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RnB. The Devil's Music ?

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Before anyone starts ranting that RnB has no place on the scene ...

I'm posting up this topic as I wanted to know members opinions on how they decide what is or what isn't an RnB tune when they hear it at a Northern Soul night.

The roots of Northern Soul can be traced back to early 1960s Mods who listened to American Black Music, and in particular RnB. As someone who discovered the joy of Northern Soul through this route, I'm tired of the continual slagging off that the RnB genre of soul gets on the forum. So my questions are:-

1) How do you define RnB

2) What are your favourite RnB influenced songs

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Here's my response.

I find it frustrating that some tend to define RnB in terms of the few tunes they've heard like Betty O'Brien, Barbara Dane or indeed Marie Knight which ARE NOT RnB. I believe this confusion have come about because DJs renowned for their RnB influenced sets, such as the great Roger Banks, happen to play the aforementioned tunes. Who knows, but the fact Roger may play them doesn't make them RnB.

The trouble with using the term RnB is that everyone's definition seems to be different. Historically RnB is firmly rooted in American Blues of the early 20th century and spawned a multitude of great musicians, from Blind Willie McTell and Skip James, to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, through to legends such as John Lee Hooker and B. B. King.

IMO the defining boundaries of RnB became blurred in the 1960s, not only with the advent of the "Motown" sound, but also the with emergence of white bands heavily influenced by traditional Black American music.

I feel RnB is all to often used on the NS scene just to described any sort of 60s sound with a short, punchy beat that doesn't fit into the mould of the more polished 60's Soul sound. By way of example, I've been told on several occasions that Mickie Champion's "What Good am I" and Ronnie Forte's "Whisky Talkin'" are RnB. Aarrgh - these are great Northern Soul records, but they're not RnB.

I'm not saying I'm right or wrong, but I use the term RnB on the Northern Soul scene to describe 1960s "snappy" music with a "Blues" influence (not sure how else to explain it). Right, or wrong, using this as my definition, my favourites RnB influenced records that I think have a rightful place on the scene include:-

Cleo Randle "Big City Lights"

Amanda Love "Calling Me Her Name"

Betty Everett "Please Love Me"

Jimmy Ricks "Oh What a Feeling"

Little Johnnie Taylor - "Somewhere Down the Line"

Big Daddy Rogers "I'm a Big Man"

Willie Mitchell "That Driving Beat"

oh.. and absolutely anything by Sugarpie DeSanto, Etta James, Mitty Collier, indeed most of the Chess ladies.

Oh jesus - I'm gonna get shot down now by someone saying none of the above have anything to do with RnB - Oh well, I'm open to hearing what everyone has to say on this subject and I've got the Kevlar on in case it gets nasty (see Al, I remembered).

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They're all a damn-sight more RnB than the modern rubbish that gets peddled under the same label. Just take a look in any modern record shop - a whole section of RnB that has absolutely bog all to do with RnB.

All IMHO

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Blues with rhythm, as the title suggests. No strings either?????

What some consider R&B, i.e. Mickie Champion etc I consider straight down the middle uptempo Northern Soul. Don't consider it R&B in the slightest. Tough call really what is and what isn't, at least for us Brits, the Yanks just call it all R&B!!! ;-) We just love to pigeon hole stuff, especially dealers, and especially the indemand stuff as it helps sell other stock.

The out and out R&B or Rock n Soul as some call it has no place in a Northern Room IMO ;-) Not what I want to hear anyway. Went in the R&B room at Prestatyn, about 6 of us, we lasted half a record before we all walked out, f*** knows what was being played but it was utter shit, in our opinions ;-)

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I tend to think that the R&B played today is vital to the scene - good, danceable music!

There are various facets to R&B; most people tend to think of the likes of Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley when it's first mentioned to them. But that's out and out Rhythm n'Blues!! There's also the mod-R&B, by artists like Tommy Tucker etc.

There's also the early '60s type tracks played on the Northern scene, which I think have a slightly different dance beat to them. The tracks I think tend to make good R&B dancers (please correct me if I'm at all wrong!), and also personal faves of mine, are:

MERLE SPEARS & THE TREATS: I Want To Know

PEPPERMINT HARRIS: Wait Until It Happens To You

GLADYS TYLER: A Little Bitty Girl

SAM CHATMON & GWINNY WITHERSPOON: Nobody But Me

THE MARTINELS: I Don't Care

CHARLES SHEFFIELD: It's Your Voodoo Working

LITTLE NICKY SOUL: I Wanted To Tell You

There are more, but they don't immediately spring to mind. But I feel this is a fair representation of the R&B tracks that fit in nicely.

Gene

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Personally i am into good soul music from any era, i have been "accused" of only being into modern or only liking rare expensive records both totally untrue! so heres a few what i consider R n B type things which i have in my own box at home

Jimmy Witherspoon Love me right- prestige

Gillettes Same indentical thing- J&W

Jimmy Robbins Just cant please you-Jerhart

Anna King Mamas got a bag of her own-End

Gladys Tyler Little Bitty Girl-Decca

Jimmy Hughes It aint what you got - Atlantic

Curly Moore You dont mean - Sansu (ok this one is Daves!)

so i'm sure many people will think thats not R n B but they have all got a "certain" grittyness to them but they are deffo not rock and roll type things... ;-) xxx

ps this is all imo! and i'm not trying to tell other people what they should or shoudnt be listening to LIVE AND LET LIVE!!!!!!!

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GOOD TASTE LOUISE.

DEWEY BLACK-TAKIN' LOVE WHERE I FIND IT-REEFLAIR. REALLY GOOD UPTEMPO NOTHERN R & B. HAD IT OVER 10 YEARS STILL SEMI KNOWN.

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I'm always amused by objections to slower R'n'B type-sounds being played and then hearing the detractors calling themselves 'soul fans'. 99% of the greatest soul music ever recorded is, of course, S-L-O-W. A lot of people just want stompers all night, but you should never give people what they want all the time - it's just not good for them!

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Personally i love some of the RnB sound's that are played, But then again i like Rockabilly and Doo Wop as well, I think it's healthy for the scene to have an input of different sounds it stops it going stagnent. I'd hate to think of the comments flying around when 70's soul was first played, But this is now accepted or tolerated without much criticism. If it's got a good dance beat sling it on , Let's face it there are a lot bad soul records that have been played.

My Faves,

Ray Agee- I'm Losing Again.

Bud Harper- Wherever You Were

Jean Dushon- Second Class Lover

Charles Sheffield- Voodoo Working

Jimmy Robbins- Can't Please You

Hayes Cotton- Black Wings

Phil

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The roots of Northern Soul can be traced back to early 1960s Mods who listened to American Black Music, and in particular RnB (Quoted from Kolla)

I think that the above makes a really good point!

As the Northern Soul Scene evolved from Mods in the 60's (Who listened to R& cool.gif I find it difficult to understand people who say that it doesn't belong in a Northern room??

I personally love R&B as well as all those "punchy" things that get labeled with the same tag. But my personal taste covers most early black music.

As for my favourites, it would be easier to name ones I don't like!!

Jodie (& Micky)

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Tommy Williams - Must Be Love - Sue

Little Johnny Clarke - Now Now Now - Sherwood

Lillian Offitt - The Man Won't Work - Chief

Susan King - Building A Wall Around My Heart - Toy

Some proper rnb favorites.....

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The roots of Northern Soul can be traced back to early 1960s Mods who listened to American Black Music, and in particular RnB  (Quoted from Kolla)

I think that the above makes a really good point!

As the Northern Soul Scene evolved from Mods in the 60's (Who listened to R& cool.gif I find it difficult to understand people who say that it doesn't belong in a Northern room??

I personally love R&B as well as all those "punchy" things that get labeled with the same tag.  But my personal taste covers most early black music.

As for my favourites, it would be easier to name ones I don't like!!

Jodie (& Micky)

True as it might be the Northern Scene evolved once it broke away from the Mod scene into it's own identity. Mainly uptempo dance music. Now records with a hard edge have always been spun (Cookie Jackson, Mickie Champion, Mac Saten etc) but over the last few years records with a different beat tempo and usually very early have worked their way onto the scene...I think these are the records we are talking about and either like or dislike.

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Good point Chalky Northern Soul as a entity only really develloped when the blues and rock influences were all but dropped. It's all very well harping back to the olden days when everyone was a mod or wannabe mod but what made Northern special different was that when the Mods experimented with other genres of music Northern developped and was honed and fine tuned at places like the Torch, Cats, Va-Va's, Mecca, Wigan, Cleethorpes into a totally seperate thing from the scene that was around in the days of the Wheel. Of course there are still records from that period that have remained classics throughout the lifetime of Northern but there are many more that were discarded because quite simply they were not Northern at all and my very long winded point is that RnB is just that. A style of music that NS rejected only to be revitalised by old Mod wannabe's and returning geriatric wheelites (Obviously my tongue is firmly in cheek here folks)

Personally i have always liked good RnB but then again i used to listen to and love Joy Division and Killing Joke and in my opinion RnB has as much place on the Northern scene as either of those two. That doesn't make it bad music just not relevant in a Northern Soul context.

John

I'll get me coat............................

