Three Soul Records from Non-Soul Artists

by Administrator 30. November 2017 13:55

As a musician grows and gains notoriety for their music, they often get shoehorned into a specific genre. They become known for their jazzy voice or bluesy style, and all of a sudden their audience gets surprised if they release any music that is different from the kind recorded in the past.

Because of that, it’s difficult for musicians to break free from the mold they cast themselves in. But musicians are artists! Most of the time, they want to make music that expresses themselves. Most of them don’t enjoy being stuck in one genre. That’s why you get records where an artist has a completely new sound.

To give you a taste of how it feels when a musician embraces their role as an artist and breaks free of the restrictions that genre imposes upon them, we’ve gathered a few incredible soul records from artists who weren’t known for their soul singing.

Answer to the Want Ads by Bobo Mr. Soul – Ovide 252 (Released 1968)

Label owner: Skipper Lee Fraser, 4406 Reed Rd., Houston, TX & 1831 Southmore, Houston, TX (1967-1971)

Side A: Answer to the Want Ads
Side B: H.L.I.C.

We’re starting off the record with Beau Williams, also known as Bobo Mr. Soul. His name suggests that he’s most soul-focused artist on this list. However, he isn’t. Mr. Soul has an interesting history. Despite focusing on soul under his alias, he is most commonly known for his gospel song “Wonderful,” which stayed in the top ten charts for two straight months. In fact, Wikipedia only mentions Williams’ time as Bobo Mr. Soul in passing.

Williams recorded “Answer to the Want Ads” when he was only 18 years old. Despite his young age, and record captures perfectly the essence of soul. Bobo Mr. Soul shows us that age is only a number when it comes to soul music.

The A side of this album, “Answer to the Want Ads,” puts the soul in “Bobo Mr. Soul.” The song features the claplike rhythm and chorus sound. that are so typical of soul. Instead of the typical call-and-response that soul typically features, the trumpets and guitar in the backround boom with their light, treble-y sounds and fill the role that background singers would have played. If you try, you could almost imagine those trumpets in the background as high-pitched singers.

The B side has a distinctly funkier sound, with a hard beat and the guitar laying down a backing that seems to bounce. Whereas the first was more desperate and pleading, this song is confident and authoritative.

96 Tears by Big Maybelle – Rojac 112 (Released 1967)

Label Owner: Jack Taylor. 115 West 116th St., New York, NY; 417 West 126th, New York, N.Y.; 112 West 78th St., New York, N.Y., & 129 Lenox Ave. New York, N.Y.

Side A: 96 Tears
Side B: That’s Life

Big Maybelle, full name Maybel Louise Smith, went by another name: America’s Queen Mother of Soul. Despite her title, she is known mostly as a R&B singer. Her most popular song, “Candy,” (recorded in 1956) is a sultry blues song that received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.

Big Maybelle didn’t get her name from her large size. She got it from her deep, rich, and booming voice. Listen to anything—anything at all—of hers, and you’ll understand. She could fill any room with her voice.

Big Maybelle’s recording of 96 tears was her only single that ever reached the Billboard Pop charts, and it was her last hit before she died. It’s also a cover of the same song by ? and the Mysterians. The most interesting thing about this recording of 96 tears is that Big Maybelle completely transformed the song from garage punk (early punk from the 60s) into a deep, soulful song. This is especially surprising considering Maybelle’s upbringing as a gospel singer and her prominence as a R&B singer.

But don’t sleep on the B Side! It’s also very soul-like, a saxaphone playing in quick, short bursts, resembling hand claps, indicative of the typical call and response that features in soul music.

How I Feel About You by Frank Butler – Space Age 260 (1960s)

Side A: How I Feel About You
Side B: Some One Outside

Like the rest of our featured singers, Chicago-based Frank Butler was much more of a blues singer than a soul one. In fact, this record in particular seemed to have struck a chord with soul fans in northern England during the ‘60s, becoming one of the earliest entries of the rare genre known now as northern soul.

Little is known about the Space Age label. In fact, the only other record released by Space Age was another Frank Butler single. We don’t know where they came from or where they went, but we’re grateful for the records they left us with.

“How I Feel About You” is definitely the fastest-tempoed soul record on this list. It’s also the only one to feature an organ. Like the other tracks in this list, the trumpets take the role of background singers and call forth the image of a chorus singer in church. One listen to this track and you’ll with Frank Butler had stuck around to sing some more soul.

The B side, Some One Outside, is just about impossible to find on the internet. To give it a listen, you can check out the sample on our site! Of course, you could always buy the record and listen to the whole thing yourself.

Add Some Soul to Your Collection

Pricing, details (grade, side A/B, quantity) and sound clips for each of the above records can be found via the following links:

Answer to the Want Ads – Bobo Mr. Soul

96 Tears – Big Maybelle

How I Feel About You – Frank Butler

We provide a simple online ordering form for any of our records. Enter your billing and shipping information, provide details about the record you’re requesting, hit submit, and relax knowing that your ears will have all the soul food they could want.

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