Big Apple Labels And The Dawn Of Soul Music
Fantastic Voyage’s new series, Soul City, explores the music being produced in key centres in the early 1960s, when R&B was evolving into the style that was soon widely referred to as soul. Having kicked off the series in Detroit, we now turn our attention to the Big Apple.
While New York may not have a distinctive musical ‘sound’ or style such as those which more readily identify R&B and soul recordings made in Memphis, New Orleans, Philadelphia or Nashville, the city was the home of countless singers and musicians through the decades, and also a veritable hotbed of independent record labels and producers, all seeking to make their fortunes by creating and promoting the next million-seller. The first step towards this was getting your record into the local radio station chart, hoping to break into what was then (1962) the R&B Top 50. While this may have been an easier process away from the metropolis, the audience was significantly larger and the potential reward greater for those based in the Big Apple, and the artists and tracks in Soul City New York provide a good overview of the range of talent and relative success achieved as the world of rhythm and blues evolved towards soul.
Most of the tracks in this collection, which has been compiled and annotated by soul music authority Clive Richardson, were recorded for independent labels, some of which have grown in reputation over the decades such that they are now regarded as comparable to the majors of that time, and their owners have carved their own niches in the history of soul. More is known of Juggy Murray (Sue), Florence Greenberg (Scepter/Wand) and Bobby Robinson (Fire) than of any executive of Brunswick or Roulette, and their artists have become our heroes in the annals of music history, emerging as they did from the very roots of rhythm & blues/soul music due to their mentors’ ears for talent.
Here are some early tracks cut by Ike & Tina Turner, starting their hit trail on Sue, a range of songs by Chuck Jackson and Tommy Hunt, founding superstars of the soul era, breakthrough hits by the Isley Brothers, landmark recordings by Shep & the Limelites, an array of gospel-soul performances by the emergent Sam & Dave, vibrant vocals from the twilight of Dinah Washington’s career, and hard-to find gems from Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford and collectors’ items from Jackie Wilson and James Ray. Truly a ‘Voyage’ of discovery into the emergence of Soul City New York!
- If (Ike and Tina Turner)
- Mind In A Whirl (Ike and Tina Turner)
- Sleepless (Ike and Tina Turner)
- I’ve Got A Feeling (Baby Washington)
- Come On, Let Me Try (Linda and the Del Rios)
- People Sure Act Funny (Titus Turner)
- Mama, Here Comes The Bride (The Shirelles)
- I Need Your Loving (Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford)
- Honey Sweet (Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford)
- You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (Dinah Washington)
- I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (Tommy Hunt)
- Everybody’s Got A Dance But Me (Big Dee Irwin)
- Sugar Babe (Buster Brown)
- Soul Twist (King Curtis)
- Twist And Shout (The Isley Brothers)
- Time After Time (The Isley Brothers)
- So Tight (The Jokers)
- Everybody Needs Love (Chuck Jackson)
- In Between Tears (Chuck Jackson)
- Daddy’s Home (Shep and the Limelites)
- Oh What A Feeling (Shep and the Limelites)
- If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody (James Ray)
- You Remember The Face (James Ray)
- Who Told The Sandman (Shep and the Limelites)
- No More Pain (Sam and Dave)
- She’s Alright (Sam and Dave)
- I Found Love (Jackie Wilson and Linda Hopkins)
- Just Don’t Care (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)