THE SOUL MAP, Part I

THE SOUL MAP, Part I

By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in -Chief

BASN NEWSROOM

 

PHILADELPHIA (www.basnnewsroom.com The ‘death’ of Soul and Rhythm n’ Blues music in Vancouver by 1968 was made all the more tragic by the sheer arrogance and ignorance of the short-sighted clique of clowns who would see themselves as Masters of Artists’ Destiny…

The snubbing and exclusion of the music produced by Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, Soul Unlimited, The Night Train Revue and Jayson Hoover and The Epics  turned Vancouver from a potential stop on North America’s Soul Train into a Vast Wasteland – of mediocrity.

Repercussions of what was done in 1968 reflect how music is played to this very day; because from that time said actions influenced and stimulated areas across the continent…

With that said, here’s one person’s breakdown of how the power of SOUL would work its way across the map from 1968 into the next decade:

 

New England: Jeffrey Osborne, lead singer/drummer for Love, Togetherness and Devotion (LTD) make their mark in the mid-1970s. Along with the Tavares brothers, they are all born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island.

 

 

Tavares the group, started out as “Chubby and the Turnpikes” in the late sixties before using their surname – and would eventually base themselves out of New Bedford, Massachusetts…

 

 

 

In New Haven, Connecticut, the band Steam was formed from remnants of a vocal group based in Bridgeport. In 1969, they produced one of the greatest pop group B – sides ever. “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” raised a stir as to what is Soul because of the groove being cooked by an American band which was all White.

Due to major word-of-mouth response after the song was played in Georgia, the song quickly spread to other markets. While some in the radio biz may have questioned, the peoples’ response said – this was soul!

The song has outlived any questions of soulfulness and it has been reworked to infuse itself into pop culture several times over to this very day.

 

NEW YORK CITY

 

 

Jimmy Castor, an original member of The Teenagers (and born in my old neighborhood), comes out with his own thang, “Hey Leroy (Your Mama’s Calling You)” in 1966. Castor would go on to create The Jimmy Castor Bunch and, in addition to introducing us to The Butt Sisters (Bertha, Betty, Bella and Bathsheba) his tune “It’s Just Begun” is one of the signature grooves of the Hip-Hop Era.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, The Wilson Brothers had cut a single, “Soul Town” in the late 1960s on RCA Records.

 

 

Carlos, Louis and Ric, straight outta Bedford-Stuyvesant (via Panama), would go on to form Mandrill in 1970, one of the most eclectic and versatile bands ever.

 

 

The New York City Players, a 14 piece ensemble, would go on to rename itself Cameo, and redefine funk ‘Down Sou’f’ as part of Atlanta’s sound…

 

 

 

 

Another local band, The King Davis House Rockers, cut a single, “We All Make Mistakes Sometimes,” in 1967. With the aid of producer Jeff Lane, they would piece together what would eventually become The Brooklyn Transit Express – and their announcement of “Herrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeee comes – The Express…Express!” invaded dance floors world – wide.

 

 

Brooklyn’s Dynamic Soul would also go and reform itself out of the sixties and become Brass Construction, whose powerful groove, “Movin'” – assaulted roller skating rinks and dance floors everywhere!

Brass Construction keyboardist Randy Mueller would later connect with three sisters from Brooklyn who would later become the backbone of the group Skyy (performing in Europe as ‘New York Skyy‘) in the early 1970s…

 

 

Brooklyn continued its run on the music charts as Ben Iverson and the Nue Day Express, formed in 1967, would do a name change and represent the neighborhood where they grew up. The Crown Heights Affair would enjoy almost a generation of success as a great live act – with one of music’s best brass sections – before disbanding to other projects.

 

Meanwhile, in Queens, The Fatback Band was gettin’ a little ‘sum-sum’ of the R&B/soul/funk groove as they began to find their own sound in 1970. Their first hit “Street Dance” incorporated a band sound akin to New Orleans – with brassy leads and strong rhythms underneath; while another wicked B-side, “Goin’ to See My Baby,” was a nasty, almost subdued bass ride which oozed funk throughout the track.

