Record of the day: "Atlantic Rhythm and Blues 1947-1974"

Record of the day: “Atlantic Rhythm and Blues 1947-1974”

Various Artists
Atlantic Rhythm and Blues 1947-1974 (8 Cd Atlantic 782305-2)

Take two days' leave from the office, unplug the phone, warn friends and relatives that you won't be available for a while, stock up on sandwiches and drinks and immerse yourself in this colossal box set that contains the best of the rhythm and blues production of one of the major labels in the history of African American music.

Atlantic was founded by Ahmet Ertegun in 1947 with a $10,000 loan from his dentist. No one certainly imagined that this providential dental help would give rise to an authentic recording empire that has published masterpieces in profusion not only in the field of soul but also in jazz and rock, with a catalog that includes names such as John Coltrane, Alan Lomax , Led Zeppelin, Cream, Ornette Coleman and Charlie Mingus.

In the early years Ertegun's interest was rhythm and blues (he himself composed, under the pseudonym Nugetre, famous songs of the genre such as “Mess Around” by Ray Charles and “Don't Play That Song” by Ben E King) and this wonderful collection offers great examples of the genre, from Big Joe Turner to the Clovers, from the Drifters to Aretha Franklin, from Ray Charles to Wilson Pickett via Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker, the Coasters, Joe Tex, Ben E. King , Archie Bell, Les Mc Cann, Carla Thomas and dozens of other very good artists.

Listening to the records in chronological order one can clearly perceive the stylistic evolution of the label, which from an initial repertoire dedicated to wild jump and boogie intended mainly for the jukebox market progressively moves towards the search for an audience not only eager to dance, in every a case strongly rooted in the black community which appreciated a repertoire linked to the bloodier blues and less compromised with pop; the choice of titles was guided with an iron hand by Ertegun, known for maneuvering artists and songwriters with authority that was not always pleasant but indisputable flair and competence.

Many hours of heavenly listening await you in the company of Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding; the substantial volume contained in the box set will help you make your way through the sea of ​​titles and artists present here, with particular attention to performers who are little known today but certainly not of lesser value such as Jimmy Hughes, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley and Stick McGhee.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.