Blue-eyed soul wonders
Van Morrison concert, in a concert in Madrid in 2019.Claudio Alvarez placeholder image

The soul it has always been a genre associated with the African American community in the United States. Arisen after the sound and lyrical incursions, outside the shelter of the Church, of pioneers like Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke or Ray Charles in the early sixties. Soul, the sound of the soul, giving identity to blacks in a segregationist America. Identity… and success. Even more so when the Motown record company aspired more than any other label to conquer white audiences. Motown defined the soul as “the sound of young America.” A sound that seduced the black and white communities alike, to the extent that within a few years of its birth the blue-eyed soul or blue-eyed soul.

The soul Blue-eyed is the one that led many white artists to want to sound like black artists in this genre. From their first and incendiary recordings, their hearts spilled over the songs. One of his earliest and most rampant ambassadors was Eric Burdon, a throat-wrenching from the front line of The Animals. Along with Burdon, one must always cite his best representative on earth: Van Morrison, difficult to label, but capable of reaching the same heights of soul from his status as a white singer. East soul White is something Morrison has never stopped doing, even on recent albums. Behind him came others of a powerful caliber like Joe Cocker, The Box Tops and Robert Palmer.

Even more elegantly, women appeared who defined this term and took it to another level. Especially Dusty Springfield. The British recorded in Memphis with producer Jerry Wexler and the group The Sweet Inspirations and got a masterpiece on the album: Dusty in Memphis. Like her, Petula Clark opened another avenue in that very sentimental style and conducive to crescendos vowels.

It is true that, given its success and rapid development, the British press appropriated this term of soul of blue eyes to apply to all those groups and musicians who softened the tone and removed all the leathery R&B blood that kept the old throats of Van Morrison, Cocker or Burdon. Bands that, driven by the upheaval of disco music, sought the pop world in the eighties such as Alison Moyet, Rick Astley or Spandau Ballet. From this period, without a doubt, Simply Red showed more quality than the rest. And a personal whim: Christopher Cross. Their 1979 album has that I don’t know what goofy thing about it. soul blue-eyed like sailing on a cruise ship. It sucks, it is true, but it is a whim.

However, in this vindication of the blue-eyed soul more interested in leaving that eighties application of the label and finding the soul in white voices of our days, where there have been many representatives faithful to the original precepts. In this list, giants of the 21st century sound like Amy Winehouse, Adele or Duffy. Also less star musicians like Joss Stone, Hannah Williams, James Hunter, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Nathaniel Rateliff.

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