Thursday, April 9, 2015


"Sweet Soul Music!"  

Say what?  

Chester Coppock announces his 30 favorite soul classics.  

Kent, let me get you warmed up. 

As you know, I have been digging what was once called "Race Music"  since I first heard the Bo Diddley beat back around 1956.  

I love R and B. I will always treasure the nights I spent at the legendary Regal Theater at 47th and South Parkway (King Drive) back in the mid-to-late 60's. Many times, I was the only white dude in the building.  

Now, let's clarify one major point ... you don’t have to be black to sing soul. Bob Seger brought far more urban grit and Mississippi delta funk to "Turn the Page" than Smokey Robinson did to "Tracks of my Tears", an R and B classic. I'll argue that point until closing time.  

There are some names on my list that will raise eyebrows. 

Hey, my house - my game.  

The Beach Boys? Yes, they made the cut. As we wander down the path, I will explain why.  

Game time:  

1. "I Only Have Eyes for You" - The Flamingos
The song is without peer. Quite simply, the doo-wop benchmark. Who doesn't love the haunting band track?  


2. "I've Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now)" - Otis Redding
Off the album "Otis Blue".  Forget about "Sittin' on (The Dock of the Bay)."  This is the mighty Otis in a gospel-like plea to his lady.

3. "You Are Everything (And Everything is You)" - The Stylistics
The brilliance of Russell Thompkins, Jr. at his musical peak.

4. "It's Only Make Believe" - Conway Twitty
Ok, I can hear the groans from here to Newfoundland. Yes, Twitty was a country stud, but here's my question: would Al Green have brought any more punch to this tune than Conway did? Of course not.

5. "Ebb Tide" - The Righteous Brothers
The unmistakable sound of Phil Spector ... and the remarkably synergy of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield ... make this a heartfelt journey to your heart and your gut.

6. "Love TKO" - Teddy Pendergrass
The urgency of "TKO" is a hungry man telling his babe, "It's goin' down tonight - big time."

7. "Wandering Stranger"-  Lionel Richie
A cut from his first solo album that really should have been pitched as a single. Absolutely Lionel at his best.

8. "Tell it Like it Is" - Aaron Neville
I love this song as much now as I did nearly 50 years ago. I can't begin to image how many R and B
stars Aaron has inspired.


9. "My True Story" - The Jive Five
Eugene Pitt has made a living for about 54 years off this one simple but superbly crafted tune.

10. "Black Man" - Stevie Wonder
The final cut off the unmatched "Songs In Tthe Key of Life" album. A remarkably ambitious number by the most versatile musician of the 20th century.

11. "Funky Broadway" - Wilson Pickett
I was tempted to go with "634-5789", but this is the jagged-edged Pickett at his howling best.

12. Tie: "Heard it Through the Grapevine" and "Sexual Healing" - Marvin Gaye
How many kids have been conceived while either of these songs was on the turntable?

13. "Hold On, I'm Comin'" - Sam and Dave
A raucous, sexualized dance number from two guys who couldn’t stand each other.

14."Sea of Love" - Phil Phillips
Phil had the talent, but apparently not the backing,  to be another Sam Cooke.

15. "I'm So Young" - The Beach Boys
An elegant cover of a song originally done by "The Students" tells you that Brian Wilson loved R and B as much as the "Four Freshman."

16. "Be My Baby" - Ronnie Specter
God, I worshiped Ronnie Specter.

17. "Daddy's Home" - Usher
Brilliant orchestration and a rich, but tender, vocal.

18. "High Time We Went" - Joe Cocker
The raging Brit just tore the cover off the ball. James Brown couldn’t have sung the song any better.

19. "Lonely Teardrops" - Jackie Wilson
God, did Jackie have pipes.


20. "There Was A Time" - James Brown
The Godfather with riveting horns and the chicken scratch guitar.


21. "Bring it on Home to Me" - Sam Cooke
A song that defines a generation.


22. "Respect Yourself" - The Staple Singers
A masterpiece that seems to preach harmony, but essentially suggests that the white race wake up.

23. "Dead End Street" - Lou Rawls
Lou as a jazz singer never matched Lou as a soul singer. An urban masterpiece.

24. "Since I Lost My Baby" - The Temptations
Lead singer David Ruffin's finest vocal effort with the pride and joy of Motown.

25.  "Walk Away Renee" - The Four Tops
Brilliant cover of the song originally done by something called "The Left Banke."

26. "Oh Girl" - The Chi-Lites
The windy city is on the board.

27. "In the Still of the Night" - Five Satins
I should probably have this song about 10 notches higher.


28. "Your Precious Love" - Jerry Butler
The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer with an absolute knockout punch. His voice is as pure as a Stradivarius.

29. "I Never Loved a Man (The Way  I Love You)" - Aretha Franklin
I'll pass on "Respect." This is the song the Queen of Soul was born to sing.

30. "He's a Rebel" - Darlene Love
Where are "The Crystals? Darlene WAS the Crystals!

Ok, advise the house that they may chime in here ... I thought this might spark some audience debate!
-- Chet Coppock