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Soul Directions

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Editors’ Notes

This 1968 album, the third of four that Conley released on Atlantic Records, was recorded at Memphis’s storied American Studios with the legendary Tom Dowd behind the mixing desk. And it sounds like it. The set’s crown is the forever-danceable “Funky Street”: a briny blast of hard funk and R&B about Atlanta’s famed Auburn Avenue. (The song was Conley’s second-biggest hit, peaking at No. 14 on the American pop charts. His 1967 trailblazer, “Sweet Soul Music,” peaked at No. 2.) Godhead songwriting duo Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham contributed both the midtempo album opener, “You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy” (which should’ve been huge for Conley), and the weepy-great “This Love of Mine.” Otis Redding produced two here before he died: Conley’s swivel-hipped “Hear Say,” and Redding’s own “Love Comes and Goes.” Conley’s tenderhearted farewell to Redding (“Otis Sleep On”) is neither soppy nor mawkish, and it's aged very well—a testament to Conley’s skills as a soul singer and songwriter.

Customer Reviews

Conley’s tragedy turned into great soul music

Southern soul singer Arthur Conley is known to most for his perfect celebration, “Sweet Soul Music.” Based on a “Yeah Man” by his vocal inspiration, Sam Cooke, and co-written with his mentor, Otis Redding, the song topped out in 1967 at #2 on both the Hot 100 and R&B charts and became the lasting emblem of the ‘60s soul movement. But like so many true artists that have one defining single, Conley recorded terrific material both before and after the lightning strike. This 1968 album was a bittersweet affair that collected singles and album sides recorded just months after the airplane crash that killed Redding and the Mar-Keys.

Unlike Conley’s earlier hits, which had been waxed at Muscle Shoals, the album was mostly recorded at the same American Studios in Memphis where Elvis would cap his late-60s comeback. Conley wrote half the songs, including the somber memorial “Otis Sleep On,” and collected a pair from Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn. Memphis horns resound in “Funky Street,” “Hear Say” and “People Sure Act Funny,” and Conley draws from both Redding and Cooke in the pleading “This Love of Mine.” Conley saves his most scorching vocal for the Redding written and produced “Love Comes and Goes.” This is a terrific, deeply felt album that should be in the collection of all soul music fans. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]


Born: January 4, 1946 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s

Arthur Conley sang and (with mentor Otis Redding) co-wrote the 1967 classic "Sweet Soul Music," arguably the finest record ever made about the genre it celebrates. Born January 4, 1946, in McIntosh, GA, and raised in Atlanta, Conley was just 12 years old when he joined the Evening Smiles, a gospel group that appeared regularly on local radio station WAOK. By 1963 he was leading his own R&B outfit, Arthur & the Corvets, which over the next two years issued three singles -- "Poor Girl," "I Believe,"...
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Soul Directions, Arthur Conley
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Soul
  • Released: 1968

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