Including this double dude…
Literally nothing is more embarrassing than having someone burst into the shower just as you’re about to hit your peak during an emotive soul recital. You’re naked, you’re squealing, those vocal runs you’re doing are much more impressive in your head, they’re pointing at you and sharing crude pictures with their mates on Instagram. It’s a sorry situation for everyone involved. But that wouldn’t be a problem for any of these guys, who can sing the fuck out of shit because they’re bloody amazing… MY FAVOURITE MALE SOUL SINGERS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. Feel free to go absolutely apeshit in the comments section because I’ve got it all wrong and didn’t include Stevie Wonder…
The greatest of them all, his voice is smoother than a long piece of wood you’ve spent the last week sanding down for eight hours a day without stopping. Do the maths, that’s basically smooth as fuck. Stupidly, he decided to kill himself in 1979 by jumping out of a window. I was just three at the time, which is neither here nor there.
It’s nuts to think that Otis Redding was just 26 when he was killed in a plane crash, he sounds so mature and borderline-elderly when he sings. Confession time guys! Otis Blue is one of the few records I own that I could listen to from start to finish every single day without tiring of. I have no idea why I just made out that was a big confession.
You might not have heard of this cat, because Frankie Beverly was never a solo star in his own right. He sung with the band Maze in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and possibly beyond, and those cats were funkier than a stink on a hot summer’s day. Some of you might have noticed that I’ve suddenly started saying “cat” a lot in this paragraph. Go with it, I’m just trying it out.
Bobby Womack’s enjoying another blast in the sunshine after collaborating with Damon Albarn on that album about a year ago. Everyone liked it because it combined modern day sounds with old style singing. I didn’t listen to it because I’m a bearded vinyl twat who pretends to only like old stuff like 1970s albums and vintage shirts. I do love Bobby Womack though, he always sounds about this close to a violent coughing fit.
I’m going through a big Isley Brothers moment that doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon. I love them because they looked like a great big pile of fat black Elvis impersonators, I like that they could throw down serious funk jams next to syrupy soul ballads. I adore them especially because Ron Isley has one of the most slippery voices the world has ever seen. And I mean that in a good way.
If I had to pick my favourite Marvin Gaye album I’d go for I Want You because it’s the sexiest record ever made, full of secret messages in between the lines saying stuff like “come here woman” and “I’m gonna hold you real tight”. Chicks love that kind of shit. I also like What’s Going On, Trouble Man, Let’s Get It On, Here My Dear, and basically every other record he ever made.
Whether fat or thin Luther could sing the phone book and while everyone would listen for a minute then whisper “is this guy actually singing the PHONE BOOK?” to each other with an incredulous look in their eyes, they’d all agree that the lyrics might be boring as fuck, but that fat guy’s got the voice of an angel.
When I was a student in Bristol I spent my days frying up pieces of bread for my world famous fried bread fried bread sandwiches and listening to Brown Sugar by D’Angelo. Man that cat could groove. That’s right everyone I’m back to saying “cat” again. Deal with it.
Obviously I’m never going to die, but if I did – IF I DID – during the bit where my coffin is lowered into the ground while all manner of beautiful women in black howl to the heavens I’d like someone to put on Hercules by Aaron Neville. It tells the story of a man just trying to get through life and deal with the struggles. I know what you’re thinking – that’s me in a nutshell. Great song, and what a voice.
Ah man, the last spot was always going to be a nightmare. Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, even Lionel Richie had a shout. Then you’ve got Bill Withers and Gil Scott-Heron who I adore. Terry Callier’s amazing. Sam Cooke. White soul singers like Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart. James Brown who grunted a lot but could also sing amazingly well, Michael Jackson who took soul to the billions. Smokey Robinson, any of the Temptations, I even like R Kelly a little bit. But in the end I went with Willie Hutch who’s just plain wicked.
