Bringing us up to date with neo-soul, broken beat and technological innovation, Soul Unsung is a refreshing example of a writer sharing, rather than merely airing, his knowledge.
TLS, June 2013
Kevin Le Gendre explores the role of instrumentation in black music in this enlightening and expertly arranged study. The book covers all eras of black music, from Cannonball Adderley to the Young Disciples, and is written with great eloquence and expertise.
Classic Rock Magazine
LeGendre does a yeoman’s job—with the creative approach of a songwriter and the uplifting spirit of a Sunday preacher—at unveiling the long-hidden history of the legendary instrumentalists of the Golden Era of Soul. With a comfortable handle on all the important names, dates and recordings, he weaves together stories that give credit to the unnamed instrumentalists who contributed to a musical revolution that is still shaping popular music today. A must-read for any student of culture.
Ashley Kahn is a music journalist, concert producer, and professor of music history and criticism at New York University; his books include A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album
A thought-provoking and endlessly informative book by a writer who knows his subject inside-out and, just as importantly, clearly adores it.
So many volumes have been written on soul singers that it’s incredible that rarely has anyone seriously addressed the musicians that back them up. Kevin Le Gendre has put a unique spin on that topic with his new book Soul Unsung. Explore and enjoy.
Pat Thomas, author of Listen Whitey (Read the the full review here)
The author devotes ample discussion to legendary saxophonist King Curtis. While he did incredible work with such singers as Cooke and Franklin, Le Gendre analyzes what made the saxophonist’s ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ so influential. He also provides solid, straightforward discussions of what made musicians like drummer Idris Muhammad work so well with bassists. The author describes the way Muhammad “could lead with the bass drum, often creating faintly melodic lines that bounced along with the same energetic fluency as the other musicians in the rhythm section.
It’s impossible to adequately cover the complexity of this book in a short review. Each paragraph stimulates further thought and discovery, and you’ll want to have your computer, iPod, or record collection handy so you can reference the numerous musical examples cited. By the end of the book you’ll most certainly have gained a greater appreciation for soul music as ‘something complex, disparate and multifarious’.
Brenda Nelson-Strauss, Black Grooves, 2013