NEW ORLEANS SOUL: THE ORIGINAL SOUND OF NEW ORLEANS SOUL 1960-1976.

NEW ORLEANS SOUL: THE ORIGINAL SOUND OF NEW ORLEANS SOUL 1960-1976.

Over the past ten years, Soul Jazz Records have been documenting the history of New Orleans’ funk. They’ve released a number of lovingly compiled, and critically acclaimed compilations. These compilations were some of the best compilations of New Orleans’ funk released during that period. They eloquently told the story of New Orleans’ funk. Now Soul Jazz Records have decided to move onto New Orleans’ soul. 

Their first compilation of New Orleans’ soul is New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76, which will be released on Soul Jazz Records on 29th October 2014. Featuring twenty-one tracks, New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 is a compilation that showcases the various sub-genres of New Orleans’ soul. 

Among the twenty-one tracks on New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 is the deep soul of Aaron Neville, Robert Parker and Willie Tee. Then there’s the Northern Soul of Eldridge Holmes and Maurice Williams. That’s not all. If you like your soul funky, then there’s contributions from Eddie Bo, Ernie K-Doe and Lionel Robinson. However, New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 isn’t just about New Orleans’ soul men.

Some of New Orleans’ soul sisters feature on New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76. There’s Barbara West, Betty Harris, Francine King and Inell Young. Then there’s the hugely underrated Jean Knight. Featuring twice is Irma Thomas, the undisputed Queen of New Orleans. Irma isn’t the only artist to feature twice.

If Irma Thomas was the Queen of New Orleans, Aaron Neville must be King. He’s from one of New Orleans’ leading musical families. Along with his brother Art Neville, they enjoyed commercial success as The Neville Brothers. Separately, Art and Aaron enjoyed successful solo careers. They played an important part in New Orleans’ musical history. It’s documented in New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Opening New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 is Robert Parker’s Caught You in a Lie. This was the B-Side to Robert’s 1967 single Holdin’ Out. Released on Nola Records, Caught You In A Lie was penned by Wilbert Lee Diamond Smith. Caught You in a Lie was later recorded by Gregory Isaacs. However, Robert’s version is the definitive version. It’s an outpouring of despair, emotion and heartbreak. He delivers the lyrics as if he’s lived and survived them. 

Willie Tee has always been synonymous with Deep Soul. His career started in 1962, when he released Always Accused on A.F.O. Records. Ten years later, Wille was signed to Gatur Records. He released Funky, Funky Twist as a single in 1972. Tucked away on the B-Side was First Taste of Hurt. Written by Wilson Turbinton, Taste of Hurt, Taste of Hurt is a glorious slice of Deep Soul featuring a hurt-filled vocal masterclass from Willie Tee.

In New Orleans, Irma Thomas is musical royalty. She’s referred to as the Queen of New Orleans. That’s why she contributes two tracks. They’re  What’s So Wrong With You Loving Me and She’ll Never Be Your Wife. Both track from Irma’s 1973 album In Between Tears. It was produced by Swamp Dogg, and released on Fungus Records. In Between Tears was Irma’s comeback album. She hadn’t released an album since 1966. Sadly, it wasn’t a commercial success. However, In Between Tears is an underrated album that showcases the vocal talents of the undisputed Queen of New Orleans.

After the Queen of New Orleans, comes the King, Aaron Neville. He contributes three tracks. They show the two sides of Aaron Neville. There’s the balladry You Can Give But You Can’t Take and She’s On My Mind, then the dance-floor friendly A Hard Nut to Crack. You Can Give But You Can’t Take was the B-Side to Aaron’s single Where Is My Baby? It was released on Bell Records in 1969.  It’s best described as Deep Soul ballad with gospel-tinged harmonies. She’s on My Mind was the B-Side to All These Things. This thoughtful ballad was arranged and produced by Allen Toussaint, a legendary figure in New Orleans music. Aaron’s final contribution is A Hard Nut to Crack, which was released as a single in 1967. Back then, Aaron was signed to Parlo Records. Written by George Davis and Lee Diamond, it’s an irresistible slice of stomping, dance-floor friendly soul music.

There are some artists that never reach the heights their talent deserves. Jean Knight falls into that category. Her contribution is What One Man Won’t Do Another Man Will. It was released as a single on Open Records in 1976. Written by James A. Cames, What One Man Won’t Do Another Man Will is reminiscent to the music Jean released on Stax Records. Braying horns and cooing harmonies punctuate the arrangement as Jean delivers a sassy, strutting vocal. 