Big apologies to anyone who’s had their Interestment fix kneecapped by a “suspended account” page, or a swirly monitor rainbow that seems to be going on for days, but we have been experiencing a few electronic issues. The word on the street is that these problems have now been ironed out. As a token of our appreciation, here’s James Brown saying it better than we ever could…
That’s right, people dancing (not with cats)
Nothing quite lifts the soul like the sight of watching strangers dancing. In many cases these people are so wrapped up in their own personal performance that they really do appear to be “dancing like no one is watching”, which seems somehow ironic, being that not only are people actually staring, but they’ve also taken the trouble to film the whole debacle. Excellent friend and relative of the site, Matthew S, has been trawling through the popular film-it-yourself site Youtube, and he came up with these beauties. Some old, some new, some homemade, some professional. Enjoy…
1. Pissed-Up Breakdancing
2. Old Lady Street Dancing
3. Amazing First Dance
4. Dancing in Secret
5. Astonishing Boddypopper
6. Dancing at Nan’s House
7. Disco Diva
8. James Brown Dance Class
9. The Great Gene Kelly
10. Tom Cruise Humiliation Dance
Absolutely including this lot…
The big news is that John Lydon is reforming his old group Public Image Ltd to go on some kind of tour. And that got us to thinking. PiL was Lydon’s second successful stab at the big time with a band, but what other artists have been lucky enough to enjoy two days or more in the sunshine? We decided to come up with ten of the best, with the likes of The Last Shadow Puppets, The Raconteurs, Gorillaz and The Foo Fighters all falling at the final hurdle…
1. The Style Council
The Jam split up in 1982 and Weller formed The Style Council in 1983. Much to a lot of Jam fan’s disgust. Where were the spikey guitar riffs? Fuck me, is that a PIANO? The Style Council were much silkier and soulful. They wore lovely cardigans. It was picnic-pop, but totally brilliant. Weller’s finest hour?
2. The JB’s
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, James Brown ploughed through backing band line ups – mainly because he was a massive soul bastard, and paid everyone in either punches or peanuts. The JB’s provided the sound for his golden period in the early 1970s, succeeding The Famous Flames, The James Brown Band, and The James Brown Orchestra. Bootsy Collins on bass, “Jabo” Starks on drums, Fred Wesley at the back tromboning. So to speak.
3. Public Image Ltd
Formed in 1978, almost directly after the Sex Pistols had imploded, PiL featured John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten), Keith Levene – once of The Clash – and Jah Wobble. Or, at least, the first line up did. Over the years, almost twenty thousand people could claim to have once been a member of PiL. You were probably in the band without realising it. Lydon’s best band.
4. Humble Pie
Small Faces were bloody excellent, Humble Pie weren’t too bad either – much rockier, intent on wooing audiences in America. They initially got together after Steve Marriott had failed to convince his Small Faces bandmates to allow Peter Frampton to join the group, so he flounced off and made Humble Pie instead. For the first half of the 1970s, they were a fantastic band, then Marriott went a little bit loco.
5. New Order
After Ian Curtis decided to dance weirdly into the eternal night in 1980, the Joy Division morphed into New Order – a far more oily band, replacing their office temp outfits for short shorts, and highlights in their hair. All three surviving members– Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris – stayed on board, with the addition of Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert on keyboard guitar. As anyone who reads massive textbooks about war well knows, the Joy Division was a reference to the prostitution wing of concentration camps during the Second World War, New Order was incorrectly seen to be taken from a quote in Mein Kampf. The band are not fascists.
Wings, though rather unfashionable to like, were actually a pretty decent band. Not, obviously, as good as The Beatles, but tracks like Maybe I’m Amazed and Live and Let Die would have been great additions to any Beatles back catalogue. In fact, the latter was produced by George Martin. They were also the only permanent band formed by any of The Beatles after the split, with McCartney leading the merry troupe for around ten years. He might even have been a Wing for longer than he was a Beatle. They enjoyed much chart success with Linda on backing vocals.
7. Crosby, Stills and Nash
Crosby was once of The Byrds, Stills was once of Buffalo Springfield, and Nash was once of The Hollies. All very successful, sometimes brilliant, pop groups. Hence, this was seen as something of a supergroup project when the three formed in 1968. And yet, they’re still going. Or, at least, on and off. They were so-named to prevent any of the bandmates stealing the name of the group should any of them decided to leave – a result of bitter experience in the cases of Crosby and Nash – and Neil Young would occasionally join in, making it Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Rather cleverly.
