Friday, 27 November 2009

The History of Soul Music

Soul music is the creation of altering social conditions and diverse musical influences. Tracing its roots into the traditional folk songs of the African slaves that were brought at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, soul music was originally the 'African Spirituals' of the period between 1825 and 1850. These spirituals had significant harmonious and metrical relationships with West African songs and were often used by black slaves as a means of secret communication. By the end of the 19th century, they were replaced by gospel songs.

Black gospel music had developed out of a blend of earlier hymns, elements from the spirituals and black performance styles. The singing often reflected ecstatic dance and was accompanied by a piano or an organ, anchored with tambourines, electric guitar and hand-clapping.

During World War I, many black people migrated from the agricultural South to the industrial North. This population shift altered the setting and created a new demographic group which developed a new music genre known as R&B. In the late 1940s, R&B had become a massive phenomenon in the north with black R&B artists being promoted by black owned radio stations. Besides, white radio station owners, in the fear that the newly invented TV would make radio old-fashioned promoted and distributed R&B in an unprecedented way. At the same time, the South experienced the evolvement of jazz, which also traced its roots in the musical traditions of African slaves. Performed by piano soloists and small marching bands, jazz music featured spirituals, blues and hymns.

Soul music did not evolve until the mid-50s with the resurgence of gospel and doo-wop and the commercial blast of music for African-Americans. Tracing its roots in rhythm & blues and gospel, soul music was associated with the black civil rights movement through the metamorphosis of black music into a form of funky confirmation.

Besides, the dominant trend of the 1960s towards cultural integration enabled the development of soul as a means to integrate black and white America. By featuring catchy grooves, hand-clapping, spontaneous body moves, improvisational add-ons, and constant interplay between the soloist and the chorus, the soul genre made white America more open to the idea that African-American culture was not demeaning or corrupting, simply different. In a way, the sociopolitical inroads made by jazz popularized black music within the white audiences. The soul genre was also, rather indirectly, assisted by rock music, mostly because rock made white pop music sound old-fashioned. Without offering an alternative to the obsolete sounds of white pop music, rock music, in effect, legitimized black pop music.

As the black civil rights movement moved forward increasing African-American pride, soul music gained credit in the hearts of African-Americans as a means of expression and artistic freedom. Soul music became the flag of unity for the black communities and although never truly political in nature, for many, its instant rise in the pop charts was representative of the first successes of the civil rights movement.

Ray Charles is widely regarded as the pioneer of soul music with his 1954 release 'I Got A Woman'. After that release, a number of successful artists followed taking soul music to its apogee in the 60s and the 70s. The geographical dispersion of soul music and its associations to the racial discrimination against the African-Americans popularized soul massively as a fundamental psychological element of the black struggle. From Florence and Memphis to Chicago and Detroit soul music reflected idealism and how life should not be accepted as it comes, but it should be made worth living.

The magnificent recordings of Sam Cooke ('You Send Me', 1957 and 'Twistin' the Night Away', 1961) Arthur Alexander ('You Better Move On', 1961), Otis Redding ('I've Been Loving You Too Long', 1965), Wilson Pickett ('In the Midnight Hour', 1965), Percy Sledge ('When a Man Loves a Woman', 1966), Aretha Franklin ('Respect', 1967 and 'I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)', 1967), and Sam & Dave ('Soul Man', 1967) were some of the Southern soul releases of Florence and Memphis throughout the 60s.

Northern soul has been developed in Detroit and Chicago. Motown Records practically swept the charts with top-selling artists that established the Motown Sound featured smash hits such as 'Where Did Our Love Go' by Diana Ross and The Supremes in 1964, 'The Way You Do The Things You Do' by The Temptations in 1964, 'Tracks Of My Tears' by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in 1965, 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' by Marvin Gaye in 1967, 'I Want You Back' by The Jackson 5 in 1969, Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition' in 1972 and many others. Chicago became known for the sweet soul featured by Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, who introduced a call and response style of group singing as derived from gospel.

