bands from the UK were all over the Soul music scene. While I’ve dedicated some writing to Soul icons such as Ray Charles, James Brown and the legendary Aretha Franklin, I wanted to feature other artists today.
“Some Other Guy” by Richie Barrett (who discover discovered artists such as Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, the Chantels, Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Valentines, and the Three Degrees) co-wrote this with the famous duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, released in April 1962. Not the typical ‘Blues’ song that was being listened to “across the pond” but more soul oriented and it was not a chart topper in the US. The British band ‘The Big Three‘ (March 1963) took a liking to it and covered it first and had a top 40 hit, in the UK. The Beatles (Live at the BBC June 23, 1963) included it in their early repertoire but their version was not released until 1994. Not quite a “Louie Louie” for unintelligible words but the lyrics are hard to make out hence the difference from record to record.Read More »
Earlier this November I had the privilege and pleasure to visit the former Chess Records (1956-65) building in Chicago. It is an important landmark in the history of Blues and R&R music. It is now home to the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation and hosts tours of the partially restored original recording Studio room ‘B’ and the small room which was Studio ‘A’. Firstly a thank-you to the Dixon Family for preserving this gem. Also a nod to the fantastic tour guide who’s name I didn’t catch but he’s from Manchester so if you go there and are lucky enough to have him you’ll know who I mean. They have lots of photos, great memorabilia and a neat little gift shop (got the t-shirt). I’ve long been a fan of Chess Records and the music they produced, so if you read this post there are spoilers for the tour but my words can’t hold a candle to that experience. I’m happy that this, my 100th blog post coincides with a personally meaningful visit to one of my music ‘meca’s’.
One of the most iconic and recognizable R&R songs “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry was recorded at that building, it’s #7 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”
Started by two brothers Phil and Leonard from Poland who arrived in Chicago as children with their mother and sister. They joined their father who was working in the Al Capone controlled liquor business during the Prohibition years. The family changed their name from Czyż to Chess and also adopted more American first names. Eventually the family got into the ‘scrap’ business and across the street was a church, and it was there the young brothers got their first introduction to Black Gospel. As described by our tour guide the boys thought they were listening to the sounds of heaven and so their love of music began.Read More »
As I have discussed in previous posts trying to pigeon hole bands into genres and subgenres in particular is a tough task at times. That said when we think of Southern Rock there are certain names that come to mind. Most likely those would be ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ (LS) and ‘The Allman Brothers Band’ (ABB). I’ve read that the late Ronnie Van Sant who was the lead singer of LS said they were “a rock band who just happen to be from the South” and this is certainly true. But there are some characteristics of the subgenre which set it apart in more ways than just geography. The all too obvious songs we can point to are “Sweet Home Alabama” by LS (1974) and Charlie Daniels “The South’s Gonna Do It” (1975). The former I touched on a bit in my post on Neil Young as his “Alabama” and “Southern Man” both struck a nerve in the south and prompted LS to strike back with an ‘answer song’ both eschewing his view of the south and calling him out by name in the lyrics. They promoted their ‘southern pride’ all the way to a #8 hit song. While the latter from Charlie Daniels was only a minor hit, it lists the names of the some of the Rock bands from the ‘South’ like LS, Grinderswitch, ZZ Top, Elvin Bishop and a few others. Here he is promoting a resurgence of the music and putting the ‘South’ back on the Rock & Roll map. Incidentally a song covered by …no one, while “Sweet Home Alabama” ironically was first covered in 1981 by Charlie Daniels . I should mention here that R&R started in the ‘South’ and perhaps the “British Invasion” made some forget that fact, hence I think that’s why this subgenre is so important.Read More »