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Psychedelic soul (originally called black rock [1] or conflated with psychedelic funk [2]) is a music genre that emerged in the late 1960s and saw Black soul musicians embrace elements of psychedelic rock, including its production techniques, instrumentation, effects units ( wah-wah pedal, phaser, etc.) and drug influences. [3] It came to prominence in the late 1960s and continued into the 1970s, playing a major role in the development of funk and disco.

Pioneering acts working in the genre included Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Isaac Hayes, the Temptations, the Chambers Brothers and George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic ensemble.



The Chambers Brothers in 1970

Following the lead of Jimi Hendrix in psychedelic rock, in the late 1960s psychedelia began to have a widespread impact on Afro American musicians, particularly the stars of the Motown label. [3] Influenced by the civil rights movement, it had a darker and more political edge than much psychedelic rock. [3] Building on the funk sound of James Brown, it was pioneered by Sly and the Family Stone with songs like " Dance to the Music" (1968), " Everyday People" (1968) and " I Want to Take You Higher" (1969), which had a sound that emphasized distorted electric rhythm guitar and strong basslines. [4] Also important were the Temptations and their producer Norman Whitfield, who moved from a relatively light vocal group into more hard-edged and topical material like " Cloud Nine" (1968), " Runaway Child, Running Wild" (1969), and " Psychedelic Shack" (1969). [4]


Other Motown acts soon followed into psychedelic territory, including established performers like the Supremes with " Reflections" (1967), " Love Child" (1968), and " Stoned Love" (1970). [5] Psychedelic influences could also be heard in the work of Stevie Wonder [3] and in Marvin Gaye's socially conscious work from What's Going On (1971). [6] Acts that broke through with psychedelic soul included the Chambers Brothers with " Time Has Come Today" (1966, but charting in 1968), [5] Arthur Brown with " Fire" (1968), [7] [8] [9] the 5th Dimension with a cover of Laura Nyro's " Stoned Soul Picnic" (1968), [5] Edwin Starr's " War" (1970) and the Undisputed Truth's " Smiling Faces Sometimes" (1971). [3]

George Clinton's interdependent Funkadelic and Parliament ensembles and their various spin-offs, taking influence from Detroit rock groups including MC5 and The Stooges, used extended distorted guitar solos and psychedelic sound effects, coupled with surreal imagery and stage antics, especially on early Funkadelic albums such as Funkadelic (1970), Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow (1970), and Maggot Brain (1971); and Parliament album Osmium (1970), [1] producing more than forty singles, including three in the US top ten, and three platinum albums. [10] Shuggie Otis's 1974 album Inspiration Information was a psychedelic soul record that emerged too late to take advantage of the style's popularity, but later found acclaim when it was reissued in 2001. [11]

Decline and influence

While psychedelic rock began to waver at the end of the 1960s, psychedelic soul continued into the 1970s, peaking in popularity in the early years of the decade, and only disappearing in the late 1970s as tastes began to change. [3] Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield added orchestral instrumentation, creating cinematic soul, which ultimately led to disco. [12] Acts like Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, and Ohio Players, who began as psychedelic soul artists, incorporated its sounds into funk music and eventually the disco which partly replaced it. [13]

Modern artists

Modern psychedelic soul artists include Erykah Badu, [14] Bilal, [15] Black Pumas, [16] Janelle Monáe, [17] and Adrian Younge. [18] On Kali Uchis´s music Pitchfork noted that "Watching her loungey psychedelic spirit evolve into confident, shapeshifting pop has been fascinating; a generation of fans have fallen under the spell of her experimental nostalgia music" [19]

See also


  1. ^ a b J. S. Harrington, Sonic Cool: the Life & Death of Rock 'n' Roll (Milwaukie, MI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2002), ISBN  0-634-02861-8, pp. 249–50.
  2. ^ Echard, William (2017). Psychedelic Popular Music: A History through Musical Topic Theory. Indiana University Press. pp. 123–125. ISBN  9780253026590. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Psychedelic soul", AllMusic, retrieved 27 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b R. Gulla, Icons of R&B and Soul: an Encyclopedia of the Artists who Revolutionized Rhythm, Volume 2 (London: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008), ISBN  0-313-34046-3, pp. 278–81.
  5. ^ a b c G. Case, Out of Our Heads: Rock 'n' Roll Before the Drugs Wore Off (Milwaukie, MI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2010), ISBN  0-87930-967-9, pp. 70–1.
  6. ^ J. Ankeny, "Marvin Gaye", AllMusic, retrieved 3 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Arthur Brown: Fire: The Arthur Brown Story". Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  8. ^ November 2018 (6 November 2018). "The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown: Album Of The Week Club Review". Retrieved 25 February 2021.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list ( link)
  9. ^ "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown". Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  10. ^ V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, All Music Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), ISBN  0-87930-653-X, p. 226.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Shuggie Otis: Inspiration Information > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  12. ^ Foley, Mark (December 23, 2014). "Musical Space: Cinematic Soul". KMUW. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  13. ^ A. Bennett, Rock and Popular Music: Politics, Policies, Institutions (Abingdon: Routledge, 1993), ISBN  0-203-99196-6, p. 239.
  14. ^ Caramanica, Jon (February 11, 2011). "Lots of Beats, but No Drum in Sight". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  15. ^ "Music". Willamette Week. April 13, 2016. p. 33. Retrieved August 20, 2020 – via Issuu.
  16. ^ Carras, Christ (November 20, 2019). "Who are Black Pumas, the Grammys' most mysterious new artist nominee?". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California.
  17. ^ Gundersen, Edna (October 24, 2013). "'Billboard' names Janelle Monáe its 2013 Rising Star". USA Today. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  18. ^ Sacher, Andrew (February 1, 2019). "Adrian Younge kicks off "Produced By" series with Georgia Anne Muldrow & Terrace Martin collab". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 2023-02-09. Amazon Music's "Produced By" series continues with psychedelic soul great Adrian Younge.
  19. ^ Santiago, Gio (March 3, 2023). "Kali Uchis: Red Moon in Venus Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 3, 2023.