Monday, September 22, 2008

What’s with the ’60s soul fetish?

As I’ve mentioned before, Raphael Saddiq and Nikka Costa have new albums totally drenched in a ’60s soul vibe. But they’re not the only ones acting like they cut their records in Muscle Shoals, Ala., or the basement of Hitsville.

Below are three music videos – from Solange Knowles, Estelle and Ryan Shaw – illustrating there’s a full-blown fetish going on.

(At least Estelle has an excuse; she’s from the U.K. The Brits never stopped loving our soul music.)

I’m not knocking it. Just seems a little gimmicky.

23 comments:

that dude said...

What-EVER! I'm old and I like good music! I encourage this trend!

Dollar Bill said...

But they all just wish they had a ounce of what Sharon Jones has.

Great to hear more of that new old sound,but they are arriving late to the party.

newtoast said...

I really like Raphael Saadiq, and was really looking forward to the new album, but the vintage obsession kinda left me cold. I think I like him more when he's on a little bit of a forward-thinking tip.

Kellybelle said...

I like Ryan Shaw and Sharon Jones, but just as I'm about to close the deal and buy their cds, I realize I could listen to Sam Cooke or Etta James.
I think it's cute for the younger kids, to get them off Ne-Yo, but I just want someone to write some good lyrics, compose some good music and make a good album.

bklyn6 said...

Just seems a little gimmicky.

But, anachronistic! I kinda like that Ryan Shaw's not wearing a sharkskin suit and that he's got locks and not a process with a doo-rag tied around it. :-)

And let's not forget Duffy.

daughterofthedream said...

I'm thinking I dig the 60s-ish vibe Adele's got going on in Chasing Pavements a bit better than these folk

Undercover Black Man said...

Bklyn6: I'd not seen Duffy. I like that Farfisa organ sound. But, like Kellybelle say, in a pinch I'll reach for some vintage Stax/Atlantic/Motown.

Anonymous said...

Can't speak for the others but check Saadiq's back catalog back to Tony Tone Toni. He always had a kinda vintage flavor. The new one may go all the way with it but for him it isn't a new fetish.

bklyn6 said...

Can't speak for the others but check Saadiq's back catalog back to Tony Tone Toni. He always had a kinda vintage flavor.

"Thinking of You" from their "House of Music" CD sounds like something Al Green would've sang. (Aside from "Let's Get Down" I don't remember what the rest of the CD sounds like.) And the cover is very 60s.

that dude said...

We're really talking about "neo-soul", which has been around since the arrival of Anita Baker.

And yes, I agree when it's a little more modern in execution. Raphael's previous work, Jill Scott's music or the new Estelle album, which is great, and very modern. Not like the song you used (which is not on the album).

Folks are going hardcore with retro vibe to satify that audience that Amy Winehouse left on her way to the crackhouse.

But lyrically Amy was as modern as her sound was retro...references to the Slick Rick show and all...

Invisible Hand said...

Totally gimmicky. And you know what most of those acts are missing -- soul. Right now most of it seems like a marketing technique. Cute British girls singing quasi-contemporary songs about Boys or text-messaging and whatnot or slicked out guys crooning and stepping to glorified samples. The only one who stands out to me is Amy Winehouse for the reasons That Dude mentioned (and the reasons she's pretty much a train wreck). She's the only one who really brings a point of view to her work.

bklyn6 said...

But lyrically Amy was as modern as her sound was retro...references to the Slick Rick show and all...

"What kind of fuckery is this? You made me miss the Slick Rick gig."

Golden.

MacDaddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MacDaddy said...

Undercover: You know the music just great. The thing is: Kids singing and playing the music now at first thought the music just their parent's stuff. Now, having gotten older, they see the connection between their music and their parent's. And when trying to sing or play it, they're seeing that it was as easily to play or produce as they've thought-- that a lot went into making those songs a hit.

newtoast said...

Can't speak for the others but check Saadiq's back catalog back to Tony Tone Toni. He always had a kinda vintage flavor. The new one may go all the way with it but for him it isn't a new fetish.

No doubt, but that little spark of modernity brought a lot to the table. Without it I keep thinking I'm better off pulling out some Marvin or Donny Hathaway. I love Saadiq, but he's not beating those guys at their own game.

I start to lose interest in neo-soul when it forgets the "neo" portion of the equation. It's a tough line to walk, but if it was easy anybody could do it.

That said, I make an exception for Sharon Jones because she just sounds so damn good.

bumpster said...

Gimmicky, lacking soul, and may be because the tracks were not laid down by great musicians who spent their lives searching for the groove. Thank God they did not discard the stuff that came up short.

bklyn6 said...

Faith Evans - "Mesmerized"

I love this cut. It's got an old school soul feel to it.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Nasty. Especially the change.

I don't listen to the radio or watch BET so I never heard this before.

Dacks said...

Oliver "Soul Sides" Wang wrote a great post on this subject http://soul-sides.com/2007/04/retro-soul-basic-and-we-mean-basic.html

He draws a distinction btn neo and retro soul, in which the latter is very much about the vintage sound of the music.

The only aspect of retro soul that leaves me cold is its perfection. So many songs today sound like they're ready to be turned into samples at any given moment, whereas when you listen to soul from the 60s and 70s, often the entire song would lead up to one fantastic breakbeat which would fade back into the mix as soon as it played out.

There is a more dynamic kind of energy in older stuff which retro-soul often fails to capture.

But Daptone is getting better and better. Check out the Menahan Street Band...

The Stepfather of Soul said...

This is indeed a very interesting phenomenon, one that I am glad to see happening. I know Eli Reed (who you discussed yesterday), and I can tell you he's the REAL DEAL. I DJ with some white guys who are all about soul music, and there's a hunger out there for this stuff. I think a lot of commercial R&B (or what passes as R&B on many radio stations) has run out of creative ideas and out of passion. You can't fake soul, despite the number of runs you can squeeze into a song. Of course, I think the original '60s soul is the best, but I'm tickled pink to know that there's at least an interest in the old soul sound, whatever may motivate the performers thereof.

Jason Stone
"Get on Down With the Stepfather of Soul!"
http://stepfatherofsoul.blogspot.com

Undercover Black Man said...

I think a lot of commercial R&B (or what passes as R&B on many radio stations) has run out of creative ideas and out of passion.

I totally agree with that, Jason.

As for the revivalists... I'll keep an open mind and two open ears, but I'm still not thrilled by it.

Anonymous said...

Source for mesmerized sampled from george benson

bklyn6 said...

^Cool. I didn't know that anonymous. Don't think I've ever heard that George Benson song, either.

Notice when she sings, "You put that thang on me, that thang, baby", she's singing it to the melody of the O'Jay's "For the Love of Money" the part that goes: "Do things
do things, do bad, bad things with it."