Lately for some reason I’ve been on this huge soul kick. Let me rephrase that I’ve been on a huge late 60s/70s soul kick. I’ve said this before, but I suppose it bears repeating that soul just isn’t the same as it used to be. Guitar driven rock is making a comeback in a big way with such groups as Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket & The Gaslight Anthem leading the way. But soul just hasn’t followed suit. There was hope maybe a decade ago with the emergence of D’Angelo but he quickly faded into obscurity.
Don’t talk to me about Erykah Badu or Mary J. Blige. Not soul. Not as far as I’m concerned. Soul is Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding or Bill Withers. This was the “hey-day” of soul. The sound that served as a soundtrack to so much of 70s blaxploitation films is relegated to mere curiosity as so much of today’s soul is pop driven garbage. Maybe 30 years from now someone will get on their soap box and proclaim Jill Scott as one of the best female vocalists of a generation, but frankly I just don’t see it & believe me I’ve tried.
As far as I’m concerned Bill Withers just epitomized what soul music in the 70s was all about…funky, soulful with a voice that could melt butter. When he sings it sounds almost effortless as he begs the woman he’s with to keep using him as she sees fit. Watch how tight the musicians are in the video from a 1973 BBC concert. The drummer is my favorite with his Bootsie Collins glasses, big afro & killer outfit.
Bill Withers @ The BBC