SAM AND DAVE / “Sam and Dave Mixtape”
All the music here is from a 2CD set, The Definitive Soul Collection. Anyone who is even halfway interested in Soul music needs to either own this collection or own the original recordings from which these selection are taken. That’s all I have to say about that.
Most critics point to Sam and Dave as being heavily church influenced—an influence the artists themselves have acknowledged as far as their style of singing goes. Well here comes some heretical thoughts for you to consider.
I believe these cats were blues men and while they may have gotten their early experience singing in the church, they are reflections of Southern street folk. In the seventies that meant they were also strong supporters of the movement.
When I say strong, I don’t mean they put money in the collection plate and joined in a march or two. If you weren’t around during that period, you probably have not thought about all of the folk who were the foot soldiers fighting the Klan, resisting racist cops, and generally throwing monkey wrenches into the machinery of the system.
Remember those pictures of fire hoses knocking people down, people who got up and kept marching? Dogs turned loose on demonstrators, police attacking with billy clubs and rifle butts, sometimes bayonets and during the heavier conflicts shooting at the blacks and backs of our skin. And the people fighting back: punching out a German Shepherd and going lick for lick with the South’s finest.
Those were intense times. Imagine what it took to stand up to high pressure water hoses. What fortitude you have to muster up to march down main street to meet Bull Connor and his twisted crew.
Now imagine the aftermath. Imagine a broken arm, a busted skull, a couple of days in the slammer, a lost job, a $300 or $400 fine. Imagine all the heavy social dues you had to pay. Eventually most of the leaders got taken care of but what about the little people, the ones who always bear the brunt of the cost of bringing about change?
These were people who had little and gave a lot, gave much, much more than those to whom much had already been given. The intensity, the rawness, the instant energy, the seriousness of Sam and Dave music was a reflection of what peoples was doing on a daily basis.
The foot soldiers didn’t want to hear no bullshit music. Think about it.
That’s where the strength of Sam and Dave’s music came from. It’s something we need to never forget, need to always remember, need to study up on and learn as much as we can about how we got into a position to be able to learn as much as we can—whether we’re taking advantage of all our advantages is a whole other question.
I do need to acknowledge the talented song writing team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter who crafted perfect vehicles for Sam and Dave. I particularly like the pick-ups, those little introductory phrases that made the songs instantly identifiable.
At one time, I was trying to find myself, so I became a follower of Elijah Muhammad. I would listen to Malcolm X in the street, he was so mesmerizing. Malcolm was something of a Nat King Cole. What I mean by this, is that he had green eyes, just like Nat King Cole.
In the last year of his life, Malcolm X had been to Mecca, and he was telling the story that we should stop putting all the blame on the white man.
One time Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had issues with each other. Malcolm X would call Martin Luther King, a sell out, which wasn’t true. But at the time I thought it was true, because I was a follower of Malcolm X. The dream that Martin had, as to what we are doing today, this is not his dream. It’s sad, you know.
One more thing. Sam and Dave, who met at a nightclub in Miami, started off signed to Roulette Records, a mafia outfit.
You read correctly. I said MAFIA outfit. The entertainment industry was gangsta heaven, I mean real gangstas and not act-like gangstas.
To fully understand our music, you got to understand what our music had to deal with in order to be heard. They literally hung artists out skyscraper windows and asked the magic question: you want to change your contract or you want to live?
I know this is a bit heavy for some people to accept and you probably want facts, figures, references, etcetera, etcetera. If I were of a mind to, I could dig it up and drop it on you but then so what? What would you do if I proved that the Kennedys were the Corleons before they changed their name… Kalamu, what the funk are you talking about?
I’m talking about American capitalism and the trials and tribulations of artists having to deal with straight up criminals!
Besides, there is one big, big fact: the fact that black folk are here tells you something. I mean that literally. We are the fruit of western thievery. Moreover, if you don’t believe me, ask the Native Americans.
(Now, let me see, where was I? Oh, yeah, I was saying one more Mafia thing.)
I did not know at the time, that the Mafia owned Roulette Records. No one told me. The guy who was in charge was Morris Levy, who had strong connections to the Mafia.
Sam and Dave had a good five year run and then things went south. Atlantic and Stax had a falling out. Sam and Dave were signed to Atlantic but produced by Stax. No more Stax production work, no more Hayes and Porter songs. No more…
It’s not a pretty story. (There's a whole lot more but that's all for another time.)
The music was strong because the times were tough and to cut through the bullshit you needed something sharp and strong that could cut deep and long, hence Soul music, not mention that switchblade, sword and axe that was sixties jazz.
See, what you’re listening to, regardless of what the lyrics seem to be saying, what you’re listening to is the weapon of music; our spear and shield—other than literally gumming up the works by inserting our bodies into the gears of industry, we didn’t have much else we could fight with.
Sam and Dave this was strong, black, mannish music. Listen. Listen, see if it don’t do something to you, something for you.
Goodnight. Good luck.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Sam and Dave Mixtape Playlist
All tracks are from Sam and Dave - The Definitive Soul Collection
01 “Soul Man”
02 “I Take What I Want”
03 “Knock It Out The Park”
04 “Everybody Got To Believe In Somebody”
05 “Still Is The Night”
06 “Soul Sister, Brown Sugar”
07 “Come On In”
08 “Wrap It Up”
09 “May I Baby”
10 “You Got Me Hummin' ”
11 “Born Again”
12 “I Thank You”
13 “Soothe Me (Live)”
14 “Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody”
15 “Hold On! I'm A Comin' ”
16 “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”
This entry was posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009 at 5:50 am and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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