The Perfect Single #1

November 8, 2017

I think i'll be writing a lot about great singles of a certain kind,  especially from the perspective of a songwriter. E.g., #1. "Keep it Coming" by Denise Lasalle on Westfield records. Denise Lasalle was a versatile singer, with deep southern soul chops, but a lot of range, as most of the female southern soul divas had. And yes indeed, Lasalle counts as one of those divas. This recording was actually made in Detroit, but the"arrangement," as all the venues repeat, is by Willie Mitchell, the genius of Hi Studios Memphis soul. The album on which the single was included was released in 1972.  By that time, a sort of consolidation of southern soul studios styles was  completed, but it was still alive. Studios were still proud of their distinctive styles, but they were consciously stealing from other studios' styles, because they recognized quality and creativity. "Keep it coming" to me sounds like echt Muscle Shoals, circa 1968 (i.e., Alabama) -- the horns, the distinctive pace, the distribution of sound. But it's not. It's Detroit, with a Memphis wizard. This is quintessentially second-generation deep soul, already reconstructing its heroic past. An enormous, wonderful irony is that this syncretic soul style became a kind of drug in the the UK north of London. From an American perspective, it's just a natural development from Fontela Bass' "Rescue Me," a sort of Statue of Liberty statement from  a billion women throughout the world. In England, that beat became the core of Northern Soul, a political joy movement against the Tory London elite in the 1960s and 70s. In the USA, where I heard it on the radio, with ears as wide an radio telescopes, it was a new beat. A  new beat! It became disco - so we forget about its soulful origins. The key to the beat is: "I keep keeping on." The lyrics are irrelevant, UNLESS the lyrics somehow engage, and address, and tweak that theme -- knowing that the only way the lyrics will work is if they get down to the nitty unconscious. I've been partial to that "Northern Soul" heavy bass-prominent beat for most of my life. I'd love to write a song as good as as "Keep It Coning." Just enough edge to keep it saucy. Sex was that edge in the 1960s. I think politics is the edge now -- keep it funky and treat the political insult of the age as raw matterial.

 

 

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