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

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