December 8th, 2009
Title: Sweet Soul Music (series)
Label: Bear Family Records
Release Date: October 2009
Sweet Soul Music, a new series by Bear Family Records (after Peter Guralnick’s book by the same title), provides an overview of soul music spanning 10 years (1961-1970) over 10 individually issued CDs. Each volume consists of 20-30 “scorching classics” packaged in a gatefold cardboard case. The accompanying booklets, averaging 100 pages in length, are authored by soul music expert Bill Dahl, who conveniently provides the listener with an in-depth analysis of each song’s cultural and musical context within the given year. The liner notes are supplemented with rare photos, artist biographies, discographical notes, and bibliographies. Featured artists include mainstream musicians (Marvin Gaye, The Dells, Howard Tate, Sam & Dave, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, etc.) as well as lesser known or forgotten entertainers of yesteryear that tend to be very difficult to find.
Bear Family beautifully depicts the compelling nature of American soul music. The series will be particularly useful in classroom situations, where Dahl’s year-by-year analyses of black popular music could be used to supplement lectures on history and culture in the ’60s. Finally, if you like this format, be sure to check out Bear Family’s “Blowing the Fuse” series, which covers R&B from 1945-1960, following the same year-by-year approach.
Posted by Rachel Weidner