Tuesday, 22 October 2013

"Last Night A Soul Song Changed My Life" (Pt. 1)

Anyone who's into music - and I do mean really into music - will remember a particular tune which truly turned them on: turned them onto music. Or onto collecting records. Or onto the infinite possibilities of the universe. Or onto sex, or drugs, or rock n' roll. Or pretty much life in general. I remember mine.

For a thirteen year-old obsessed with ghosts, and the first movie in the franchise, the second Ghostbusters film was disappointing to say the least. That is right up until the moment I heard the jangling tambourine and insistent chop of the rhythm guitar intro for "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher". And then Jackie Wilson's voice. Oh wow, that voice! Where did this come from?! My record collection at this point was mainly made up of stuff I'd raided from Mum and Dad (The Beatles, The Monkees) alongside some pretty dodgy stuff I'd picked up myself around Waihi (Whitesnake, Guns n' Roses), so you can imagine the impact Jackie had on me. I was hooked. And I still am, almost a quarter of a century later.

So, we asked a bunch of folks: what is one song which turned you on and changed your life? We love the answers, and we reckon you will too.

-- Nyntee

"Last Night A Soul Song Changed My Life"

(Conch Records, Auckland, NZ)
Happy Mondays - Bob's Yer Uncle
Sure the pundits will be frowning, but soul can mean many things to many people. Rather than the sickly sweet, some of us like it slightly left of centre. Dare I say it but Shaun Ryder was a poet for my generation. This was my favourite cut from the 'Pills, Thrills And Bellyaches' album. I had it on constant rotation on my Walkman during my first Asian excursion and it conjures up many images, tales and people from that trip. A great soulful love song with a twist, from a band described as a cross between Captain Beefheart and Sly and The Family Stone.

(Fat Freddy's Drop sax player, NZ)
Marvin Gaye - I Want You
The title track from Gaye's 1976 album is two-step slam dunk perfection for me. The production (Leon Ware) is so deep it's like a gateway drug to techno (this is a good thing btw) and the way it builds and builds without ever really losing its shit is simply amazing. Importantly, for me at least, the horn and string arrangements are the blueprint for pretty much every horn chart I've ever attempted to write; and of course, it's sex on wax. This is an all-time top 5 soul song for me.

(Resident 7" 45rpm Record Nerd at the NZ Soul All Dayer)
The Impressions - People Get Ready
This was the first Impressions or Curtis Mayfield thing I ever heard. I think I was about 16 and just getting into soul music. The lyrics are amazing, just such a beautiful message song. The guitar playing is great; as a guitarist that is something which always sticks out for me. Really, just a perfect song and even though thee are so many great covers of it, the original is always something I return to. I even performed an acoustic version of it at my Grandfather's funeral.

(Fat Albert / DJ / Promoter / Radio Host / Father / Lover / The Guvnor, Auckland, NZ)
Willie "The Beaver" Hale - Groove On
This is the first tune I played to my son Otis who was three days old at the time. The feeling of warmth, love and completeness was overwhelming - Getting my "Groove On", dancing on the rug at home, with my new born son wrapped tightly in my arms, changed my life.

(95bFM and Head Of Talent at Golden Dawn, Auckland, NZ)
The Crabbs - Land Of 1000 Dances
"Land Of 1000 Dances" may seem an obvious choice, but without it I would never have immersed myself in the World of Soul. PC Molasses, one of the chief songwriters of my soul band The Cosbys, asked me to join his covers band The Crabbs on stage one night as guest vocalist on the Wilson Pickett classic - and the rest is history. I was hooked on soul and even more hooked on performing it!

(Sugarman 3, Daptone, NYC)
Tyrone Davis - Can I Change My Mind
This is a song that hit me hard and still does every time I hear it. It is hard to put your finger on exactly why one particular song can leave you so happy, melancholy, and a feeling that you can get through whatever hard times you are dealing with. This is a song that does all that for me and more. This is for me what soul music is all about...

(Soul, Funk, Hip Hop Guru, Melbourne, Australia)
Milton Wright - Keep It Up
Me and a lovely lady used to grind to this all the time, just a pure sexy soulful love song.

(Agent 45, Atlanta GA)
The Mighty Hannibal - Fishin' Pole
When I moved to Atlanta in 1996, I was still young but becoming more familiar with rare records that were being played on various scenes (mostly the Mod and Northern Soul scenes); but for whatever reason, there was something missing from my normal record digging diet. Working my way through box after box of dusty old singles was fun, but I knew there was something more. I was working one day a week, for store credit, at a local record shop when I pulled out a copy of The Mighty Hannibal's "Fishin' Pole" 45 on Shurfine. Having never heard the song before, though loving everything about the artist's name and song title, I threw it on the store's turntable, and the owner said "You know that one's from Atlanta and was recorded just up the road from here". Everything changed in that moment. Since that day, I have dedicated much of my time and resources to researching locally produced Soul and Funk 45s. I've been fortunate enough to have met countless singers and musicians and had the time of my life talking with them and documenting their journeys through the music industry. That single 45, one that isn't particularly rare, or highly in demand, continues to be immeasureably influential in my personal record collecting and DJing story. Fortunately for all of us, the records usually last long enough to "discovered" over and over again.

Taken from issue #2 of the Soultearoa Shakedown fanzine. Read the full issue here.
Part Two of 'A Soul Song Changed My Life' here.

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