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Good point Chalky Northern Soul as a entity only really develloped when the blues and rock influences were all but dropped. It's all very well harping back to the olden days when everyone was a mod or wannabe mod but what made Northern special different was that when the Mods experimented with other genres of music Northern developped and was honed and fine tuned at places like the Torch, Cats, Va-Va's, Mecca, Wigan, Cleethorpes into a totally seperate thing from the scene that was around in the days of the Wheel. Of course there are still records from that period that have remained classics throughout the lifetime of Northern but there are many more that were discarded because quite simply they were not Northern at all and my very long winded point is that RnB is just that. A style of music that NS rejected only to be revitalised by old Mod wannabe's and returning geriatric wheelites (Obviously my tongue is firmly in cheek here folks)

Personally i have always liked good RnB but then again i used to listen to and love Joy Division and Killing Joke and in my opinion RnB has as much place on the Northern scene as either of those two. That doesn't make it bad music just not relevant in a Northern Soul context.

John

I'll get me coat............................

Yep pretty much agree with that John :-) The stuff that has crept in is very blues and rock influenced (rock and soul is one term I saw on a sales list, whatever next :-/ ). Dunno maybe they saw a way of making money by adding a dancable rhythm to the blues songs they were singing.

Like we both said it isn't what Northern Soul evolved into, it left the mods to do their own thing, left the early R&B behind and went for uptempo (sometimes soulful ;-) ) dance music.

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I look at RnB as a welcome addition to the scene Yes, some sounds may be a bit of a burden to the ear but if I don't listen- I miss out. The amount of times in the early days that i shrugged a lot of good tunes because "it wasn't my bag" at the time, just to find that i missed out on a big sound that people would encompass.

It is true about classing it in with Northern but try classing the so-called RnB scene today in America which probably sounds all Hip-hop to others.

Good point though!!!!!

Get me coat, hat AND scarf!!!

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I look at RnB as a welcome addition to the scene  Yes, some sounds may be a bit of a burden to the ear but if I don't listen- I miss out. The amount of times in the early days that i shrugged a lot of good tunes because "it wasn't my bag" at the time, just to find that i missed out on a big sound that people would encompass.

It is true about classing it in with Northern but try classing the so-called RnB scene today in America which probably sounds all Hip-hop to others.

Good point though!!!!!

Get me coat, hat AND scarf!!!

I would sooner give the time to a bad soul record than a R&B record personally. The likes of (IMHO) Bruce Cloud, Nick Lawton and that god awful (IMO) James Duncan with that shite nursery rhyme ;-) are not what in go out to hear. Fully appreciate some do but I just cringe and switch off when they do get played. I also try to avoid certain venues where lots of early R&B will get played, my choice but like I say respect others taste and choice of what they want to hear.

There's 100's of soul and northern soul records that IMO should be getting played before other genres are introduced to the scene.

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There's 100's of soul and northern soul records that IMO should be getting played before other genres are introduced to the scene.

True Chalky,

and when we all spend a lot of time and money chasing the good sounds, the occasional ear-turner crops up.

It is all to do with personal ear and that showed when Gene put the thread up about pre '64 soul which then turned into a sort of mix & match of tastes of the so called "cowboy" variety,lol

How many times have people lifted a bundle of mixed singles to buy and they sound good on the turntable but sound terrible when the business is needed on the dancefloor. I know I have and there will always be somebody there to tell you that they wouldn't have dared to play that.

There are still some great sounds to be brought to the fore on the scene and the dancefloor will always dictate what is THE sound, in that area, in that country.

If i want to collect all chess catalogue because of it's history, I am hardly going to knock back Ramsey Lewis with his Jazz or Chuck Berry because of his style and RnB. It's a buyers (and listeners) market and what rocks ones boat.........

H

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I agree with some of the comments above, particularly that soul music evolved from R&B, through Bobby Bland, Solomon Burke, The Drifters etc. So what exactly is Northern Soul that makes it distinctly different from the above? I particularly like R&B but must admit I couldn't get a handle on a lot of the stuff I heard in the R&B room in Prestatyn. However, a lot of the sounds I heard in the main room were a bit vapid to my ear. One room that was constantly full and dancing was the 'oldies' room that I thought had a great mixture of music, including a lot I had not heard before! I honestly can't understand why people get so worked up about labelling music. Either I like listening/dancing to it or I don't, if I don't, something I do like is bound to come along soon. It would seem to be asking a bit much for a DJ to play only the stuff that I like as if he would know! In my opinion the variety that there is around now is great and much better overall than the music I heard played in clubs in the 'old' days.

SLIM

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Took me a while to get into it but much prefer it to alot of stuff that get's played.

Dislikes ( played in the name of RnB ) are :

Lou Lawton ....Nick nack patty wack.

