I think I say, perhaps snidely, that I didn’t come into loving Sixties Soul Music via Punk, as basically every white DJ I’ve ever met has. That’s mostly because I’m a Black Queer of mixed ancestry that was born in 1982. In 1982, names that had set stages as diverse as The Apollo, Ed Sullivan, American Bandstand and Monterey Pop in the swinging decade that ended 12 years before my birth were still headliners and hit makers on Black Radios.
Some of them, notably Patti LaBelle and Patti Austin, hadn’t even had their biggest hit records yet! As Pop music tends to throw away those that aren’t white men very quickly (and even then, who’s had a long life besides Justin Timberlake in the last 20 years?), the appreciation of artistic growth is something prized in Black Art spaces unlike the mainstream.
As Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and even Ella Fitzgerald went from Big Band to Uptown Soul as the 1940’s became the mid 1960’s, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight went from Holland-Dozier-Holland, Muscle Shoals and Midnight Trains to paying tributes to former rivals, working with that young queen Luther and commenting on how siddity everyone was getting in the go-go Pre-Gentrification, condo tower building 80’s.
With “Love Overboard” being performed on A Different World, I was lucky enough out of only child boredom to dive back in my dad’s lifetime love of Gladys Knight to start with a LP containing “Every Beat Of My Heart” recorded 22 years earlier, and doing back fill. Same as with Aretha, making the connection between “Jimmy Lee” and “I Ain’t Never Loved A Man.” Rinse and repeat, as I grew older, weathered the changing climate in my own home by receding in the art, understanding the complexities and nuances of love and pain far earlier, much wiser perhaps than my peers through hours of self study.
Perhaps it’s inevitable that I actually got to this stage. after 80 or so mixes that never dared cross over to a period after 1979. This is where I really started, and everything that was written, mixed, spun on the 1 and 2’s or posted for y’all to listen to owes itself to this run of songs.
So we go back to a metallic brown velour sofa, an old turntable and receiver, and pay a visit to a version of me that’s 30 or so years younger than I am, typing this from some sort of dystopian future that kid never dreamed of. Wise before his time, we’re reminding him that there’s nothing wrong with long term striving, and giving it your best through every effort just like those voices he discovered.
- Aretha Franklin – Love Me Right
- Gladys Knight & The Pips – Bourgie, Bourgie
- Eloise Laws – I’ve Got You Covered
- Patti LaBelle – Body Language
- Jackie Moore – Holding Back
- Syreeta – The Spell Is You
- Gwen Guthrie – Too Many Fish In The Sea
- Patti Austin – Getting Away With Murder
- Dusty Springfield – Don’t Call It Love
- Deniece Williams – Waiting By The Hotline
- Mary Wells – These Arms
- Nancy Wilson – Don’t Ask My Neighbors
- Dionne Warwick – Our Day Will Come
- Diana Ross – Selfish One
- Merry Clayton – Yes
- Kim Weston – Signal Your Intention
- Darlene Love – Paint Another Picture
- Irma Thomas – Baby, I Love You
- Martha Reeves – Really Like Your Rap
- Freda Payne – In Motion
- Dee Dee Sharp – Easy Money
- Barbara Mason – Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?
- Bettye LaVette – I Can’t Stop
- Betty Wright – Burning Desire
- Cissy Houston – With You I Could Have It All