Jump to content
  • Sign Up
BabyBoyAndMyLass

Precisely what is it...?

Recommended Posts

The variety of instrumentation and quality of musicianship are definitely aspects that add longevity to my enjoyment of the music.  That's along with the vocal parts, the orchestration, the arrangements, the heartfelt songwriting - there is an endless variety under the banner of Northern Soul to me.  The core soulfulness extends across a range of genres encompassing on various songs aspects of blues, funk, disco, country, pop, garage rock, latin, doo-wop, psychedelia, MOR, orchestral music, gospel and much more.  The focus of the music always draws back to soulful dance, creating something unique I think.  Other dance music forms get more specialised and narrow but ours evolves, extends and grows without losing the soulful core that we all appreciate and return to.

 

It can't always be the variety of instrumentation though, a song such as 'Sister Lee' barely has any instruments at all but is definitively Northern Soul. 

 

On the other hand many Big City soul epics or 70's Philly songs are masterpieces of arrangement and instrumentation.  I like that Northern Soul is ultimately based only fundamentally on words 'rare dance soul' - we might not all like the forms incorporated into Northern Soul, but over time they find their place whether it is 1980s synth based soul, late 1950s popcorn, 1970's funk or 1960's sunshine pop.  Each has had songs that become part of Northern Soul, enjoyed by some and rejected by others.

 

There are instruments closely identified to Soul, especially Northern Soul and I'd call out the Vibes as a good example of that.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Winsford Soul said:

I really can't explain why I love this music. It's just got something that I can't explain.  It's always been there for me, no matter what life has thrown at me and I've been through some shit times and its always there, makes me laugh, makes me cry, occasionally makes me dance. How can people not be moved by the tortured vocals of Levi Stubbs for example  or the sublime productions from Philadelphia or Detroit  .All i do know is that I've got it, most people won't get it and they never will. 

Steve 

Nail on the head steve 👍.atb m8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Instrumentals are tricky as another current thread shows.  How can a pop MOR track such as Mike Vickers 'On The Brink' be Northern Soul?

 

Leaving that example behind.... I do believe instrumentals can be soulful - take the vocals off Al Green's Hi Records or the backing track instrumentals from Detroit by Darrell Banks and J. J. Barnes (to name but two) and they still have that space and warmth of soul.

 

'Feel' is perhaps one of the hardest things to explain. The Sky TV programme on drumming is a good example at present, there were endless rock drummers pounding it out then Bill Withers' drummer came on and his groove, economy and feel were the essence of soulfulness. That set of shows has had on Bernard Purdie, others from Motown and James Brown still alive - who really demonstrate that the feel of Soul is evident even in one instrument.

 

Feel free to disagree, this is just third-coffee Sunday waffling.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the beautiful melodies (e.g. different combinations of notes played by instruments ans sung by peoples' voices), and the different blending of all those sounds.  I like the varying structures of songs, with different timing of changing the types of "musical phrases".  I was introduced to Black American music, from my parents' turntable and 1930s and '40s 78 RPM records, whose sound I LOVED, and I hated the Country & Western music played on the radio there.  I also like a lot of European Classical music, and also am luke warm or dislike a fair amount of it.  I like the instrumentation in a lot of MOR/Pop music, but dislike much of the singing.  I like lots of eastern Asian, Middle Eastern and middle ages European music, and Scottish and Bulgarian bagpipe playing.  I like traditional Irish and Scottish music.  Basically, I like happy melodies best, but I also like minor-key driven Blues.  I like Gospel music.  Lyrics are almost a non-factor for me.  One of my favourite tunes is the former national anthem of The Soviet Union, though I disliked that government and all they stood for, intensely.  Same for  der Kaiser's Prussian national anthem, whose tune was adapted for that of Nazi Germany (despite my being Jewish, and having had half of my extended family murdered by The  Nazis).

