Sunday, 16 December 2012
ELDER MUSIC: Blue Eyed Soul
This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Blue Eyed Soul is a term coined or, at least used, to refer to such artists as the Righteous Brothers, the Rascals and others. These were white performers who not just sang soul songs but were imbued with the soul ethos. The column today is about such artists.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I think that EDDIE HINTON is the best white soul singer ever, so it’s appropriate we start with him.
Eddie was most notably a session guitarist, He played at Muscle Shoals and he backed Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Elvis, Joe Tex, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Arthur Conley, The Staple Singers, Boz Scaggs and many, many more.
He was also a songwriter of some note. He made a few albums, only a few, but they are all classics. Unfortunately, he rather liked booze and drugs far too much. He died of life at age 51.
Here Eddie sings and plays piano and guitar on I'll Come Running Back to You.
Coming in closely behind Eddie is DELBERT McCLINTON.
Delbert is not just a soul singer, he’s also one of the best country singers around and can perform rock & roll with the best of them. He even veers towards jazz at times as well. You can hear what I mean in a column about him I’ve already done.
Here he performs one of the great Otis Redding’s songs, I've Got Dreams to Remember.
TONY JOE WHITE is up there with Eddie and Delbert. Actually, pretty much everyone today fits into that category - that’s why they’re here.
Tony Joe White can entertain an audience with just his guitar and himself singing; I know because I’ve been there. He’s worth seeing if he’s ever in your neck of the woods. There’s a bit of a theme going here and Tony also tackles one of Otis’s songs, Hard to Handle.
JOE COCKER certainly deserves inclusion in this category.
Anyone who could take a throw-away song Paul and John wrote for Ringo and turn it into a soul classic is definitely in. However, I’m not using that song, you all know it so well, I expect. (Just in case, it is I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends.)
Instead, I’ve decided to use the Randy Newman song. Guilty.
THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS really didn’t get along with Phil Spector, the creator of their earliest hits. Not really surprising.
So, as soon as was possible, when their contract was up, they left and created their own music. They did learn a lot about music production from Spector though and their subsequent records are almost indistinguishable from those that Spector produced.
This is one of those, Soul and Inspiration.
MAX MERRITT was born in New Zealand and when he pretty much had done everything he could in that country he relocated to Australia. Like all great Kiwi imports, we call them our own (we disown the problematic ones).
Max and his band The Meteors have always been a group that played rhythm & blues and soul music. They had great success with covers of such songs but their biggest hit was one of Max’s own songs, Slipping Away.
THE RASCALS started as the Young Rascals due to a dispute over who owned the name.
They were all originally from New Jersey and like a lot of bands initially started out by performing cover versions. Again, like many others they began to write and perform their own material including the beautiful song Groovin’ which was probably their biggest hit.
The song today was also a huge hit but is not one of their compositions. It’s a far superior version to the original by The Olympics. Good Lovin'.
DELANEY BRAMLETT first came to my notice as a duet act with his wife at the time. They were Delaney and Bonnie, and a fine act they were.
They were part of the bunch of musicians that revolved around Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and Eric Clapton in the early seventies. In fact, Eric toured with them and can be heard on their really fine live album.
Delaney and Bonnie made two or three really good albums at that time but they split up after a while. Here is Delaney with Bonnie, singing Let Me Be Your Man.
I’m going to cheat a bit with HALL & OATES because they have the help of some “real” soul singers on this track.
They are David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick, both of whom have sung lead vocals for The Temptations. That will be obvious as they perform a medley of Temptations’ songs.
Daryl and John do rather take a bit of a back seat on this track but they are in there somewhere. That’s okay. I know I could have chosen a track of theirs on their own but I like this one.
Here they all are with Apollo Medley – several songs from The Temptations’ catalogue.
It’s hard to categorise DAN PENN.
He’s written so many songs, songs you’d recognise, so many great ones that you could just call him a songwriter. Dan’s also a record producer and he performs as well, usually with his friend and often writing partner, Spooner Oldham.
He (and they) sing soul, blues, country. Whatever they feel like. The song today was recorded so marvellously by James Carr that it’s really pointless having anyone else perform it. Of course, that’s not going to happen, there are hundreds of versions of the song out there.
However, Dan wrote it (with Chips Moman) so he’s entitled: The Dark End of the Street.
Goodness, that got away from me before I had a chance to include female singers. There’s a bunch I had in mind so that’s going to be another column. Obviously, the A.M. wasn’t looking over my shoulder on this one.