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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Oct 2019 > Southern Soul

Southern Soul

With its roots in gospel and R&B, Southern soul is the gritty alternative to Motown. Gary Tipp goes deep


Northern soul has always been known for its polished arrangements, with an endless procession of its earworm perfection delivered straight off the pop factory assembly line and directly into the charts. Indeed, Motown was known for its early-morning quality control meetings, where songwriters and producers would listen to each other’s songs and rigorously critique them.

Southern soul was not at all like that. Rougher, grittier, funkier, it took the zeal of gospel music and fused it with the dynamic energy of R&B to produce something altogether different. This music was about an earthy groove with greasy horns, chicken-scratch guitars and heartfelt vocals blasting out a righteous wall of sound. It was a gritty, raw alternative to Motown. Southern soul was at its peak during the 1960s, but its popularity declined slowly due to disco’s dominance in the mid 1970s.

Many of the recordings were laid down at Rick Hall’s FAME Studios or the rival Muscle Shoals Sound Studio down the road. A good many were cut at the Stax recording studio at 926 E McLemore Avenue.

Memphis labels such as Goldwax, Hi and, most famously, Stax were significant for their contribution to the creation of Southern soul music. Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records also got in on the act and snaffled away some of the major stars, including soul’s very own queen, Aretha Franklin. While Otis Redding’s blistering appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 only further helped to solidify Southern soul as a player in the popular music climate of the time. In the first instance, our price estimates are always based on the UK first press of the album in question.


A&M 1971 The New Orleans-born Clayton had a successful career as a session singer, recording tracks with Ray Charles, The Supremes, Joe Cocker and, even, Elvis Presley, but she will be forever known for her background vocals on The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. Her self-titled second album demonstrates she was equally adept when taking the centre of the stage. FIRST PRESS £25 LATEST 2018 ODE £20 (US IMPORT)


LONDON 1972 Like so many Southern soul singers, Otis Clay cut his teeth on gospel and his first release for the label is a broody work of soulful wonder. The title track was a hit for Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. IRST PRESS £30 LATEST 2014 FAT POSSUM £18


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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 31 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! It was The Beatles' last stand and remains one of the greatest albums ever made. Issue 31 of Long Live Vinyl brings you the inside story of Abbey Road, including interviews with some of the key figures who were in the studio with the Fab Four back in 1969. You'll also find an in-depth look at the making of the amazing new 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition and an expert collector's guide. Elsewhere, our packed interviews section features chats with Ezra Furman, Metronomy, Hiss Golden Messenger and Fionn Regan about their new albums. We round up 40 Essential Southern Soul records you need to own, tell the story of the legendary Decca label on its 90th birthday and dig deep into the making of R.E.M.’s ninth album, Monster. If that's not enough, Long Live Vinyl has the most comprehensive range of album and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand, as we run the rule over new releases from Pixies, Bon Iver, Wilco, Blur and Liam Gallagher, as well as the awesome new AVID Ingenium P&P turntable. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers. Pick up your copy today…