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REVIEW: THE SAM & DAVE MIXTAPE

 

 

By Kalamu ya Salaam of Kalamu.com

 

 

Thursday, May 21, 2009.

 

All the music here is from a 2CD set, The Definitive Soul Collection. Anyone who is even halfway interested in Soul music needs to either own this collection or own the original recordings from which these selection are taken.

 

I have a theory about why Sam Moore and Dave Pratter were both popular in the 1960s and why we ought to listen to them today.

Most critics point to Sam and Dave as being heavily church influenced—an influence the artists themselves have acknowledged as far as their style of singing goes. Well, here comes some heretical thoughts for you to consider.

I believe these cats were blues men and while they may have received their early experience singing in the church, they are reflections of Southern street folk. In the 1970s that meant they were also strong supporters of the Black Movement.

When I say strong, I don’t mean they put money in the collection plate and joined in a march or two. If you weren’t around during that period, you probably have not thought about all of the folkS who were the foot soldiers fighting the Klan, resisting racist cops, and generally throwing monkey wrenches into the machinery of the system.

Remember those pictures of fire hoses knocking people down, people who got up and kept marching? Dogs turned loose on demonstrators, police attacking with billy clubs and rifle butts, sometimes with bayonets, and during the heavier conflicts shooting at the blacks and peeling backs of our skin. And the people fighting back: punching out a German Shepherd and going lick for lick with the South’s finest.

Those were intense times. Imagine what it took to stand up to high pressure water hoses. What fortitude you have to muster up to march down main street to meet Bull Connor and his twisted crew.

Now imagine the aftermath. Imagine a broken arm, a busted skull, a couple of days in the slammer, a lost job, a $300 or $400  fine. Imagine all the heavy social dues you had to pay. Eventually, most of the leaders got taken care of but what about the little people, the ones who always bear the brunt of the cost of bringing about change?

These were people who had little and gave a lot, gave much, much more than those to whom much had already been given. The intensity, the rawness, the instant energy, the seriousness of Sam and Dave music was a reflection of these 'little' people were doing on a daily basis.

The foot soldiers didn’t want to hear no bullshit music.

 

That’s where the strength of Sam and Dave’s music came from. It’s something we need to never forget, need to always remember, need to study up on and learn as much as we can about how we got into our present position as a race.

 

I do need to acknowledge the talented song writing team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter who crafted perfect vehicles for Sam and Dave. I particularly like the pick-ups, those little introductory phrases that made the songs instantly identifiable.

 

* * *

Lastly, for those who might not fully understand my theory about the movement, I’ll leave you with this little quote to marinate on:

 

At one time, I was trying to find myself, so I became a follower of Elijah Muhammad. I would listen to Malcolm X in the street, he was so mesmerizing. Malcolm was something of a Nat King Cole. What I mean by this, is that he had green eyes, just like Nat King Cole.

In the last year of his life, Malcolm X had been to
Mecca
, and he was telling the story that we should stop putting all the blame on the white man.

One time Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had issues with each other. Malcolm X would call Martin Luther King, a sell out, which wasn’t true. But at the time I thought it was true, because I was a follower of Malcolm X. The dream that Martin had, as to what we are doing today, this is not his dream. It’s sad, you know.
—Sam Moore

 

* * *

 

One more thing. Sam and Dave, who met at a nightclub in Miami, started off signed to Roulette Records, a mafia outfit.

You read correctly. I said MAFIA outfit. The entertainment industry was gangsta heaven, I mean real gangstas and not act-like gangstas.

To fully understand Black music, you got to understand what our music had to deal with in order to be heard. They literally hung artists out skyscraper windows and asked the magic question:

 

"You want to change your contract or you want to live?"

I know this is a bit heavy for some people to accept and you probably want facts, figures, references, etcetera, etcetera. If I were of a mind to, I could dig it up and drop it on you but then so what? What would you do if I proved that the Kennedys were the Corleons before they changed their name… Kalamu, what the funk are you talking about?

I’m talking about American capitalism and the trials and tribulations of artists having to deal with straight up criminals!

Besides, there is one big, big fact: the fact that black folk are here tells you something. I mean that literally. We are the fruit of western thievery. Moreover, if you don’t believe me, ask the Native Americans.

(Now, let me see, where was I? Oh, yeah, I was saying one more Mafia thing.)

I did not know at the time, that the Mafia owned Roulette Records. No one told me. The guy who was in charge was Morris Levy, who had strong connections to the Mafia.
—Sam Moore


Sam and Dave had a good five year run and then things went down south.
Atlantic and Stax had a falling out. Sam and Dave were signed to Atlantic but produced by Stax. No more Stax production work, no more Hayes and Porter songs. No more…

It’s not a pretty story. (There’s a whole lot more but that’s all for another time.)

The music was strong because the times were tough and to cut through the bullshit you needed something sharp and strong that could cut deep and long, hence Soul music, not to mention that switchblade, sword and axe that was 1960s jazz.

See, what you’re listening to, regardless of what the lyrics seem to be saying, what you’re listening to is the weapon of music; our spear and shield—other than literally gumming up the works by inserting our bodies into the gears of industry, we didn’t have much else we could fight with.

Sam and Dave, the Mixtape -  this is strong, black, mannish music. Listen. Listen, see if it doesn't do something to you, something for you.

 

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