Charles Sheffield... Voodoo workin

Don Gardner ....My baby likes to boogaloo

Helen Troy...I think i love you ..( God damn awful record )

James Duncan .... Three little pigs

A good RnB track you don't often hear is The Carter Brothers... So Glad she's mine... Jewel.

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Jodie (& Micky)

Is Micky your parner or the lovely little dog in the picture?

Talking of Northern Soul Canines, can any one else remember Keb Darge taking his dog to the Fleet niters (around 1986 or was that just one chemical too many?!!!)

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Shame on you Hippo - that's no way to talk about Keb's past romances!!!!

Back on the RnB topic - thanks everyone for the feedback so far. It's definately different strokes for different folks. As is, it was a love of 60s RnB as a wee lass that lead me down the progressive path to Northern Soul where I am now which I guess is why, for me, it doesn't sound out of place on the Scene. I'll also agree though that some of the records played under the banner of RnB are just plain ridiculous. But ho-hum.

It actually took a heck of a lot longer for me to understand and appreciate anything past 1970. As some, like Chalky, don't see a place on the scene for RnB ... I've never been able to see the logical step from 1960s Soul to Crossover. For years I had to run out of the room everytime I heard "Janice" , "Heaven in the afternoon", "Love is Serious Business" and "Never had a love so good" - that song that repeats the same 4 organ chords over and over again.

However, after listening to a zillion compilation tapes made by friends in their attempt to win me over... I finally cracked a few years ago and can say that I love a lot of Modern soul now.

I do still hate those four songs - some records are just never going to be your friend, but as much as I don't like Crossover soul, I do see its place on the scene :)

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When I first started going to Northern soul alldayers, before progressing on to allnighters, people wanted to argue about 60s v 70s (or disco). I didnt really understand the difference, and if it was a good track I would dance. Whether it was Adams Apples or Tavares - Heaven must be missing an angel, both were popular, and both to me were great soul records.

When Stafford opened I went along having just got my head around the difference between most 60s and 70s records. NOW WHAT. Blinkin 80s records, and mid tempo, and RnB, and latin, all thrown in to confuse me even more. God it got so you didnt know what a soul record was. If everyone there had split into their little factions it would have needed the league of nations to intervene.

The point I am eventually trying to make is, the Stafford crowd were up for hearing top quality RARE soul. It didnt matter, on the whole, what genre it was, it just had to be quality. For me Bud Harper, mentioned earlier, is a superb slice of Northern Soul. It hadnt ever crossed my mind that it was RnB until it was mentioned. Likewise Charles Johnson is a superb Northern Soul track, (sorry Kolla), up there with the very best.

Living in London now, I get to hear an awful lot more RnB than I did living in the west country, and although I am probably not a great fan of it, there are some great tracks played on the scene. It is easy to criticise a record you dont like because it is RnB, and say, why waste time playing rock n roll when they could play a soul record instead. ( I am just as guilty of that as the next person) Because, RnB, then becomes an easy target. What we as punters at soul do's want it to hear our fave tunes, and maybe some new songs that sound great from the first time you hear them.

eg one of my most vivid memories at Stafford is the first night I heard 'suspicion'. The guy in front of me sung everyword. Eyes shut, totally lost in the glory of that record. OK it may be played to buggery now, but at the time it was a fantastic, hairs on the back of your neck record, whether or not it was rnb, motown, or what ever.

So IMHO I just want to hear quality soul tunes, regardless of when it was made, and what genre, but if you could play a little less rock n roll, that would be nice ;-)

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Is Micky your parner or the lovely little dog in the picture?

Talking of Northern Soul Canines, can any one else remember Keb Darge taking his dog to the Fleet niters (around 1986 or was that just one chemical too many?!!!)

Ho Ho!

Mick is my other half, although there is a slight resemblance now you mention it but only from the neck down (You'd understand if you saw him)

Don't know what the dog's name is, just thought he was pretty

Jodie

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Couldn't have phrased it better myself Mikey and completely with ya on the last comment too -

"I just want to hear quality soul tunes, regardless of when it was made, and what genre, but if you could play a little less rock n roll, that would be nice."

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I remember Keb bringing his dog to nites and niters in 1986!! Cute little thing he was too. I remember the tag Keb made him wear; "No. 1 Dog"!!!

Gene

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Anyone remember the Stafford v Morecambe rivalry? I always enjoyed hearing arguments about the relative merits of each one with, occasionally, rival fans practically frothing at the mouth as they attacked or defended each venue's music policy. Certainly at the time, the Staffs R'n'B-type sounds were considered very heretical by the Morecambe crowd (Arthur Alexander records!! Latin!! Slowies!!). And with all the anti-R'n'B types out there, there hasn't been much progress in 20 years it seems! Oh, and is it only me, but is it usually mods or ex-mods who are the main R'n'B fans?

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