 

So, the TUNE is the most important - how it is written by the writers, arranged by the arrangers, played by the instrument players, and sung by the singers.  I will listen to ANY music.  Whether or not, and to what degree I will like it, will depend upon those factors listed above.  I like, and dislike music from most genres.  I do dislike ALL so-called music from a few genres.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Gold Band said:

It's records like this just wish I could own or at least have a decent copy the atmosphere when this is played is electric!!!

 

 

 

 

Kirsty

Couldn’t get the link to play on the iPad, but this is one of the best records ever spun on the scene, made for audience participation and as you say, hugely atmospheric.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 30/09/2018 at 12:03, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

That you love about the music? I'm after personal takes on the sounds we enjoy, purely for my own curiosity.

 

Firstly I'm talking about Northern Soul, we can talk about the whole gamut but I'm talking Northern...

 

For me one of the major factors is the interesting and varied instrumentation, the brass, how I love the brass, I'm bored with the electric guitar having been around it in my job my whole life since age thirteenish, I love the brass taking the lead in soul, it's uplifting, has major impact and really bursts out of any mix, don't get me wrong I love the electric guitars' role in soul, that chinking sound that's so reminiscent of a hammer striking metal, in a lifetime of playing in professional bands I have yet to meet a guitarist who can properly do that chinking upstroke, very rare and unknown in Rock or Rock n Roll, love that!

 

The Glock and the Xylophone, both feature in the Northern soul sound try The High Keys 'Livin a lie' there are many more examples.

 

There are Harpsichords, Clavinovas, all kinds of use of the bass keys on Piano, if you can strike or even bash a key it'll be on a soul record!

 

Bass guitar, obviously a huge feature of any genre of dance music, the range of imagination exhibited with this instrument in soul is mind blowing, some records like the King Cobras for example the bass player is clearly a novice, very little technical ability is evident but hell, what a driving sound! Some soul bass lines are sublime, MVPs a great example as is Jackie Lees' 'Oh my darling' incredibly good.

 

Vincent Bell was a session guitarist I think from Nashville, correct me if I'm wrong, he had this idea of creating a guitar that was played and tuned like a guitar but made a buzzy sound a bit like a Sitar, made by Danelectro from compressed cardboard it's hollow body and bizarre arrangement of drone strings make it a real curio, the Vincent Bell Coral Sitar is featured on many, many records, usually in an upfront role, try Benny Troy 'I wanna give you tomorrow' various Archie Bells, Freda Payne, get your ear accustomed to it, now you know what it is you'll hear it in many soul tunes, perhaps you didn't know it was there or thought it was some weird effects pedal, it isn't (although nowadays Danelectro markets the 'Sitar Swami' pedal to create the sound it isn't the same), I went to great lengths to get my Coral Sitar 60s original.

 

I won't bang on too much I'll save some info for any questions that may arise about instrumentation on specific tracks.

 

So that may explain to one or two folks why I so adore some Blue-eyed stuff that isn't classed as cool anymore. So let's have your take on the music, why it means so much, and it does, I've rarely met music lovers with the same level of passion about their music as the soul crowd, it can be anything, the moving vignettes, the superb vocals and harmonies, the memories it triggers, whatever it is I'm sure we want to hear it, examples posted most welcome too! 

I've just spotted my long lost hair on that video.

 

Edited by El Corol
Spellcheck

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/09/2018 at 13:09, Winsford Soul said:

I really can't explain why I love this music. It's just got something that I can't explain.  It's always been there for me, no matter what life has thrown at me and I've been through some shit times and its always there, makes me laugh, makes me cry, occasionally makes me dance. How can people not be moved by the tortured vocals of Levi Stubbs for example  or the sublime productions from Philadelphia or Detroit  .All i do know is that I've got it, most people won't get it and they never will. 

Steve 

Get what?

:huh:

Len :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first started noticing the music it wasnt called anything other than soul . For me it was just a natural cultural progression fron Skinhead to Suedehead to soul music , stuff you could dance to .

