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@Shake-a-Hoof is starting a regular look at 'What Is Soul'--searching deep into Spotify to unocver the artists and songs that have a story to tell.
To start us of is Earl Young. Born in Philadelphia, he will forever be associated with Disco and what became known as the Philly sound--best known for his work with the MFSB, Salsoul and the Trammps with the hit "Disco Inferno".
Sometimes known as Earl ‘the Pearl’ Young or ‘Almighty’ Earl Young, scanning through his resume is like going through a history of Soul music, often working with producers Gamble and Huff, Vince Montana, Norman Harris and Ron Baker.
Early in his career he toured Japan with Stevie Wonder who passed on drumming tips. He then went on to take part in the recording of some of the classic Soul and Disco records by Teddy Pendergrass, O Jays, Loleatta Holloway, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Temptations, Delfonics, BB King, Love Committee, The Dells, Major Harris, Double Exposure, First Choice, Three Degrees, Salsoul Orchestra, Billy Paul, Dusty Springfield and many more.
Most famous in Soul circles for his work with Philadelphia International records and Salsoul, he also recorded for Buddah Salsoul, Phil L.A of Soul, Philadelphia International, Ariola America, A&M, Island, Atlantic, ABC, Columbia, Avco, Capricorn, Huff Puff, Artic Record Company, MCA, Emerald, International, Soul Train, Phillips, Tamla, Roulette, Janus, Gold Mind, Zoo, and Rhino.
He is currently the most decorated Artist on Philly's walk of fame sharing the honour with Artists like the Roots, Delfonics, Dizzy Gillipsie, Phyliss Hyman, Maze, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle and John Coltrane.
Below is an A-Z Discography of available Spotify tracks, close to 700 recordings all associated with Earl Young.
Earl has contributed to the history of Soul with an incredible body of work and most importantly the Disco beat.
Without the Disco beat, Disco might not have become as big as it did. And then of course maybe no House music. Ironically it was probably the invention of the drum machine (or more so cheap drum machines) that replicated Earl's 4/4 beat which enabled the creation of House music.
DJ's in 70's New York started to experiment with mixing records using the hi hat as a cue to mix the records and the first producers even used Earl's rhythm as a basis for some of the first remixes to ever be recorded.
Dimitri from Paris (the current generation's Disco supremo) has talked about Earl Young's influence and questioned if Earl Young understand that the beats he made are the origin of House. And now it's filtered through to Pop and beyond, every 4/4 that you hear, almost, is a replication of what they did. Marshall Jefferson's "Move Your Body", one of the first five House records, used that beat. That was in 1986, and think of how many records come from that one and you can begin to see how influential it is. Marshall actually hired the drummer for the second Ten City record around 1989 or 1990. But no, I don't think they realized the extent to which the sound that they created would influence the world.
Like James Brown, Earl's drum beats have been a sampling source for years for both Hip Hop and House. A Tribe called Quest, Notorious B.I.G, DJ Sneak, DJ Pierre, Terrence Parker, Cajmere, Gwen Guthrie, Steve Silk Hurley, Ice Cube and the Roots have all sampled tracks associated with Earl.
Earl Young is still making music today, most recently with Soul producer Nigel Lewis.
Below is a 100 track playlist of my favourite tracks Earl Young has performed on, set your crossfade to full as it is programmed to play like a DJ mix as are all the weekly 'What is Soul' playlists.
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