Retro Revival: The Depths of Soul
An elderly Englishman, a copyright violation, and 25,000 explorations of music’s deepest obscurity.
By Maria Popova
Retro revival is everywhere. We see it today’s web design trends, we see it in Fashion Week’s latest output, and we see it in retro-inspired artists taking SXSW by storm. But the only way to do the trend right is to be inspired by all the right things, the deepest and most authentic roots of what we now call “retro.”
That’s where Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven steps in — an immense archive of rare and unreleased “deep soul” (a unique musical genre that explores deep human emotion and existential philosophy in the unlikely realm of “popular music) from the Golden Age of soul between 1960 and 1980.
The project comes from an eccentric elderly Englishman who goes by “Sir Shambling” and whose obsession with black music began about 35 years ago and resulted in a personal collection of over 25,000 records. Most of them are B-sides and rarities from music history’s most indulgently obscure heroes. And many of them are available as free mp3’s, digitized from the original 45’s for your culturally enriching pleasure.
As you can guess, this goes against the legal grain of copyright law and P2P filesharing — but Sir Shambling shares a certain conviction with us:
The widest possible exposure to music is the best way to keep it alive, to promote interest in the artists themselves and to generate activity in the legitimate reissue business.
Well said, Sir.
The collection spans an enormous spectrum of music — from such impossibly obscure records as the 1969 “Blind Am I” from Chicago-based group Uptight Sound Creation‘s first and only record, to Tommy Soul‘s unexpected cover of classic soul ballad “I Need Someone (To Love Me)” from the mid-60’s. Then there’s the astounding vault of articles that an leave any music geek paralyzed with exuberance.
So go ahead, dive into the heart of soul — you’ll be mesmerized and bewitched and inspired in ways you didn’t know existed.
via Very Short List
Published December 12, 2008