94. Funky Kingston

“I never got to see most of the soul greats. No Ray Charles, Al Green, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye ticket stubs in my scrapbook. But I did catch Toots and Maytals while they were still in their prime, one of the best damned bands ever in the history of anything tearing the roof off Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, making me fall in love with all humanity. It wasn’t even reggae really, just big, soulful, fun and rockin’ music. And Funky Kingston (from the album of the same name) was the climax of the show, rude and raw and at least as hot as a hot night in Trenchtown.” (Philip Random)

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141. soul fire

“In which Lee Scratch Perry (aka Rainford Hugh Perry), the maddest mix-doctor of them all, nails us with a powerful ember of soul fire ††that manages to be equal parts easy and strange. Because it’s roots reggae (always an easy groove) and it concerns the human soul (always strange). Doesn’t matter if you’re in feverishly hot Trenchtown, Jamaica, or just some pointless suburb at the north-western edge of the crumbling civilization known as Babylon. It’s all humanity if you drill deep enough.” (Philip Random)

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148. is it because I’m black?

“I’m not black, I’m not even the lightest shade of brown. But I guess if the soul of a song is true – you get it anyway. Part of it, at least. Because there’s a lot to get from Syl Johnson‘s Is It Because I’m Black? (both song and album) – the sheer frustration, rage, pain, resentment of it, sadly still as relevant now as it was decades ago.” (Philip Random)

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152. listen to the lion

“It’s true. Van Morrison‘s Listen To The Lion is exactly what you want to have playing when you finally emerge from a prolonged season in hell, a dark night of the soul, an entanglement in Chapel Perilous (choose your analogy). It won’t miraculously save you, make you whole again, but once you (and whichever gods and/or demons and/or friends and/or organizations may have stooped to redeem you) have done the heavy lifting, it’s there to welcome you, take your hand, tell you you’re not alone … and remind you that you’ve got a lion inside you that needs to roar, rage, tear righteously free at least some of the time, else it will tear you apart from within and love shall never come tumbling. In other words, you’ve just got to let it go sometimes. Your soul, that is. Believe in it and, if necessary, get to growling.” (Philip Random)

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385. summer breeze

“The version of Summer Breeze that I grew up with was the Seals + Crofts original, which was an entirely okay in a 70s AM Top 40 sort of way. But the Isley Brothers (working through at least phase four of their multifaceted career) take things way further, navigating a much hotter breeze, feverish even, yet eminently cool in a soulful, latter day psychedelic sort of way. Did somebody say The Perfect Summer Song?” (Philip Random)

593. showroom dummies

“In which some showroom dummies animate, hit the town, have some fun messing with the humans. It’s the strange urgency of it that I love, almost punk rock, yet restrained.  Which is contradictory, I know. Like considering Kraftwerk‘s cyber explorations soul music, which they are. Which reminds me of something I read a long, long time ago.  What do you call a contradiction that works?  A paradox. God I love paradox.” (Philip Random)

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794. radioland

“If machines have souls, then Kraftwerk would be holy men working the metaphysical grey area between them and us, coaxing forth the magic therein. Or something like that. All I know is Radioland (found on 1975’s Radioactivity) is exactly the kind of music I’d expect to hear in a funeral mass for a much loved machine. Mechanical, mysterious, contemplative, beautiful.” (Philip Random)

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