Soul in the Seventies
Like the unfortunate phasing out of bench seats in automobiles or dueling to settle a grievance, our generation forgoing the slow dance strikes me less like a cultural evolution as it does a misguided regression by a society that has lost its way. It might sound fantastical to readers born post Purple Rain, but it wasn’t so long ago that a DJ would pitch things down and play a ballad at peak hour, and I’m still not sure why our generation dismissed such a valid excuse for consensual touch.
Perhaps it’s a cultural shift from those of us raised in an era where sexuality was presented bathed in blue light and accompanied by a saxophone solo on scrambled pay per view, to a generation whose visual representation of sex comes by way of sallow pornography made on the brutally honest medium of digital video. For all of the drawbacks of prudishness, maybe having a bit of shame about sex forces one to be more seductive when asking for it. Or maybe we’re just living through the blowback from rave culture and the libido crushing stimulants that traded the ritual of a slow dance for a 90 minute shoulder rub in the “chill-out room” like members of a benign, sexless cult.
Whatever the reason, I’d like to take this day of romance to offer this slow dance starter kit, a selection which also makes for a compelling Valentines Day mix whether you’re courting someone new, or are at home alone, cutting yourself to recapture an ex-lover’s fancy.
Prince – Crazy You
Bill Withers – Can We Pretend
Stevie Wonder – Creepin
Sylvia Striplin – You Cant Turn Me Away
Harold & Melvin & the Blue Notes – You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good
Sylvia – You Sure Love To Ball
Tyrone and Carr – Take Me With You
Curtis Mayfield – After Sex
Marvin Gaye – Wholy Holy
Andy Bey – Celestial Blues
Charles Wright – A Mothers Love
The Temptations – Man
The Dells – You Got Me Going in Circles
Eddie Holman – Hey There Lonely Girl
Mel & Tim – Starting All Over Again
Al Green – Have You Been Making Out O.K.
Floaters – Float On
94 East feat. Prince – Better Than You Think
Shuggie Otis – Rainy Day
Roberta Flack – To Love Somebody
Esther Phillips – That’s All Right With Me
Fontella Bass – My God, Freedom, My Home
Bloodstone – Natural High
Rufus feat. Chaka Khan – Sweet Thing
THE BEST OF SOUL TRAIN (A VIDEO MIX)
Despite its light and accessible tone, the formative years of TV’s Soul Train was a subtle revolution by and for a people whose scars from the racially charged sixties were starting to heal. With a mandate to focus on black exceptionalism, the show’s host and creator Don Cornelius not only presented the best in music, fashion, and dance, but unlike the Motown executives from the previous decade, he refused to dilute the content to attract a white audience. This freedom was codifed by the show’s sponsors, Ultra Sheen hair care products, who promoted “the beautiful natural” afro as a means of self-expression.
While Soul Train is widely regarded as a time capsule of seventies culture, having aired from 1971 to 2006, the show also remains the longest running syndicated program in television history, if not the most underrated. The following is a 60 minute mix of what I consider to be the best of the series. And you can bet your last money it’s gonna be a stone gas, honey.
Soul Train Opening Theme
The Pointer Sisters – Yes You Can
Dance Contest: Dennis Coffey – Scorpio
Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff
The Staple Singers – Respect Yourself
Spinners – I’ll Be Around
Graham Central Station – Release Yourself
Billy Preston – Nothing For Nothing
Aretha Franklin & Smokey Robinson – Ooh, Baby baby
Gladys Knight & the Pips – Neither One of Us
Al Green – For the Good Times
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
Soul Train Basketball: Marvin Gaye v. Don Cornelius. Ref Smokey Robinson
War – Ballero
Soul Train Closing Theme