Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Soulful Expressions
by Gregg Shapiro
2004-02-18

This article shared 1317 times since Wed Feb 18, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


I used to frequent the recently defunct Topper's Music record store on Broadway in Uptown. Mike, the owner, was a veritable musical encyclopedia, with a particular focus on vintage soul and R&B. Many times I'd hear his clientele come through the door, looking for a particular song, and more often than not Mike was able to help them locate said tune. Inevitably, in trying to describe the song, they'd say that the singer sounded like someone else, Minnie Riperton or Al Green, and with that simple point of reference the search was narrowed down to a handful of choices. Such comparisons (or sometimes contrasts) also aid in reviewing music.

Take the self-titled debut disc by Van Hunt (Capitol), for example. In addition to some of the more obvious comparisons, such as Terence Trent D'Arby ('Seconds Of Pleasure,' 'What Can I Say') and Sly & The Family Stone ('Highlights,' 'Out Of The Sky'), the disc also reminded me of some of Van Hunt's contemporaries such as Kenna ('Dust,' 'Hold My Hand'). Even with all of these associations, Van Hunt emerges as his own (soul) man, and songs such as 'Hello, Goodbye,' 'Down Here In Hell (With You),' 'Precious,' and 'Her December,' are a memorable introduction to a new and soulful force.

Alicia Keys had a daunting task before her with the release of her second album The Diary Of Alicia Keys (J). Her debut disc, Songs In A Minor, was a top-selling album (one of the first for Clive Davis's new J Records label), as well as a Grammy Award winner. Keys' sound was an amalgam of the female R&B vocalists who came before her, and yet managed to sound unique and original. Like Aretha Franklin, Keys is a gifted pianist, and that separates her from many of her contemporaries. The piano continues to play an important role on The Diary … as you can hear on the disc opener, piano number, 'Harlem's Nocturne.' Keys' key-work is a constant throughout the disc which has a strong retro feel via covers of classic soul, such as 'If I Was Your Woman,' as well as new numbers that respectfully update the past, such as 'You Don't Know My Name,' 'If I Ain't Got You,' 'Dragon Days,' 'Wake Up,' 'Samsonite Man.' Keep an eye out for the import version of the disc, which includes the hip-hop flavored track 'Streets of New York.'

It's nearly impossible to listen to Soulful (J/19), the debut disc by American Idol competition winner Ruben Studdard without hearing the through line to him from Luther Vandross. The similarities are chilling. Whether, like Luther, he's covering 'Superstar' or other vintage classics such as 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart' or 'For All We Know,' or making a full-fledged reference to Luther as he does at the end of the new song 'Take The Shot.' Of course, it is on the newer tracks where soulful loses its edge, illustrating that these songs simply can't hold a candle to the classics, no matter who is singing them.

Simple Truths (Alligator) by The Holmes Brothers is another story altogether. The bluesy trio, in existence for several years before releasing their first CD in the early '90s, have such a rich musical history, that practically anything they touch glows and smokes like a cigarette ember. On their last few albums, The Holmes Brothers, like the Blind Boys Of Alabama, have been including more contemporary songs from the rock, pop and country world in their repertoire. The outcome is a wonderful expansion of their audience, via covers of songs such as 'Shine' (Collective Soul), 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' (Hank Williams), 'Everything Is Free' (Gillian Welch), and 'Hey Baby' (Bruce Channel).

It's not easy to reconcile the 1999 Kelis of 'Caught Out There' fame (remember the 'I hate you so much right now' chorus?) with the present-day sex kitten Kelis of 'Milkshake' renown. Once again working with The Neptunes, as well as Dallas Austin and Raphael Saadiq, among others, Kelis blurs the line between hip-hop and soul on the aptly titled Tasty (Star Trak/Arista). Less interested in her predecessors, than establishing her own following, Kelis's suggestive style ('In Public,' for example) makes Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing' sound as tame as a textbook-guided sex-ed class.

Sisters Kim and Kandy Johnson, of the duo JS have their say on their CD Ice Cream (DreamWorks), which was co-produced by R. Kelly, among others. Anthony Hamilton and Dave Hollister try to enter the fray with their albums Comin' From Where I'm From (Arista) and Real Talk (DreamWorks), respectively. Longtime soul standard-setter Al Green returns to his secular Hi Records style on the catchy I Can't Stop (Blue Note).

No column about soul music would be complete without a bow to the '70s, the period in which soul music came into its own. The forthcoming three-disc box set, Superstars of Seventies Soul (Shout! Factory), being released in time to coincide with March 2004 PBS broadcast of a filmed concert, includes everyone from The Chi-Lites, The Staple Singers, The Jackson 5, The Spinners, Chic and The Isley Brothers to Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight & The Pips, La Belle and The Pointer Sisters to Teddy Pendergrass, Isaac Hayes, James Brown, Bill Withers, the late Curtis Mayfield, and the above-mentioned Al Green.

