FOOT STOMPING – Soul Singles of 1961

We continue excerpts from the History section of the Celebrate Good Times book with a retrospective of the Top 100 Soul Singles of 1961. Our previous dips into the Sixties soulful goodie-bag has revealed the Top 100 Soul Singles of 1962 and 1963 respectively. This latest journey into the archives presents a selection designed to celebrate the greatest rhythm  & blues records of the year previous. Again, they feature records only released in the UK on 45. Black harmony groups had been around for a long time, initially singing gospel. Recording groups like The Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots took a more secular approach, singing ballads, pop and jump tunes. They made an incredible impact on the global music scene during the Thirties and Forties and were hugely successful and influential. Their style spawned many imitators which in the late Forties gave birth to what we now know as ‘doowop’ – a vibrant and exciting vocal form which saw harmonized back-ups help to create a thrilling rhythmic backdrop and counterpoint to lead vocals. These type of groups became especially prominent in the Fifties which is considered to be the golden era of the genre. A pivotal record in 1959 by The Drifters – There Goes My Baby – saw the addition of lavish string arrangements, which announced the arrival of a new ‘soul’ sound. This drifting soul sound is earmarked in the selection by four of their classics – Room Full Of Tears; a Brill Building masterpiece written by Continue reading

FOR THE GOOD TIMES – Reggae Albums of 1974

Whereas the Soul History section of the book recommends 100 albums from each year of the early Seventies, the Reggae History element is limited to just 50 long-playing vinyl records. The reasons for this are twofold: in some years there weren’t as many as 100 even released in the UK but moreso, the quality of a number of reggae albums was questionable. Even as it stands, some of the albums listed may only be one or two-track LPs. Reggae has always been a market dominated by the ‘single’ format – whether on 7-inch, or from 1977 on 12-inch. Reggae’s initial forays into the LP format during the Sixties had tended to be a proliferation of compilation albums and hit collections. This trend began to change in the early Seventies as reggae companies began to experiment with more carefully conceived albums by reggae bands, groups and singers. It also introduced the ‘dub’ album to the world which significantly increased the popularity of the format in reggae circles and beyond. We have already inspected the Top 100 Soul Albums of 1974 – this week we focus on the Top 50 Reggae Albums of 1974. These albums sold almost exclusively in specialist black music shops as many were released on local independent reggae labels. Trojan Records was the major company for reggae at the time (of the 50, over half are on Trojan or associated labels Horse and Attack). These tended to have better national distrubution so made these records more accessible. Though Continue reading

1994 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

The soul albums chart kicked off 1994 with Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle clinging to the No.1 slot for a further two weeks into January – making a total of six weeks at the peak for the canine rapper. The following is a reminder of what came afterwards – with the exclusion of any album re-entering the No.1 slot from the previous year. The albums were mainly R&B and hip-hop but also included the odd house/dance album, a jungle compilation and a couple of UK offerings. As always, non-consecutive weeks are listed with an asterisk. These are the number one soul albums of 1994. Roll ‘em. DIARY OF A MAD BAND | Jodeci | MCA 4 wks Jodeci first came to prominence in 1991 with their debut album Forever My Lady. Comprising two pairs of brothers (known as K-Ci and JoJo/DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin) they made a huge impact on the soul scene in the US and UK with New Jack Swing tracks like Gotta Love, My Phone and their take on The Association’s 1966 smash Cherish. But their forté proved to be superslow slow-jams like Stay, the title-track and I’m Still Waiting. This LP continued the format – the first side containing ballads, the other more uptempo swingtings. Five singles were released from the album – slow-jam burners like What About Us, Cry For You, My Heart Belongs To U and the exquisite Feenin’.  Their track included in the movie Who’s The Man was big in the UK NJS clubs Continue reading

POWER OF SOUL – Soul Albums of 1974

After last week’s look at some soul hits from 1962, it’s time to focus on some of the key soul albums from 1974. This extract forms a part of the History section of Celebrate Good Times. Again, 100 have been selected – with a Top 25 chosen for special attention and merit. In the UK during the mid 70s, the demand for soul albums was increasing. Of course, in the US there were many independently released records which never gained a UK issue – and were not even imported at the time. However, the records listed below are selected from the few hundred soul albums that were released by the major record companies of the day. Specialist publications such as Blues And Soul and Black Music kept soul fans reliably informed of what was newly available. Because the singles market was so strong, an album containing a few singles was financially more attractive than forking out money for a clutch of 45s. At this time, the popular labels like Tamla Motown, Atlantic and Stax were still going strong. Of course, as with all such lists, the selections provide a very personal handpicked overview of the year – but they do reflect what I was listening to and buying at the time, in addition to those other albums I picked up later along the way on many, many cratedigging hunts. Without a doubt, the Top 5 are the albums I was mad about at the time and still am now. George Continue reading