Hi everyone, this week we’re kicking off a month long look at sixties Soul Music.
And just to refresh our memories, each weekly recommended music posting features the following sections:
I. Brief Artist Bios
II. Freegal Music Recommendations Of The Week (streaming music)
III. CD Music Recommendations Of The Week
IV. Videos Of This Weeks’ Artists/Groups
V. Wild Card Print Book Recommendation Of The Week
VI. References (for those who’d like to know a bit more about the artists of the week).
Our spotlighted artists for this week are Sam Cooke, Ray Charles & James Brown.
I. Brief Artist Bios:
Sam Cooke: Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi on January 22, 1931. He was one of eight children born to a Baptist minister and his wife and grew up in Chicago. Cooke showed exceptional singing talent as a boy and began his singing career by singing in the choir at his father’s church. As a youth Cooke sang with the Gospel group The Soul Stirrers before kicking off a solo career in the late nineteen fifties.
Cooke had a very smooth voice, a smart pop songwriting style and blended traditional Rhythm and Blues and the power of Gospel with Pop Music to help create a new sound, which has since become known as “Soul Music.” Those us of who came of age after the nineteen sixties don’t remember an era without Soul Music. However, in the early sixties this was a new style of music lighter than traditional Rhythm & Blues and yet, a bit heavier and more substantial than most of the pop music of the day.
Cooke’s first solo hit was You Send Me released in 1957. The record sold more than two million copies which was a huge number for the time. By the dawn of the sixties, Cooke was just hitting his musical stride! He released a number of great soul songs in the early sixties including: Everybody Likes To Cha Cha Cha, Only Sixteen, Chain Gang, Twistin’ the Night Away, Having A Party, Another Saturday Night and the posthumously released A Change Is Gonna Come.
And no doubt, Cooke would have become an even more prominent figure of sixties Soul Music if not for his untimely death. Cooke was shot to death in a suspicious incident at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles in 1964. He was only 33 years old.
Ray Charles: Charles was born in Georgia in 1930 and grew up in Florida. He was born with sight but lost his sight as a child. Charles was musical from an early age. He studied piano at The St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind, moved to Seattle in 1948 and formed his first band in 1954. Like Cook, Charles blended traditional Rhythm & Blues, mixing it with Gospel and Pop to become another founder of the new music genre – Soul.
Charles started his recording career in the nineteen fifties and began to cement his role as a founding pillar of soul when his 1959 hit What I’d Say broke through to the mainstream American audience hitting number 1 on the R&B Chart. Charles’s sixties hits include: Georgia On My Mind, One Mint Julep, Hit The Road Jack, Unchain My Heart, I Can’t Stop Loving You, You Don’t Know Me, Busted, Crying Time and In The Heat of the Night.
By the end of the sixties this new genre of music – Soul – was a bona fide genre in its own right, thanks in no small part to Ray Charles. Charles continued to record and perform until his death in 2004 and was the subject of a biographic movie released that same year and simply titled Ray.
James Brown: Brown was born in South Carolina in 1933. Brown, like Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, started out singing Gospel music. And Brown, again, like Cooke and Charles, became a founding pillar of the new musical genre of Soul Music by blending traditional Rhythm and Blues music with Pop and Gospel. However, Brown, with his flamboyant style and passionate singing, took it a step further and also set down a couple of foundation stones for a musical genre that came of age in the nineteen seventies – Funk. And as the musical style of Funk falls outside our discussion of sixties Soul Music I’ll just provide a link to an AllMusic overview of Funk music – you can access the overview by clicking on the following link: https://goo.gl/mwEJaF
Getting back to James Brown, his sixties hits include: Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag (Part 1), I Got You (I Feel Good), Cold Sweat, I Got The Feeling and Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud (Part 1).
The sixties were Brown’s most prolific era as far as mainstream popularity goes. Brown continued to tour and record during the seventies and eighties, during which time he had a series of minor hits and one last big hit, the top ten hit Living In America, which was released in 1986. He died in 2004
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The Freegal Music Catalog homepage will display — it looks like this:
The Freegal Music app can be found in your app store and it looks like this:
II. Freegal Music Recommendations Of The Week:
1. Sam Cooke The Best of Sam Cooke:
This greatest hits collection contains Cooke’s best known songs including: You Send Me, Only Sixteen, (What A) Wonderful World, Chain Gang, Twistin’ The Night Away, Having A Party and Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha.
