Soul

(“The soulful one”)

**This is a discography for Soul Records – other Motown labels are listed here. If you’re looking for a full list of every Motown single, try the Master Index instead!**

Soul Records was formed in early 1964 by Berry Gordy Jr as an outlet for the harder-edged, even jazz-tinged R&B music which had started to attract the epithet “soul music”, and endowed with an excellently obvious name which nobody else had apparently bothered to copyright. Soul was never considered one of Motown’s most prestigious imprints (like the “big three” of Tamla, Motown and Gordy), but in reality the label put out some of the best material in the Motown catalogue, and was every bit the equal of the “big three” except perhaps in terms of profile and marketing muscle.

With the demise of Workshop Jazz, the Motown stable lacked a suitable imprint to release records with limited pop appeal; Soul provided the perfect opportunity, while also racking up a roster of excellent artists who could have succeeded on any of the “big three”. This heady mix meant the label went on to enduring fame as the home of Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jimmy Ruffin, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, Shorty Long, the Originals, and a number of instrumental releases by the Motown house band the Funk Brothers. Soul is also the home of perhaps the greatest of all Motown singles, Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You (Indeed I Do), albeit a single that was never actually released.

The first release on Soul was Shorty Long’s Devil With The Blue Dress in March 1964. The label went on to be one of Motown’s longest-lived imprints, only grinding to a halt in 1976 and releasing a trickle of singles before finally closing down during the heyday of disco in 1978. The last release on Soul Records was Major Lance’s I Never Thought I’d Be Losing You, released in April that year.

Here’s a list of the Soul Records singles that have been covered on Motown Junkies so far.

SOUL RECORDS: SINGLES DISCOGRAPHY (1964-65)


(Click a song title to read a full review of that side. NB: The coloured numbers after each title indicate the highly subjective mark out of ten I gave that song on the day I happened to write about it. They weren’t intended to be taken too seriously.)

8 thoughts on “Soul”

  1. “the greatest of all Motown singles, Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You (Indeed I Do), albeit a single that was never actually released.”

    I just cannot agree with this assertion! Rarest and most sought-after – yes, but greatest of all? Not even close in my opinion!

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    • nixonradio said:

      Well, each to their own. I find it difficult to whittle my “best ever Motown records” list down much further than a top 50, let alone one, hence the “perhaps”. I do love it, though (indeed I do). As I’ll expound when I eventually get around to writing about it (when we finally reach late 1965), I couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss how much it costs to get hold of an original vinyl copy – it’s available for less than a pound on most reputable download services – but I do think it’s a joyously, life-affirmingly wonderful record.

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  2. “do i love you” is certainly right there in my constantly changing top 50, all of which could be number one” great site! don’t slow down, keep the hits and essays coming

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  3. Robb Klein said:

    “and endowed with an excellently obvious name which nobody else had apparently bothered to copyright.”

    I’m not positive that that name was copyrighted, but I have read and heard that it had been registered, by record company entrepeneur, Carmen Murphy, who owned House of Beauty, Starmaker, Spartan and Soul Records, headquartered at her beauty shop, “House of Beauty”, at 111 Mack Ave. in Detroit, from 1959-63. Her Soul Records, which featured The Barons, The Glows and Othea George, was run by A&R man, Mike Hanks(while he was running his fledgeling MAH’s Records). That Soul Records label operated from1961 through mid to late 1963.

    From what I’ve read, and the story that has been told to me by Detroiters who were around at the time, when in early 1964, when Berry Gordy wanted to name his newest subsidiary label “Soul Records”, he went to Mrs. Murphy (who, apparently, still owned the rights to the name, due to her registration). Now, they had known each other for many years. Mrs. Murphy was a pillar of the Black Community’s entrepeneurship and in the church in that part of Detroit-a well-known and respected figure. She had financed many musical projects. Her House of Beauty Records was first set up to give a commercial outlet for gospel singing groups to get their music heard. She started releasing secular music as well, when she found out that many of the singers in the gospel groups wanted to sing secular songs, too.

    Berry had gone to Mrs. Murphy and her House of Beauty Records to release his first production published by his Jobete Music, after being tired of not receiving his share of record sales (“I Need You” by Herman Griffin). Being a very nice person, and having had a good working relationship with Gordy, Mrs. Murphy graciously allowed Gordy to use The Soul Records name for his new label, and made the transaction legal by “selling” him the rights for $1.00.

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  4. Robb Klein said:

    I forgot to mention that Gordy also had in mind that he’d need another label in late 1963, to place the several acts and producers he’d picked up when folding his sister’s Gwen and Anna’s and Gwen’s husband, Harvey Fuqua’s companies (Harvey/Tri-Phi/HPC/Messenger Records) into The Motown Family (Harvey Fuqua, Gwen Gordy Fuqua, Anna Gordy, Johnny Bristol, Shorty Long, The Spinners, Jr. Walker & The All Stars, Wilbur Jackson, Clyde Wilson(AKA Steve Mancha), The Five Quails, Lorri Rudolph, The Merced Blue Notes. Joe (Charles) Murphy, Eddie Burns, and Ann Bogan). That was part of the reason he set up Soul Records, near the end of 1963.

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  5. Robb Klein said:

    Although “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” sounds reasonably good to me, I like over a 500 other Motown cuts better than that (including the flip, “Sweeter As The Days Go By” by Frank Wilson. I don’t like Wilson’s solo writing very much. It lacked structure (tunes and instrumentals went all over the place. I liked his co-writing with Marc Gordon, however. “You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet” is a great song. I wonder why no Motown artist had a hit with it?

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