Soul Music 1973

This 108-song collection reflects the soul music that was topping Billboard charts throughout 1973, the year Motown relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles; Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff virtually reinvented Philadelphia soul at their Philadelphia International label.

Stax Records’ signature style combined R&B energy with southern US gospel music sounds. Its hallmark was placing vocals further back in the mix and employing vibrant horn sections.

James Brown

James Brown was revered as the Godfather of Soul for his emotive cries and hollers combined with flawless back up bands that helped create generations of feel good funk and soul music. By the late 60s and early 70s he had also developed his signature Funk sound which combined R&B’s propulsive drive with jazz’s rhythmic complexity, emphasizing interlocking bass drum and guitar rhythms.

Brown was initially inspired by preachers at his hometown’s Black church to create music that focused on emotional delivery and black pride. Through live performances, he became one of the most dynamic and dramatic performers in popular culture – taking dramatic theatrical turns such as dropping to his knees or splits that provoked stunned responses from audiences. Furthermore, as an influential cultural leader he wrote social commentary songs like 1973’s two-part ballad “King Heroin”, detailing drug addiction.

He was instrumental in changing the face of soul music, elevating its power and emotive intensity with his “hotter than hell” vocal style and frequent live improvised and spontaneous shout-outs that immersed audiences into an intensely intimate experience.

Brown was at his peak of power on this 1973 album recorded and released by Polydor Records from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. From its iconic MC introduction (“Are you ready for star time?”) through The Famous Flames’ final note, this record stands alone as an exceptional work of music.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of this record is the saxophone section’s repeated long, bent notes accompanied by Brown’s cries and hollars to create a symbiotic relationship that builds tension throughout each song and eventually climaxes with his vocal performance. Furthermore, repeated riffs from horn section improvisational sections further contribute to creating an atmosphere of energy within which Brown can perform her melodies with ease.

This album’s songs are long and densely orchestrated compared to the short, punchy singles that characterized this genre during an era characterized by puffy sleeves and rhinestone-studded flares. However, the producers and songwriters involved brought artistic sensitivity to these tracks, allowing essential rhythmic elements to shine through despite all of the instrumentation present on each track.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye was an influential pioneer of soul music who helped pioneer its formative years with his powerful vocals and activism; one of America’s most acclaimed musicians. His life story stands as testament to how music can change lives for the better and spread awareness about social injustices through performances and performances alike. He remains one of the greatest American musical figures; one whose life highlights its transformative potential and human rights awareness. He died aged 45.

Early in his career, Gaye was inspired by Doo-Wop groups such as The Capris and sought to emulate their style in his music. Additionally he took inspiration from gospel music as well as secular ballads of 1920s crooners such as Nat King Cole. Soon enough he established himself by scoring several hit singles on Motown label; several duets with Tammi Terrell proved successful as did I Heard It Through the Grapevine which became one of his signature tunes.

Gaye made his mark as a more serious artist with the release of What’s Going On in 1972, featuring songs about spiritual healing as well as songs that touched upon romance and sexuality. This album became his breakthrough, serving as an influential model for subsequent soul musicians.

What’s Going On was the first album to fully address civil rights activism and other forms of social unrest through musical performance. Additionally, this milestone record marked its impact on soul music as it introduced concept albums – an approach used by R&B musicians for decades afterward.

After the release of What’s Going On, Gaye embarked on a promotional tour for it. He performed in Washington D.C. at Jesse Jackson’s PUSH organization and Chicago at a benefit concert aimed at reducing urban violence. Unfortunately during this tour he found himself becoming more addicted to cocaine while experiencing depression; groupies harassed him, while he threatened suicide on several occasions; eventually he moved back in with his parents and used drugs as an escape mechanism from his inner demons.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder had already become known for creating groundbreaking albums by 1973 when he released Innervisions, but this spirituality and world music album went further than any of them in terms of artistic and musical expression. Stevie was well aware of his artistic craft’s ability to convey significant political and philosophical messages using music; on the cover alone is depicted him wearing Indian jewelry and velvet kaftan as an indicator of this fact; its mix of classical, Jamaican, Swahili and gospel influences could be found throughout.

Songs on this album also explored topics not typically tackled by rock bands at that time. R&B artists took up protest song tradition from rock artists and addressed racism, ecology, economic inequality (by late sixties four out of ten black Americans lived below poverty line), and other social ills through protest songs.

Innervisions cemented Wonder as one of the premier soul artists of his era. He excelled both as a singer and composer, communicating complex ideas in ways that were easily digested by audiences. Wonder was adept at crafting melodic pop, romantic ballads and furious funk while possessing an intuitive understanding of rhythm and harmony that was rare at that time.

This live performance from NYC’s Rainbow Room showcases Wonder in full creative mode with her phenomenal band. Although sound quality may be slightly subpar, this recording remains enjoyable.

Innervisions was filled with popular hits like Higher Ground, Superstition and Don’t Worry ‘Bout A Thing; yet his inclusion of more mature songs like Village Ghetto Land, Have A Talk With God and Ebony Eyes showed how far-sighted his thought had become on diverse topics. Furthermore, this tribute showed he recognized and acknowledged their value and importance within his life.

The Four Tops

The Four Tops were one of the premier soul bands during this era, having found success through Motown. Their music combined elements from R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop and jazz styles while their vocal range included both ballads and uptempo hits that stood out with distinctive harmony vocals that greatly influenced other artists such as Michael Jackson.

In 1973, soul music began addressing new social issues emerging within American culture. Soul had taken up rock’s protest-song baton, and artists addressed racism, ecology, war, poverty, drug abuse and drug addiction through their music. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On had already made its mark the previous year, yet other artists tackled similar themes through their work; from Etta James earthshaking vocals to Percy Sledge smooth come-ons; all were contributing their talents toward making an impactful statement through their sound.

Aretha Franklin was one of the pioneering female artists within this genre, setting an influential precedent that encouraged other female singers such as Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle to use music as a form of empowerment. Additionally, their rise contributed to creating a distinct type of soul music.

As opposed to Motown, artists were free to incorporate their individual musical styles and interests into their songs, creating unique soul music that appealed to a wide audience and featured an emotional vocal range for conveying emotion and energy.

Some of the most influential musicians in soul music came from Philadelphia. These Philadelphia soul artists formed part of a movement referred to as “Philadelphia soul,” featuring rhythm-driven music with soaring vocals that included elements of blues and country influences. Today, its influence can still be felt through modern neo-soul tracks.