 

 

 

FROM THE LOVE SIDE

 

 

The group Top Shelf was also from NYC and got a chance to record from producer George Kerr with a local hit, “Give It Up,” in 1970. Kerr would later become a major player in shaping sound on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel during the decade.

The Moments (later called Ray, Goodman and Brown), who would epitomize New Jersey’s version of “Sexy Soul,” will be discussed in our next installment…

 

 

The Village of Harlem was home to three cool Brothers, Tony Silvester, Luther Simmons, Jr, and Donald McPherson. They started out as a singing group called The Poets in the mid – 1960s before changing their name to The Main Ingredient in 1968. Lead singer McPherson would die suddenly of leukemia after leading the group to early positive response. Cuba Gooding, Sr. would take over as lead singer – and helped the group to great crossover success with “Everybody Plays The Fool” in 1972.

In another section of Harlem, Russell Patterson, Leroy Burgess and Stuart Bascombe would form Black Ivory, presenting beautiful soul ballads and dance tracks for over a decade. Like few other groups, all the original members are still alive…

 

 

 

 

Ace Spectrum, another NYC – based group was also among those in the soul/R&B vein active during the 1960s. They finally broke through with “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” in the mid- seventies.

Sabu and the Survivors represented the Boogie Down Bronx when they changed their name to GQ – their slick soul sounds were generated in 1968 and paid off with a groove ride through the disco era and beyond…

Last but far from least, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers wove rock, funk and stylish R&B as founding members of CHIC. Starting out in 1968 they did not form CHIC until the mid – seventies; but they were part of the local music scene as part of the band New York City (“I’m Doin’ Fine Now”) and playing in Walter Murphy’s Big Apple Band (“A Fifth of Beethoven”) before presenting their finished product in 1976…

 

 

 

Edwards, an amazing bass player, passed away from pneumonia at age 43. Rodgers would go on to become a prolific producer and major influence of bands and musical acts throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

 

MEANWHILE, IN JOISEY…

 

Jersey City, New Jersey blessed us with one of the most amazing musical collectives ever. The Kool band with the simple name started out as The Jazziacs in the mid-1960s.

Forged in jazz, Ronald Bell and his bass playing little brother, Robert (nicknamed ‘Kool’), come from a pedigree connected to artists like McCoy Tyner and Thelonious Monk.

I can still remember my cousins Winnie and Poochie meeting me off the bus in Asbury Park from New York and flying back to the house. “Cuz – you gotta hear this!”

 

The words “Kool and the Gang” said everything; blending, jazz, funk, R&B – and creating signature riffs (like the bass line on ‘Love the Life You Live’) that were the envy of every band in the respective genres…

 

 

From 1968 – 1974, Kool and the Gang could do no wrong, in spite of a short period where their sound changed with lead vocals a couple years later. The youngest brother, Kevin, would front The Kay – Gees, producing solid gold soul, funk, jazz and R&B over a four year period in the 1970s.

As if that wasn’t bad enuff for ya, the collection that spirited out into music’s universe  ascended and would eventually “return to reclaim The Pyramids” was spawned in Jersey…

You can’t say “Parliament” without saying “Funkadelic” – point blank.

 

 

Already having “Testified” to their R&B roots in the late sixties, Funkadelic (the backup band to Parliament) dropped one of the nastiest, gut – bucket combinations of rock and blues ever with their debut album in 1970.

It would pave the way for dispelling notions and bullshit about the whiteness of rock ‘n roll being considered “classic.”

 

 

Like Kool and the Gang, The “ParliaFunkadelicment Thang” was blessed with amazing talent. George Clinton, Master of the P-Funk Universe, Mike “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton, Bernie Worrell on keyboards, bassist Bootsy Collins…and the best guitarist on the planet Not Named Jimi Hendrix, Mr. Eddie Hazel…

As of this date, the inclusion of P-Funk into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame highlighted the exclusion of funk acts and further exposed the racial bias in considering bands and performers like Mandrill, The Ohio Players, Heatwave, Lakeside, Slave, LaBelle, Teena Marie, Chaka Khan, CHIC, WAR…and Kool and the Gang, among others…

 

Next Time: To Philly…and Beyond!

always outnumbered…never outgunned.

 

basneditor@basnnewsroom.com

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