Inner City Blues: Urban pessimism in the 1970s

Listed on 30th April, 2010 by alexlists

Genre: R&B

Total Tracks: 26

Duration: 3 hours, 23 minutes

Total plays0,003,068

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Playlist Description:


70s funk wasn't all about feel-good dancefloor numbers; pointed social commentary was often a key ingredient of the music. The songs in this list focus on the city as a zone of poverty, racism, crime and emotional alienation.
For many A
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70s funk wasn't all about feel-good dancefloor numbers; pointed social commentary was often a key ingredient of the music. The songs in this list focus on the city as a zone of poverty, racism, crime and emotional alienation.
For many African Americans, the optimism of the civil rights movement had turned sour. The persistence of social deprivation among the inhabitants of 'the ghetto' became a common complaint in songs from the 70s. It's a theme that often crops up in the soundtracks to 'blaxploitation' movies of the period (there are at least four film soundtracks represented here).
This playlist takes its title from the closing track of Marvin Gaye's landmark What's Going On album (1971) - one of the first and best known examples of the genre. (I've also included two of the better covers of Inner City Blues.) Following Gaye, writers such as Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder and Gill Scott-Heron would pen politically-conscious songs that detailed the perils of the city in terms of frustrated dreams, destructive addictions and broken relationships. Other artists, like Bill Withers and Bobby Bland, preferred to dwell on the loneliness of urban living. (I couldn't make my mind up between the equally excellent live and studio versions of Withers' Lonely Town, Lonely Street... so I've included them both.)
But don't let the bleak messages of these songs put you off! The backing tracks contain such blissful concoctions of infectious grooves and smouldering vamps that they turn out to be some of the best dancefloor tunes of their era.
Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
Stevie Wonder - Living For The City
Phyllis Dillon - Woman Of The Ghetto
Donny Hathaway - Little Ghetto Boy
Gil Scott-Heron - Billy Green Is Dead - 2001 Remastered - Master Take
Curtis Mayfield - Freddie's Dead
Aaron Neville - Hercules
Stevie Wonder - Village Ghetto Land
Bill Withers - Lonely Town, Lonely Street
James Brown - King Heroin
Sly & The Family Stone - Family Affair - Single Version
Grover Washington, Jr. - Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
Bobby Bland - Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City - Single Version
Diana Ross - Love Child - Single Version (Mono)
Marlena Shaw - Woman Of The Ghetto (Live)
War - The World Is A Ghetto
Curtis Mayfield - The Other Side Of Town
Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street
Booker T. & The MG's - Cleveland Now - Instrumental
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Concrete Jungle - Original Album Version
Donny Hathaway - The Ghetto
James Brown - The Boss
Curtis Mayfield - Superfly
The Staple Singers - The Ghetto - Single Version
Gil Scott-Heron - Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
Bill Withers - Lonely Town, Lonely Street - Live
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