If you’d told me a couple of years ago that in 2008 I’d be spending as much time listening to other genres of music as I do hip hop, I would have pointed towards the large piece of swine hovering above your head and told you to get outta here in a rather aggressive manner. However, times change, and with the progression of the blog and a continually growing infatuation with sample sources I’m currently listening to a wider range of music than ever before: it’s great.
Of course, due to its assimilation into the beast that is hip hop, a lot of my listening habits currently revolve around soul, hence a new weekly feature that will put forward a choice cut that has had me reaching for the rewind button on numerous occasions over the course of the previous seven days or so. Although there will be some reference to its use in a hip hop context, the intention here is really just to put forward a track that I’m feelin’ and fill you in on a bit of background that I will almost certainly have just discovered myself: it’s gonna be as simple (and as manageable for me) as that.
First up in this new series we have ‘It’s Time To Break Down’ by The Supremes. Lifted from their 1970 albumNew Ways But Love Stays, the LP was the second outing for the group after the departure of Diana Ross (excluding their album with Four Tops, The Magnificent 7). The album is most notable for housing their smash hit ‘Stoned Love’, but it also clearly marks a shift into the ’70s both in terms of musical aesthetic and the appearance of the group, constrained somewhat by Motown who were concerned that the new black power look deviated too far from their established image, hence the more traditional pictures inset in the circles below the ‘fros and black turtlenecks.
Sampled by Premier on Gangstarr’s ‘JFK 2 LAX’, ‘It’s Time To Break Down’ is a clear standout on the album, a deeply soulful burner that details the difficulties of distancing yourself from a lover who still holds your heart captive. Jean Terrell (sister of Tammi) does a fantastic job on lead vocals, and the production and arrangement by Frank Wilson is nothing short of outstanding, with a particularly well-crafted opening 30 seconds before the drop into the first verse. All in it’s a fine example of dusty groove soul and goes down as an essential addition to your digital archives.
This first edition of ‘Slice Of Soul’ is especially dedicated to my Dad whose love of all things Motown runs deep: thanks for making Marvin, Martha, Diana et al. such a significant part of my adolescence Shaggy. Now it’s your turn to embrace some of that good ol’ New York rap! I’ll keep dreaming…