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.
It surprised me that I haven't done a column completely dedicated to male soul singers, as I've already done one on the females - quite some time ago. Thus today I'm going to rectify that oversight.
Naturally, with today's title it's axiomatic that I begin with the soul men themselves, SAM AND DAVE.
That not only describes them, it's also the name of the song. Well, nearly, it's actually Soul Man.
OTIS REDDING is guaranteed to be present today.
There are scores of his songs that I'd be happy to include but I'll go with the first one he recorded. This was after some other performer's session had ended and there was still time on the clock and Otis pretty much said, "I have a song, could we do it?"
First take, cut, released and a classic was created. He was backed by the band in the studio, Booker T and the MGs. It was far from the last time they performed together. These Arms of Mine.
The next song is indelibly associated with Otis but others have performed it too. One of the best of those is ARTHUR CONLEY.
Arthur is best known for his song Sweet Soul Music where he name checks the best of the soul singers. Naturally, he left himself off the list, but perhaps he should have been included.
Let's see what he does with I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now), a song written by Otis and Jerry Butler.
CLARENCE CARTER was born blind but he didn't let that set him back.
After achieving a degree in music, he began singing professionally with Calvin Scott as Clarence & Calvin later shortened to the C & C Boys (a bit unfortunate, that name).
He began a solo career when Calvin was seriously injured in a car accident. Clarence has recorded a bunch of songs and has had several that crossed over on to the pop charts, including Patches, Too Weak to Fight and the one we have today, Slip Away.
Z.Z. HILL, like many soul singers, began his career in a gospel group, in his case The Spiritual Five.
Later he performed in clubs around Dallas until Otis Redding caught his act and encouraged him to record. Z.Z. went to Los Angeles and joined his brother, who fortuitously, was a record producer.
Z.Z. brought a more blues sound to his soul music, which is no bad thing. You can hear that, as well as some gospel, in Ain't Nothing You Can Do.
I've stated before that James Brown learnt pretty much his entire act from DON COVAY.
He wasn't particularly grateful as he tried to shoot Don once (he missed).
I've always preferred Don as a performer, which might be the reason I keep mentioning that story. As well as singing, Don was a writer of songs, both for himself and others – Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones and Solomon Burke are only a few who have covered his songs.
Here, he gets a bit of a surprise in his song I Was Checkin' Out She Was Checkin' In.
The life of Overton Vertis Wright, generally known as O.V. WRIGHT rather parallels that of Z.Z. Hill.
In O.V.'s case, he was from Tennessee and the gospel groups he fronted were The Sunset Travelers and later The Harmony Echoes. He was in the latter group with James Carr, one of the all time finest soul singers.
O.V.'s first recorded song was That's How Strong My Love Is, later covered by Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Percy Sledge and many others. Today he sings He Made Woman For Man, that sounds rather gospelly to me.
Okay, this next one isn't entirely a soul man – we have both genders here today. This song has always tickled me but I know others don't like it. You can make up your own mind.
In the eighties one of the more interesting soul singers was RICHARD FIELDS. He generally went by the nickname Dimples because he had (and I bet you can't guess) dimples.
One of his most interesting albums from that time was called "Dimples" which I have on vinyl, but I haven't seen on CD (but it's probably out there somewhere).
From that record is a song I think is a real hoot called She's Got Papers on Me. Listening to it the first time, you think that it's just another conventional soul song until towards the end when we get a bit of a swerve to the left when BETTY WRIGHT joins the party.
JAMES & BOBBY PURIFY were James Purify and his cousin Robert Dickey. In later years Ben Moore took over as the second Bobby Purify.
Most of us are probably familiar with the song, Shake a Tail Feather, particularly the version by Ray Charles, even if just from the "Blues Brothers" film. He wasn't the first to record it though, that was The Five Du-Tones.
Some years later James and Bobby tackled the song and did a really good job of it. See what you think.
JOE SIMON may not be a household name but he's had dozens of hits that made both the pop and R & B charts over the years.
I won't even try to list those, or even the most significant ones. I'll just play the song I selected, Message from Maria.
Here is a very late bonus track. I only learned about this band last Saturday as Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I were driving to the South Melbourne Market.
This song came on the radio and we wondered who it was, it was so good. Several different people were suggested by us but we were wrong because it turned out to be someone we hadn't heard of. They are THE TESKEY BROTHERS.
These are young folks from Warrandyte, an outer suburb of Melbourne, home of great wines, gorgeous scenery and now, terrific music in the form of Pain and Misery. It demonstrates that the young folks are still producing wonderful music.