Donny Hathaway’s Way-Underrated, Tragically Brief Soul Catalog
Prolific isn’t the same as great, but for a soul singer, it’s very difficult to achieve the latter without some of the former. More work makes it harder for history to forget you, and less likely for a valuable release to be considered an aberration.
Consider the “classic” singers of soul and funk. The Motown crew knew the importance of ubiquity: Marvin Gaye put out five studio albums, a movie soundtrack, and a collaboration with Diana Ross in the ‘70s; Stevie Wonder did eight records in that decade (two were double albums), and Diana Ross’s total exceeded Wonder’s. After breaking into the big time in 1967, Aretha Franklin released more than an album a year through the ‘70s. Al Green had 11 secular LPs from 1970 to 1977. James Brown and George Clinton put out albums like they were going out of style—long before they did, in fact, go out of style. Clinton needed more than one band so people didn’t get tired of his name.
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