Here’s a link to stream The Best Of Sam Cooke album:
Also by Sam Cooke – Night Beat:
For those who want to dig a bit deeper into the music of Sam Cooke, whose music is, unfortunately, less well known to those of us who came of age after the sixties than the music of Ray Charles and James Brown, this is a great album to check out! Night Beat was released in 1963 and has Cooke being backed by a small band that sets down a great foundation to show off his stunning vocals. The album includes the songs: Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Mean Old World, Please Don’t Drive Me Away, Get Yourself Another Fool, You Gotta Move and a super cool version of the classic blues song Little Red Rooster which features a neat organ compliment to Cooke’s vocals.
Here’s a link to stream the Night Beat album: https://goo.gl/zTA6MA
Ray Charles, Jazz Masters Deluxe Collection:
None of Ray Charles’s sixties studio albums are available in the Freegal Music Catalog. However, there are several greatest hits/best of collections that give you a good idea of what Charles’s music sounds like.
And despite the fact that we’re talking about Soul Music in this posting, and that the title of the album I’m about to recommend has the word “Jazz” in it – it is notable, that Ray Charles played and recorded all kinds of music including R&B, Pop, Country and Jazz – basically, he was a great musician who could play any style of music. And this album, despite the title, really features more of Charles playing and singing a mixture of the foundation styles of Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues, with Big Band and Pop Music influences mixed in for good measure.
The album includes several of his best known songs including: I Got A Woman, Hit The Road Jack, Georgia on My Mind, Ruby, Mess Around and a neat version of the song Blues Is My Middle Name that lets you hear what a big fan Charles was of the great Nat King Cole!
Here’s a link to stream the album Ray Charles, Jazz Masters Deluxe Collection:
James Brown – 16 Original Hits:
This album is a great place to start to hear Brown’s sixties releases. The album includes the songs: Give It Up Or Turn It Loose, It’s Too Funky In Here, Doing It To Death, Try Me, Get Up Offa That Thing, Hot Pants, I Got The Feelin’, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, Please, Please, Please, I Got You (I Feel Good) and more! Check it out!
Here’s a link to stream the album 16 Original Hits:
Bonus Freegal Suggestion:
Ain’t No Sunshine: Classic Soul and R&B, Vol. 1 by various artists:
I stumbled across this album while researching Soul albums in the Freegal Music Catalog. This is a festive collection of vintage R&B and Soul songs by Al Jarreau, Carla and Rufus Thomas, The Drifters, Ray Charles, Little Joe Curtis, Sam & Dave, Cissy Houston and more. Check it out!
Here’s a link to stream the album Ain’t No Sunshine:
Freegal Wild Card Streaming Pick Of The Week:
Funk Nights by various artists
This various artist collection features a slice of seventies Funk Music! Included in this collection are the songs Ladies Night by Kool & the Gang, Dance Your Pants Off by Sly Stone & The Mojo Men, Crazy About You by Edwin Starr, Do the Funky Chicken by Rufus Thomas, Brick House by Clarence Carter and more!
Here’s a link to stream the album Funk Nights: https://goo.gl/gKVTyy
III. Compact Discs Recommendations:
Sam Cooke – Sam Cooke Forever:
This European import set features 72 of Cooke’s best songs including the popular Soul hits You Send Me, Twistin’ the Night Away, Wonderful World, Cupid and Chain Gang. Additionally included are a number of the Gospel songs he recorded with The Soul Stirrers including: Peace in the Valley, Nearer To Thee, Were You There and Come And Go To That Land – this is a great collection check it out!
Here’s a link to request the CD set Sam Cooke Forever via StarCat: https://goo.gl/CfYTri
Ray Charles – Ray Original Soundtrack:
This album offers a great overview of Charles’s work and is a good place to start listening to Charles’s music if you’re not familiar with it. And if you are familiar with Charles’s work – this is still a great album to listen to!
The soundtrack includes the original recordings of 17 of Charles’s early hits including: Mess Around, I Got a Woman, Hallelujah I Love Her So, Drown in My Own Tears, (Night Time Is) The Right Time, Hard Times, What’d I Say, Georgia on My Mind, Hit the Road Jack, Unchain My Heart, I Can’t Stop Loving You, Bye Bye Love and more!
Here’s a link to request the Ray soundtrack on CD via StarCat: https://goo.gl/gErSSr
Live At The Apollo by James Brown
And I can’t say it better than Rob Bowman did in his AllMusic review – so here is his review of the James Brown album Live At The Apollo: “An astonishing record of James and the Flames tearing the roof off the sucker at the mecca of R&B theatres, New York’s Apollo. When King Records owner Syd Nathan refused to fund the recording, thinking it commercial folly, Brown single-mindedly proceeded anyway, paying for it out of his own pocket. He had been out on the road night after night for a while, and he knew that the magic that was part and parcel of a James Brown show was something no record had ever caught. Hit follows hit without a pause — “I’ll Go Crazy,” “Try Me,” “Think,” “Please Please Please,” “I Don’t Mind,” “Night Train,” and more. The affirmative screams and cries of the audience are something you’ve never experienced unless you’ve seen the Brown Revue in a Black theater. If you have, I need not say more; if you haven’t, suffice to say that this should be one of the very first records you ever own.”
