I'm a huge fan of soul music, especially the type that gets you off your feet. But man, I'm an equal fan of the mellow sounds, especially when I'm at home with the lights dim and a nice drink in my hand. Now, I've mentioned before my Top 10 mellow songs, more in a folk/country vein, but let's get into the slow soul grooves.
The following list is definitely not complete and there's a lot missing (i.e., Curtis Mayfield, The Temptations, Aretha), but I just wanted to get into what I was digging on today with a mix of old AND new soul sounds. So, relax, take a load off, and if you're able to, grab a glass of wine and mellow down easy as I present to you my Top 10 Stone Cold Soul Grooves (in no particular order, of course):
1. The Superlatives - I Don't Know How (To Say I Love You) - Listen, when my wife first moved in with me, she brought a lot of things into my life: love, companionship, help with washing the dishes... and this amazing 45! As soon as she first stepped through that door and dumped her record boxes onto the floor, I dropped her suitcase, accidentally pushed her to the side, and delved into those boxes. And this song was the cream of that crop!
2. Solomon Burke - Fast Train - It's well known that Solomon Burke has a solid catalogue of amazing soul songs from the 1960s. But have you explored his work in the 2000s? Oh man, this song (written by Van Morrison!) is a strong example of an old soul moving his sound forward. Slow, sparse, with a steady build up, this songs hits just right. The rest of this album (Don't Give Up On Me) is highly worth checking out as well. Hey, if it's good enough for The O.C.'s Peter Gallagher, then it's good enough for you!
3. The Spinners - Bad, Bad Weather - Aw man... do I even need to write anything about this one? Come on... how can you beat a line like "now my little room reminds me of Londontown, when the evening sun goes down, and it's cold and misty and oh so foggy and it's hard to find my way around"?
4. Candi Staton - You Don't Have Far To Go - Another example of a 1960s soul star doing what she does best TODAY. That nice, steady, building beat is in full force on this song with great back-up vocals and strong horns. Can we all just forget that 1980s over-production on soul songs ever happened? Too many soul stars fell victim to that back then, but now, mistakes have been learned!
5. Darondo - True - Uh huh, oh yeah... sometimes, you just need a little funk with your mellow groove. And it don't get much funkier than this Oaktown soul man's track. If you have that glass of wine in your hand, whatever you do DON'T get up and walk around! Otherwise, your hips might start shakin' and your back might be movin', and you just might spill that drink all over the place!
6. Nick Lowe - Homewrecker - Yup, I'm including Nick Lowe on this list. Nick Lowe has written some amazing music over the years, but his greatest song, 'What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding', was featured on The Bodyguard soundtrack. Big deal, right? Well, the money he received from those royalties enabled him to not have to worry about selling hits again, instead concentrating on just making good music on his own terms. And songs like this are the result of that.
7. Donny Hathaway & June Conquest - I Thank You - Donny Hathaway put out one of my most favorite live soul albums, Live, back in 1972. But dig on this punchy number with June Conquest from a couple of years earlier. Once featured on the Derek's Daily 45 blog and for good reason... pure Chi-Town sweet soul!
8. Laura Lee - Dirty Man - Just a powerful song about a strong woman ridding herself of a cheatin' man. A strong Muscle Shoals backing help bring out the grit behind Laura Lee's voice as she kicks this fellow out onto the curb. Ladies, hopefully it doesn't happen to you, but if you are ever wronged, just take some inspiration from this song.
9. Sugar Billy - Super Duper Love - One of my most favorite soul songs, EVER. Slinking guitar licks, funky drumming, blasting organ, rolling horns, and Sugar Billy's unabashed declaration of love kill me every time I hear this. This is the kind of guy Laura Lee needs after that last song! Both parts are here for your pleasure.
10. Eli Reed - Am I Wasting My Time? - Another newer soul track, this time from young soul man, Eli Reed. A strong voice with great instrumental backing shine through on this one.
BONUS TRACK: 11. Lorraine Ellison - Stay With Me Baby - Okay, I had to throw this one in there! I ain't even gonna talk about it. Let it speak for itself. (And afterward, compare it to the Terry Reid version to keep the awesome moving!)
Alright, that's it for today. Hope these songs hit the spot for you!