Friday, March 10, 2006

Nothing Can Stop Me!

Gene Chandler - Nothing Can Stop Me

In the documentary Only the Strong Survive Jerry Butler, when asked about the "Chicago sound," remarked that there really wasn't a Chicago soul sound a la the Motown sound of Detroit or the southern soul sounds of Stax. Robert Pruter made a similar point in his stellar book Chicago Soul. What I've found, however, is that there are several particular sounds that represent certain Chicago companies or artists at different points in time: there was the swinging lope of Curtis Mayfield's early-'60s stuff, there was the bright, funky sound of the Chess house band, there was the brassy arrangements on Major Lance releases, etc. Once a person listens to enough Chicago soul they can spot these.

Today's selection, a Curtis Mayfield composition, has the swinging lope that graced many of his compositions for the Impressions, Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler and others. "Nothing Can Stop Me" is a statement of hurt by a man who's been put down, but also a declaration that he isn't going to take it anymore. The call and response chorus "Please don't go / That's what they'll be saying / Please don't go / But I'm not playing" makes this point clear. It's my favorite Gene Chandler song and one of my favorite Chicago soul recordings.

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