I was browsing through the magazine section in my local supermarket and spotted a magazine called “Vintage Rock“. Can’t say I’ve noticed it before but one of the articles caught my eye. Jeremy Isaacs listing the 40 Best R ‘n B records.
I’m always suspicious when I see anything labelled R & B as most of the modern stuff is urban music with no connection to the Blues. The article quotes Fats Domino from an interview in the 1950s when he said “What you call Rock ‘N’ Roll now is Rhythm & Blues. I’ve been playing it for 15 years in New Orleans“. I enjoyed the magazine and decided to subscribe to it.
As for they article on the best R & B records, I didn’t agree with all the author’s choices but there were enough to make me think, “those were the days!” If you want to read the full list of 40 buy the magazine!
Here are the ones I agree with (by year of release)
- Ain’t that a shame – Fats Domino (1955)
- Youngblood – The Coasters (1957)
- Memphis Tennessee – Chuck Berry (1959
- Chain Gang – Sam Cooke (1960)
- I just want to make love to you – Etta James (1961)
- Stand by Me – Ben E King (1961)
- Green Onions – Booker T & the MGs (1962)
- Dancing in the Street – Martha & The Vandellas (1964)
- Time is on my Side – Irma Thomas (1964)
From the rest of the list I like these performers but not the song Isaac has chosen.
- Ray Charles- Mess Around (1953)
- Little Richard – Tutti Frutti (1955)
- Bo Diddley – Who do you Love? (1957)
- James Brown – Try Me, I need you (1958)
- The Drifters – There goes my Baby (1959)
- Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya (1961)
- Marvin Gaye – Hitch Hike (1962)
And Arthur Alexander doesn’t even get a mention!
You probably have your own list; it’s all down to personal choice in the end.
As a footnote on the question of what is R & B I have an album released on Stateside in 1963 called “the ‘sound’ of the R & B hits”. It’s actually a Tamla Motown production with the following tracks, some of which like “Do You Love Me” and “Money” were staples of R & B groups:
- Shop Around – Mary Wells
- Way over there – The Marvelettes
- Everybody’s gotta pay some dues – The Miracles
- Mockingbird – Martha & The Vandellas
- Bye Bye baby – Mary Wells
- I’ll try something new – The Miracles
- Dream baby (how long must I dream) – The Marvelettes
- Money – Barrett Strong
- What’s so good about goodbye -The Miracles
- Let me go the right way – The Supremes
- Don’t want to take a chance – Mary Wells
- Broken Hearted – The Miracles
- The one who really loves you – The Marvelettes
- Do you love me – The Miracles
The sleeve notes said “This very special package from Tamla Motown records showcases the particular style of rhythm and blues that the company has successfully produced and it is sure to appeal to its ever-growing legion of supporters“