I love all different types of music but soul music is special and what we call northern soul is tied up with so many happy memories that it holds a special place for me , musically its not all that  but even the most dire tunes in the right context and atmosphere can sound magnificent .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Peter99 said:

Sometimes attempting to over intellectualise things takes all the fun and mystique away. Innit.

Yes Pete I agree with you completely, it doesn't have to be intellectual or analytical, as I said initially it can be a feeling, a memory triggered, like Steve S said his mind is bypassed and the body and soul just takes over and the urge to just get up and dance is what drives him. My take on why I like it comes from the fact that I work in music and am just surrounded by it to the point of extreme boredom, the soul holds my interest because it's so different for the reasons I outlined.

We would like to hear what has kept you with it for what amounts to a whole lifetime, whether gut feeling or whatever.

I would wholeheartedly agree though that knowing what is going on inside the music definitely does erode the mystique and becoming good at analysing and arranging music definitely does affect the enjoyment.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Soulfusion said:

The horn section, it grabbed the teenage me and has remained ever since. Even the simple harp raises the quality to your average blues tune.

Real instrumentation on wax is timeless.

Steve

The Blues Harp, or the Diatonic Harmonica for those who may confuse the term 'Harp' with the stringed instrument is as expressive as the electric guitar and for some like myself is way preferable. Huge fan of Sonny Terry, Little Walter, Rice Miller, Jimmy Reed, all the Blues Harp greats!

Agree with you about the Brass, marvellous! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great question...music is a time capsule for we can all remember where we were,and what we were doing when our favorite song came out...for me it's the flute of[Herbie Mann]the eternal trumpet of[Miles]the too soothing guitar of[Wes],the five part harmonies of the Temptin Temptations-the sweet raw soul of Etta James and Aretha-the too smooth interplay of lyrics of Smokey-the  funk of James Brown-the sweet sexy Mary Wells-the beauty of high pitched harmony from The Impressions-Minnie Riperton taking us on notes so high we may never come down-the comedic Coasters keeping us laughing and dancing-the smooth but powerful soul of Marvin Gaye-a love message from Barry White-the southern soul funk of Al Green-the always hip O'Jays..music can take you anywhere you wanna go without actually going anywhere!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  Sign up/in to remove

On 03/10/2018 at 16:02, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

The Blues Harp, or the Diatonic Harmonica for those who may confuse the term 'Harp' with the stringed instrument is as expressive as the electric guitar and for some like myself is way preferable. Huge fan of Sonny Terry, Little Walter, Rice Miller, Jimmy Reed, all the Blues Harp greats!

Agree with you about the Brass, marvellous! 

 

The old KIng Biscuit Boy himself . Rice Miller AKA Sonny Boy Williamson , just love this track got it all

Unusually plays a 12 hole diatonic sometimes , gives it that low growly tone

Edited by Mark S

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Mark S said:

 

The old KIng Biscuit Boy himself . Rice Miller AKA Sonny Boy Williamson , just love this track got it all

Unusually plays a 12 hole diatonic sometimes , gives it that low growly tone

More properly named 'Sonny Boy Williamson the second'.

Rice Miller adopted the moniker after Sonny Boy's death in 1948, touring under the name, eventually he was outed as a pretender. The real Sonny Boy was a guy named Lee Curtis and was in the style of the Country Blues like Sonny Terry, whereas Miller's style was the Chicago style. Here's one from the real Sonny Boy. King Biscuit Boy is an interesting one as it was the moniker given to Harp players who toured with the King Biscuit promotional roadshow. There also exists a 'King Biscuit Boy' who recorded under that name a Canadian Bluesman by the name of Richard Newell active from the early fifties on, he passed in 2003. Interesting post Mark, do you play any Blues Harp yourself?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting posts so far, ranging from technical aspects of the music that make it appealing to pure gut instinct and emotion, all equally valid of course. Music moves people in different ways...

