THE GROOVE
What Is Soul
(Ben E. King - Bob Gallo)
Australia 1968
#13 Melbourne #30 Brisbane

Single on Columbia.

A soul-oriented band formed in Melbourne in 1967, The Groove was something of a supergroup. Its members had worked with The Clefs (Tweed Harris), Max Merritt & the Meteors (Peter Williams), The Librettos and Normie Rowe's Playboys (Rod Stone), Black Pearls and Running Jumping Standing Still (Jamie Byrne), and Steve & the Board (Geoff Bridgford).

Further reading: For a thorough account of The Groove, see Paul Culnane's article at Milesago which draws on the recollections of Groove guitarist Rod Stone; Wikepedia entry on The Groove.

SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND
What Is Soul
(Ben E. King - Bob Gallo)
UK 1967

On album Without Reservations by British soul-rock band, also on the retrospective Kites, 1994.

ROB HOEKE RHYTHM & BLUES GROUP
What Is Soul
(Ben E. King - Bob Gallo)
Netherlands 1967
#32 Netherlands

Single on Philips by one of several groups led by Rob Hoeke, influential Dutch jazz-blues pianist, singer and harmonica player (1943-1999).

References: Rob Hoeke page at Alex Gitlin's Nederpop Encyclopedia. User review at DutchCharts.nl.
Thanks to Karel for version alert (via Multiply).
THE FERRIS WHEEL
What Is Soul
(Ben E. King - Bob Gallo)
UK 1967

On 1967 Pye album Can't Break The Habit by highly regarded but commercially unsuccessful band formed partly by members of Emile Ford's Checkmates.

The Ferris Wheel were one of England's great lost musical treasures of the middle-late 1960's -- immensely popular among club audiences, they were never able to translate their ability to win over crowds into chart success, but they made some great records while they were trying.
BENNY GORDON & THE SOUL BROTHERS
What Is Soul
(Ben E. King - Bob Gallo)
USA 1967

Single on RCA. Produced by Paul Robinson, arranged & conducted by Teacho Wiltshire.

Benny and his Brothers were one of those great – but anonymous – soul bands that made a bunch of wicked 45s for different labels (RCA, Wand, Estill and others) and then faded into the ether.
Thanks to Karel for label credits (via Multiply).
BEN E. KING
What Is Soul
(Ben E. King - Bob Gallo)
USA 1966
Original version

Single on Atco, co-written by multi-skilled musician, arranger and producer Bob Gallo.

The first hits of Ben E. King (b.1938, Benjamin Earl Nelson) were as the mellow lead singer of the re-formed Drifters 1959-1960, beginning with the breakthrough hit There Goes My Baby (1959, #2 USA) and peaking with Save The Last Dance For Me (1960, #1 USA), The Drifters' biggest hit.

Buy At Sanity.com.au

The original Drifters had been around since 1955, but Ben E. King had been one of The Crowns, the group recruited to become the new Drifters in 1959. King's post-Drifters solo career produced such classics as Spanish Harlem (1961), Stand By Me (1961) and the original English version of I (Who Have Nothing) (1963).

Bill Millar, in his book The Drifters (1971), reckons that Ben E. King sang on 8.9% of Drifters recordings 1955-1970.

References: Bill Millar, The Drifters (Studio Vista, 1971); Phil Hardy et al, Encyclopedia of Rock Vol 1 (Granada/Panther, 1976).
THE FURYS
What Is Soul
(Harlan - McEachin)
USA 1963
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as 'What Is Soul' by The Groove.
THE REAL THING
What Is Soul
(Gardner - Stuart)
USA 1970
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as 'What Is Soul' by The Groove.

Reissued on Double Shot Of Soul, a retrospective of the Los Angeles Indie label Double Shot whose biggest hit was Count Five's Psychotic Reaction (1966).

(This is not, I think we can say, the British soul group of the 70s also called The Real Thing.)
FUNKADELIC
What Is Soul
(George Clinton Jr. - Eddie Hazel - William Nelson)
USA 1970
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as 'What Is Soul' by The Groove.

On 1970 album Funkadelic.
PAUL SHAFFER
What Is Soul
(Don Covay - Steve Cropper - Paul Shaffer)
USA 1989
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as 'What Is Soul' by The Groove.

On 1989 Capitol album Coast To Coast. Paul Shaffer is Music Director of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Later versions:

BEN E. KING & THE AVERAGE WHITE BAND
What Is Soul
(Ben E. King - Bob Gallo)
1977
Later version

On 1977 Atlantic album Benny And Us. See the review by Jason Elias at All Music Guide.

Corrections or comments? Contact the writer.