8. Lucy Pearl
Like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lucy Pearl was made up of three big names from successful R&B and hip hop groups. There was Raphael Saadiq from Tony! Toni! Tone!, Dawn Robinson from En Vogue, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. Originally D’Angelo was supposed to join in too, but some kind of commitment clash meant that he couldn’t. In the original formation, they only managed to squeeze out one album – in 2000 – but the good news is that it was a corker.
9. Big Audio Dynamite
After getting royally booted out of The Clash, Mick Jones shuffled around for a bit, then eventually formed Big Audio Dynamite with reggae/punk legend Don Letts in 1984. With Jones on lead vocals for once, they became known for mixing punk rock with reggae, hip hop, and whatever kind of genre they fancied with an impressive degree of success and innovation. Their biggest hit came with E=MC2 in 1986. Which isn’t featured below.
10. Gnarls Barkley
Both members of Gnarls Barkley have enjoyed musical success with other groups. Danger Mouse with the Damon Albarn cartoon vanity project Gorillaz, and Cee-Lo Green with the popular US rap group Goodie Mob – who were particularly popular in the 1990s thanks to their affiliation with Outkast, and the rise in popularity of raps from the Deep South. As Gnarls Barkley, everyone knows them for that great song about going bananas.
Crazy cartoon funk!
Funk went forking off in numerous directions during the 1970s. Excellent bands like Kool and The Gang put down their handfuls of grit, and picked up bottles of baby oil. James Brown went even harder and funkier, whilst a few of his old band members seemingly wolfed down giant clusters of zany psychedelic drugs, and began acting weird. Mostly under the tutorage of arch weirdo George Clinton. This record was released in 1977, bang in the middle of the hazy Clinton days, and features ex-JB’s superstars Fred Wesley, Bootsy Collins and Maceo Parker. The cover reflected this freaky new direction, with some kind of gargantuan cartoon woman holding a trumpeter in her hand, whilst a massive Fred Wesley smiles like a maniac with a trippy lady perched atop his wizard-like hat. Also featured are a tiny little frightened looking Maceo, and a white dude in what looks like a purple Nazi helmet. What the cover is saying is this… erm, okay, we’re not sure what it’s saying. We have no idea. That Funk bands like drugs too? Yeah, probably that. Great album though. Here’s a cut from it…
Women who can sing the FUNK…
There is a world of difference between being a good soul singer and a good funk singer. Mariah Carey, for example, is a good sweet soul singer, but if she were to suddenly start grunting into the mic and demanding snare kicks from the drummer, her people would rush the stage within seconds to drag her off to the mad house. Presumed breakdown. She hasn’t got the funk. Sadly, neither have many of today’s fine young singers, with the possible exceptions of Beth Ditto, Mary J, Beyonce and that’s about it. Even the greatest soul singer of them all, Aretha Franklin, doesn’t quite have the funk chops to be a BOLD SOUL SISTER. Our top four female funk sensations read like this…
1. Betty Davis
One part of possibly the greatest model/musical genius combo of them all, Betty was the great Mile Davis’ second wife. Back then, in the 1960s, she was just a sexy young model who was friends with Hendrix and Sly Stone, then in the 1970s she emerged as a funk/rock force of nature, with a trio of albums brimming with sexual aggression. An amazing woman, and our top female funk singer.
2. Tina Turner
Before she became Tina Turner with the feathery Rod Stewart hair, and the enormously popular soft rock ballads, Tina Turner was a funk goddess – touring the world with angry, punchy Ike and the magnificent Ikettes. What really marks her out are her excellent dance moves, and a growling voice that sounds like Cathy Beale after a big night on the cigs.
3. Marva Whitney
Featured before as one of our favourite Underrated Soul Stars, Whitney’s piercing, raw voice was the perfect match for James Brown’s band, The JB’s. Alongside other female funk greats like Lyn Collins and Vicki Anderson – both of whom just missed out on a place in the top four – she became a part of the gigantic James Brown family in the 1960s, although she only managed one solo studio album – It’s My Thing, from 1969. Great record.
