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.
Although 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.
Some 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.
2) Billy Butler & The Chanters – Can’t Work No Longer
7) Jackie Wilson – Just Be Sincere