Home > 60s soul > The Locomotion: 60s Soul – Vol. 3

The Locomotion: 60s Soul – Vol. 3

January 18th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

The third and final part of the ’60s soul series opens the way for my real passion: the soul music of the ’70s, when the sharp suits, raw sexuality and growls of the ’60s gave way to afros, falsettos and flamboyant outfits. In the meantime, enjoy the final eleven classics of ’60s soul.

Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High.mp3
What a trio is credited this slice of soul heaven: the woman who’d proceed to create “Simply The Best”, possibly the ghastliest song created in the ghastly late ’80s; the objectionable Ike Turner; and the guntoting Phil Spector. In fact, Ike had no role in the production of this song, while the expensive crew of session musicians included future legends such as Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. Incredibly, “River Deep, Mountain High” flopped in the US charts, upon which which Spector (who co-wrote it with the people who wrote Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy“) went into exile from producing until the happy experience that was the production of the Beatles’ Let It Be album.

Solomon Burke – Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.mp3
Many people will know this song, with its catchy hook, better as performed by the Blues Brothers in the 1980 movie. Burke’s version of the song, co-written by the legendary Jerry Wexler, was the original, later covered by the Rolling Stones (on their second album; Burke would sing it on the Stones’ Live Licks album a few years ago) and Wilson Pickett. While “Everybody” is a standard Atlantic soul tune, Burke mostly fused soul and country, and dabbled a lot in Gospel (unlike almost every other Gospel singer, Burke is a Catholic who has performed for popes).

Gene Chandler – Duke of Earl.mp3
One of the great sing-along soul numbers and an instantly recognisable hit from 1962, in part thanks to its inclusion in the 1988 version of Hairspray. The Duke was Earl Edwards of the Dukays, who first recorded the song. When the song was discovered by Vee Jay records, the label insisted that the song be released by band member Eugene Dixon (who in the ’50s belonged to a group called the Gaytones!). The Dukays were cool with that, and Dixon changed his name to Gene Chandler. The song became a huge hit, and Chandler — fitted out in posh gear with cane and monocle — became something of a novelty star. In the meantime he continued to collaborate with the soul icons of the Chicago scene, such as Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. By 1970 he had shed much of his earldom, and scored a hit in 1970 with the wonderful “Groovy Situation”, as well as a clutch of disco hits in the late ’70s, while working chiefly as a highly regarded producer.

Dixie Cups – Chapel Of Love.mp3
Another novelty soul hit, much beloved by advertising goons with little originality. Don’t let the novelty value detract from the beauty of this recording, though. Simple as the melody is, and banal as the lyrics are, Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production and vocals compensate for any structural weakness. The song, a hit in 1964 (it sounds older than that) was previously recorded by the Ronettes (for whom the song was written) and the Crystals, also produced by Spector, but these are little known or heard.

Major Lance – Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um.mp3
Major Lance — his real name — was a fixture on the Chicago soul scene, and went to school in the Windy City with Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. The former co-wrote this strangely titled but quite fantastic song with Lance; the Mayfield influence is unmistakable. This kicked-back song, which reminds me of summer, became a hit in 1964. Major Lance continued recording (including a very good comeback album in 1983) and performing until suffering a heart attack in 1987 at the age of 47. He died seven years later.

Jr Walker & The All Stars – What Does It Take.mp3
One of two Motown tracks in this post, “What Does It Take” is a deceptive number. It was covered by Kenny G and Michael Bolton on the former’s thrill-fest of a live album; even these two poodles couldn’t fuck it up. Of course, the 1969 original is infinitely more superior. Junior Walker scored a couple of mostly instrumental hits such as “Roadrunner” and “Shotgun” (on which he performed the vocals by default when the session singer didn’t pitch up). On this Us top 5 hit, Junior’s sax is very much evident, but he also takes the vocals. Walker died in 1995, at the age of 64.

Don Covay & The Good Timers – See Saw.mp3
Don Covay

‘s name is not well-known outside the circle of soul fans, yet his influence was tremendous, and his record of collaborating with future legends almost Zelig-like. Before hitting stardom he was in a band with Marvin Gaye and the scat singer Billy Stewart, who died young in 1970, and toured with Little Richard. Struggling to cut it as a singer, he wrote hits for the likes of Gladys Knight & the Pips and Solomon Burke (and later songs such as “Chain Of Fools” for Aretha Franklin) before releasing in 1964 his debut single on Stax with the Goodtimers (featuring on that record was a young guitarist called Jimi Hendrix). Covay’s breakthrough came in 1965 with “See Saw”, which he wrote with Steve Cropper (whose face fans of The Blues Brothers will recognise).

Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come.mp3
Some people hold that the singer with the greatest influence on soul was James Brown. I think they are wrong. The man who influenced every great soul singer of the ’60s, ’70s and even ’80s, and a good few non-soul singers, was Sam Cooke. Observing soul history casually, it is easy to see why Cooke’s mighty influence can be undervalued. Happy to turn a quick buck, he happily crooned light numbers such as “You Send Me” and “Wonderful World”, and mainstream pop fodder such as “Another Saturday Night” and, deplorably, “Twisting The Night Away”. But hear his gospel-infused soul, raw in melody and smooth in voice, and you’ll know where every soul icon, from Marvin Gaye to Curtis Mayfield, came from. “A Change Is Gonna Come”, from 1962 but released posthumously, is the most famous of these. Hear Cooke’s voice soar as early as the third word of the song, then go soft, incredibly vulnerable, trying to sound optimistic against the hope. Cooke’s influence on soul also includes setting the template for bizarre deaths among the exponents of the genre: he was shot dead in 1964 at 33 under unclear circumstances.

Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You (live).mp3
I’ve posted this before, but in case you missed it: Otis’ incendiary live performance of perhaps his greatest song at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Jimi Hendrix’s legendary status was launched at the festival, while Otis presented us with the evidence for the depth of loss the world of music six months later when a plan carrying Redding crashed on 10 December 1967.

The Elgins – Heaven Must Have Sent You.mp3
The second Motown song in this post, this one written by Holland-Dozier-Holland. The Elgins were the bridesmaids of Motown, never making it big, despite enjoying the loyalty of Berry Gordy. So much faith did Gordy have in the group, that when a group previously known as the Elgins discarded the name to become the Temptations, he in 1964 passed the name on to this group, which had been performing under several monikers. The Elgins were a little unusual in that this male group as of 1965 included a female singer, Saundra Edwards, who took the lead on “Heaven Must Have Sent You” (1966), a delicious and archetypal mid-’60s Motown production. It was one of only two hits for the Elgins, who released only one album on Motown before splitting up in 1968.

Little Eva – The Locomotion.mp3
It is appropriate to finish this series of ’60s soul with a sing that gave its name to London’s great ’60s soul Friday night club of the 1980s, Wendy May’s Locomotion at the Kentish Town & Country Club (which in turn is the reference in the title of this series). The story behind the song is well-known: Carole King and then-husband Gerry Goffin wrote the song for Dee Dee Sharp. They roped in their babysitter to just record the demo, and the label execs liked it so much, they had the sitter record the song (imagine that happening today!). The variation, told by King, goes that she had heard Eva sing and dance in an idiosyncratic manner while cleaning, and wrote a song, this song, especially for her (yes, Kylie did a cover of it almost three decades later). Incidentally, Little Eva was thus named after a character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (an unjustly reviled book, by the way). She died in 2003 at 59.

Previous ’60s soul posts:
The Locomotion Vol.1
The Locomotion Vol.2

Excuse grammatical errors and typos. I’m overripe for bed, and want to get this thing out. I might sub it tomorrow.

  1. Anonymous
    January 23rd, 2008 at 08:21 | #1

    hi .. you have a great blog…by the way .. can you help me.. im looking for a gospel/praise/christian music that i can download . can you please help me.. im looking for it for a week now.. thanks

  2. Fusion 45
    January 26th, 2008 at 01:30 | #2

    You couldn’t make up a better name for a soul singer than Major Lance, now could you? Thanks for this set. Nicely done.

  3. billie
    January 29th, 2008 at 14:20 | #3

    I realize that I’ve heard most of these songs (the original versions), but didn’t know much about who sang them! Thanks for these posts. I enjoyed them!

  4. ally.
    February 8th, 2008 at 10:55 | #4

    fab choices there maestro – i was just thinking of wendy mays do along with ‘i believe in miracles’ and clever old google led me herex

  5. Mick
    February 9th, 2008 at 22:55 | #5

    I grew up with that Major Lance song and I’ve been looking for it for years. Thanks.

  1. No trackbacks yet.