The age old debate has seemingly re-emerged, about the potency of modern R&B and soul music versus those of the rhythm and blues’ ‘golden era’ following mega hits by John Legend, All of Me and Sam Smith with Stay With Me. There has long been the feeling in and around world music industries that songs of the modern era do not stand the test of time as those of the 60s and 70s have managed to do so much so that they are still covered and sampled on a vast amount of modern tracks.
Michael Barnett, a respected Jamaican musicologist, has been collecting records since the 1960s. He believes music standards have fallen considerably because the music business has become just that; a business.
In an interview with Billboard magazine during the 1990s, singer, Howard Hewett of Shalamar fame, commented on the increasingly popular trend of sampling. He said while it involved a level of creativity and helped expose music of other eras to contemporary audiences, he also saw a downside.
“What are we going to listen to 20-30 years from now?” Hewett asked.
Hewett, like many R&B and soul legends, earned his stripes the ‘old fashioned’ way. He got involved in the music business during the late 1970s with an independent company called SOLAR (Sounds Of Los Angeles Records) which groomed artistes similar to how Motown and Stax did a decade earlier.