Another important figure in the New Orleans music scene is Eldridge Holmes. So it’s fitting that three of his tracks feature on New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76. Fifty years ago, in 1964, Eldridge released Gone, Gone, Gone as a single on Jet Set Records. Just like the B-SIde, Worried Over You, it was written and produced by Allen Toussaint. Both singles feature soul-baring vocals from Eldridge. Despair and despondency are omnipresent. It’s as if he’s felt the pain he’s singing about. Eldridge’s other contribution is Lovely Woman, which was written by Eldridge and produced by Allen Toussaint and Marshall E. Sehorn. Lovely Woman was released as a single in 1971, on Deesu, an imprint of Allen Toussaint’s Sansu label. It’s a mid-tempo track that’s bound to go down well within the Northern Soul crowd.

Barbara West contributes another Northern Soul track, Congratulations Baby. This was the B-Side to Barbara’s single Give Me Back The Man I Love. It was released on Ronn Records in 1969. Written by Touissant McCall and produced by Gene Kent, Congratulations Baby is an anthemic hidden gem that’s guaranteed to fill dance-floors.

It was Big Maybelle that encouraged Betty Harris to embark upon a musical career. Her  debut single was a cover of Solomon Burke’sC ry To Me. It was released on Jubilee Records in 1963. Six years later, somewhat belatedly, Betty released her debut album Soul Perfection. It’s a fitting name for this much prized album. Released on Action Records, Soul Perfection was produced by Allen Toussaint and Marshall E. Sehorn. One of Soul Perfection’s many highlights was I Don’t Wanna Hear It. It was written by Naomi Neville, which was an alias of Allen Toussaint. I Don’t Wanna Hear It is the perfect showcase for one New Orleans’ best kept musical secrets. Quite simply, it’s two minutes of frustration, anger, emotion and controlled power.

Jimmy Hicks only released one single, I’m Mr Big Stuff. It was released in 1972 on Big Deal Records. However, it wasn’t I’m Mr Big Stuff that caught people’s attention. No. Instead, the B-Side Tell Her That I Love You found favour among the Northern Soul DJs. That’s not a surprise. Tell Her That I Love is a beautiful, wistful, track.

No compilation of New Orleans’ soul would be complete without an Eddie Bo track. There’s plenty to choose from. Don’t Turn Me Loose was the B-Side of Can You Handle It. It was released as a single on B-Sound in 1969. Edwin Bocage wrote Don’t Turn Me Loose and Eddie arranged and produced it. Funky and soulful, Eddie vamps his way through Don’t Turn Me Loose. This is the perfect introduction to one of New Orleans’ soul legends, Eddie Bo.

Closing New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 is Inell Young’s I’ve Never Considered. Innel Young might be a new name to most people. That’s no surprise. She released just three singles. I’ve Never Considered the B-Side to His Love For Me. It’s a beautiful song that oozes quality. No wonder. Edwin Bocage wrote it, and it was arranged and produced by Eddie Bo. Released on the Busy-B label, His Love For Me sunk without trace. Maybe if if I’ve Never Considered had been released as a single, it would’ve fared better? After all, it’s a beautiful heartfelt ballad that’s delivered with feeling and emotion.

From the moment you put on New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76, you’re transported to the Big Easy. Memories of  the Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street come to mind. They’re at the heart of what’s one of America’s musical capitals, New Orleans. It has a rich and eclectic musical history. Part of New Orleans’ musical heritage is soul music. 

This means soul men like Aaron Neville, Eddie Bo, Robert Parker, Willie Tee, Eldridge Holmes and Maurice Williams. Then there soul sisters like Barbara West, Betty Harris,J ean Knight, Inell Young and the undisputed Queen Of New Orleans, Irma Thomas. They all feature on what’s the first of Soul Jazz exploration of New Orleans’ soul New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76. It’ll be released on Soul Jazz Records on 29th September 2014. This is a compilation not to be missed.

From the opening bars of Willie Tee’s Taste of Hurt, right through to the closing notes of Innel Young’s I’ve Never Considered, it’s quality all the way. There’s no filler, whatsoever, just quality soul music. Singles, album tracks, B-Sides and hidden gems sit side-by-side. The obvious has been eschewed. Instead, Soul Jazz Records have dug a lot deeper. They flipped singles over and found some soulful delights on B-Sides. Whether it’s dancers or ballads, they ooze quality. So do the two album tracks from Irma Thomas’ 1973 Swamp Dogg produced album In Between Tears. Then there’s the singles. Don’t expect hit singles. No. Hidden gems are the name of the game on New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76. 

It’s no exaggeration to describe New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 as littered with hidden gems and soulful surprises. New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 features twenty-one tracks from the soul men and soul sisters of New Orleans. This is just the first of series of  lovingly compiled compilations of New Orleans’ soul from Soul Jazz Records. Having documented the story of New Orleans’ funk, now it’s the turn of New Orleans’ soul. New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 is just the beginning. Many more compilations will follow from Soul Jazz Records. I’m sure that just like New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76, they’ll be full of hidden gems and soulful delights.

NEW ORLEANS SOUL: THE ORIGINAL SOUND OF NEW ORLEANS SOUL 1960-1976.

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