SWEET SOUL MUSIC – Peter Guralnick
I’m not going to witter on, this will be a pithy review, terse, to the point, direct, an easy read; much like this wonderful book that has been around since the 1980s and tells the story of Southern Soul Music.
Beggining with the R&B roots of ‘Soul’ (though, really it don’t take a genius, to work out they is the same damn thang), he takes us through a fairly linear exploration of the major figures, Sam Cooke’s gospel beginnings and secular sexuality, the usurping of Black music and it’s repackage as Rock ‘n Roll, Ray Charles and the genius that he was… and the story of Solomon Burke; telling an amazing tale of how he once played to a giant crowd of Klu Klux Klan members by ‘accident’, which will have you heaving, in laughter and relief as the Sheriff escorts him to the county line!
He leads you through the story of Stax, the Muscle Shoals phenomenon, the growth of the South as exporter of Soul music in general, James Brown’s career, the incredible rise of Otis Redding, Jerry Wexler and Atlantic’s dominance of the R&B market, the crossover of Soul to the ‘White’ audience, and with all tell tale of those names never heard of before who were pivotal in the development of Black music in the United States in the 50s, and 60s.
If you knew (like me) bugger all about ‘Soul’ music before reading it, you might consider yourself more than a little illuminated by the time you get to the end of the tale.