The death of Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire in 2016 made us reflect on how soul and classic rock music went from friendly cousins in the early 1960s to brothers with different mothers over the years. decade and into the 70s. If you were a rock fan in the 1960s, soul music was most likely part of your musical regime, starting with R&B which was revered by most of the British Invasion artists. In the mid-1960s, there was a convergence of musical and cultural consciousness which led to undeniably classical soul music that could often be found in rockers’ album collection, and should always be a part of every fan’s musical lexicon. of rock.
So here’s – in no particular order except primarily personal preferences, and by no means a full list – are 10 damn good songs by so many soulful artists that fall under the broad rubric of classic rock.
“Love Who You Are With” – The Isley Brothers
Yeah, we could better quote “Fight the Power” or “That Lady”, but since the Beatles copied “Twist and Shout”, He is, let’s represent them with a cover of rocker Stephen Stills. Admittedly, their take doesn’t deviate much from the original although it does have an alluring charm with loose limbs. Hendrix played with this group; Ernie Isley became one of his main sidekicks (donning a crackling guitar figure throughout “That Lady” that rocked).
“Dame Marmelade” – Labelle
A utterly delicious and alluring slice of funk-rock from 1974. (Yes, the French chorus asks: “Will you sleep with me [tonight]?) And the best stage outfits on this side of Kiss…. Bonus points for band member Sarah Dash who will sing with the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards’ X-pensive Winos.
“Love Train” – The O’Jays
If you can’t find this harsh statement of international brotherhood by The O’Jays totally contagious, check your pulse or see a shrink for mood-enhancing drugs. Or both. These inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 propelled this number to the top of the pop and R&B charts in 1973.
“Cloud Nine” – The temptations
My how times change! It’s hard not to interpret that Temptations hit – the first of a number of “psychedelic soul” songs from the Motown vocal quintet – as pro– drug song, extolling the praises of what is supposed to be marijuana to ease the pain of living in the ghetto in 1968. An undeniable influence of Sly and the Family Stone can be heard on the track – especially the roundtable vocals – and the way classic rock and soul moved along parallel tracks. It reached No. 6 on the pop charts and won Motown Records’ inaugural Grammy for Best Group Performance in Rhythm and Blues, Vocal or Instrumental.
“Sing a Song” – Earth, wind and fire
It’s a real draw between “Sing a Song” and “Shining Star”, two huge pop hits for Earth, Air and Fire in 1975 (respectively n ° 5 and n ° 1). We will go for the former for its contagious groove and its simple but indisputable feeling: “Sing a song, it make your day… Sing a song, it will make a way. “
“Superfly” -Curtis Mayfield
Another draw. “Freddie’s Dead” was the biggest single (# 4 on the Hot 100) but “Superfly” (# 8) is more like the flagship song from the soundtrack album from the 1972 film of the same name. Everything has brought Mayfield in the mainstream.
“The Weight” – Aretha Franklin
From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, Aretha was not only “the queen of soul” but a reigning monarch among all popular music singers. There are a lot of songs that could represent her here: “Respect”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, hell, even “Freeway of Love” from 1985. But her interpretation of this song by The Band represents his classic rock crossover well, especially the presence of Duane Allman on guitar. And it’s a very cool interpretation sung with the mastery and authority that makes Aretha such an icon.
“I want you to come back” – The Jackson 5
Yes, the Jacksons have always had aspirations for pop stardom that transcend soul and rock. But their broad appeal drew the rock crowd. And to us teens of the late 1960s, they felt like peers with an incredibly talented little brother. The group’s 1969 debut with “I Want You Back” won over music lovers and was the first in a remarkable string of four consecutive No.1 hits. The song was then taken further into classical rock canon when Graham Parker and The Rumor released a live version in 1989.
“Everyday People” – Sly and the Family Stone
Devious stone and his multiracial “family” of guys and girls were emblematic of the soul / rock mix of the late 1960s, and nowhere more than that populist plea for tolerance that rose to No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1968. Their catchy performance at Woodstock, Sly and the Stone family made counter-cultural heroes; Sly would waste that stature soon after by falling into a wormhole of ego and drug addiction.
“Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
This song was written for Wonder fan Jeff Beck, who helped develop it and performed on his demo but not the track (although he did contribute guitar on another issue on his album, Talking book). It was supposed to be released for the first time by the band Beck, Bogert & Appice. Their album was delayed, Motown sniffed out a hit and released the song, and Wonder won their second No.1 single (and their first in nearly 10 years since 1963’s “Fingertips – Part 1 & 2”). A live recording of the song by Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1986 solidified its classic rock status.