"Taking a photograph of a singer onstage is the easy part. The hard part is gaining their trust", introduces photographer Bruce W. Talamon Soul R&B Funk Photographs 1972 - 1982. And he adds: "This is a book about R&B, funk, and soul music, as seen through the lens of a young African American photographer at the start of his career. From 1972 to 1982, I was documenting the rehearsals and sound checks, the recording sessions and costume fitting, the TV shows, life on tour, and, of course, the wild photo sessions and memorable performances."
"I've always thought of my photographs as documents that went beyond screaming into a microphone. My body of work has been about the whole unvarnished process, as opposed to just that portion that publicity machines and record companies want you to see. I chased that fleeting visual record for 10 glorious years."
Soul Train, Los Angeles, 1974
"Can I get an Amen?" is the conversation between Pearl Cleage and Bruce W. Talamon entitled. When asked what the biggest difference in the music business now is, he responds: "Access is gone. Publicists used to let you shoot. They didn't snatch the Jack Daniels' out of the artists hand or dare to take the spliff out of Bob Marley's mouth. Now someone's at the door saying, 'Wait until they change out of those wet clothes and wipe the sweat off.' There was a spontaneity at concerts. Someone could come in unannounced and sit in, and you could photograph the whole time. But now they say you can only shoot the first song and you've got 15 seconds. Fifteen seconds ...".
Glancing through the pages of this book you're about to make surprising discoveries. For instance, you get to see Muhammad Ali and Gil Scott-Heron at The Roxy in Los Angeles. Or Elton John at Soul Train in Los Angeles. Or, one of my favourite shots, Patti Labelle sitting on a table in the CBS Records conference room in Century City, California.
Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California, 1974
The photographs come in black and white and in colour and offer the opportunity to travel back in time. Many of the pics radiate a joy that I rarely sense today. Soul R&B Funk documents passion, dedication and a somewhat innocent time.
Diana Ross; Earth, Wind and Fire; Donna Summer; Barry White; Smokey Robinson; The Temptations; Stevie Wonder and and and ... "I want people to look at these pictures", says photographer Talamon, "and remember how badass James Brown. Michael Jackson, B.B. King, Natalie Cole, and Maurice White were, and what they looked like when they were being badass. And I want them to be seduced by Chaka Khan like I was. I want them to think about where they were when they first heard 'Love and Happiness'. I want people to remember it all. And Smile." So be it!
THE JACKSON 5
Motown company basketball game, Los Angeles, 1974
Katherine, Janet, Michael, and Randy Jackson with Bill Bray.
Bray was a retired police officer when he began working as
security chief for the J5 in the early 1970s. Her worked with
Michael during his iconic Thriller days and beyond.
This tome is a grandiose document! I'd definitely suggest to listen to the music of one of the artists when spending time with these pictures.
Bruce W. Talamon
Soul R&B Funk
Photographs 1972 - 1982
Taschen, Cologne 2018