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.
We’ve reveled in Part One and Part Two of our hit parade countdown, so rather unsurprisingly today finds us enjoying Part Three, which features ten fine Number One hits that didn’t quite make it into the Top 10. But they needn’t be ashamed, as they are still great big giants amongst men. Amongst them are the Arctic Monkeys – a relatively new band – the finest Bowie single of them all, Madonna’s greatest moment, and the funkiest song about beating people up that’s ever been carved into vinyl. Plus, of course, there’s the inevitable Rod Stewart number. Hence, 11-20 reads a little something like this…
11. Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From My Friends (1968)
12. Gary Numan, Cars (1979)
13. Beyonce, Crazy In Love (2003)
14. Rod Stewart, Maggie May (1971)
15. Madonna, Into The Groove (1985)
16. The Human League, Don’t You Want Me (1981)
17. Carl Douglas, Kung Fu Fighting (1974)
18. David Bowie, Ashes to Ashes (1980)
19. Procul Harum, A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
20. Arctic Monkeys, I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor (2005)
Cher and Tina Turner, Makin Music is my Business
It’s yet another phenomenal day for birthdays – Joe Cocker, Jimmy Stewart, and Busta Rhymes will all be spitting out candles and running away from a party in tears tonight. But we thought we’d focus on Cher, an amazing woman who is scaling the heights of 63 today. What a life that lady has enjoyed. She was a backing vocalist on many of the great early Phil Spector tracks – Be My Baby, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling – she made millions as Sonny Bono’s leggy sidekick/wife in the 1970s, then she started dressing like an aggressive New York prostitute in the 1980s, and in the 1990s she had some kind of sonic mechanism attached to her throat so that she could sing like a robot. Hence, we thought we’d get her a gift. We headed out to a wasteland to fire machine guns, fiercely debating what to buy whilst obliterating old oil cans and burnt out cars, and it boiled down to a toss up between a big bath robe made from Terry Towelling, or an old clip from the 1970s of her and Tina Turner singing together. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Cher!
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…
Daddy Freddy Raps on Record Breakers
Rita Coolidge. You know, Rita Coolidge. The one who broke up Crosby, Stills & Nash by servicing both Stills and Nash but totally ignoring Crosby. She was also a backing vocalist for Joe Cocker at one stage. Then she married Kris Kristofferson for a bit. Yeah, her. Now you remember her. Now you know who we’re on about. Her. Anyway, she’s 64 today, so as is the tradition in this country, we thought we’d pick up a present. We stood outside Blockbuster on Clapham High Street, smoking spliffs, knocking back bottle after bottle of orange WKD, trying desperately to figure out what to buy someone who we’d never really heard of. We cried, we talked, we wept. We punched a guy in the face. Then Hip Hop Sam strolled past in his gargantuan trousers and told us that we should either get her a tub of raspberry ripple ice cream or a clip from Record Breakers featuring the fast rapping of Daddy Freddy, and the legendary Wee Papa Girl Rappers. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Coolidge!
Joe Cocker, You Are So Beautiful
As regulars will know, Thursday is all about showering your partner with love, before smearing their face with massage oil, and asking them to do that thing that they once did by mistake and you never talked about. Until today. Guiding us through the awkward conversations and into the sultry dimmed lights of the experimental bedroom is Joe Cocker, who looks like an angry pub landlord when he sings, but sounds soothing and quite delicious. Here, he’s telling his woman that she’s seriously good looking.
John Belushi, Lonely at The Bottom
Ridiculously, Seth Rogen turns just 27 today. 27. He looks at least 29. It’s ridiculous. Probably something to do with these crazy water and cabbage diets that kids rave about in night clubs. Two glasses of water and a cabbage for breakfast, a milkshake for lunch, then cabbage for dinner. That’s what keeps him so young. Either way, we thought we’d buy him a present, so we headed to some water slides and discussed matters poolside, before agreeing that we should either buy him a few boxes of matches or a clip of the late great John Belushi pretending to be Joe Cocker. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Seth!
No room for Lennon, nor McCartney
At one stage The Brit Awards became ridiculous – okay, yes, more ridiculous – when no one seemed capable of finding a Best Male. Phil Collins won it perhaps fifty times, then Paul Weller took it every year for about sixteen years, then Tom Jones got it, and then Robbie Williams became a national treasure because of his cheeky grin, and that was that. They just seemed either so thin on the ground, or they were Sting. This got us to thinking, who would our four Best British Males be? We came up with this rabble…
1. Joe Cocker
Probably the best blue eyed soul voice ever to come out of Sheffield, his cover of With a Little Help From My Friends made him huge, as did his strange habit of looking like a man in the grip of a breakdown whenever he sang. Completely brilliant.