Daddy B. Nice’s replies to your letters – Mailbag July 2019
Mailbag July 2019
RE: CD Review
Daddy B. Nice replies:
Readers Respond To “On The Birthplace Of Southern Soul: Jackson, Shreveport Or Memphis?”
Thank you for your interesting article on the birthplace of Southern Soul.
I would add to that list still the Muscle Shoals area with Fame and those Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
My report derives already from the year 2000:
Daddy B. Nice notes: Heikki Suosalo writes on Southern Soul, Blues & R&B for Soul Express.
Daddy B. Nice,
I’d vote for Memphis as the “original” or “first” birthplace (Stax, Hi, Goldwax. et al.), then Jackson as the “second,” equally legit, birthplace for the “born-again” version of the music that arose in the wake of “Down Home Blues” (Not unlike the way the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, and Chicago can all make a legitimate claim for being “home of the blues” — different iterations /generations . . . or, for that matter, the way in which Denise LaSalle, Shemekia Copeland, and Nellie Travis could all make (and have all made) a legitimate claim to be the true new (post-Koko Taylor) Queen of the Blues (different subgenres / audiences . . . basically, three Queens, each reigning supremely in her own realm).
As for terminology — in fact, Cicero Blake seems to have liked the term “Southern Soul” from the beginning — he told me years ago: “It’s like you used to consider the Motown sound, whatever came out of Motown, you knew it came from Motown, because they had that sound. They’ve developing what they call a southern soul type sound; that’s just what they’re doing. And what’s happening, it’s beginning to get to the point that if you hear something from out of the south, you’ll say ‘That’s from the south’ – no matter what label it’s on. Good thing!. See, because they’re going to bring some of the music back. If you bring it to some of the stations in the south, you’re going to have good outlets. That’s why right now you concentrate on Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Florida – you got enough in all that southern area. Lots of good young artists coming out of the south; that’s what they’re beginning to call southern soul. You can still get that kind of music played down there.”
Stan Mosley, on the other hand, never liked the term, for the very “regional identity” reasons that Cicero DOES like. He said, “What does that make me — northern soul? I’m a SOUL SINGER, and that’s it!”
Willie Clayton doesn’t like “:southern soul” — he also considers himself a soul singer, although he’ll settle for “soul-blues” if he has to.
Denise LaSalle didn’t like the term either: “I didn’t like that ‘southern soul’ when I first heard it, and I still don’t. Far as I’m concerned, southern soul is nothing but rhythm and blues, the same rhythm and blues we did yesterday. You see, a lot of artists and a lot of labels, they still don’t want to be kept in that ‘blues’ category. Even at Malaco, they say they can’t sell anything with that name ‘blues’ on it, unless maybe it’s Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, and he’s not even alive anymore. ‘Soul-blues’ worked for me; some other singers, like Willie Clayton, sometimes he’ll go by that, too. But now, what they’re doing, they’re sending this ‘southern soul’ thing out there to young minds that aren’t solid in the music, creating a new category for these young artists they’re trying to market. They saw these younger singers couldn’t get the prestige the older ones in this business were getting. We were the big R&B singers, so they had to jump up and make up a whole new category so they could get a leg in. But all they’re doing is the same music we’ve been doing all these years, singing the same lyrics, copying their music off us, maybe make it sound a little different with the synthesizers and the beats and all that stuff, but it’s still basically the same music, but now they’re going to name it something and say, ‘That’s it! That’s southern soul! That’s new! That’s big!’ Shit! Ain’t nothing but the same thing. Don’t tell me I’m singing ‘southern soul.’ I’m singing R&B like I always sang. You’re not gonna push this ‘southern soul’ off on me.”
Millie Jackson can’t stand the term, but then she doesn’t like to be called a “soul” singer, either –says it’s just a ghetto they throw Black singers into when they don’t know what else to call them. She’s an R&B artist, and that’ that.
Not sure about Sweet Angel, but last time we discussed it, she said: “Southern soul has been classified as more comical-like music, to me,” she says, adamantly but without rancor. “Soul music had its funny lines, too – [Mel and Tim’s] ‘Backfield in Motion,’ y’know? It’s a play on words. But then they started playing with the words too much. The classic R&B [has] that smooth groove that you can lay back, listen to it for a while, for a long time; you never get tired of it. It’s just something you can feel. That’s why it was called soul music, because it was coming from the soul. I’m not even putting it on my plate to say I want to be classified as a southern soul artist. It’s just this little grouping that, to me, stretches only so far. I’m technically more R&B, and I love the blues because I grew up on the blues, and I feel it. I like songs with real meaning. That’s where my heart is.”
Daddy B. Nice notes:
David Whiteis’s upcoming autobiography of the late Denise LaSalle, ALWAYS THE QUEEN, is set for release in 2020 by the University Of Illinois Press.
Looking For A Song: Is This Bishop Bullwinkle Before He Got Famous?
Please with a song I heard on vacation in Jacksonville. My better half thinks it Bishop Bullwinkle. He’s driving a big Cadillac. The lyrics go, I set my cruise control – So I wouldn’t speed -But he gets picked up by a policeman with a dog named Hitler.
Daddy B. Nice replies:
Hah. Got it. Unforgettable blues song about the “High Sheriff from Hell” incarcerating blacks. Right? Great vocal. Great rhythm track, not to mention the lyrics. It’s not Bishop Bullwinkle. It’s by a guy named Smokehouse (Anthony “Packrat” Thompson) from an out-of-print album called “Edge Of The Swamp”. It used to get air play in the early 00’s. Here’s a YouTube link.
That’s it. Thank you for your wonderful Mailbag.
Daddy B. Nice notes:
Actually, this song (“High Sheriff from Hell”) and “I Hear You Knocking” (different versions by Mystery Lady, Queen Isabella, Rasheeda–although Peggy Scott-Adams never did one, as is erroneously posted on YouTube) have been the two most-asked-about songs over the years.
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