Most Americans who are familiar with Black music do not know the history of R&B, soul and funk. There are books and articles all over the place about African American music in general and hip hop in particular. It is one of the topics that school and parents are talking about a lot.
However, there is very little emphasis on the musical history of black America and R&B, soul and funk is a part of this musical history. Prince Paul, the man behind many of Prince’s songs along with his own band, has written his own book “Along Your Way Boy.” There are other books about R&B as well, but Paul’s book is quite comprehensive in its deep dives into the history of R&B and soul music from the 1950s to the early 90s.
There are great history tidbits that will interest younger generations who were not around for the music culture of the time. For example, Black culture was part of every station on television. There were numerous broadcasts about black issues and intellectuals. These shows paved the way for television from the 1980s and 70s in general.
He really delves into the back stories of the songs and their meanings. There are songs like Scott Walker’s “Birds” and James Brown’s “My Funny Valentine” which have become known for others.
You will learn about various singers including Prince’s own brother, Mark Holmes. James Brown’s brother would sometimes contribute background vocals on his brother’s songs. The album “Back on Board” is another fascinating read.
The book does not showcase all of the songs and artists covered, but you can certainly find many of your favorites on his website www.princepaul.com. Paul is an incredibly generous writer and writer’s author. He is well known in the music community and will write about stories relating to the people involved with particular artists.
His website includes interviews with most of the artists and writers mentioned and others. Although Prince Paul did not write this book, you will definitely learn a great deal about the Black music culture. This book is simply a great read and provides a deep dive into a little known part of music history.
There are so many books about the golden age of rap and hip hop but less on R&B and soul music. Paul does not touch on rap music per se but instead covers popular songs of the 80s and 90s. However, there are many sections about people like the late James Brown and Stan Honda. Honda is the saxophone player in Jimi Hendrix’s band and is possibly the most important drummer in hip hop music history. Paul also dives into how Ike Turner was one of the first big name white artists to record music with an African American musician.
The book is very easy to read and will keep you entertained. It is an excellent book and hopefully many more people will take up Paul’s book. I know I recommend this one and look forward to seeing many more.