Relive an old Black music tradition that made its biggest footprint in the 1970's.
“You get to an age where you get tired of hiding behind whatever people think is correct.” – Betty Wright
Spoken word introductions are as old as the live Black music tradition that spawned them. Still carried out by Black performers to this day, these "stories" would often detail the emotions and reasons why an artist would perform or record a song, and were used as a device to bring the audience into the experience by relating something universal that they could also relate to.
Bringing this into the recorded music mainstream was James Brown with his Live at the Apollo album in 1963. After seeing how well the album sold to Black and White audiences (this album got as high as #2 on the Top Pop album charts with no singles released from it), many artists followed suit. It became fairly standard practice by the early 1970's, with a slew of great and classic R&B tracks hitting the charts with this device, and their greatness could not be imagined today without them.
Honey Cone, from Los Angeles, CA, 1971. Image from their album Sweet Replies. (l-r) Edna Wright, Shelly Clark and Carolyn Willis. Photographer unknown.
By the time the Disco era had come around, the need for spoken intros had almost died out completely, as people just simply wished to dance and forget their troubles for a while. Thanks to the rise of Hip-Hop starting in the 1980's and Neo-Soul in the 1990's, the spoken word introduction has made an amazing comeback, still thrilling audiences and still making them a part of the experience.
Our tracks this week: Title, Year, Artist
1. Tonight is the Night (live), 1978, Betty Wright
2. Have You Seen Her, 1971, The Chi-Lites
3. The Day I Found Myself, 1971, Honey Cone
4. Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing, 1973, Stevie Wonder
5. Maybe, 1970, The Three Degrees
6. Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation, 1973, The Dells
7. Yu-Maa/Go Away Little Boy, 1977, Marlena Shaw
8. Take Me To The River, 1974, Al Green
9. Patches, 1970, Clarence Carter
10. Kiss And Say Goodbye, 1976, The Manhattans
11. The Way We Were/Try To Remember, 1974, Gladys Knight and The Pips
Love to you all.
Ben "Bear" Brown Jr., owner