Monday, August 18, 2008

Don Gardner / Betty Harris

Don Gardner - My Baby Likes to Boogaloo

Betty Harris - There's a Break in the Road

There are moments when it would not be difficult to convince me that one of man's greatest achievements has been the invention of soul music. I mean, good lord, it's called 'soul' music, that should tell you something.

These two tracks here are both, to once again use Howie B's indispensible phraseology, absolute stonkers. Don Gardner sings like he's about to bust out of his own skin. It's that kind of irrepressible, ecstatic, barely-contain-yourself soul singing that the body just needs to be filled with sometimes. And the Betty Harris track, produced by Alain Toussaint, has the Meters as the backup band, and is just such a sweaty, messy syncopated monster, I recommend taking a step back from the stereo after you press play.

I should tell you that there's a reason I don't ordinarily search out or DJ rare soul, why I prefer to look for wonky weirdo disco instead: it's exactly because soul is just so goddamned good. Poking through old disco is more of a challenge, it excites the critical faculties because one really has to weed through it all and evaluate it, and be more prepared for weird surprises, moments of "wait, do I like this? is this super-corny, but good? or what?"

this is not at all to disparage those who labor to dig up soul or to DJ it, anymore than I would mock someone for enjoying an unobstructed view of the sunset over the ocean on a small Italian island, or taking time to breathe in the dizzying grandeur of a mountain range, all three are purifications that the soul and body need, only that soul/r&b music can help one to endure and stand freshly on the ground when the pleasures of a grand voyage are for practical reasons out of reach.


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