Listening obsessively to the likes of The Specials, The Beat, The Jam and Dexys for the previous couple of years, it was inevitable that those band’s musical roots were to follow closely behind in my own musical catalogue. 1960s and ’70s ska, soul and funk was about to hit me hard, and it all started with this vinyl gem released in the UK in 1968 – This Is Soul!
The album is a ‘best of’ from the Atlantic label, featuring Stax and soul heavyweights and mostly well-known nuggets. Like almost all my other second-hand vinyl purchases it came from Snu-Peas in Boscombe; still to this day a tiny, overstocked, gloriously dingy vinyl palace – my memory is shocking so where the money came from I haven’t the foggiest – pocket money perhaps, which would have been money very well spent. This album was stunning; a soul education which only enhanced my allegiance with school-friends who were sporting sta-prest slacks and Fred Perry tops with far more confidence than I could muster.
How best to describe This Is Soul? Emotional, inspirational, passionate, raw, cool and groovy as fuck. It took me another five or ten years to learn, but this album came from what was for me the golden era. In the mid 1960s popular music was evolving and challenging, drugs were having a beneficial effect on the music being recorded (if not on the musicians themselves), and American soul and rhythm ’n’ blues was riding high as an inspiration to bands, djs and music lovers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Soul just felt so wonderfully raw and real. Much of the Top 40 was horribly overly manufactured as those plastic New Romantics began appearing in droves. My hatred of those new ‘synthetic’ sounds was exaggerated by this new found love of 60s music, but I care as little for that now as I did then. What is soul? I’ll leave it to Ben E King…
“Some people really know / it’s deep down within us, it doesn’t show / soul is somethin’ that comes from deep inside / but soul is somethin’ that you can’t hide.”
- Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett
- BABY – Carla Thomas
- Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley
- When A Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge
- I Got Everything I Need – Sam & Dave
- What Is Soul? – Ben E King
- Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song) – Otis Redding
- Knock On Wood – Eddie Floyd
- Keep Looking – Solomon Burke
- I Never Loved A Man – Aretha Franklin
- Warm & Tender Love – Percy Sledge
- Land Of A Thousand Dances – Wilson Pickett