Sounds Of Unity and Love (S.O.U.L.) was a jazz/funk band founded in 1970 in Cleveland, Ohio. They recorded two highly sought-after albums that sound like a sampler’s dream: heavy drum breaks, blaxploitation-era grooves, distorted guitars, jazzy flute solos, and deeply funky bass lines.
The members of the band were: Lee Lovett (bass/vocals), Gus Hawkins (sax/flute), Paul Stubblefield (drums), and Walter Winston (guitar). Larry Hancock (vocals/organ) was added in 1971 and Bernard “Beloyd” Taylor (guitar) replaced Walter Winston in 1972.
In 1970, the group won the first prize in a Cleveland a battle-of-the-bands contest, and, in addition to a cash prize, scored a recording contract with the label Musicor for their first album, What Is It. The album appeared for two months on the Top 40 album spot on Billboard’s soul album chart. Their second, and last album, Can You Feel It, was released in 1972, also on Musicor.
Around the time S.O.U.L. began work on their third LP, Winston quit the group and was replaced by Bernard “Beloyd” Taylor. With Taylor, they enjoyed their most successful single, “This Time Around,” which made the Top 50 R&B. The next single “The Joneses,” written by Lee Lovett, entered the Top 100 and hung around for ten weeks.
The group eventually split in 1975 to pursue other interests. As the years passed, the popularity of the records grew and grew. These LPs were beginning to be mined in the early 1990s by artists such as Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Organized Konfusion, Diamond D, and Main Source. S.O.U.L.’s music was so popular in the clubs throughout the United Kingdom that the when Ace Records polled their dealers throughout Europe, the UK, and Japan, it was a voted as the “#1 priority reissue.” Ace Records subsidiary Beat Goes Public (BGP Records) reissued both the albums in a CD compilation, thanks to a DJ in S.O.U.L.’s hometown of Cleveland tracking them all down and bringing them back together. The group would then have a sold-out tour in the UK.