Happy New Year
I think it's been a vintage year for books on the history of soul music. As the original soul music generation mature some of them are using their knowledge and passion to produce some fantastic, well written books that have all ready provided me with hours of enjoyment. I've chosen four so plenty of scope for others to add their preferences.
1. Spinning Around - The History of The Soul LP A-K by John Lias.
Lias emerges as a major writer on soul music and by focusing on the Soul LP fills a significant gap. The ambition and hard work in listening to every soul LP in what must be a vast collection really paid off impressively. Lias is opinionated, witty and above- all knowledgeable. The list of acknowledgements includes doyens of writing such as Sirshambling and David Cole . It's a tour-de-force on the subject and at £20 quite honestly a snip.
2. That There's That Beat! Guide to the Philly Sound by Dave Moore and Jason Thornton
At 700 plus pages this is surely the most comprehensive book ever published on the subject of the Philadelphia music. It also takes an historical perspective before focusing on soul music as it charts the city's soulful journey from the churches to the charts and dance-floors. Beautifully designed, lavishly produced and meticulously researched with numerous entries on artists, producers, musicians, DJs and even a few dealers its surely a must-have for soul music fans especially those who favour northern soul. Its not a cheap publication though.
3. Scepter Wand Forever : The History of Scepter Records - Steve Guarnori
I've not had this book long but all ready its well thumped. Another fine achievement from a respected writer. It follows Scepter from the beginning to its demise in the mid 70s more or less chronologically. Its packed with so many facts about the artists that its almost overwhelming. Hardly anyone is omitted and even labels associated or distributed by Scepter are included. There's lots of new research and fascinating pictures. I do get the impression that Guarnori almost lost control of the project such is its ambition but what he's produced is quality. A superb effort.
4. Travelling Soul: The Life of Curtis Mayfield by Todd Mayfield and Travis Atria - An excellent insight into the life and music of a soul maestro.
Please feel free to add your choices