The Soul Clan - Soul Meeting (and some more politics...)
Messrs Burke, Conley, Covay, King & Tex
Good afternoon all. Here we are again, at the regular meeting of the Monday Soul Society/coffee klatch. The afternoon finds me (like Azrael Abyss, Prince of Sorrows) forlorn. The weatherman keeps promising that Spring is actually here, but I for one am not convinced. The first day I can walk around comfortably sans sweatshirt, or drive with at least one of my car windows rolled down (terrorizing the locals with loudly played soul and funk obscurities), I’ll believe that we’ve changed seasons, but right now I refuse to cooperate. As much as it pains me to do so, I have to start off another post with a political rant, though this one is less specifically about George Bush than about those of his ilk (I love the word “ilk”. Note to self, employ “ilk” as much as possible without sounding like a shill for the “ilk” lobby...). I was home taking care of my little sonny boy last week – he was working off a pesky fever – and spent a fair amount of time watching the cable news channels. It was funny (both “ha ha” and not “ha ha”) watching Fox News ignore the breaking scandal involving Fearless Leader’s inability to keep a secret, choosing instead to continue their racist/fascist jihad against the “Mexican Menace”, i.e. the crisis with illegal immigration (which just turned into a crisis when the Republicans decided that they were getting hit by too many pieces of rotten fruit – or the figurative equivalent - in the public square). I mean, really...it’s not like Fox News has ever been anything but a musty little circus tent filled to capacity with pinheads, flat-earthers, racists and Red-baiters, but sometimes the rhetoric that spills out of that place is beyond belief. Of course, were you to acquaint yourself with the Right-wing blog-o-sphere (another note to self: try not to use the word “blog-o-sphere” ever again), you’d realize that few of the new Right Wing memes that find their way onto Fox News haven’t already been road tested on the web in crypto-fascist loony bins like Free Republic, and the Pajamas Media cabal. It’s almost as if Fox News was only there as an echo chamber in which the Right Wing see and hear themselves reflected. In the past few days the channel has been a swirling vortex of outrage (“How dare they carry Mexican flags at these rallies?!”), the aforementioned Red-baiting (“Isn’t that a communist front organization?”), and out and out hysterics like suggesting that the Mexican immigrants are intent on a revolution that will re-claim the American Southwest as Mexican Territory, and that the rallies have been infiltrated with criminal street gangs. They portray the gun-toting self-appointed border patrollers the ‘Minutemen’ as some kind of concerned citizens group, instead of the dubious paramilitary enterprise that it is, and feature a steady stream of Republican officials from Border States rolling their eyes and pulling their buzzcuts out over the “problem”. Of course, everyone in Congress, Republicans and jelly-spined Democrats alike have waded into the controversy with a volley of conflicting legislation, as if all of our lives depended on cobbling together a knee-jerk solution as soon as possible. Here’s the deal, this is neither a new problem, nor has it suddenly increased to a level that requires this kind of hysteria. This country has had a shameful history when it comes to immigration, the part that illegal immigrants play in this economy, and using illegal immigration as an excuse to whip up Joe Six-pack. The people fanning the flames with a lot of racist, xenophobic rhetoric need to take it down a notch or two (or ten...). I think if we’re going to spend money “investigating”, it ought to be spent seeing how many members of Congress (and their big campaign contributors) employ undocumented aliens as domestics (household work or child care), in manual labor situations (either directly or indirectly, i.e. does your landscaper/gardener employ them, do they hold stock in companies that benefit from sweatshop labor?) or otherwise, and then apply the strongest fines possible. That, of course, will never happen. I’d also like to see the list of unemployed American citizens that are waiting to take the “jobs” held by undocumented workers. You know, those “jobs” that don’t pay minimum wage, or include any benefits, or have to follow labor laws or safety regulations. I suspect it would be a fairly short list. They (Fox, their minions and proxies) just need to shut the fuck up and try a little honesty. That said, James Wolcott has some very insightful things (and some pertinent links) to say on the issue.
I promise that I’ll lighten up on the politics just as soon as the political situation (as it is) lightens up (b/w the exciting track “Don’t Hold Your Breath”...). Anyhoo....It just wouldn’t be right for me to go on like that if I didn’t have an absolutely smoking track waiting at the end (c’mon...you don’t make someone eat their broccoli and then give them shredded wheat for dessert). No my friends, the track I had selected for today is a ass-kicker from the get go, top loaded with all-star soul talent (probably more soul talent by volume than any single 45 ever created). I speak of the mighty Soul Clan, and their very, very, very tasty ‘Soul Meeting’. For those of you that have never heard of the Soul Clan, the membership breaks down like so: Solomon Burke, Don Covay, Ben E King, Arthur Conley and Joe Tex. Formed in 1968 by Don Covay (who also produced the 45), the original version of the group was to have included Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. By the time things finally came together, Otis was dead (replaced by his protégé Conley) and Pickett had backed out (not sure why). Though this supergroup only recorded the two sides of this 45 (‘Soul Meeting’ and ‘That’s How It Feels’) there was also a Soul Clan LP that was composed of a variety of solo tracks by the group’s members. ‘Soul Meeting’ opens with Covay calling the roll, ‘Is Arthur here? Is Joe here? Where’s Solomon? I see Don coming in now, and Ben E’s with him.’ In what can only be described as some kind of Super Soul Tag Team extravaganza, Joe Tex takes the first verse, tags Ben E. King, who then brings in Don Covay, then Solomon Burke, and finally the junior member of the team Arthur Conley. The tune cranks along at high speed with a swampy guitar line, blazing horns and super-tight drums. The track made it to #34 R&B and #91 Pop, but no more was heard from the Soul Clan, at least in its collective form. Solomon Burke has claimed that Atlantic effectively killed the record in order to put a monkey wrench in the groups efforts at expanding Black control of the record business (I’m not sure how the Soul Clan 45 was supposed to do that), but I’d say it’s a lot more likely that the Soul Clan concept – which was really only there on the 45 – couldn’t gel long enough to gain momentum. There were plenty of white ‘supergroups’ that went right into the toilet. At least in the case of the Soul Clan, they never waded into the swamp of self indulgence, leaving behind a single, excellent 45 as their legacy. The Soul Clan reunited in the early 80’s, with Wilson Pickett replacing Arthur Conley.