The Soul Children – 1969 – Soul Children

Soul Children front

After having lost Sam & Dave – whose career never recovered after the ties with Stax Records were severed – Isaac Hayes and David Porter decided to recpature the highly soulful formula, this time opting not for a duo, but a quartet. Featuring the gritty, full-throttled pipes op J. Blackfoot and the understated, down home vocalizing of Norman West, the two men were coupled with the equally fierce soul belters Shelbra Bennett and Anita Louis. The Soul Children were born, and whilst never as commercially successful as Sam & Dave, the foursome recorded some heavy, greasy Southern fried Soul that is on par with the Dynamic Duo’s sweatiest recordings.

Tracks
A1 I’ll Understand 2:42
A2 Move Over 2:54
A3 When Tomorrow Comes 3:03
A4 The Sweeter He Is (Part I) 3:01
A5 The Sweeter He Is (Part II) 3:17
B1 Tighten Up My Thang 3:01
B2 Give ‘Em Love 2:47
B3 Doin’ Our Thang 2:32
B4 Take Up the Slack 2:22
B5 Super Soul 2:53
B6 My Baby Specializes 3:13

Soul Children back

Review by Soulmakossa

The intense, slow burning “I’ll Understand” mixes gospel piano with swirling strings to create a fiery backdrop to the Children’s church rooted wailing. A classic ‘cheating song’, the lament in Shelbra’s voice is especially poignant.

Isaac’s inimitable piano style opens the deliciously groovy, mid-tempo “Move Over“, a laid back piece of funky testifying showcasing Blackfoot’s captivating beltin’. Blackfoot, who sounds uncannily similar to Willie Hightower, gets into a vocal sparing match with Norman West, the latter evoking memories of Dave Prater.

Blackfoot goes for another bit of vocal gymnastics on “When Tomorrow Comes“, where he belts out a recurring, sustained wail as Shelbra and Anita deal with the verses. A dreamy, gently rockin’ ballad that’s deep in Al Jackson’s drummin’ pocket.

Soul Children label a

The Sweeter He Is” is the highlight here – and was also the group’s first Top Ten R&B charter. An indescribably atmospheric love song set to a lazy, sleepy-eyed groove, with Blackfoot and West chirping the typical, deceptively upbeat vocal leit motif. On first listen, you’d expect these ditties were sung by the ladies. A masterpiece, which can be enjoyed in full, as the album version plays out both Part 1 and 2 without interruption.

The group gets in a ferocious funk bag on “Tighten Up My Thang” – another ingeniously rhythmic monster propelled by one of Hayes’ idiosyncratic piano motifs and a swirling horn riff – and gets on down further with the pacey, incessant “Give ’em Love“.


Doin’ Our Thang” could well have been recorded by Sam & Dave; a breakneck speed jam layered in brass and loaded with vocal harmonizing. The closest thing to filler here, but still incisively funky.

Far more impressing is the fatback, rockin’ funk of “Take Up the Slack“, a floorshakin’ groovefest that lays stupendously deep in the pocket. It’s head-bobbin’ time when the Children reach the chorus. The same goes for the anthemic, powerful “Super Soul“, probably the loudest track on the LP.

The Soul Children’s epynomously titled debut LP ends with a fantastic take on William Bell and Judy Clay’s mid-paced celebratory soul workout “My Baby Specializes“.

A monster album, hugely underrated… This is one of those overlooked jewels in the Stax catalog.

Enjoy two more albums of The Soul Children in our back pages here

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22 Comments
  • Frey
    Posted at 11:48h, 29 January 2017 Reply

    Listened to this as a child with my mom. Classic!!!

  • Aaron
    Posted at 12:21h, 29 January 2017 Reply

    Now this is music. STAX

  • Wizzard
    Posted at 01:26h, 30 January 2017 Reply

    The amazing J. Blackfoot…Superb Soul.

  • Ruby
    Posted at 02:21h, 30 January 2017 Reply

    Another banging classic … cant say it enough thank you thank you thank you .

  • Carol Allen
    Posted at 11:05h, 30 January 2017 Reply

    GOD! I love it SO MUCH!

  • SDees
    Posted at 14:29h, 30 January 2017 Reply

    It’s a fucking crime that this group’s songs aren’t played more often on the radio.

  • Whereareyou
    Posted at 00:53h, 31 January 2017 Reply

    Just finished playing it all the way through and it is a GREAT album! MOVE OVER is my fav.

  • Paul
    Posted at 01:13h, 31 January 2017 Reply

    Another treasure from the vaults!

  • Mazoo
    Posted at 11:03h, 31 January 2017 Reply

    The Soul Music I Adore

  • Stefan
    Posted at 11:14h, 31 January 2017 Reply

    Perfection, amazing female voice and group. Greetings from Belgium.

  • Barelo222
    Posted at 00:28h, 01 February 2017 Reply

    Excellent choice man

  • Eliah Williams
    Posted at 01:44h, 01 February 2017 Reply

    A Masterpiece. Thank you so very much.

  • Demon
    Posted at 01:48h, 01 February 2017 Reply

    J. Blackfoot, a son of soul.. Absolutely killer LP.

  • Samuel Jenkins
    Posted at 10:44h, 01 February 2017 Reply

    AMAZING Voices, especially J.Blackfoot (RIP). .Love their music. 5 albums on Stax and 2 on Epic. Such an underrated group.

  • Redodo
    Posted at 11:04h, 01 February 2017 Reply

    This one and FRICTION are my fav of them. Great group for sure.

  • Salino
    Posted at 00:24h, 02 February 2017 Reply

    Wonderful debut on Stax

  • motocityboy
    Posted at 14:40h, 02 February 2017 Reply

    It’s so nice. i loved all these soul groups in the 60’s and 70s.

  • Jonathan Reys
    Posted at 22:40h, 03 February 2017 Reply

    I have found some really great music I didn’t know existed before!!

  • Peter Moore
    Posted at 22:43h, 03 February 2017 Reply

    A real 5* record. SOUL.

  • Enigma
    Posted at 22:02h, 07 February 2017 Reply

    Great singers, I’m glad to be part of music from the 70s..Thanks for posting!

  • UFU
    Posted at 10:04h, 09 February 2017 Reply

    Thanks for a great post and for sharing such treasure.

  • Erol
    Posted at 21:54h, 09 February 2017 Reply

    Is this the best blog in the entire world? You guys absolutely, positively have made my entire winter.

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