The soul music comes from blues and gospel. Blues simply speaking stands for the more lust oriented style of music and gospel for the obvious more spiritual part. An odd combination maybe but it worked very well indeed.
Soul is exactly what the word means, music from the depth of one’s soul, a music that speaks to the inner part of peoples mind. Back in time there were different styles of soul music more or less influenced by blues and gospel. In the southern USA existed the southern soul and in the north the Chicago soul, the former more influenced by gospel than the latter.
During the 50:s and 60:s the music had its big days, with artists like Aretha Franklin, Sam Cook and Otis Redding (see picture) to name just a few.
In the late 60:s the music decline, but it didn’t go away, it more transformed and was picked up by other music styles that created new combinations. Soul is still alive, there’s no doubt about that, and the style producing new, fresh soul music on several independent companies, they, in my opinion, hold on better than most other record companies to the “old” soul.
Soul from the late 70:s and early 80:s is what I most of all appreciate, especially when mixed with funk. The variety of groups is big, Glenn Jones, Kashif, Evelyn King, The Dramatics, Alexander O´Neal, George Benson, Mtume, Earth wind and fire, Whispers, Kool and the gang and many many more.
Funk is a part of the soul tree with the difference that it is more rebellion and hard. In 1967 the “godfather of funk” James Brown released Cold sweat that has to be considered as the starting point for the music style.
Funk has got strong influences from the rhythmic and complex traditional African music in which the instruments played their own rhythm and like pieces in a puzzle was connected to a lovely and bumpy groove.
The funk has later on changed and developed in different directions. Sometimes is hard to recognize the difference between what’s soul and what’s funk due to fact that the two have been taking influence from the other. Mostly it is these invisible lines between them that have been creating the best tracks in my opinion. Group like Aurra, Bar-kays, Cameo, Mantra, Fatback, Starpoint, Ozone, Con Funk Shun, Kwick and many more did great albums during the late 70:s and early 80:s
I listen mostly to albums from the 80:s in favor of the ones from the 70:s simply because the are better. On the other hand the ones from the 70:s often got a more genuine and groovy sound than the later recordings, for example, “Get the funk out ma´face” with Brothers Johnson from -76. The songwriters choice of lyrics wasn’t always that deep and reflecting, but there is some example of that as well like Fatback’s “Is this the future” from -83 which is a song about peace, justice, and hope. Although the lyrics are not that good all the time the music it self really fulfill its mission.
One reach the best result mixing soul and funk together, then the final result can be incredible 12″ maxi like “I am somebody with Glenn Jones” (83), “Love you madly”, with Candela (82), “You can doit´ with Voughan Mason (83), “Free and easy” with Plush (82; that originally was released by Rene & Angela 1980. This version is though slower and better), “Put our heads together with O´yays (83), “Keep it comin”, with Jones girls (84) and I’m in love” with Melba Moore (81) just to mention a few. And to mention a few even more funkier tracks like, “We can make it” with Starbound (82), “All the way you move” with Klaps (82), “I wanna love you” with Morgan, “Let’s do it” with Kadenza (82), “I’ve been robbed” with Three million (83), “I’m out to catch” with Leon Haywood (83), “Action” with Mantra (81) (see picture above) and many many more.