4. Mary Jane Hooper
Not much is known of this funky Mary Jane Hooper woman. What we do know is that her real name was Sena Fletcher, she had gritty vocal talent that really floated the magnificent Eddie Bo‘s onions, and she churned out about three bona fide funk classics in the 1960s. We also know that she’s our fourth favourite female funk singer.
James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince
Much is going to be written about Michael Jackson for the coming weeks, after he finally lost out to a bastard heart attack or some such. He was only 50. And what a life. Brilliant Jackson Five records, often overlooked but completely fantastic tracks during the band’s young-adult incarnation as The Jacksons, and then all of the solo magic – particularly Off The Wall. Obviously the whole thing was slightly marred by his weird monkey, the melty-face stuff, and the eyebrow-raising sleepovers. Still, we thought we’d get him a couple of gifts as a thank you for the music, so we drank heavily until we became forgetful, and it soon boiled down to a toss up between a James Brown gig clip in which Michael is invited on stage, shortly followed by a far more overconfident Prince, or a dodgy recording of Rock With You… ahhh, or the James Brown clip! In the end we got him both. RIP Michael Jackson!
Michael Jackson, Rock With You
Not including food products…
Copycatting – or, as some people call it, copydogging – is rife. If you write down a list of all of your favourite things – from foods, to films, to drinks, to songs, to clothes, to anything at all – they’re probably all total rip offs from something else. Pasta is one Italian man’s version of Chinese rice, whilst a gentleman’s shirt was originally modelled on the womanly blouses worn by buxom whores attracting incoming sailors. Even Scarface, yes Scarface, was a remake of another film called Scarface from 1932. Both great movies, by the way. And let’s not forget that Heinz Baked Beans have been ripped off and outbrillianted by Branston ones. Everything is a cover version. Everything. So, with that in mind, we peered at music, and deduced the four most impressive copydogs, as decided by us…
1. Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From My Friends
Once in a while, The Beatles would throw Ringo a bone, and he’d get the chance to sing on an album. It was a move akin to Monet asking a hysterical four year old to finish off his lilies for him. It just never worked out. What Goes On (Rubber Soul), Yellow Submarine (Revolver), and then this on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – all the low points on great records. And yet, when Joe Cocker got his teeth into the song, it transformed into a gritty, rock-soul workout. Plus it reminds us of the brilliant Wonder Years. Here’s Ringo’s wrongo attempt…
2. The Clash, I Fought The Law
The Clash painted a snarling picture of spitting teens trying to put one over on the police, while the original – by The Crickets minus Buddy Holly, deceased – sounded more like a cheerful inmate regaling his jail buddies with something he’s just written in his cell. This, of course, making him a serious target for The Marys. Here’s that version…
3. Louie Louie, The Kingsmen
No doubt about it, The Kingsmen‘s version of Louie Louie is one of the greatest pop records ever made. The 1957 original, by Richard Berry, isn’t too bad either. It’s a doo-wap song about a Jamaican man explaining his love life to a bartender called Louie. It’s a far more docile affair…
4. Hey Joe, Jimi Hendrix
Fourth spot was a close call as ever, with some magnificent songs falling at the last minute – James Brown’s version of Think by The 5 Royales, Johnny Cash’s excellent cover of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, Labelle doing Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones – but in the end, Hendrix just nicked it for Hey Joe. It was a hit for the garage rock band The Leaves just a year before Hendrix made it iconic in 1966. It was an extra close call, because The Leaves‘ version is almost just as excellent…
Look away now, scaredy-cats
Presumably as a cap doff to the artist Hieronymus Bosch, James Brown created his own version of The Garden of Earthly Delights for his Hell album in 1974. Bosch fans will already be familiar with his cruel and terrifying depiction of life in eternal damnation – pigs dressed as nuns, daggers thrusting through giant ears, naked men impaled on mandolins, demons everywhere. It’s one scary 15th century vision, with more than a hint of Salvador Dali about it. And so to The Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness and his painting of what hell must be like. Well, there’s a soldier, a junkie, a big nod to Vietnam, a Watergate reel-to-reel, a man behind bars, and the words Food Shortage and Tax Increases literally spelt out. Most startling of all, however, is the image of a woman standing in the garage forecourt, unable to fill her car up. They’ve run out of petrol. What next? A strike at the Ginsters factory? Now that really would be hell. Here’s a brilliant track from the album.
