Given the widespread outrage at the killing of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests on both sides of the Atlantic, I thought it might be timely to post up on Facebook some important songs of the past that brought the struggle of black people into the popular arena, especially during the Civil Rights era. All are classics, loved by millions, but hopefully this will offer some context with regards to the times in which they were made and the weight of their subsequent cultural significance. Continue Reading →
Tag Archives | Norman Whitfield
Here’s a short overview I wrote for DJ Mag’s Disco edition last year, outlining some of the musical threads that resulted in the evolving Disco movement’s expansion from the underground into the eye of mainstream attention as the ‘70s unfurled.
I’ve written / adapted some sleeve notes for the new Joey Negro / Z Records compilation, which I’ve reproduced below. The album is available now on CD and digital, whilst there’s also a vinyl double-pack available, featuring 8 of the tracks, 2 per side. You can purchase the various formats here:
Just over 2 months on from the passing of iconic bass man, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn of Booker T. & The M.G.’s (https://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/05/donald-duck-dunn/), another of Soul’s most prolific bass players, Bob Babbitt, a member of Motown’s illustrious studio band, the Funk Brothers, died yesterday, aged 74.
The photo above shows a man walking down the street past a wall that’s been sprayed with some graffiti – it says ‘Powell For P.M’. I’d imagine that most people under a certain age would completely miss the relevance of this image, having no idea who this Powell was. Maybe they might pick up on the clue that it has some reference to race, as the man in the picture is black, but without understanding the context its message has been lost with the passage of time. Anyone looking at it in the years following the milestone date of April 20th 1968 would be left in no doubt of its potency, but whilst children in British schools are now taught about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and key aspects of the US Civil Rights movement during the ’50s and ’60s, the story of what happened in this country, following the mass immigration of the post-war period, remains a largely hidden history. Without the knowledge of what went on back then, it’s impossible to properly understand what’s going on now, for Enoch Powell MP, and what he had to say in Birmingham that fateful April day almost 44 years ago (which, at the time, a Gallup poll told us was supported by almost three quarters of the UK population), set the agenda for the race debate in this country – a heated debate which has very much reignited in the past few months.
Most of the interviews you do throw up the same type of questions, but every now and again someone takes a completely different approach, which can be very refreshing. One such occasion was a few years ago when I received a request for an interview by Berlin based DJ and writer Finn Johannsen, who told me he was doing a feature series for the blog ‘Sounds Like Me’ in which he asks people to chose a favourite record that has strong personal associations. Once I’d informed him of my choice, ‘Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)’, a key single of my formative years by The Temptations, he came back with a whole heap of insightful questions that really caused me to get deep into my reasons behind this selection, including my views on its socio-political relevance, the role of the protest song, and the innovations of its producer, Norman Whitfield.