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It's a shame that the Soul Train of yesteryear is gone. But that is no
reason to desperately keep the current show that bears its name on the
With every lipsynched performance, this show grows more pitiful.
With every painfully easy Scramble Board (what could ARMY J LBGEI possibly spell?!), the intelligence of all parties involved is insulted. With every phony host who conducts a even phonier interview, I feel more and more like I'm watching an infomercial.
That show is a mere husk of what it once was. It has no cultural significance whatsoever and should be laid to rest in order to preserve the integrity of its namesake, the REAL "Soul Train" - the one with REAL singers, REAL dancers, and true artistic merit.
When I was a teenager back in the 1970's,I can remember getting up early on
Saturday mornings to catch uop on my non-stop grind of cartoons,and then
around the 12noon hour,I would run to the kitchen to get a snack or whatever
I had to do,and then all of a sudden there was this show that define not
only a generation,but a generation of African-American symbolism that
remains to this day. Soul Train was that show. I can remember Sid McCoy
saying these words................
Soul Train! The Hippest trip in America!
And then the host Don Cornelius came on,and back then did it deliver the goods and then some. Back in the early 1970's,Soul Train had some of the biggest R&B acts ever to grace the TV screen and sometimes made you get up and dance if you wanted to. Stars that were on there(and in my opinion the best years of that show from the 70's)like The Staple Singers,Al Green,Marvin Gaye,Barry White and Love Unlimited,The Ohio Players,The O'Jays,Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass,The Manhattans,and so many more. and have some that were just starting out as well,but became top successes too like Rufus featuring Chaka Khan,LTD that featured a youthful Jeffrey Osbourne made it happen! In the 1980's they had some of the best acts on there as well like Midnight Starr,and Shalamar as well as the young rappers like LL Cool J,and Kurtis Blow.
The show also established other acts as well like Elton John,David Bowie,and Billy Joel to name a few as well as comedians like the great Richard Pryor and blues legends B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland.
They had the classic scrambled board as well as the Soul Train line that have everybody getting up and doing there thing,including some of the wildest dances ever devised(they were done by skillful male and female dancers that knew what they were doing and then some)! Who can remember the commercial they used to sponsor................
"All nubian queens,use Ultra Sheen"................................
Then,what happened in the 1990's? After the end of the 1980's,the show went into a declined that featured cladless women and to me it wasn't the same anymore. The reason? The show was replaced by another host after Don Cornelius stepped down and now serves as executive producer on the show. Who the heck got Mystro Clarke? Clarke really sucked. Then in 2000, Clarke was replaced by actor Shamar Moore(aka of TV's The Young and the Restless)and the show changed dramatically. But still brings out some of the best soul/R&B/rap acts out there and it shows. Even after 30 years in syndication(which started out as Chicago teen show back in the late 1960's),the Soul Train rides on. Get on Board.
I remember growing up remembering the words that Don Cornelius said......
"I wish you love, peace and soul."
NOTE: Soul Train has outlasted them all,including Dick Clark's American Bandstand,Dario Terry's Dance Fever,and even the country variety show Hee Haw with Buck Owens and Roy Clark,and dethroned some area local teen shows that tried to follow the Soul Train formula(one of which that came on in the Raleigh/Durham area back in the 1970's was a college supported show called "Teenage Frolics" that was on WRAL-TV that featured college kids and teens getting down right on the WRAL studio lot with J.D. Lewis as the host and also a teen show called "Party" that was on the same station but you know who was the host of that,and it was syndicated? The Godfather himself..............James Brown.). Kudos to Don Cornelius for keeping it real and keeping it with soul.
This show used to knock American Bandstand off the block all through the seventies. The clothes, music, dancing, and general all round energy were here when this show started. But when Don Cornelius cut off his afro and the girls started doing bump and grind moves in hoochie mama spandex you knew the party was over.
When I was a child in the 1970's and watch "Soul Train", it was wonderful.
