For much of the '80s, electronic samples of those records became the foundation of hip-hop and R&B, but the artists themselves and their organic approach to musicmaking were made obsolete by a new machine-driven approach. But in recent years, the original "dusties" sound, as soul's golden oldies are known in Chicago, and the artists who made it have resurfaced. Record labels are scouring their vaults and deluging the CD market with soul compilations and reissues, new artists such as Maxwell, D'Angelo and the Fugees are scoring pop successes with a classic-soul sound, and "old-school" soulsters such as [Isaac] Hayes, the Ohio Players, War, Earth Wind & Fire and the Isley Brothers are recording and touring once again.
In Chicago, the "dusties" era began in the '50s with such homegrown talent as the Dells and the Spaniels, and on through the '60s and '70s with the Impressions, Chi-Lites and Donny Hathaway. "Dusties" is an indigenous expression that longtime Chicago R&B deejay Richard Pegue traces back to the '50s and television host Dave Garroway, who apparently used it to refer to old jazz records. It was appropriated by R&B deejays such as Herb Kent and later Pegue during the '60s, and they're now carrying the torch at WGCI-AM 1390, which has been known as Chicago's "Dusties" station since 1990.
From the Sam Cooke and Drifters tunes woven into the fabric of the vocal group Solo's million-selling 1995 debut, "Solo" (Perspective), to the pungent remake of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" that anchors the Fugees' current hip-hop four-million-seller, "The Score" (Ruffhouse), to the No. 1 hit duet between R. Kelly and Ronald Isley, "Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)," classic soul is burrowing into a new generation's musical consciousness. The recent debut records of D'Angelo, Tony Rich, Ambersunshower, Omar and Maxwell also artfully blend a '70s sound into their '90s street grooves.