Soulful Kinda Music

Magazine & Web Site

Just click on the link back to the main Artist Discography page if you want to check another one out. Or click on the link for the home page for access to other pages.

Dave Godin Page

Home Page


Dave Godin's column for Soulful Kinda Music. Issue 46

Martin Sease is a contemporary singer with a retro style, and his current CD is creating a bit of a buzz. Heavily influenced by people like George McRae, Tyrone Davis and Barry White, Martin Sease certainly healthily revives the style of Soul of the late 60s and early 70s (the pre-disco era), but as good as these tracks are (and make no mistake, this CD is well worth getting) to me they lack the irony that records actually made in those times had. This is perhaps inevitable since as times change, so the collective subconscious changes, and this creates different demands and provides different needs to be fed. Perhaps this was epitomised by the emergence of disco and what I termed Penthouse Soul (music of the upwardly mobile and expressly for the neurotic poseur if ever there was any!), and culture (however it expresses itself at any given time) is never static. The reason Blackamerica decided it was time for their music to change was because to them, it was still the music backdrop of the pre-Civil Rights era, and as social conditions began slowly to respond to demands made in this field, so this became reflected in the music. That these things move in fits and starts, often with two steps forward being met by two steps back, eventually led to the cultural outburst of anger and frustration reflected in Rap (and the dreadful moves of Spike Lee), where metaphor was dispensed with entirely, and the message became straight-forward manifesto instead! Since those of us who live outside the USA do not contribute to or feed into Blackamerican culture, our only evaluation of such manifestations must remain a purely aesthetic one. Anything more is just patronising arrogance! It is however interesting to reflect that so much of what Dr. Martin Luther King advocated after the passing of the first Civil Right Bill during the following two years prior to his assassination has now been air-brushed out of his “legend”, and certainly no Rap artist has taken up the content of that particular message! I recently heard a very astute comment by an American who said that if we didn’t have a common language, it would be so much easier for us to realise just how different the British and the Americans are! 

My recent articles, and the comments I made about down-loading records over the Internet, brought some ambivalent rage onto my head, which really amounted to little more than the old one-two, “Yes, it’s wrong in principle, but what I’m doing is different”. Well yes, it would be, wouldn’t it? I have no intention of debating the matter further since I’ve said all I have to say on the subject, but such is the Freudian complexity of reaction to what I said, that one person wrote and actually asked me if I had “declared war on him”? As I said in my reply, “What would be the point?”. 

As we all know, Gospel music has had a tremendous influence on Soul which borrowed heavily on the mannerism, quirks and emotional intensity of the former, but it is not often that we get the chance to actually hear some bona-fide Blackamerican Gospel, which is why I welcome Castle Select’s release of “The Golden Age of Gospel” CD (SELCD 584) which has 21 tracks culled from the VEE JAY catalogue. If you like Gospel then you probably wont need any recommendation from me to buy it, but, not only is it a good cross section example of various Gospel styles and modes, it has absorbing liner notes from Roger St. Pierre as well as some very authentic looking archive photos of some of the featured groups. But, the gap between Gospel and Soul may not at first hearing seem all that wide, but on a closer listen it is in fact a chasm. And I’m not referring to the lyrics and the different types of love they express, but the musical structure itself. It is a little tricky to put it delicately, but Gospel, unlike Soul, never reaches a climax of resolution. It takes you there, and leaves you there: presumably hanging on in to experience the “high” that the music has led you to, in an abstract, spiritual way, rather than in the earth-locked way Soul delivers. The one brings you before the Throne, the other brings you before Desire. Of course my analysis might well be coloured by my unrepentant atheism because for me if Gospel music lifts me, it ultimately lifts me Nowheresville, and leaves me waiting for the punch line. But, the journey sure is stimulating and exciting, and I’ve always had a weakness for anything that moves and lives and breathes, so even I can get an awful lot from hearing pure Gospel! 

Bob Fisher at Connoisseur had a brilliant idea to celebrate “Blues & Soul” being in business for over 30 years, and has started to issue what will eventually be a 12 volume set of CDs, each covering the sides readers’ voted as their favourites in various epochs. And he’s gotten all past and present contributors to do the liner notes for their particular era. John Abbey of course, as founding editor, kicks off on Volume 1 (1966 - 1969), and yours truly has Volume 2 (1970 - 1971), and so on down the line. Of course hard-core Soul fans may well have the bulk of the sides included, but for people on the fringes, or who have just started to put their toe in the water, these are fine collections of the tracks which enjoyed the widest popularity when they were new. 

News reaches me that Macon, Georgia is going to erect a statue to one of its outstanding sons, Otis Redding, in its new Gateway Park. Having already featured Otis on a U.S. postage stamp, this is another fitting tribute to a talent that had an influence all around the world, and a man who undoubtedly brought Soul music to the attention of many who previously were unaware of its special magic. It is also the first statue to a Blackamerican in Macon. 

Recent goodies that I’ve enjoyed from Ace-Kent include Ady Croasdell’s superb raiding of the Atlantic group’s vaults for “Our Turn To Cry” (Kent CDKEND 195). Focusing his usual good taste on those sides which sometimes got lost in the rush (tell me the old, old story!), it is a fascinating selection of mainly ballads from many well-respected names (James Carr, Doris Troy, The Soul Brothers Six, Dee Dee Warwick, Bettye Swann, Bettye Lavette etc), and a few others who dropped by, only to drop out after having cut just a couple of sides. Highly recommended. 

Locales which are programming the ever-growing revival for pure R&B absolutely must include Geater Davis’ “Nice And Easy” from his Westside CD “Sadder Shades of Blue” (WESA 806). But, it must be the “Alternate Take” since this was one of those rare occasions when the issued cut was over-egged and consequently not so groovy, so you won’t be able to get it on vinyl... But what the heck, are we into labels, rarity, one-up-manship or MUSIC? It’d make a superb closer for an R&B evening. Although it was cut as late as 1974, it is a true classic of the genre. 

Great news reaches me that the one and only Bettye Lavette has recently pacted to Blues Express Records in San Francisco. Hope they appreciate that they have one of the greatest Soul singers out there, and a vocalist who not only can sing straight and true, but one who also attitudes straight and true as well! Can’t wait to hear what she’s planning to hit us with. She’s also appearing at the Poretta Soul Festival in Italy next month, so if you fancy some Soul and some sun, that’s the place to head for! Something tells me that San Francisco is going to be awfully good for Bettye, and Bettye’s going to be awfully baaaaad for San Francisco! Stand by for an earthquake of Soulfulness! 

Quotes worth remembering:

“A critic without personal feeling is not worth reading.” Bernard Shaw 

Until next time. Keep the faith!