Psychedelic soul

Psychedelic soul

Music genre

Psychedelic soul (originally called black rock[1] or conflated with psychedelic funk[2]) is a form of soul music which emerged in the United States in the late 1960s. The style saw African-American soul musicians embrace elements of psychedelic rock, including its production techniques, instrumentation, effects units such as wah-wah and phasing, and drug influences.[3] It came to prominence in the late 1960s and continued into the 1970s, playing a major role in the development of funk and disco.

Quick Facts Other names, Stylistic origins ...

Pioneering acts working in the genre included Sly and the Family Stone, Isaac Hayes, the Temptations, the Chambers Brothers, and Parliament-Funkadelic.



The Chambers Brothers in 1970

Following the lead of Jimi Hendrix as he moved from soul to psychedelic rock, the psychedelic subculture of the 1960s began to have a widespread impact on African-American musicians, particularly the stars of the Motown label.[3] Influenced by the civil rights movement, this style had a darker and more political edge than much contemporary psychedelic rock.[3] The Temptations and their producer Norman Whitfield moved from a relatively light vocal group into more hard-edged and topical material like "Cloud Nine" (1968), "Runaway Child, Running Wild" (1969), and "Psychedelic Shack" (1969).[4] Sly and the Family Stone also helped pioneer the sound with songs like "Dance to the Music" (1968), "Everyday People" (1968) and "I Want to Take You Higher" (1969), which combined psychedelic rock with funk and emphasized distorted electric guitar and strong basslines.[4]


Other Motown acts soon followed into psychedelic territory, including the Supremes with "Reflections" (1967), "Love Child" (1968), and "Stoned Love" (1970).[5] Psychedelic influences could also be heard in the early 1970s work of Stevie Wonder[3] and Marvin Gaye's 1971 album What's Going On.[6] Acts that broke through with psychedelic soul included the Chambers Brothers with "Time Has Come Today" (1966, but charting in 1968),[5] Arthur Brown with "Fire" (1968),[7][8][9] the 5th Dimension with a cover of Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic" (1968),[5] Edwin Starr with "War" (1970), and the Undisputed Truth with "Smiling Faces Sometimes" (1971).[3]

George Clinton's interdependent Funkadelic and Parliament ensembles and their various spin-offs took influence from Detroit rock groups including MC5 and the Stooges, using extended distorted guitar solos and psychedelic sound effects coupled with surreal imagery and stage antics forming part of an Afrofuturist overarching mythology,[1] leading to three US top ten singles, and three platinum albums.[10] Shuggie Otis' 1974 album Inspiration Information emerged too late to take advantage of the style's peak of popularity, but later found acclaim when it was reissued in 2001.[11]

Decline and influence

While psychedelic rock began to waver at the end of the 1960s, psychedelic soul's popularity continued into the 1970s and declined only towards the end of the decade.[3] Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield added orchestral instrumentation to psychedelic soul, creating a style known as cinematic soul which became a predecessor to disco.[12] Artists which began in psychedelic soul such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, and the Ohio Players incorporated its sounds into funk and disco.[13]

Modern artists

Modern psychedelic soul artists include Erykah Badu,[14] Bilal,[15] Black Pumas,[16] Janelle Monáe,[17] Adrian Younge,[18] and Kali Uchis.[19]

See also


  1. J. S. Harrington, Sonic Cool: the Life & Death of Rock 'n' Roll (Milwaukie, MI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2002), ISBN 0-634-02861-8, pp. 249–50.
  2. Echard, William (2017). Psychedelic Popular Music: A History through Musical Topic Theory. Indiana University Press. pp. 123–125. ISBN 9780253026590. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  3. "Psychedelic soul", AllMusic, retrieved 27 February 2017.
  4. R. Gulla, Icons of R&B and Soul: an Encyclopedia of the Artists who Revolutionized Rhythm, Volume 2 (London: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008), ISBN 0-313-34046-3, pp. 278–81.
  5. G. Case, Out of Our Heads: Rock 'n' Roll Before the Drugs Wore Off (Milwaukie, MI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2010), ISBN 0-87930-967-9, pp. 70–1.
  6. J. Ankeny, "Marvin Gaye", AllMusic, retrieved 3 July 2010.
  7. "Arthur Brown: Fire: The Arthur Brown Story". Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  8. November 2018 (6 November 2018). "The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown: Album Of The Week Club Review". Retrieved 25 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown". Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  10. V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, All Music Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd edn., 2002), ISBN 0-87930-653-X, p. 226.
  11. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Shuggie Otis: Inspiration Information > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  12. Foley, Mark (December 23, 2014). "Musical Space: Cinematic Soul". KMUW. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  13. A. Bennett, Rock and Popular Music: Politics, Policies, Institutions (Abingdon: Routledge, 1993), ISBN 0-203-99196-6, p. 239.
  14. Caramanica, Jon (February 11, 2011). "Lots of Beats, but No Drum in Sight". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  15. "Music". Willamette Week. April 13, 2016. p. 33. Retrieved August 20, 2020 via Issuu.
  16. Carras, Christ (November 20, 2019). "Who are Black Pumas, the Grammys' most mysterious new artist nominee?". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California.
  17. Gundersen, Edna (October 24, 2013). "'Billboard' names Janelle Monáe its 2013 Rising Star". USA Today. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  18. Sacher, Andrew (February 1, 2019). "Adrian Younge kicks off "Produced By" series with Georgia Anne Muldrow & Terrace Martin collab". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 2023-02-09. Amazon Music's "Produced By" series continues with psychedelic soul great Adrian Younge.
  19. Santiago, Gio (March 3, 2023). "Kali Uchis: Red Moon in Venus Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 3, 2023.

Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Psychedelic_soul, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.