Category Archives: Soul

Stevie Wonder – Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You?) (1972)

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Good morning all. A couple of weeks ago, I featured Cody ChesnuTT’s work as a one-man band. Last week, it was the turn of Todd Rundgren. Todd was not the only man with the prowess to be both the singer-songwriter and the band in 1972. With a new contract from Motown in his hands, Stevie Wonder released the long player Music of My Mind. On the album is the standout sound of ‘Superwoman’ with its harmonies, ladles of metaphors and clever use of synthesisers. Have a great week.

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Cody ChesnuTT – Look Good In Leather (2002)

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Cody ChesnuTT’s debut album The Headphone Masterpiece was an incredible collection of work. Its 36 songs were recorded in his home studio on a four track and mixed on a pair of headphones. What binds this home brew together is his voice. While previously featured ‘Michelle’ sounds like Prince, the penultimate track ‘Look Good in Leather’ delivers a vocal that both The Purple One and Terence Trent D’arby would have been proud of.

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Michael Kiwanuka – Final Days (2019)

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A couple of years ago, I featured the opening track (‘Cold Little Heart‘) off Michael Kiwanuka’s second album Love & Hate. Last week, he released his latest full-length effort to a very warm reception indeed.  Such is the strength of Kiwanuka and its Danger Mouse production that I could have selected half a dozen songs. Keeping with the the downbeat titles, I have plumped for the beautiful sound of ‘Final Days’.

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Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good (2007)

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‘Rehab’ and its title track may have taken the plaudits, but Back To Black is laced with treasures. By her second album, Amy Winehouse had hooked up with producer Mark Ronson and together they incorporated 1960s soul, modern R&B and Winehouse’s libertine experiences to create something magical. Listening to my selection today, it’s not the Amen break infused production of ‘You Know I’m No Good’ that stands out, it’s the poignancy of her lyrics: “I told you I was trouble”. Winehouse sadly died in 2007 from “misadventure”.

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John Legend ‎- Ordinary People (2005)

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I was reminded of John Legend’s talent during a recent re-watch of La La Land. In 1998, Legend played piano on Lauryn Hill’s ‘Everything Is Everything’. He became best buddies with Kanye West, culminating in a number of collaborations and his own record deal in 2004. By the end of that year he had put out his debut album, Get Lifted. The album was very nostalgic for the sounds of Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers and others. ‘Ordinary People’ was the album’s second single; it features an honesty that Withers would have been proud of and keyboards that Wonder could have penned and played.

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Boz Scaggs – Lowdown (1976)

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It may not be cool, but it’s Boz Scaggs. Having first made his mark as a member of the Steve Miller Band playing guitar plus writing and singing a few songs on the band’s first two albums, Boz set out on his own path. He’s probably best known for the slick R&B hit ‘Lowdown’ from his breakthrough 1976 album Silk Degrees. Blue-eyed soul.

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Anderson .Paak – King James (2019)

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Anderson .Paak was busy in the studio earlier this year pleasing crowds with a return to the grooves that proved so infectious on 2016’s Malibu. “If they build a wall, let’s jump the fence, I’m over this”. Never has a protest song sounded so breezy. ‘King James’ features on his fourth album Ventura, released in April this year.

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Cuco feat. Jean Carter – Bossa No Sé (2019)

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I short changed my regular subscribers this week. Today a bonus track, tomorrow a “Best of” list. L.A. singer-songwriter Cuco has shared a new song called ‘Bossa No Sé’. It’s an advance single from his forthcoming debut LP Para Mi, to be released on 26 July on Interscope. Alt-soul or bossanova-pop-hip-hop… whatever the label, his story of bad romance is endearing. The duet format with Jean Carter (from L.A. hip-hopsters Your Grandparents) is fun. Have a great weekend.

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Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle (1963)

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Before it was named by George Harrison as his favourite song, before it was covered pretty badly by The Rolling Stones, and before House of Pain lifted its horns for ‘Jump Around’, ‘Harlem Shuffle’ had already gone through its own rebirth. Co-arranged by Barry White and Gene Page, the original single wasn’t a commercial success. But then it was reissued six years later in 1969 and hit the chart heights. Apparently it took that long to learn the dance.

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The Black Keys – Never Gonna Give You Up (2010)

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The Black Keys did something remarkable once they joined the likes of Wilco on Nonesuch Records. Over the course of four albums, they completed a journey from a blues-rockin’ duo in Akron, Ohio to awesome glam soul stadium rockers travelling the globe on a cloud of musical distortion. But during this rise, they were also able to fit in a cover version of Jerry Butler’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. Style.

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Wilson Pickett – Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You (1970)

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It’s not a ‘Land Of 100 Dances’ or ‘In The Midnight Hour’, but the equally classic ‘Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You’. The song was written by The Formations (Jerry Akines, Victor Drayton, Johnnie Bellmon and Reginald Turner) but Wilson Pickett’s version was its first release as a  7″ single. And what a single?! Pressed on Atlantic Records, it also featured the funky ‘Ain’t No Doubt About It’ on its flipside. ‘Don’t Let The Green Grass …’ has since been covered by many fans of Pickett, including The (Detroit) Spinners, Huey Lewis and The California Honeydrops.

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Solange – Way To The Show (2019)

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There’s something exceptional about Solange Knowles’s sound and group of producer pals. Her genre is not one I fully appreciate, but I make exception for songs like ‘Way To The Show’. This glossy soul funk comes her latest album When I Get Home. Have a great week.

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The Isley Brothers – That Lady, Pts. 1 & 2 (1973)

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Looking back at last week, Durand Jones and his the Indications got me thinking about The Isley Brothers. In 1973, Ernie Isley and family had the genius idea of covering their own 1964 single ‘Who’s That Lady’ on their 1973 album 3 + 3. The result was the retitled classic ‘That Lady, Pt. 1 & 2’.

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Durand Jones & The Indications – Morning in America (2019)

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The retro soul sound of Durand Jones & The Indications is almost unsurpassable. Listening to ‘Morning in America’, I feel that you could be hearing the output of Bobby Womack. Ths song features on the album American Love Call, released earlier this month.

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Seinabo Sey – I Owe You Nothing (2018)

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Seinabo Sey is different. Okay, she’s Swedish-Gambian and she’s got the voice, but there’s also a self confidence in ‘I Owe You Nothing’ that I wasn’t expecting.

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