Introducing our Ultimate Guide to Soul

Tina Turner, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, and more…

No-one should have to endure what Tina Turner did. What may have been just as frustrating to her was the fact that even when she had escaped it, and begun the slow process of taking back control of her own narrative (even her name), the fact of her ultimate success drew her back into discussion of her domestic abuse survival story.


As you’ll read in our updated Ultimate Genre Guide to Soul, Melody Maker’s Carol Clerk met Tina over a mineral water on the balcony of her London home in May 1989. The multi-platinum successes of her Private Dancer album behind her, plans for better movie roles and a planned retirement at 60 in front, her marriage was still a topic of discussion. “A movie,” she says of the news peg for their meeting, her upcoming biopic. “Oh, great.”

The part of her story which still interested Tina was her music, and that’s what we celebrate here. “Soul” could mean a lot when Tina started recording – something with a footing in rhythm & blues and gospel; a sweet, sad spot between the sacred and profane – and it grew in the lifespan of her career. Here you’ll find incisive writing on the giants of all shades of the music, from Otis Redding to James Brown, Nina Simone to Dusty Springfield, Sly Stone and Isaac Hayes. 

This is a music which grew from concise expressions of rapture or melancholic wonder (see: Steve Cropper’s lead guitar line in Otis Redding’s “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay”) into widescreen suites like those presented to the 1970s by Curtis Mayfield or Marvin Gaye. In the right hands, it could go even further. In 2008 Barack Obama described Stevie Wonder’s releases from Music Of My Mind to Songs In The Key Of Life as a “brilliant a run of albums as we’ve ever seen”, and as our revisit with the albums confirms here – that very much still holds true.


What else? We’ve written about the 40 greatest soul singles of all time, there’s a recollection of meeting Marvin Gaye from the late Gavin Martin, and as we return to Tina Turner’s roof terrace, a reminder that sometimes the debt we repay to our influences is done in an unpredictable way. 

Mick Jagger, Tina tells Carol Clerk, “has a great sense of humour. He’s always teasing, always playing. He’s one of those that if he walks in a dressing room and you’re undressed, he’ll get your knickers and hold them up. We enjoy bringing naughtiness into our work – I sense that’s what we have in common.”

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