Soul music has been one of the most popular music genres ever, and the long list of singers and musicians that have contributed to this most enjoyable form of music are among some of the best musicians that have ever made music.
Soul music has transcended the trials and tribulations of its formative years, when mainstream America barely recognized the people who wrote and played this highly influential style of music. Soul can make you dance or move you to tears but is never dull. In this article we feature five soul albums that should appear on every soul aficionado’s play list.
Sam Cooke – Ain’t That Good News
Sam Cooke was instrumental in bringing soul music into the mainstream pop charts of America. Until Sam there was very little crossover between black America and conservative white America, and this was exemplified in music.
Ain’t That Good News rocked the boat, it is a mix of original recordings along with covers of established songs. The picks of the bunch are Good Times, Another Saturday Night, and the stunning but controversial, A Change is Gonna Come. Sam Cooke went on to own his own record company and was one of the very first black artists to appear on mainstream white TV.
Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
No soul collection would be complete without at least one album by Aretha Franklin. Dubbed the Queen of Soul by her contemporaries there has never been a voice quite like Aretha’s. Like many of her fellow soul singers, Aretha learned her trade singing at church and this album was recorded in the legendary Fame Studio. The tracks Respect and Do Right Woman – Do Right Man became anthems and spoke about the challenges of being a black woman living in America during the 50’s and 60’s.
The Spinners – Spinners
The Spinners epitomized the soul music that was coming out of Philadelphia in the 1970’s. The city and record label combined lush string arrangements together with vocal harmonies to produce a new soul sound that could easily crossover into mainstream American music.Stand out tracks from this album are the wonderful, I’ll be Around and Could It Be I’m Falling in Love.
James Brown – Live at the Apollo
If you had to choose one live album to represent how exciting soul music can be then it would have to be Live at the Apollo by James Brown. James Brown was known as a perfectionist and anybody that worked with him said he was a hard task master. This all comes through on the album, the band is tight and all playing to their best ability. Check out Night Train, I’ll Go Crazy, and Lost Someone if you want to be convinced.
Otis Redding – Otis Blue
If you only ever buy one Otis Redding album, then it has to be Otis Blue. It contains nearly all his best songs, Respect, Ole Man Trouble, Satisfaction, You Don’t Miss Your Water, and My Girl. Otis Blue was his third album and highlighted everything Otis was recognized for, it is gritty, fiery but above all heavenly. These five albums exemplify what soul music is all about, and a great way to start a soul collection.