Even James Brown and Little Richard, who were both into R&B music featuring a variety of deep backbeat, funky saxophone grooves, moans, screams and emotive inflections with boogie-woogie sounds, embodied in their music soul elements in their most commercially successful productions.

During the 1970s, the emergence of hip-hop culture and disco influenced the soul genre greatly, while in the 1980s the use of synths and other electronic equipment featured house and techno music over soul. Although its popularity has declined over the years, the impact and the influence of soul music is evident in many music genres such as funk, pop and neo-soul.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Northern Soul

Northern Soul refers to music and dance styles popular in the dancehalls of northern England from the late 1960s. In the beginning, the dancing was athletic, featuring spins, flips, and drops. The music consisted of obscure American soul recordings with a fast beat, very similar to Tamla Motown and rare labels (for example Okeh) along with a several blue beat records. Much of Northern Soul music was recorded in the northern states of the US, although music from the South is not excluded, neither is music that is not strictly "soul". By 1970, UK artists were recording tunes for this market, and the rarity of soul records with the required rhythm led to the playing of stompers, tunes by any artist that featured the right beat. The term 'Northern Soul' was coined by journalist Dave Godin after visiting the Twisted Wheel Club around 1970 for his column in Blues and Soul magazine.

A large proportion of Northern Soul's original crowd came from the mod movement, with their passion for soul music. As some mods turned moved away from these sounds to embrace the psychedelic movement of the late 1960s, many mods - especially those in northern England - chose to stick to the original soundtrack of soul and ska. Some became what would eventually be known as skinheads, and others went on to form the core of the Northern Soul scene.

Early Northern Soul fashion included US bowling shirts, button-down Ben Sherman shirts, blazers with centre vents and many buttons, Poly-velt shoes, baggy trousers or shrink to fit Levis. Many dancers wore club badges.

The first venue that effectively defined the Northern Soul sound was theTwisted Wheel Club in Manchester. Other early clubs included the Golden Torch in Stoke, the Casino Club in Wigan, Blackpool Mecca, The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, North Park in Kettering, The Mojo and KGB clubs in Sheffield, the Winter Gardens in Cleethorpes (still hosting Northern Soul events today), and Va Va's (where Richard Searling used to DJ).

Northern Soul is possibly the most expensive of musical genres to collect. Hundreds of 7" vinyl records have broken the £1,000 ($2,000) barrier. Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You" sold recently for £15,000 ($30,000). The cost of many records has risen due to rarity, quality of beat, melody and lyrics (often expressing heartache, pain or joy related to romantic love). In recent years, many Northern Soul fans went on to add to their collections and accepted the richer and more complex Modern soul sound in the early-1970s and beyond (eg. Garfield Fleming's "Please Don't Send Me Away").

Many Northern Soul artists sought fame without all of the necessary ingredients in place. Small town low-budget independent labels couldn't provide the necessary promotion and radio play. Many artists went back to their day jobs, considering themselves failures, their records vanishing into obscurity, until they were discovered by the Northern Soul scene. Tunes by the Fascinations and the Velvelettes that were unsuccessful in the the 60’s became top 40 UK hits in the 70’s. The Fascinations made number 30 with "Girls Are Out to Get you" and the Velvelettes made number 35 with "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You."

Some artistes have toured the UK to perform their golden oldies at all-nighters, often many years after the original releases. In the 21st century, rare 1960s soul sounds are still being discovered by devotees, and Northern Soul is going strong right around the world, with strong scenes in Germany and Australia to name but a few places.

written by Peteunea Platter of

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Saturday, 21 November 2009





What people said at our first ever night in June 2009...
`As it`s out in the country this venue is (literally) a breath of fresh air..`
'Enormous potential indeed - great first night and looking good, already looking forward to the next one!'
'Top night! Brilliant music, it was nice to hear some underplayed stuff. Danced all night See you next month`

EASY ACCESS! APPROX 2.5 MILES FROM M1 JUNCTION 29A-3 roundabouts-Left at the first roundabout (Bolsover) -Right at the second roundabout (Bolsover/Chesterfield) -Left at the third roundabout (B6418 Shuttlewood). Drive straight through Shuttlewood-we are on the right.

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