1/21/2005

Modern soul, late sound funk, and black disco

Peter Beaver sent a sound clip of the Raj 45 seen below, and I realized I needed to do a post of these subgenres of soul. The whole issue of what belongs in which catagory becomes very difficult when dealing with these sounds.
You may have noticed I used the term "black disco" it's the best description I can think of for tracks that are rhythmically similar to disco but have distinct characteristics ie more syncopation, and "funky" changes that differentiate them from traditional disco cuts. Of course as the name implies they are mostly made by black artists.
Modern soul is even harder to define. For me it is a catch all for any track that doesn't fit into the other 2 catagories. I know the traditional definition is based on late 70's Northern Soul spins, but I have to put it into a contemperary context. It's also sometimes used to describe all "later" soul tracks.
Late sound funk is just funk rhythms with the addition of new musical instruments and trends during the 70's, like slap bass, vocoders, and synths. There is also a tendency to "square up" the rhythm on these cuts less Meters, and more Funkadelic. All of these trends in homemade music were highly influenced by popular music. Of course all of the terms are subjective, and I'm sure anyone could further subdivide these catagories.
So after that long winded preface here's some examples.

Something Inside-Raj
Everybody's on a trip -Garden of Eden
Get Up and Dance-Brothers by Choice
Love Crave-Larry Mayfield
Le Beat-Lo End

9 Comments:

Blogger andy noble said...

Its great to have some modern soul/disco 45 sound archiving going on. Where as you have this massive sound reference resource in funk45.com, there really is no modern/disco/80s version of that. That could be a whole blog to itself at least..
Also, curious as to what the Brits think of Le Beat and the Brothers by Choice?? Are those known at all over there? I know Cal had the Brothers and Keb I believe has the Lo End.. Also, who has the other Lo End 45 on New World?? Saw it at Dante's house, but thats it....

1/22/2005 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Brent Goodsell said...

Honestly this stuff isn't my style except for a select few. I just felt the need to put some up.

1/22/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Flavor Dav said...

Wasn't disco intially "black"? Not to mention perhaps "hispanic"? Wouldn't "White Disco" be the latecoming exception, even if disco, in the wake particularly of Saturday Night Fever, became more and more, at least "aboveground," a genre as white as John Travolta's SNF suit? Expect a deconstructive barrage from the graduate student flank, if I have to give the command myself ...

1/22/2005 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Brent Goodsell said...

I disagree, while the influences of what became the fad of disco are rooted in black and latin music the sound that is being emulated on most records has nothing to do with these original sounds, and more to do with the commercialized corporate version. Some kids in the inner city of Chicago (Lo End) were listening to commercial radio, and hearing hit records. They were of course also influenced by earlier sounds. There motivation was to make a hit record.

1/22/2005 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Brent Goodsell said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/23/2005 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger Flavor Dav said...

I'm assuming that deleted comment was something we've already covered in person (one of those fringe benefits I get here, I guess), but, for the sake of the readership here, I can only reassert that "black disco" sounds redundant, no matter if we're talking African-American acts who recorded tracks after the, I don't know, "whitening," or at any rate, mainstreaming, commercialization, whatever, of disco.

"Post disco," a la "postpunk"? Tres late-twentieth century, non? This is of course to beg the question of the need or context for or use or value of (and these are all distinct considerations) such classificatory schemes, which are rarely even internally consistent when it comes to music.

"Northern" is a good example of the problems involved here. Based on who plays what record where to a given audience and for a given purpose. It's descriptive of the tracks involved insofar as one is familiar with what gets played, appreciated, sold an bought as "Northern," but has nothing to do with the tracks in and of themselves. Ditto, to a certain extent, "Mod."

Whereas, say, "Philly" is based on where (not to mention when) a given record was produced (assuming a certain characteristic production style at that time/place). Ditto, albeit more broadly, "Chicago" or "Atlanta" or "Memphis" or "New Orleans" or ... while "Motown" or "Stax" refer more specifically to a house (production, performance, material) style, and "funk" refers to a (fuzzy, but generally recognizable nonetheless) set of musical characteristics, and ...

And then there are all the various combinations of such considerations ("Milwaukee funk," "Mod R&B shouter," "blue-eyed soul," et al.). This all may seem like a belaboring of the obvious, but it points out that such classifications depend on a variety of considerations, which depend on a variety of circumsatnhces, and take hold by virtue of a given community of listeners with certain inetrests and investments. Academic, maybe, but I'm always fascinated by these things and how they work, so ...

1/23/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Flavor Dav said...

But what's also interesting in your initial comments is the bit about "homemade" records being influenced by commercial, mainstream, whatever music, which reverses the recived wisdom about how pop music tends to operate, i.e., from under to above ground.

I think this might be similar to much "Northern" soul, in that many tracks taken up by the scene were recorded by small label, small time, small batch, whatever, acts, emulating, in particular, Motown. They just did it on the cheap, and they did it either to extremes (the strings, the "soul" bells, the nigh unto four-on-the-floor stomp beat), or they got it "wrong" and mutated it (from the recent CD comp, Shrine Records' output in particular strikes me as the garage rock--garage soul?--of the scene).

And that in turn reminds me of a lot of the "deep funk" or whatever I hear you all spinning. As a friend once put, and put it well it in re: some favorite indie records, "some small potatoes guy's idea of what's cool."

But getting back to classification, okay, NOW I've actually listened to the tracks immediately in question here, and maybe "black disco" isn't the worst first approximation, though back in the day, these'd for all intents and purposes be simply the R&B records of the time. "Urban Contemporary," apres rap (or, at any rate, before teh mainstreaming of hip-hop). But I'm more comfortably with "R&B" vs "soul" here ...

1/23/2005 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Flavor Dav said...

Oops, "avant le," not "apres" rap. Pardon mon (faux), er, French ...

1/23/2005 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous rob said...

Stumbles across your blog looking for Raj. Great work here, really good. I know what you mean about the challenge of categorizing. Growing up on the soul scene in the north of England I can spot a modern soul tune a mile off. If I tried to explain it I would confuse everyone. The soul scene is so snobby. My sister convinced Arthur Fenn to play Pasadenas - Riding on a train ( BRADFORD QUEENS HALL) in a bit to support UK soul, many would frown on this but it did have all the elements of a modern soul tune. They invented the term crossover which left a nice little pathway for the northern fans to gingerly step forward whilst remaining snobby.

Is there a way I can download your links? if not can you email me an MP3, RAJ? you would make my day.

Keep up the great work

Rob

7/12/2011 04:59:00 PM  

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