Psych & Soul

Phych and Soul is hosted by James Randall and can be heard Thursday afternoons from 4:00 – 5:00PM.

Psych ‘n Soul is a program based around the music of the mid-to-late sixties and early seventies. 20th century music in America was, for the most part, broken down by racial lines and by how commercial the music was intended to be. So, whether Hillbilly or Race, R&B or Country, or whatever manifestation, there were usually three different charts, one for “white” folk music, one for “black” folk music, and one for popular music.

Psychedelic rock is a general term for the music of the above stated time period that descended from the fusion of white and black folk music in the 1950s that came quickly to be known as Rock ‘n Roll, through the avenue of hallucinogenic drugs. It is a broad term for the type of rock music being recorded at that time (the way “Alternative Rock” came to be a blanket term for the rock music of the late eighties to early nineties).

Likewise, Soul music was a general term for the music that descended from a fusion of R&B and gospel, through the vehicle often of Rock ‘n Roll. It takes on several incarnations (usually ballads and dancers) but can sound quite different based on the area that the music is from (Detroit, Memphis, Chicago, etc.). As with psych, in some cases these songs became hits, and crossed over to popular music, but much more often linger in obscurity among certain cult followers despite the artistic quality that makes many of the songs equal or even greater than the popular music of the time.

The contention of the program is that from these two forms, Psych and Soul, a thread can be found through any era of American popular recorded music of the 20th century, from the early blues and hillbilly music of the 1920s through the Alt-rock of the 1990s. The program thus exists on two levels; one, to expose listeners to the obscure gems of an important era in music history, and, two, to demonstrate the importance of that era through following the thread of how these songs were created and how they influenced the generations of musicians afterwards. A typical show will, then, have mostly music in the style of “psych” and “soul” but at least one influence or follower.


James Randall wants to challenge his listeners without turning them off.
His show is “Psych & Soul,” which airs from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Psych is short for psychedelic rock. James describes rock n’ roll as a fusion of black and white folk music of the early to mid 1950s, played by young people on electric instruments. Psychedelic rock is then a product of that tradition blended with further experimentation with drugs, technology, and world music in the 1960s and early ‘70s.
An English teacher at Pomperaug High School, James said he got into soul music from being a record collector and an amateur dealer. He said northern soul records can be worth quite a bit of money and the more he listened to them, the more he liked that style of music. 
Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England and the English Midlands in the late 1960s from the British mod scene, based on a particular style of black America soul music, especially from the mid-1960s, with a heavy beat and fast tempo, or American soul music from northern cities such as Detroit and Chicago.
The northern soul movement generally eschews Motown or Motown-influenced music that has had significant mainstream commercial success. The recordings most prized by enthusiasts of the genre are usually by lesser-known artists, released only in limited numbers, often by American labels such as Vee-Jay Records and Chess Records.
Randall, who lives in the Bantam section of Litchfield with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, said he plays all kinds of soul music but most it is from the 1960s – many of them on vinyl.
“I don’t know why I like records,” he said. “Being able to hold something as ephemeral as music is cool. It’s fun to blend them, especially in song transitions. Some of the music I play only exists on record, as well.”
James, 38, said this is the first time he’s been the creator and disc jockey of his own radio show. He said his only previous DJing experience came when he was a student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and he had a friend who had an eclectic music show on Friday afternoons who he sometimes co-hosted with.
“I got used to how the whole thing functioned at that point,” he said.
A child of the ‘90s, he said he was into a lot of alternative rock. But as he got older, he began to realize what a “bottomless pit” music is. 
He said he thinks psychedelic rock and soul music “blend well together because the distinction is often artificial. Both psych and soul are descendants of the same music, such as the blues.”
When he was just starting out at WAPJ and trying to narrow the scope of his show, he found there was a lot of music that blended psychedelic and soul.
“The spirit of the show is kind of like what would a really cool radio show in 1972 sound like?” he said. “There are so many great songs that aren’t famous.”
But as dynamic as psychedelic-soul is, James said the formula he created for his show started getting stale. So he’s been looking for inspiration and to expand his playlists possibly by including more instrumentals and jazz and jazz-fusion music.
“I still love music,” he said. “Why am I being confined by my own little rule system?”