California Soul

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"California Soul"
Single by The Messengers
A-side"Window Shopping"
Released1967 (1967)
Format45-rpm record
Songwriter(s)Ashford & Simpson

"California Soul" is a funk-soul tune written by Ashford & Simpson, issued originally as the B-side of the Messengers' single "Window Shopping" in 1967 under the Motown group of labels. Nick Ashford then released his own version in June 1968 on Verve 10599.[1] It was then issued as a single by American pop quintet the 5th Dimension in late 1968, and also covered by Motown vocal duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and by Marlena Shaw the following year. It was Gaye's and Terrell's last single together when released in early 1970.

Both the 5th Dimension's version and the Gaye-Terrell version were modest charted hits. The 5th Dimension's performed better, reaching number twenty-five on the pop singles chart.[2] Marvin and Tammi's cover was the B-side of "The Onion Song". The duo's version of "California Soul" reached number fifty-six pop but never charted on the US R&B chart.[3] The duet was released after Terrell's death from a brain tumor in March 1970.

In 1969, Marlena Shaw covered the song on the album The Spice of Life. This version has appeared in commercials for Dockers, KFC[4] and Dodge Ram trucks.[5] A Diplo remix appears on Volume 4 of the Verve Remixed compilation series; this version was used in a late summer 2011 commercial for Target and was featured in the 2011 video game Driver: San Francisco. The original version of Shaw's cover also appears in the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V, played by the in-game radio station The Lowdown 91.1.[6]

The song also appears on the 1970 LP War & Peace by Edwin Starr. The following year, the experimental vocal band the Undisputed Truth released this song on their debut album The Undisputed Truth, produced and arranged by Norman Whitfield.

The song is also featured in The Italian Job (2003). A remixed version featuring Ya Boy was used in The Lincoln Lawyer (2011).

The band Jamiroquai covered the song live during their 2011 European tour.

The Miracles covered this song on their 1969 album Four in Blue.

Also in 1969, Swedish pop group Gimmicks released their version of the tune on the album Brazilian Samba.


The 5th Dimension version[edit]

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell version[edit]


  1. ^ Record World Magazine July 27, 1968, page 166
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 222.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 225.
  4. ^ Upstairs Post. "KFC "Soul Food"". Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 Ad - YouTube Video
  6. ^ "Video games: Grand Theft Auto V - the best bits". Evening Times. Retrieved 29 September 2013.