Sounds of Soul
The song was written in 1967 by Otis Redding and Arthur Conley, based on Sam Cooke’s song “Yeah Man” from his posthumous 1965 album Shake. And, oh yes, the opening riff is from the score by Elmer Bernstein to the 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven. “Sweet Soul Music” is a tribute to the soul music of its time. It refers to “Going to a Go-Go” by The Miracles; “Love is a Hurtin’ Thing” by Lou Rawls; “Hold On, I’m Comin'” by Sam and Dave; “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett; and “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa” by Otis Redding. And let’s not forget to mention the mention of James Brown as “the king of them all.”
“Sweet Soul Music” rose to #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. It went to #7 in the U.K. There was a bit of a lawsuit from Sam Cooke’s business partner J.W. Alexander. The outcome was that Cooke’s name was added to the writer credits — and Redding agreed to record some songs for Kags Music, which was a Cooke-Alexander company. So goes the music biz…
Arthur Conley was from McIntosh County, Georgia. He was gay and he believed that this hindered greater success for him in the U.S. Conley eventually moved to Europe, relocating to England, Belgium, and then The Netherlands. He changed his name to Lee Roberts, which was a combination of his middle name and his mother’s maiden name. He had success performing as Lee Roberts and the Sweaters.