Windy City Soul: Breezy Gems From America’s Second City

Although my recent vacation took me through Baltimore and New York City, the sounds of Chicago’s soul music has been on my mind for a few weeks now. I’m a big fan of how once our R&B music was so regional, influenced by the cultures established in cities plus the migrant populations that made each and every metropolis unique.

20james-span-jumboAlthough a consistent powerhouse in creating American Music Culture, Chicago often gets less love from music aficionados. This is glaringly true when it comes to 1960’s Soul Music. In the grids of The Windy City’s streets, many talents rose from tenements to the charts. Although labels like Chess, Brunswick, Vee-Jay and Constellation didn’t churn out mega pop or R&B hits with the consistency of say Motown, Atlantic or Stax, the imprint of Chicago’s soul labels was something these labels often envied. Motown, in particular, being a short drive away in Detroit often used recording facilities and the skilled arrangers available just a short drive around Lake Michigan away.

mi0002037161Some of those arrangers, like Johnny Pate and Riley C. Hampton, created epic soundscapes worthy of motion picture scores that were blessed to see the wax of 45 RPM singles and many a long player. One thing for sure is that there’s seemingly a lush luxury to many 60’s soul efforts that were birthed on the banks of the Chicago River. Also, when it came down to it, the blues influence wasn’t far away either, so Windy City Funk had nothing to envy from other cities either.

In just over 90 minutes, we hear from a plethora of singers, musicians, arrangers and producers across Chicagoland labels that show how diverse the palate of hits and misses were from this heartland metropolis during the 1960’s. I hope that these gems offer up some loving as we transition from Spring Crisp to Summer Balmy Breezes.

1) Major Lance – Sweet Music
2) Billy Butler & The Chanters – Can’t Work No Longer
3) Denise LaSalle – A Love Reputation
4) The Five Stair Steps – Find Me
5) Jan Bradley – Your Kind Of Lovin’
6) The Opals – Does It Matter?
7) Jackie Wilson – Just Be Sincere
8) Mitty Collier – Looking Out The Window (Watching And Waiting)
9) The Dells – Please Don’t Change Me Now
10) Barbara Acklin – Please Sunrise
11) The Kittens – Is It Over, Baby?
12) Beverly Shaffer – Even The Score
13) The C.O.D’s – I’m A Good Guy
14) The Knight Brothers – Second Hand Lover
15) Etta James – Mellow Fellow
16) Gerri Taylor – Empty Arms And Bitter Tears
17) The Carltons – Keep On Hoping
18) Sheryl Swope – Run To Me
19) The Radiants – One Day I’ll Show You
20) Dee Clark – Warm Summer Breezes
21) Betty Everett – Chained To A Memory
22) The Dynettes – Witnesss To A Heartbreak
23) Geraldine Hunt – He’s For Real
24) Jerry Butler – Whatever You Want
25) Linda Hopkins – The Magic Song
26) Barbara Carr – Shake Your Head
27) Laura Lee – Stop Giving Your Man Away
28) Koko Taylor & Willie Dixon – Insane Asylum
29) Mary & The Desirables – You’re Changing
30) The Vows – When A Boy Loves A Girl
31) The Mighty Marvelows – You’re Breaking My Heart
32) Jean DuShon – Out In The Cold Again
32) The Gems – He Makes Me Feel So Good
33) Holly Maxwell – No One Else
34) The Artistics – This Heart Of Mine
35) Jo Ann Garrett – Just Say When
36) Jackie Ross – Walk On My Side
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