Occasionally you’ll hear the fab-blind discuss how soulful various songs and albums were.
Usually we just laugh to ourselves when we hear the word beatle and the word soulful in the same sentence, unless the sentence is, ‘The beatle were soulful of crap it was coming out of their mouths!’ We decided to find out exactly what sounds people are mistaking for soul. We came up empty handed.
Our first stop was Fab4Fan’s infamous Rankopedia to see what the consensus is for the most soulful beatles songs. Incredibly, there is no such category. The closest we found was ‘which beatle fan has the brownest nose and emptiest wallet.’ So a few weeks ago we created our own poll, Most Soulful Beatle Songs. Ten thousand opinionated members, and we only got two votes, not a good sign. Searches elsewhere turned up little more than slanted reviews with the word soulful getting battered like a piece of tempura. We’re left to our own devices to get to the bottom of this one.
The problem now becomes, how do you judge soul? Just to clarify, we’re talking about soulful music as opposed to soul music. There doesn’t seem to be any working soul-o-meters these days, they all disappeared with STAX. Lets define it first, and work from there. We can all agree that a fair definition of soulful music is music that is passionately sung and performed, full of both feeling and expression.
Now we need to identify a fair starting point, a point of reference to level the playing field. You can’t just listen to an FF song and decide, ‘yup – thats pretty soulful, way more than Yellow Submarine.’ The only way to do this fairly is to compare two performances of the same song, then we can begin to gauge who’s got the soul going on.
Lets get to it.
First we have Long Tall Sally, an original song written and performed by none other than Little Richard. It was covered by the likes of Elvis and the Tielman Brothers, as well as less adventurous artists like Pat Boone and the Beatles. Let watch this go down, live.
First up is Little Richard:
The challengers, four lovable moptops from Liverpool with their version:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9ESlLg5bFs&feature=related[/youtube]
To be fair, everybody knows that in those days the beatles had to suffer with inferior equipment. Whats that? They were both recorded the same year? Oh, I see…
Lets stick to official releases. Thats where they’ve been proven to really shine.
Next up is an excerpt of the FF singing their famous version of the Barret Strong/Berry Gordy classic, Money(Thats what I want):
Next up is Barret Strong with the original version.
Whew, getting a little hot in here. Bet you never realized that song actually has a groove.
Perhaps this isn’t fair. Lets give the FF an original song and let somebody else try and cover it. Nobody can touch the beatles…right?
Next up is an excerpt of the original smash hit We can Work it out:
Followed by a cover of the same song by Stevie Wonder:
Its seems Stevie interpreted the meaning of this song as ‘We can work out how to play and sing this thing soulfully.’ This version is surprisingly listenable, even enjoyable. Who would’ve thought that was even possible?
Okay then, final challenge. Its obvious the band as a whole should never, never, ever again be considered soulful. But vocals, thats another story. Its kind of odd that vocals-only mixes are so scarce for a band that releases two or three albums a year, forty years after they broke up. There must be hundreds of thousands of them in the vaults, but they never see the light of day. What could be the reason? I wonder if they’re trying to hide anything? Crappy vocal performances…covered up cleverly by edits and music….Nah, not beatlemart.
Here’s Paul singing one of their most soulful ballads Oh Darlin’:
The flipside of the coin is you can find pretty much any Motown song you want as an a capella performance. We thought it would be funny, and just a little ironic, to post a Jackson 5 era Michael Jackson performance, but it might be just too cruel to destroy the beatles with a seven year olds soul, wouldn’t it?
Instead, here’s Marvin Gaye to single handedly destroy any semblance of soul left clinging to the fading reputation of this band:
And what the hell, just to rub a little salt in the wound here’s little Mikey Jackson too: