Today’s smooth and spreadable Lazy Sunday Afternoon post is smothered thickly on toast by guest blogger Martpol…
In recent years there has been a proliferation of products that you didn’t know your body needed (or more specifically, that women didn’t know their bodies needed). Barely a week goes by without the discovery that yet another lowly fruit or veg has previously undreamt-of properties: if it isn’t breadfruit body scrub, it’s eyeliner with cabbage essence or prawn-shell hair conditioner. And if there’s one product that all and sundry will end up in, it’s that alluringly named tub of goo known as body butter.
Body butter nourishes the skin, makes you happy and gives you the scent of an angel (unless of course you chose that cabbage variety). Today, however, I offer you one better, and ask you to sit back, close your eyes and indulge in a medium-sized tub of soul butter. I’m afraid there is no Isaac Hayes, who famously released an album titled Hot Buttered Soul. This type of soul isn’t the outwardly erotic, dancefloor-as-metaphor-for-bedroom variety. Instead, its soft strings, enticing harmonies and hypnotic lyrical conceits are there for inner nourishment. You can absorb it just as well by yourself as with a loved one; doing so will, though, deny you the complementary pleasure of a foot massage.
All four of these songs are from the 1970s, which was the greatest decade for soul and my favourite musical period of all. The first two are both cover versions, though I didn’t realise it when I first got to know them. Summer Breeze isn’t even a proper soul song, but a soft rock classic turned into a real slinky beauty by the Isley Brothers. The album version has added axe-wizadry.
Al Green is almost certainly the king of soul butter, and here he is with a reading of a Bee Gees song I haven’t heard but surely cannot beat this. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart appeared on the album Let’s Stay Together, the title track of which is another pocket of enveloping warmth. There is a horn-driven live performance here, but I suggest sitting back, closing your eyes and simply enjoying the original studio version, film or no film…
RAMP’s Come Into Knowledge is apparently one of the most sought-after ‘rare groove’ records from the 1970s, but luckily it’s now around on CD for all to luxuriate in. The key track is Daylight: sampled by A Tribe Called Quest and, jarringly, background music to many a murder and car chase since featuring on the Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack. Unfortunately there’s no decent video around for this, but instead I offer you Everybody Loves The Sunshine, which features that wonderful conceit: the fan video, complete with album covers, free-to-download video effects and, of course, some very literal cut ‘n’ paste images.
Our final slice of butter comes, perhaps surprisingly, from Chic, they of Le Freak. It is long, repetitive and drowsy, and received wisdom from some fans is that this song spoiled an otherwise excellent disco/funk album. I love it and think it ideal for a Sunday afternoon. Anyway, here they are, still going after all these years, and making the thing even longer with a sax interlude. You can, if you like, skip the first minute of encouragement to hug random strangers.