Ending in 1970, the significant double-disc set Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues (CMF/Lost Highway) takes the road less traveled and introduces listeners to the country music capitol's rich history of soul and R&B music. Beginning in the mid-1940s with selections such as 'Nashville Jumps' by Cecil Gant, 'Buzzard Pie' (which must be heard to be believed) by Rudy Green & His Orchestra, and the swing of 'Skip's Boogie' by Kid King's Combo and continuing through the '50s and '60s (Etta James, Ruth Brown, Joe Tex and Joe Simon), this is one night train worth riding.


This article shared 1317 times since Wed Feb 18, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jane Lynch, Dwayne Johnson, 'Star Trek,' Beyonce, Shea Coulee 2022-08-07
- NBC has renewed the Jane Lynch-hosted game show Weakest Link for a third season, Variety noted. Season three will run for 20 episodes. The series is based on a British format distributed by BBC Studios that ...


Gay News

Lollapalooza lit up with LGBTQ+ acts in 2022 2022-08-02
- The annual outdoor festival Lollapalooza ran July 28-31 in Chicago, displaying a wide spectrum of talent—including many LGBTQ+ acts—this year on nine stages. The music carnival began as an eclectic ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Cabaret' coming to Metropolis Arts on Sept. 15 2022-08-02
- Musical Broadway classic and hit film Cabaret re-creates the decadent and complicated world of 1929 Berlin at the Arlington Heights venue Metropolis Performing Arts Centre on Sept. 15-Oct. 22. Cabaret is Kander and Ebb's legendary musical ...


Gay News

Lollapalooza to be in Chicago for at least the next 10 years 2022-08-01
- Get ready to see a lot more musical acts, crop tops and (mostly younger) people in Grant Park for at least the next decade of summers. Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced July 31 that the ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Comic Con, WNBA player, Timothee Chalamet, Kate McKinnon 2022-07-31
- Out Magazine listed at least seven LGBTQ+-related characters and projects that were unveiled at San Diego Comic Con. Some of them include Michaela Coel (from TV's I May Destroy You) as a queer character in the ...


Gay News

Chicago announces lineups for Marquee Fall Music Festivals 2022-07-30
-- From a press release - CHICAGO—Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced today music lineups and expanded date information for three of the City of Chicago's most ...


Gay News

Northalsted Market Days to take place Aug. 6-7 2022-07-30
- The 40th Northalsted Market Days—a live music street festival celebrating community in Chicago's Northalsted/Lakeview district—will take place Aug. 6-7. The half-mile long summer festival features all-day lineups of live music ...


Gay News

21st annual Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest taking place Aug. 19-21 2022-07-27
-- From a press release - CHICAGO (July 26, 2022)—The popular Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest (GAAF) announces complete music lineup for the three-day festival, headlined by Chicago rapper Psalm One, Rock n Roll band from New ...


Gay News

Live music returns to Touche starting July 30 with 'Bear All' 2022-07-24
- After a nearly three-year hiatus due to COVID-related interruptions, Touche, 6412 N. Clark St., is reviving the bar's live music series "Bear All" at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 30. Begun in 2011 and produced by ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Broadway, 'Game of Thrones' prequel, Dexter Mayfield, Shania Twain 2022-07-24
- The Broadway League announced that theaters will continue their recently adopted mask-optional policy for audiences at least through August, Deadline reported. The mask-optional policy—in which audiences are encouraged but not ...


Gay News

Local queer icon DJ's event 2022-07-23
- Darrell Gordon was the guest presenter for the Lunch Bunch at Third Space at Lakeview Presbyterian on June 1 and 30—the beginning and end of both Pride Month and Black Music Month. ...


Gay News

Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra performing historic concert on Aug. 6 2022-07-20
- The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture announced a once-in-a-lifetime concert event featuring the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra to be held Saturday, Aug. 6, at Chicago's Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. The performance, ...


Gay News

MUSIC Hulu to stream Lollapalooza 2022-07-19
- Hulu announced that it would serve as the official streaming destination for three of C3 Presents' biggest music festivals—Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits Music Festival—in 2022 and 2023. To that end, Hulu announced the streami ...


Gay News

Band featuring actor Michael C. Hall in Chicago on July 24 2022-07-18
- Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum—a band that features Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor/musician Michael C. Hall (TV's Six Feet Under and Dexter) as well ...


Gay News

Pitchfork Music Festival faces a few pitfalls due to the weather 2022-07-18
- Pitchfork Music Festival faced some tough challenges this year, with unpredictable weather over the weekend of July 15-17. Held in Union Park annually, this gathering to hear a multitude of types of music usually is packed; ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.