Soul Unsung: Reflections on the Band in Black Popular Music

Soul Unsung: Reflections on the Band in Black Popular Music

by Kevin Le Gendre


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The history of soul music has been defined, first and foremost, by a succession of exceptional vocalists. It is impossible to conceive of the genre without them. This does not mean, however, that those who back singers, those who play instruments—bassists, drummers, guitarists, keyboardists and saxophonists—were reduced to nothing other than walk on parts. If Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding were able to move audiences, then their band members and arrangers, the likes of King Curtis and Booker T. Jones, played a key role in creating tracks that had commensurate emotional depth and technical ingenuity. These lesser known figures have heightened our listening pleasure.

In Soul Unsung, Kevin Le Gendre celebrates the contribution made by instrumentalists to soul. He analyses, in forensic detail, the inspiring creativity and imagination that several generations of musicians have brought to black pop, and highlights how they have broadened its sound canvas by adopting unusual stylistic approaches and embracing the latest available technology. This book offers insights into the state of contemporary soul and its relationship with jazz, rock and hip-hop. It is precisely because soul has not evolved in a vacuum that it has a canon that is enviably rich in variety.

Soul Unsung shines a light on the plethora of mesmerising sounds that constitute this heritage and explains why they affect the listener as much as a great singer. Placing the focus squarely on the band, Le Gendre sets out to change perceptions of one of the great forms of expression to have marked popular culture in the twentieth century, so that those who play are given, alongside those who sing, their rightful place in the pantheon of contemporary music.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845535438
Publisher: Equinox Publishing
Publication date: 12/12/2012
Series: Popular Music History Series
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kevin Le Gendre is a journalist and broadcaster with a special interest in black music. Deputy editor of Echoes, he contributes to a wide range of publications that include Jazzwise, Music Week, Vibrations and The Independent On Sunday and also appears as a commentator and critic on radio programmes such as BBC Radio 3's Jazz On 3 and BBC Radio 4's Front Row. Kevin also presented Now's The Time, a weekly two hour jazz programme on BBC London between September 2000 and November 2002. The ethos of the show was to reflect contemporary improvised music in its entirety and this inclusive, ecumenical approach to jazz - thinking beyond categories - has also been a decisive rule of thumb in Kevin's work in the media to date.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. What is this thing called Soul?
3. Aged in soul
4. The Soul-jazz continuum
5. The Soul-funk continuum
6. The Soul-rock continuum
7. A recipe from Memphis
8. A half a teacup of bass
9. A pound of fatback drums
10. Four tablespoons of boiling Memphis guitar
11. Just a little pinch of organ
12. A half pint of horn
13. We gonna tell you right now
14. One final Ingredient
15. A recipe not from Memphis
16. Universoul sounds I
17. Universoul sounds 2
18. Soulful house/Techno soul/Hip-hop soul
19. Divorcing Neo To Marry Soul
20. Soul is stranger than fiction
21. A Memphis aftertaste.

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