The show had so much spontaneity. You knew what was going to be done, but
you didn't know HOW it was going to be done. The show was aimed at
providing young "Black" flavor. However, David Bowie appeared on the show
in the 70's. That was unexpected and thrilling. It showed the world that
Black people in America can have musical interests beyond only disco, R&B,
and soul. B.B. King appeared, showing that young Black people can enjoy
"Soul Train" wasn't just about the music. The show had comedians, special guest dancers, and real suspense on the Soul Train Scramble Board. The Soul Train Line had many surprises. In the 70's, male and female dancers did things together while going down the line. They did things that would make me jump out of my seat in amusement. They enjoyed what they were doing. When the special guest musical performers finished their routine, Cornelius would inform the performers that the questions would be asked by the dancers, to give the performers, as well as the viewers, some unexpected surprises. Then there were the dancers. Ahhh the dancers. Who could forget the Asian woman with long hair? Who could forget the man who sported a different mask and costume every week? One week, he was Darth Vader. Another week, he was E.T. Another week, he was Nixon. There was the dancing. Everyone tried to imitate those moves. These were the days.
Nowadays, Cornelius doesn't host the show. He had his string of guest hosts, which didn't work. He then had Mystro Clark. Clark tried to be too hip and cool instead of being natural. He didn't work. The execs replaced him with Shemar Moore. In my opinion, Moore is guilty of the same superficial hipness and coolness which lead to Mystro Clark being replaced. The dancers have evolved into snooty people more concerned with modeling their fashions from with mall and showing off their chiseled bodies than having fun. The Soul Train Line features people dancing individually. We no longer see the men and women doing things together. Probably because they all have become too much "into themselves" to want to dance with one another. Another note about the dancers: The women on the show are attractive. However, many of them cannot dance. They "get over" due to their good looks.
We all know the current structure of the weekly series: During the first segment, the dancers dance to a song. After the first commercial, the first guest performs. After the second commercial, the Scramble Board segment arrives. After the third commercial, the second guest performs. Forty five minutes into the program, the Soul Train Line happens. It's so predictable.
On the bright side, no one will ever get tired of hearing the exquisite voice of Sid McCoy, the longtime "voice" of "Soul Train".
"Soul Train" has become stale. Thought, the show had some great days. It needs to return to that. However, with the changes in the music and entertainment in the 21st century, it probably will not. The show needs to end gracefully. However, due to the continuing need to showcase "Black" talent in a Black context, it will remain on the air, the same way "Saturday Night Live" has remained due to NBC's need to give young comics their shot at the limelight, because that show has been stale for several years.
Back on "Soul Train", it had surprises. It had wit. Unfortunately, "Soul Train" is a variety show which does not have "variety" anymore.
Soul Train was one of my favorite shows while growing up in the 1980s.
It was a first-class, highly enjoyable entertainment all around, not at
all a mediocre black version of "American Bandstand". It featured all
kinds of great, talented R&B/Rap stars that were making their mark in
that glorious decade.
It was awesome: full of fun and great music, plus the funky dancing, the hip clothes, and the scramble board. It brings back some great memories. I remember watching artists like Midnight Star, Whitney Houston, Atlantic Starr, Janet Jackson, New Edition, Cameo, Debarge, Prince, Levert, and many more performing on it. And who could forget opening moments where the animated train rides into the city, screaming "SOUL TRAIN!"
Don Cornelius was an excellent host who kept the show going until it succumbed to banality in the 90s. From early 90s onward, Soul Train lost its excitement as it became a run-of-the-mill Saturday afternoon variety show, hosted by various celebrities.
But for us urban music junkies, 80s Soul Train remains something to be cherished.
Soul Train started as a local Chicago teen dance show in the late 1960's.
The local show was still running for a few years even after Don Cornelius
mounted the national syndicated version in California. I remember that
everyone would stop what they were doing when this show came on. The show
totally rocked in the 1970's and 1980's. We all learned the latest dances
from watching the Soul Train line, near the end of the telecast. I remember
that Don Cornelius used to feature comedians right along with the musical
acts back in the 1970's; Richard Pryor was a guest in one episode. Another
classic episode featured James Brown and Bobby "Blue" Bland, who teamed up
for several songs. Unfortunately, times and the music changed. The dancers
were originally known as the "Soul Train Gang", and there were regulars
among them, including Damita Jo Freeman (an excellent dancer) and Little Joe
Chisum. The late football player Walter Payton danced on the show as well,
earlier on. In later years, actress Rosie Perez and singer Jody Watley were
Unfortunately, the times and the music changed. Soul Train is no longer the "appointment TV" event it once was, but it has endured for over 30 years.
