Are you a proud product of the Baby Boom (approximately 1946 to 1965)? Do you fancy yourself an R&B expert? Do you know how to do the “Funky Chicken” and “The Penguin?” If so, you are qualified to take “The Baby Boomer’s Soul Aptitude Tests,” also known at “The BBSATs.”
This challenging collection of quirky quizzes on R&B music and pop culture was conceived and compiled by Anthony C. Davis, a former lifestyles editor and television writer for the Philadelphia Tribune who recently retired from the Philadelphia School District after more than 30 years as an English teacher.
“The BBSATs” is the fourth book by Davis, whose most recent project was “I Ain’t Lying — Short Stories from West Philly to West Africa.” He is also co-author (along with Jeffrey W. Jackson) of “Yo Little Brother — Basic Rules of Survival for Young African Males,” Parts I and II.
With a foreword written by yours truly, “The BBSATs” has a main test of 250 questions that actually read like the history of soul and R&B. There are also over 20 smaller quizzes that are broken into categories like “male/female duets,” “songs about destinations,” “songs about dances,” “songs about mothers,” “songs about fathers” and more. This is a quite a reversal from Davis’ intense, yet inspiring releases of the past.
“A couple of people have said that to me,” Davis observed. “They said, ‘You’ve pretty much flipped the script on this one. Your first books are out there trying to save young Black men.’ I said, ‘I’m still trying to save something. I’m trying to save soul music. Our music is sampled so much by young people, but young people don’t know where these songs come from. For the past 30 years, ever since hip-hop came out, I’ve been teaching in the Philadelphia School District, and every year I get at least 10 kids — you know, now they do it with the Ipod, but this is back when the Walkman first came out — they would come and say, ‘Hey! Listen to this, Mr. Davis,’ and they would put the headphones on my head. I’d say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s funky, but that’s Kool & the Gang from 1971, ‘Whose Gonna Take the Weight.’
“Even when Tribe [Called Quest] came out, they were like ‘Tribe is the baddest group out!’ and I said, ‘Yeah, they are pretty bad. Tribe Called Quest, they sound good, I like the music, but that song right there, that’s ‘Let’s Get Funky’ by the Chambers Brothers — 1969.’
“For years, they would doubt me, until in the past 10, 15 years, they’re able to go on the computer and go right on You Tube and find these songs I’m talking about, and it would just blow their minds. The fact that the music that they’re listening to was already made in the past give me a connection to them. I think it was Stetsasonic that said that rap brings back old R&B, and you listen to this music, and it just brings back everything that you lived. It’s like the soundtrack to our lives.”
Copies of “The BBSATs” will available at a book signing taking place at 2410 Golf Road in Philadelphia on Saturday, February 4, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. There will be food and live music, as well as an opportunity to challenge the author with your own musical knowledge! You can also purchase copies by calling 888-795-4274, ext.7879 or online at www.xlibris.com.