Just a little StarCat note: The StarCat record for this album lists the title as “The Apollo Theater presents, in person, the James Brown show.” However, the album is usually referred to by music fans as simply Live At The Apollo.
Here’s a link to request CD Live At The Apollo via StarCat:
Wild Card CD & DVD Picks Of The Week:
Ella Fitzgerald – Best of the Songbooks
This CD collection by Ella Fitzgerald, an extraordinary Jazz vocalist with the nick name The First Lady of Song. contains three albums: The Best of the Songs Books, The Best of the Song Books: The Ballads and Love Songs and The Best of the Verve Song Books.
Songs in this collection include: Something’s Gotta Give, Love Is Here To Stay, Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered, Oh, Lady Be Good!, It Was Written In The Stars, I’m Beginning To See The Light, The Man I Love, Prelude To A Kiss and more!
Here’s a link to request the Best of Songs Books CD set:
IV: Videos Of This Weeks’ Artists/Groups:
Sam Cooke Live Twistin’ the Night Away 1963
Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come (1964) HD
Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack
Ray Charles – What’d I Say LIVE
James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – I Feel Good
James Brown – I Got The Feelin’
Bonus YouTube Video Clip Suggestion: Cream Members Hanging In 1993
This video clip has nothing whatsoever to do with Soul Music – just the fact that I didn’t clear out my browsing history since the last time I went to YouTube! And that was last week, when I went to look for video clips for the final Blues Rock posting in our 2017 series! So today, I went to YouTube and was treated to a bunch of suggested videos that all relate to Blues or Blues Rock. And one of those videos is a fun 8 minute clip of the members of Cream rehearing a bit and just hanging out prior to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1993 – when they were inducted in to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame – here’s a link to that clip which is titled Cream reunites at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rehearsal – 1993:
V. Wild Card Print Book Recommendation Of The Week:
And wow, what a long title for a great book! As you might expect this book is a folk fan’s favorite! It features many historical protest songs from the early twentieth century, with an emphasis on songs of the nineteen thirties, including several written by Guthrie himself. And the songs chronicle the hard times of the working class experienced during that era. The book was put together by the great musicologist Alan Lomax. The book even has a preface written by Woody’s daughter Nora so if you like folk music and folk songs this is a great book to peruse as it offers a bit of history interspersed with dozens of classic folks songs that Lomax helpfully put into categories. The categories include: Hard Luck On the Farm, You’re Dead Broke, So You’ve Got To Hit The Road, And You Land In Jail, Old Time Songs From All Over and more! Selected songs from the collection include: The Boll Weevil, The Farmer Is The Man, Seven Cent Cotton And Forty Cent Meat, Collector Man Blues, No Job Blues, Starvation Blues, The Old Chain Gang and 66 Highway Blues.
Here’s a link to request the Hard Hitting book:
VI. General References & Artist Specific References:
Ella Fitzgerald Artist Biography by Scott Yanow
The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn (Billboard Books. New York. 2009.)
Sixties Rock: A Listener’s Guide by Robert Santelli (Contemporary Books. Chicago. 1985.)
Recommended Artists Specific References:
James Brown & His Famous Flames / James Brown
James Brown Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger
James Brown, the ‘Godfather of Soul,’ Dies at 73 By JON PARELES. DEC. 26, 2006. Accessed April 4, 2017.
Ray (Original Soundtrack) AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Ray Charles Biography by Richie Unterberger
Ray Charles, Bluesy Essence of Soul, Is Dead at 73 By JON PARELES and BERNARD WEINRAUB. JUNE 11, 2004. Accessed April 4, 2017.
Sam Cooke Biography by Bruce Eder
Sam Cooke’s Family Approves Biopic Focusing on Singer’s Murder
Sam Cooke Biography Songwriter, Singer (1931–1964)
Music: 1964: Sam Cooke dies under suspicious circumstances in LA
SAM COOKE SLAIN IN COAST MOTEL New York Times – December 12, 1964. Accessed April 4, 2017.
Have a great day!
P.S. If you have any questions about how to download or stream free music through the Freegal Music service to a desktop or laptop computer or how to download and use the Freegal Music app let us know! Drop by the library or give us a call at: 607-936-3713.
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