If you’re looking for a good introduction to Soul Music, I’d suggest the four Disc Boxed set Soul Spectacular! The Greatest Soul Hits of All Time It’s slightly pricey, but totally worth it. A few Christmases ago, I was given a $50 gift card to Record & Tape Traders (which sadly by the time I move down to Charles Village that location has closed). I’m not sure about anyone else but when I’m given a gift card, my mind goes blank. Me, the person who always want to buy music, is totally blank.
I thought about buying the Phil Spector boxed-set Back to Mono, but it seems to be out of print. (I wonder why. But seriously, if anyone can help me out with that – I’d be greatly appreciate it.) I decided to go for Soul Spectacular, because even though I do love soul music, my collection was severely lacking in that department. Ever since I go it, it’s been on my “go to” list for whenever I can’t decide on what to listen to. And believe me, this happens.
Among the highlights:
Stand By Me – Ben E. King. Everybody should have a copy of this song. King’s voice is both wounded and hopeful. Most romantic and love songs seem cheesy to me, but this is probably the “Amazing Grace of Soul”. No hyperbole.
Heat Wave – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas. Just as it titles suggests – the perfect jam for a warm day. Propelled by pounding drums and piano this song never lets go. And it’s not just your regular call and response song, either. The last 30 seconds contain some of the best “yeahs” ever put to vinyl.
Where Did Our Love Go – The Supremes. Is there any other song that relies on the hand-clap more than this song? (It also contains foot-stomps as well.) One of Diana Ross’s best vocal performances, which is interesting because it was originally supposed to go to Gladys Horton of The Marvelettes.
I Want You Back – The Jackson 5. This song is little more funk than the rest, but who cares? It’s not as popular as ABC, but the ad-libbing of Michael Jackson makes it worthy inclusion alone.
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. One of the best famous intros in soul music – with its famous bass. Anyone who tries to come up with Top 10 Bass Songs and doesn’t include this one doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
One quibble with the boxed set – Ray Charles’ What’d I Say. While it contain the longer version at 5:26. So you do get the famous call and response – it’s still not the complete version.