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Qobuz’s experts gather all the essentials of each genre. These albums have marked music history and become major landmarks.

With the Ideal Discography you (re)discover legendary recordings, all whilst building on your musical knowledge.

Albums

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Soul - Released February 22, 2019 | Rhino

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
A guitarist worshipped by Jimi Hendrix, an insanely good falsetto singer that even Prince looked up to, an author heavily involved in the American civil rights movement and a top-tier songwriter: Curtis Mayfield was a man of many talents. His groovy symphonies helped form solid links between funk, jazz, blues, soul and traditional gospel. After making his name with The Impressions in the 60s, he embarked on a solo career in 1970. This box set named Keep On Keeping On contains the singer’s first four studio albums, each remastered in Hi-Res 24-Bit quality: Curtis (1970), Roots (1971), Back to the World (1973) and Sweet Exorcist (1974). Here, the rhythm'n'blues enjoy a second life, supported by a wah-wah guitar, careful percussion and an always airy string section. Every topic concerned is a mini-tragedy, socially engaged, anchored in traditional gospel music. The masterful arranging of these albums (especially his masterpiece Curtis, and Roots) can be considered rivals to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. It is worth mentioning that this 1970-1974 box set does not include the soundtrack to Superfly, Gordon Parks Jr.’s 1972 film which contains the singles Pusherman and Freddie’s Dead. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released June 1, 2015 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released January 1, 2015 | Stax

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Faith & Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976 isn't career-spanning, as stated by the Concord label. The proof is right there, in the title. Throughout the latter part of the '70s and during the mid-'80s, the Staple Singers recorded strong material for the Warner Bros. and Private I labels. Nonetheless, as of 2015, this box set was easily the most comprehensive Staples anthology. Physical copies consist of four discs, as well as a re-pressing of an early-'50s single, "Faith and Grace" b/w "These Are They," which was produced in a one-time limited edition of 500 copies, sold at Staples performances. That alone is enough to stir the interest of longtime fans. Even without those two songs, Faith & Grace would be almost as close to essential as it gets for a box set. It covers the group's stints with Vee-Jay, United, Riverside, Epic, and Stax, a rich period during which they evolved from an acoustic gospel-folk group that performed in small churches into a genre-crossing main attraction for 110,000 people at the Los Angeles Coliseum (as documented on Wattstax). The selection of highlights is thoughtful, if imperfect. There are '50s A-sides like "It Rained Children" and "I Had a Dream," and the charting '60s cuts "Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)" and "For What It's Worth," the latter of which they made their own as much as anything written by Pops Staples. While the Stax-era material includes the major classics "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There," and "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)," there are some peculiar omissions. Neither "This World" nor the Wattstax version of "Oh La De Da" made the cut, even though both were Top Ten R&B hits. The previously unreleased material isn't revelatory, though it's fascinating to hear a demo of Mack Rice and Luther Ingram's "Respect Yourself" fronted aggressively by Rice. Packaged folio style with an abundance of photographs and liner notes, it's a generous overview -- track-selection flaws notwithstanding -- of a crucial 20th century musical institution. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2012 | UNI - MOTOWN