Makes a cool study into the human mind and how the individual processes the sound/feelings and how it models a personal preference for different kinds of sounds.

Now if we could only formulate it into a usable form we could write some music that people would respond to and buy, to quote the great Brian Wilson 'Wouldn't it be nice?'

Nice thread so far, thanks everyone! :hatsoff2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, BabyBoyAndMyLass said:

More properly named 'Sonny Boy Williamson the second'.

Rice Miller adopted the moniker after Sonny Boy's death in 1948, touring under the name, eventually he was outed as a pretender. The real Sonny Boy was a guy named Lee Curtis and was in the style of the Country Blues like Sonny Terry, whereas Miller's style was the Chicago style. Here's one from the real Sonny Boy. King Biscuit Boy is an interesting one as it was the moniker given to Harp players who toured with the King Biscuit promotional roadshow. There also exists a 'King Biscuit Boy' who recorded under that name a Canadian Bluesman by the name of Richard Newell active from the early fifties on, he passed in 2003. Interesting post Mark, do you play any Blues Harp yourself?

 

Yes I play a bit of the old gob organ , baritone ukulele , tenor guitar and currently restoring a mandolin 

20180829_144446.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bit of background and a lot of rambling before getting into the soul,I love music, always have done from an early age, we always had brass instruments in the house as my Dad played in several brass bands, one of big regrets not learning to play myself even more so as my uncle was bandmaster in the local Salvation Army and used to teach, watching variety shows on  Tv with my mum, I used to enjoy Petula Clarke oddly especially when she sang in French, Frankie Vaughan, Tommy Bruce, Dusty etc. Having older brothers and sisters who listened to the pop music of the day and bought a few records introduced me to the Small Faces, Kinks etc. Got a guitar for my tenth birthday and like a lot of things in my life I just didn't have the will to progress further than pissing about, always been a problem applying myself with any conviction to anything. 

   Reading this thread before setting off on my walk to work one morning this week then listening to my mp3 on the short walk several tunes came up that brought me back to this thread, strangely one in particular which also took me back over fifty years was from Mireille Mathieu singing in French, hadn't a clue what she was singing about but the emotion in her voice was magnificent followed by Bettye Swanns slow version of This Old Heart Of Mine in which in her spoken intro she says something along these lines (we all know this song but do we really listen to the words) this led me to ponder on how much attention we pay to the lyrics in a song or is the emotion enough, and what it is I love about a particular tune. Is it the voice, the instrumentation, a particular section of a tune, by this time my head was full of what I was going to write in reply to this thread. Days later most of that has gone.

  So what is it I love about the music. It would be easier to say what I don't like, there's tunes from every facet of the music I love bar one, I can't explain it very well but it's a particular group harmony sound that just does not do it for me. What does it for me, where do I start, the brass, not only the sound but seeing a brass section in a live band swing from side to side , up and down (you know what I mean) has always brought the biggest smile to my face. Only the other night switching the tv over and catching the end of Nigella cooks something or other my ears pricked up, could that be Jr Walker, don't know that tune, out with Shazam, Tally Ho, must have that somewhere and I did, it was like I'd won the lottery (well not quite). On my walk to work Earl Wright ,not heard it in ages then comes the Sax break, brilliant. Julian Covay, the whole thing, music, lyric, voice, a record I've never owned but always loved and maybe that's another thing I love about it all, the wanting, no doubt over the years I could have obtained the record scores of times but does the not owning increase the pleasure of hearing it, (proper rambling now).

   Basically I could have answered with one word EVERYTHING, apologies for rambling and possibly not even answering the bloody question. No doubt I'll be back to press the edit button.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comment now!

Comments are members only

Sign Up

Join Soul Source - Free & easy!

Sign up now!

Sign in

Sign in here.

Sign in now!

Adverts



×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.