Soul’s Influence in the Mainstream Charts

Recently, MixMag had released a video called ‘James Brown: The King of Samples’ where it was revealed that the proclaimed Godfather of Soul is the most sampled artist of all time.

This came as no surprise, as it seems a lot of famous songs we know have had a great deal of Soul influence, and this stems from way back.

In the 1950s when Rock and Roll was king, the likes of Elvis had entered the hearts of many teenagers all across the Western world, much to the dismay of their parents.

Meanwhile, a lot of black artists and independent black R’n’B labels were being dismissed and didn’t have nearly enough exposure to the mainstream audience and relied for a long time on their own independent radio stations.

Fast-forward to the 1960s where British teenagers are dancing in underground venues to their newfound love of American soul and blues music and some of the people who were big fans of this kind of music were also some of Rock and Roll’s biggest greats such as the like of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones who were just starting out.

The man who coined the term ‘Northern Soul’, Dave Godin, famously went to school with The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and encouraged his love of black American Soul music.

David Nowell, the author of The Story of Northern Soul, had brought had mentioned that during a time where black artists weren’t getting airplay on American radio stations, there was a growing love of Blues music, so much so that it was covers of these Rhythm and Blues songs that helped mold the British pop charts of the 60’s from some of the most famous bands to come out of the UK.

Here are a few you might recognize:

Twist and Shout – The Beatles (1963)

Original: Twist and Shout – Isley Brothers (1962)

This song was originally recorded by the Top Notes in 1961 and made famous by the Isley brothers in 1962, but everyone remembers it most as a Beatles hit and the iconic performance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1963 in which you can also see where the original ‘fangirl’ culture came from.

It’s All Over Now – The Rolling Stones (1964)

Original: It’s All Over Now –  The Valentinos (1964)

The Rolling Stones got their first UK number one and shot to fame in 1964 with this song. However, what a lot of fans might not realize is that this was a cover of a song that was released in the same year by The Valentino’s and was co-written by famous Soul and R’n’B artist Bobby Womack, who’s well known for songs such as Woman’s Gotta Have It and If You Think You’re Lonely Now.

Take Me To The River – Talking Heads (1978)

Original: Take Me To The River Al Green (1974)

This one is more post-Rock and Roll era, but it is still significant. This song was originally written by Al Green for his album Al Green Explores your Mind in 1974, but one it’s most famous covers is the Talking Heads version released in 1978. Although the success of the cover was apparent, the original was still recognized by Rolling Stone and ranked 117 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list The Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

These are just a small few of the many hit songs that are influenced by soul music and the ones in the earlier years are a prime example of how much the UK charts were influenced by black American artists and labels and who were then also loved by many in the dancehalls and venues of the North.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *