Taking on the dreamy, compelling sound of the lost soul decades is a damn high bar to set for yourself. Soul revivalists usually don’t get very far in my book, because what’s the point of competing with the likes of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding? Listening to Leon Bridges made me do a 180 on that stance. See, if you actually can hold a candle to legends like Cooke and Redding — and Bridges can — then there’s no reason not to indulge in some nostalgia.NPR has a first listen of Coming Home, Bridges' debut album, and you can see and hear plenty more of him on YouTube, from a live cover of Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love" to a solo performance of "Lisa Sawyer," a reflective song about his mother. [more inside]
Mavis Staples speaks about "The Weight" in "The Last Waltz." Elon Green asks Mavis Staples about her memories of the Staple Singers' unforgettable collaboration with The Band, captured on film in Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz." [more inside]
It's time to say farewell to one of the great and legendary voices of American music. Mr Bobby 'Blue' Bland has died. With the perfect combination of muscle and tenderness, grit and sweetness, he gave us so many stellar performances over his long career. Here are but a few: Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City, The Way You Treated Me, Stormy Monday, Further Up the Road, St. James Infirmary, I'll Take Care of You, I Stand Accused, That's the Way Love Is, Ain't Nothing You Can Do... and the list goes on. Thanks for the music, Bobby Bland.
New Year's Eve is fast approaching, and for lots of folks that means... drinking. Plenty of drinking. And since there's no shortage of singers and songwriters who've had a little something to say about that particular topic, maybe some of the following tunes can serve as an appropriate soundtrack to your own joyous (or not?) imbibing of spirits. For example, there's... Jimmy Liggins with his succinct rendition of Drunk, and there's... [more inside]
Timi Yuro, an Italian-American singer born in Chicago (where, the story goes, her nanny snuck her into clubs to watch singers like Dinah Washington and Mildred Bailey), was arguable the greatest blue-eyed soul artist of the '60s. [more inside]
Legendary record man and music producer Jerry Wexler died on August 15, at the age of 91. His keen insight, and his deep love and appreciation for the artists he worked with resulted in an extraordinary enriching of American music. [more inside]
So, there was this little rock band from England, and they got pretty famous and all, so famous that they initiated the era of stadium concerts, back in '65, at a little place in Queens called Shea. But there was an opening act that night, led by a sax-blowin' fellow name of King Curtis, and he kicked total muhfukkin ass, and it wasn't even with his baddest band! You can hear them here. Jump Back! [more inside]
Proceeding Otis by two years and 364 days, Sam Cooke was shot and killed on this day in 1964. Much controversy still surrounds his death, but his legacy is untouchable and influence sweeping. From gospel to pop, he did it all. You Send Me, Ain't That Good News, Cupid, Chain Gang, and Bring it on Home to Me were some of his biggest hits and (along with Ray's work) the early foundations of soul; but it was one song, inspired by a white boy's passion, that gave a posthumous voice to a broken nation. Today and forever, Sam Cooke is yours, he'll never grow old.
Swamp Dogg (born Jerry Williams, Jr.), is one of the deepest of the deep soul singers. Described as “Wilson Pickett meets Frank Zappa in a bad mood,” and known for his dubious album covers, his association with the anti-Vietnam movement (allegedly) put him on Nixon’s enemies list. Swamp wrote or co-wrote hits for Gene Pitney, Johnny Paycheck, and a host of others. You might have heard his music in samples on tracks by Talib Kweli [mp3] and the Jurassic 5 [.wmv]. Long out of print, his 1970s albums are now available on CD.