I totally agree with the poster below. Lately they've been showing "The Best of Soul Train" which I'm so excited about because I've been wondering if they were ever going to re-air the classic episodes again. Well, I'm happy to say that they are and it's great! They show the '70s and the '80s. The '80s was my time growing up and I absolutely loved the show as a little kid. The dancers, the music, Don Cornelius, and of course that animated train during the opening sequence and before commercials :p. Awesome times! Big question for anyone who could help me out, WHEN IS SOUL TRAIN '70S AND '80S COMING TO DVD, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. ;) Thanks
I was only able to catch episodes of "Soul Train" sporadically throughout the '70s and '80s. It was broadcast CBC, channel 5, here in Toronto for about a season on Saturday mornings, then disappeared. It wasn't until the early '90s that I was able to catch this show on WPIX-New York, and WGN-Chicago, that were available on cable here. One thing is for sure, the energy of this show dropped off a lot after the '80s. It was still enjoyable to watch, but didn't have the same electricity that the show had throughout the '70s and '80s. When Don Cornelius left the show and guest hosts appeared, it was not bad, but it further lost it's energy. For the current shows, it only looks like there is about a handful of people in the studio. In the '70s & '80s, the main dance-floor was packed, and there were dancers on the stage, which gave it a real club feel. Presently, it's just the dancers on the catwalks that are shown. When an artist is performing, that is when you see the main population of dancers on the dance-floor. They don't dance anymore. Everyone just stands and watches the artist that is on the stage. Lately, CW23, out of Buffalo is playing "The Best Of Soul Train" on Sundays at midnight. This is great to see and experience the show all over again from the '70s and '80s. The great thing about "Soul Train" was that is showed R&B, Hip Hop and Pop acts that you wouldn't see on other shows like "American Bandstand", or here in Toronto, it was "Boogie" and later on, "Electric Circus". I have been a fan of R&B and Hip Hop for years, and always enjoyed seeing the acts that you wouldn't see anywhere else, except for maybe on BET. Even with this, there were artists showcased on "Soul Train" that never saw their videos broadcast on BET. It's too bad that the show has not maintained the same energy, but then again, the music biz, and Hip Hop/R&B have changed drastically over the years. I am glad to see that "The Best Of Soul Train" is airing once again. It's a great blast from the past, when it was all about the music, and not so much about how much money could be made from an artist or song.
Soul Train was a long running syndication show that featured the top
names in R & B and later rap music as well as the top hits for the Soul
Train Dancers to dance to. Don Cornelius. the show's creator, host and
packager was the key to the show's success. He was cool, calm and
classy and was very knowledgeable about the genre and it showed in his
interviews with the guests. There were also two best known features on
Soul Train, The Scramble Board and the Soul Train Line, which gave the
dancers an opportunity to showcase their talent. Also worth mentioning
is the show's announcer, Sid McCoy, who also had some small roles in TV
Unfortunately, the show went downhill after Cornelius decided to step down as host, turning things over to a weekly guest host before Mystro Clark, Shemar Moore and Dorian Gregory became permanent hosts. They weren't as good as Cornelius but there were plenty of talented guest stars and dancers. I'll close by quoting Cornelius' traditional closing "We wish you love, peace, and soul."
In the 80's I worked on Soul Train, Dance Fever, Solid Gold and
American Bandstand. Soul Train was my favorite. I experienced a variety
people and music for the six years I was there. You wouldn't believe
what people would do and say to try and get into the building.
Everything from Don's my uncle he must have forgot I was coming
today...to the personal favors offered if we would let them in.
Don Cornelius was someone to look up to, I think he is a Vulcan, his emotions were always in check and I admired that.
The dancers in the 80's were good and a lot of them were professional people. I don't mean professional dancers; they had jobs in the varied professions like a producer, administrative assistant, actor, singer and more. Most of the dancers back then were friends and they did the show because they enjoyed it for the show and the people and of course the exposure.
The music was better in the 80's and it varied and it definitely was a lot more entertaining.
So I say no one can replace Don and they should let the Train die an honorable death or bring it back like it was in the 70's and 80's
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