Some very well dressed men missed out…
The greatest thing about funk music is that it fools men – actual grown men – into believing that they can dance, regardless of the fact that they have never danced before. There’s the strong rhythmic beats, the snare hits, the horn stabs. All you need to do is somehow time your movements so that those noises correspond with a finger click, or a foot stomp. How hard can it be? Unfortunately, very hard, and what looks fantastic in the mind often appears appalling in real life, so while you think that the circle around you is cheering and whooping, just thank Christ that the loud music is drowning out their mocking laughter and mean under-breath comments. You don’t really look like a monkey being electrocuted. Our four favourite funk bands read like this…
1. The Meters
For stripped down funk, you simply can’t do any better than these guys. They came from New Orleans in America, and a couple of members eventually went off and created The Neville Brothers, who weren’t nearly quite so brilliant. Great band.
2. The JBs
The JBs, of course, get their name from being James Brown’s backing band. The line-up changed over the years, but featured at times: Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and Bootsy’s brother Catfish. Half the band eventually joined Parliament/Funkadelic. Here they are backing the amazing Marva Whitney.
3. Eddie Bo and The Soul Finders
Eddie is another one from New Orleans – a fantastic breeding ground for funk. His album Hook and Sling is a funk masterpiece, and below is the best track from it.
4. Kool and The Gang
Don’t be fooled by Ladies Night and Celebration, there was a time when Kool and The Gang specialised in terrifying raw funk. Like so many edgy bands from the 1960s and 1970s, the 80s made them confusingly bad.
Right, now calm down…
It’s been a long, hard road, but we’ve made it to the 400th post. Good for us. For those new to the site, welcome – please help yourself to great fashion advice, interesting thoughts about musical artwork, and, of course, gorgeous looking people. If you like, you can even enjoy a food and sport fix. It’s all there.
To those who have been with us from the start, thank you for your continuing support, and do join us for a celebratory picnic/barbecue when we make it to 500.
Take it away James Brown!
Making album covers sexy since 1973
As funk bands go, the Ohio Players were great. Not wonderful or marvelous like James Brown, or The Meters. But they were a strong, tight group – they knew how to bring the funk. Their real strength, however, came with choosing album covers. While James Brown would always go for some kind of twisted self portrait, or The Meters pulled something relatively dire out of the bag, these guys knew how to make things seriously sexy. Previous albums Fire and Skin Tight had featured sensual pictures of foxy young women on the cover, then Honey upgraded the sexiness to fantastic levels. The lady in the picture is a Playboy playmate called Ester Cordet, and those lucky enough to own the record will know that it folds out to show her glorious bod in its entirety. The brief was simple: get a nice lady, and have her pouring honey on her face. The results: treeee-mendous.
Listen to a couple of their greatest cuts after the jump…
You’ve got about a day to get this right
Quick, it’s New Years Eve tomorrow, you simply have to know how to groove. Yeah, you’ve been doing that lazy running man thing for a few years, but the joke has seriously worn thin. We’ve already given you a James Brown masterclass, and some excellent boddypopping moves, now you just need to master some simple disco shuffles, just in case you stumble in on Bee Gees night. Good luck tomorrow, friends.
His robot impression is almost too good… is it a robot?
With 2009 looming, it’s still party season, and everyone will be expecting you to dance. Unfortunately, most of us can only do that thing where you step awkwardly from one foot to the other, or pelvic thrusts. It’s not good. So who better to learn new moves from than James Brown? Simply watch the above video two/three times, and these moves will all be yours.
These boys and girls had it GOING ORN!
Everyone knows how brilliant Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and the rest were/are. But what about the ones who drifted ever so slightly under the radar? We decided to shine the spotlight back on them…
1. Shuggie Otis
If Hendrix was the ultimate rock guitarist, Shuggie Otis was the ultimate soul guitarist. As a teenager he was considered a musical genius, and at just 21 he made the record Inspiration Information, a stone soul classic. Back in the 70s he turned down a chance to join The Rolling Stones – Ronnie Wood took his place instead. Most recently, he did some odds and ends with the world’s second favourite conscious rapper, Mos Def.