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
In 1972, things were rapidly shifting in Marvin Gaye's world. He was coming off of one of his most wide-reaching hit albums with 1971's instant classic What's Going On, and his recording contract with Motown subsidiary Tamla was renewed for a cool million dollars and total creative control, making him one of the most successful R&B artists of his day. With Motown's offices migrating west from Detroit to Los Angeles, Gaye followed suit, beginning work on Trouble Man, both the score to a blaxploitation film of the same name and the soundtrack that would be his next album. With minimal singing (Gaye sings through only the title track, adding fragmentary vocalizations minimally throughout the rest of the album), Gaye wrote, arranged, and conducted the entire soundtrack, working with both Motown players and a full orchestra over the course of its recording. It's been speculated by some that Trouble Man was a concerted effort to move away from the expectations of a carbon-copy follow-up to the almost immeasurably high standards of What's Going On, but it's best to look at the record as an entity unto itself rather than the next Marvin Gaye album in the chain. Though largely absent of his one-of-a-kind vocal presence, the arrangements are richer and more sophisticated than the majority of early blaxploitation fare, with some of the same theatricality and filmic urgency of the best Morricone or David Axelrod soundtracks. With instrumentation more ambitious than even the enormity of What's Going On, Trouble Man never stays in one place for long. "'T' Plays It Cool" paints a hustling cityscape with its solid beat and nervous synthesizer bubbles. Plaintive sax trades verses with rudimentary keyboards and Marvin's soulful wails on "Life Is a Gamble," and mournful passages of chamber strings give way to bounding funk grooves. Isaac Hayes' Shaft soundtrack would become debatably more widely remembered than the movie it scored, and Curtis Mayfield's Superfly soundtrack had a similar reception. Likewise, Trouble Man the soundtrack album outperformed Trouble Man the movie by leaps and bounds, enjoying Top 20 chart success in its day while the movie sank rapidly into obscurity. Looking at the album outside the trends of its era and inward to the art that Gaye was sculpting shows Trouble Man as a mostly wordless statement on the rapidly changing times for both young black America and Marvin's personal life. The compositions well over with equal parts tension and detached cool, moving through modes of heartbreaking struggle, searching wonder, and playful street scenes. While it's been relegated to the lesser status of Gaye's one-off blaxploitation soundtrack, it rises far above the wandering wah-wah guitars and dated bongos of its peers. Trouble Man might not be as immediate or universally relatable as Gaye's soul-searching on What's Going On or his later sensual fixations, but a deep listen will show it's very much part of the same overarching genius that touched all of his work. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2011 | UNI - MOTOWN

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
What's Going On is not only Marvin Gaye's masterpiece, it's the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices, a man finally free to speak his mind and so move from R&B sex symbol to true recording artist. With What's Going On, Gaye meditated on what had happened to the American dream of the past -- as it related to urban decay, environmental woes, military turbulence, police brutality, unemployment, and poverty. These feelings had been bubbling up between 1967 and 1970, during which he felt increasingly caged by Motown's behind-the-times hit machine and restrained from expressing himself seriously through his music. Finally, late in 1970, Gaye decided to record a song that the Four Tops' Obie Benson had brought him, "What's Going On." When Berry Gordy decided not to issue the single, deeming it uncommercial, Gaye refused to record any more material until he relented. Confirmed by its tremendous commercial success in January 1971, he recorded the rest of the album over ten days in March, and Motown released it in late May. Besides cementing Marvin Gaye as one of the most important artists in pop music, What's Going On was far and away the best full-length to issue from the singles-dominated Motown factory, and arguably the best soul album of all time. Conceived as a statement from the viewpoint of a Vietnam veteran (Gaye's brother Frankie had returned from a three-year hitch in 1967), What's Going On isn't just the question of a baffled soldier returning home to a strange place, but a promise that listeners would be informed by what they heard (that missing question mark in the title certainly wasn't a typo). Instead of releasing listeners from their troubles, as so many of his singles had in the past, Gaye used the album to reflect on the climate of the early '70s, rife with civil unrest, drug abuse, abandoned children, and the spectre of riots in the near past. Alternately depressed and hopeful, angry and jubilant, Gaye saved the most sublime, deeply inspired performances of his career for "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)," and "Save the Children." The songs and performances, however, furnished only half of a revolution; little could've been accomplished with the Motown sound of previous Marvin Gaye hits like "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" and "Hitch Hike" or even "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." What's Going On, as he conceived and produced it, was like no other record heard before it: languid, dark, and jazzy, a series of relaxed grooves with a heavy bottom, filled by thick basslines along with bongos, conga, and other percussion. Fortunately, this aesthetic fit in perfectly with the style of longtime Motown session men like bassist James Jamerson and guitarist Joe Messina. When the Funk Brothers were, for once, allowed the opportunity to work in relaxed, open proceedings, they produced the best work of their careers (and indeed, they recognized its importance before any of the Motown executives). Bob Babbitt's playing on "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" functions as the low-end foundation but also its melodic hook, while an improvisatory jam by Eli Fountain on alto sax furnished the album's opening flourish. (Much credit goes to Gaye himself for seizing on these often tossed-off lines as precious; indeed, he spent more time down in the Snakepit than he did in the control room.) Just as he'd hoped it would be, What's Going On was Marvin Gaye's masterwork, the most perfect expression of an artist's hope, anger, and concern ever recorded. © John Bush /TiVo