Who Needs A Time Machine? – 22 Modern Soul Tunes 1996-2016

Some will say you can’t really re-invent the wheel. In Soul Music, there’s been a wall between the end of the 1960’s and modern R&B decidedly. As Funk gave way to Disco during the 1970, it laid out the carpet for Hip Hop and New Jack Swing to come along in the 1980’s and 1990’s. All of these creative forces in Black built music in the United States left soul music a beloved relic of the past.

Oft left out during the hyper-consolidation of music companies and publishing in the last 30 years of music meant that there was less room for different arms of music to flourish or flounder while finding organic followings. Fewer musician unions and studios that employed them, forsaking them for electronic instruments and the easier conversion to a pitch perfect product on a deadline left the art, emotion and craftsmanship of Old School Soul Music in the past.

Thankfully humanity is a nostalgic bunch though, forever looking back to see what made us happy in our Yesterdays to keep us comfort in our today. The Music of the 1950’s and 60’s didn’t fade, and in a way, still hasn’t. Around 1996, after films like The Five Heartbeats, Grace Of My Heart and That Thing You Do! paid homage to the height of Mid Century Modern music magic, there started to be more of a trickle of interest in trying to revive the practice of getting Soul back into song.

161118-sharon-jones-mbe-856p_37b5570eed251fa64d35d49f0542ab68-nbcnews-ux-2880-10001996 also marks the beginning of the recording career of one Sharon LaFaye Jones. Jones, at the age of 40 in 1996, was a smidge too young to be one of the stars of 60’s. The closest in age in terms of successful Black Women in 60’s soul was Betty Wright, who scored “Girls Can’t Do What The Guys Do” at 15 in 1968. Over the next 20 years, up to her death last November, no one did more for the visibility of the practice of live studio recording and energetic stage presentation in the fashion of classic soul acts as Jones did.

Although the songs and artists here have a variety of tactics in accessing something sweet and soulful, not necessarily putting tambourine to palm at all times, we find that the art that we associate with Sam and Marvin, Etta and Aretha has never exactly gone anywhere. It’s a proud legacy that continues to get breaths of fresh air day after day, year after year.

Clocking in at just over an hour, we’ve got plenty of originals and just a smattering of covers that blur the boundaries of time from some of today’s best voices.

1) Raphael Saadiq – 100 Yard Dash

2) Goapele – Running
3) Benjamin & The Dream Dancers – Not One More Tear
4) Post Modern Jukebox – Jealous
5) Brandy – Beggin’ & Pleadin’
6) Leon Bridges – Smooth Sailin’
7) Michael Buble & Sharon Jones – (Baby) You’ve Got What It Takes
8) Jazmine Sullivan – Switch
9) Little Jackie – Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang
10) Rumer – Am I Forgiven?
11) Dionne Farris – Loneliness Remembers (What Happiness Forgets)
12) Benjamin & The Right Direction – Dreamin’s For Free
13) ForReal – Born To Love That Boy
14) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Mama Don’t Like My Man
15) The Olympians – Venus
16) Madeleine Peyroux – Dance Me To The End Of Love
17) Saun & Star – Dear Mr. Teddy
18) Durand Jones & The Indications – Smile
19) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – We Get Along
20) Melanie Fiona – You Stop My Heart
21) Raphael Saadiq – Love That Girl
22) Little Jackie – We Got It
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