The history of soul music has been defined, first and foremost, by a succession of exceptional vocalists. It is impossible to conceive of the genre without them. This does not mean, however, that those who back singers, those who play instruments--bassists, drummers, guitarists, keyboardists and saxophonists--were reduced to nothing other than walk on parts. If Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding were able to move audiences, then their band members and arrangers, the likes of King Curtis and Booker T. Jones, played a key role in creating tracks that had commensurate emotional depth and technical ingenuity. These lesser known figures have heightened our listening pleasure.
In Soul Unsung, Kevin Le Gendre celebrates the contribution made by instrumentalists to soul. He analyses, in forensic detail, the inspiring creativity and imagination that several generations of musicians have brought to black pop, and highlights how they have broadened its sound canvas by adopting unusual stylistic approaches and embracing the latest available technology. This book offers insights into the state of contemporary soul and its relationship with jazz, rock and hip-hop. It is precisely because soul has not evolved in a vacuum that it has a canon that is enviably rich in variety.
Soul Unsung shines a light on the plethora of mesmerising sounds that constitute this heritage and explains why they affect the listener as much as a great singer. Placing the focus squarely on the band, Le Gendre sets out to change perceptions of one of the great forms of expression to have marked popular culture in the twentieth century, so that those who play are given, alongside those who sing, their rightful place in the pantheon of contemporary music.