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

1987 – UK Reggae Number Ones

The advent of dancehall, digital and ragga really shook things up on the reggae scene during the Eighties. However, this didn’t halt the proliferation of home-grown talent which specialized in producing lovers rock for the masses. The year was bookended by two of what have since become masterpieces of the genre. In between, the chart was dominated by dancehall tracks, a couple of soul covers, straight-ahead Jamaican reggae and a leftfield Big People’s anthem. Only eleven records hit the top spot during 1987. As usual, an asterisk denotes non-consecutive weeks at No.1. LATELY | The Natural-Ites | Realistics 6 wks The Natural-Ites hailed from Nottingham and had first made an impression with Close To Me. Their rootsy Picture On The Wall was a massive hit in 1983. Black Roses was another popular tune in 1984. Lately was in the lovers-rock style and features a wicked rub-a-dub ridim with blazing horns and heartfelt vocals with great harmonies. For me – and no doubt many others – their greatest song. AGONY | Pinchers | Live & Love 7 wks Appearing early in 1987 from Jamaica on Jammy’s, this digital dancehall classic was swiftly released in the UK on Third World’s Live & Love subsidiary on 12-inch and shot to the top of the charts. Pinchers (Delroy Thompson) is one of the greatest and unique dancehall singers and this was his biggest smash of the 80s. As one of the biggest and brightest stars of 1987 he produced a voluminous amount of tunes Continue reading

1987 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

This is the first look back to an era which saw the influence and development of electronic music within soul and dance. Out went the large orchestrations, the jazzier arrangements and the percussive frills – in came the drum machines, the computerized keyboards and the birth of hip-hop. Yes – it’s the Eighties. The following is a blow-by-blow account of all the Number One soul albums of 1987. Gone were all the vocal groups and bands – in were the soloists, mainly men. As usual, an asterisk indicates non-consecutive weeks at the top, a cross signifies an imported album not at the time released in the UK. It doesn’t include albums re-entering the No.1 position from 1986. UPFRONT 4 | Various artists | Serious 1 wk The ‘Upfront’ series had been launched in 1986 on Serious and showcased in-demand imports, current dance releases and popular mixes. This fourth edition combined the usual mix of house, hip-hop, club classics and UK vibes. Outstanding tracks included a remix of Loose Ends’ Nights Of Pleasure, Ray, Goodman & Brown’s Take It To The Limit,  the huge House Nation by The Housemaster Boyz and an early DJ Eddie F production – Mr. Big Stuff by Heavy D & The Boyz.  The inclusion of Projection’s UK classic Lovestruck  and the Darlene Davis biggie I Found Lovin’ only added to the appeal – a decent compilation for anyone who didn’t have the singles. ROCK THE HOUSE | DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince | Champion Continue reading

PARTY LIGHTS – Soul Singles of 1962

Apart from closely analysing 24 years worth of reggae and soul charts, my book Celebrate Good Times has an extensive historical section which looks back at the 50s, 60s and early 70s. Part of the historical archive includes listings of some of the best reggae and soul albums and singles of bygone eras that have been released in the United Kingdom. The book also includes information such as the original American and Jamaican labels these records appeared on, in addition to their original UK catalogue numbers. Because of limited space, that info. is not included here. The first History extract features what I consider to be the very best 100 soul records of 1962. Of course, they were branded ‘rhythm & blues’ back then but for the sake of continuity, I’m sticking with the ‘soul’ moniker. Incidentally, all inclusions in the History sections are indicative of the original year of release in their country of origin. That is to say, the records listed below may not have been officially released in the UK during 1962 but were certainly released in the US during that year. The Top 25 speaks for itself – these are the best of the best! – the remaining 75 are listed in no particular order. The picks focus on a great cross-section of rhythm and blues hits (and some brilliant flops!) from 1962. In America, dance-craze numbers continued to excite the young and some of the old. The Twist had been around a couple of years Continue reading