S.O.U.L. was formed in 1969-70 by some veteran Cleveland musicians, including Lee Lovett (vocals/bass), Gus Hawkins (wind instruments), Paul Stubblefield (drums), and Walter Winston (guitar). The band was known as the Dynamic Sounds at first, but according to legend, they won a battle of the bands in 1970 that resulted in a contract with Musicor, a NY label that had some ties to the Cleveland area. Musicor renamed the group S.O.U.L., which was claimed to mean Sounds Of Unity and Love.
The group's first 45, "Down In The Ghetto", set the blueprint for the group's sound, which drew on funk and jazz grooves and Hawkins' vituoso sax and flute soloing. The record was a hit in many cities. Musicor went ahead and released an LP with a mix of band originals and reworked covers of songs like "Burning Spear". All the recordings were cut in New York. Sometime in 1971 Larry Hancock, formerly of the Intertains, joined on vocals and keyboards. The band continued to record for Musicol and released a second LP in 1972 with the five piece lineup. By this time the band name was simplified to SOUL.
The band continued to release 45s, including a non-LP song written by Larry Hancock called "On Top Of The World" which had a commercial uptempo soul sound and was another hit for the group. Around this time Winston was replaced by Bernard "Beloyd" Taylor on guitar. In 1975 SOUL was still active, however their label Musicor had ceased releasing records so their last 45 was issued on a Musicor subsidiary, Dynamo records. The group disbanded around 1975-6.
Beloyd Taylor released a 45 on 20th Century in 1977 that had a contemporary dance sound. Larry Hancock continued to be active in Cleveland music and theatre. In the 1990s with their original recordings in high demand in Europe, S.O.U.L. reunited and played a bunch of gigs overseas. The group's recordings remain popular with DJs and beat diggers.
Down In the Ghetto (Part 1) / Down In The Ghetto (Part 2) (Musicor 1434)
The Joneses (Part I) / The Joneses (Part II) (Musicor 1500)
On Top Of The World (Musicor)
(LP)What It Is (Musicor)
(LP)Can You Feel It (Musicor)