"Soulful Strut" was one of the most popular soul instrumentals of the late 1960s, reaching #3 in 1969. While there was nothing super-sophisticated about the melody or arrangement, its success was well-deserved, as it exuded an unhurried class, with an even gait that perfectly mirrored the "Soulful Strut" of the title. A drum triplet starts the song, followed by mellow, almost tentative chords. But the bulk of the tune is given over to the insistent, jazzy riff of the horns, periodically broken up by those slower tentative chords. The horns carry the track, effortlessly conveying images of glamorous women walking the city streets, or entwined couples gently swaying on the dancefloor. In this manner it's somewhat reminiscent of another huge instrumental soul hit of the late 1960s with jazz overtones, Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass." A tinkling jazzy piano nicely counteracts the bolder saxes with different, more playful and delicate riffs, and a busy bass supplies the funk that makes the strut soulful. "Soulful Strut" was and is great soul mood music, great for grooving to when you want to keep dancing, but want to slow the tempo down a bit and get a little more romantic than uptempo James Brown funk workouts would allow. It was eventually revealed that "Soulful Strut" was originally not intended as an instrumental, but recorded as a backing track to a song by Chicago soul singer Barbara Acklin, "Am I the Same Girl." The backing track worked so well on its own, though, that Brunswick Records put it out as a single without the vocals, retitling the song "Soulful Strut."