I think of it as the Allmusic school of the “great man” theory.
Plenty of other writers, reviewers, bloggers, pundits and fans of all stripes plays the same game, of course.
But some Allmusic writers/reviewers seem particularly prone to it.
And, my own personal interests seems top indicate, this is particularly true when it comes to classic ’60s and ’70s soul.
It goes like this: An artist/album may be just fine, but it is very much in the copycat school of the template laid down by, variously, Motown, Stax, Muscle Shoals, whatever.
A therefore, by implication, inferior.
No doubt to a significant extent, this suits the audience of Allmusic and other music media outlets.
But it also represents musical myopia.
Because like all hardcore fans, anoraks, obsessives, nutjobs and collectors, I know these simple truths – sometimes originality is not all; sometimes the copy is not only as good as the supposed original – it can be and often is A WHOLE FREAKING LOT BETTER.
So I wondered what my Top 50 list of epic soul songs would look like.
So I did it.
It is, as I guessed it would be, a mix of the famous and the obscure.
But not that obscure – I am a fan of and listener to reissues.
The days of really going down rabbit holes by pursuing 45s (and 78s) await my Gentleman of Leisure life change.
Whenever that may be.
This list is roughly in order of merit or esteem – Percy Sledge and Paul Kelly were always going to be the first cabs of this rank.
(And Kelly’s female protege at Dial, Annette Snell, hot on their heels …)
But it is only very roughly so – the list also reflects my haphazard filing system and random factors such as memory.
And, of course, if I did this list again tomorrow, it would be very different.
1. Percy Sledge – Thief In The Night
2. Percy Sledge – Cover Me
3. Percy Sledge – Take Time To Know Her
4. Percy Sledge – Come Softly To Me
5. Percy Sledge – True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
6. Paul Kelly – Stealin’ In The Name Of The Lord
7. Paul Kelly – Since I Found You
8. Paul Kelly – The Day After Forever
9. Annette Snell – Footprints On My Mind
10. Annette Snell – I’ll Be Your Fool Once More
11. Annette Snell – You Oughta be With Me
12. Annette Snell – Get Your Thing Together
13. Shirley Brown – It Ain’t No Fun
14. William Bell – Sacrifice
15. Sandra Wright – I’ll See You Through
16. Doris Duke – It Sure Was Fun
17. Dobie Gray – Drift Away
18. George McRae – Rock Your Baby
19. Brook Benton – Rainy Night In Georgia
20. Tyrone Davis – Turn Back The Hands Of Time
21. Betty Wright – Cleanup Woman
22. David Ruffin – What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
23. The Contours – It’s Growing
24. The Monitors – Bring Back The Love
25. Buster Benton – Sweet 94
26. Clarence Carter – Sixty Minute Man
27. Clarence Carter – I Can’t Leave Your Love Alone
28. Clarence Carter Making Love (At The Dark End of the Street)
29. William Bell/Judy Clay – Private Number
30. Jimmy Holiday/Clydie King Ready, Willing and Able
31. Warren Storm – Tennessee Waltz
32. King Floyd – Let Us Be
33. King Floyd – Messin’ Up My Mind
34. Arthur Alexander – Without A Song
35. Arthur Alexander – In The Middle of it All
36. Freddie King – One Hundred Years
37. James Carr – Freedom Train
38. James Carr – These Ain’t Raindrops
39. James Carr – You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up
40. James Carr – The Dark End of the Street
41. Irmas Thomas – Coming From Behind/Wish Someone Would Care
42. Lee Dorsey/Betty Harris – Get Out of My Life, Woman
43. Darrell Banks – I Could Never Hate Her
44. Harold Andrews – You’re A Winner
45. Vernell Hill – Long Haired Daddy
46. Jerry Butler – Isle of Sirens
47. Cay Hammond – Take Your Time
48. Ann Peebles – I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
49. Rozetta Johnson – Who Are You Gonna Love
50. The Pointer Sisters Don’t Try To Take The Fifth