Tue. Dec. 18, 2018

10 essential Brit Soul gems / What’s your fav?

10 essential Brit Soul gems 10 essential Brit Soul gems… Like always, a selection is per definition limited. And God knows how Soul Music would definitely not have sounded the same without the unvaluable contribution from the Brits. As they not only turned American productions into local hits back in the heyday of Northern Soul, and later on during the so called rare groove era. But also came up with their own interpretations of it. Eventually giving birth to Brit-Soul and Acid Jazz by the end of the 80’s. Therefore developing the most exciting scene one may ever think of in terms of creativity and versatility… As a result, many are the gems we couldn’t talk about here. Even though they would have definitely been worth a mention.

No need to say how this selection is way from being exhaustive. Most likely due to find an extension later when the right time comes. Nevertheless, you should find thereafter a pretty much illustrative sample of highly emotional pieces of art where the infectiousness of the groove predominates.

Wishing you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we did, while putting this together for you. With your feedback, and a mention of your favorite song more than welcome.

10 essential Brit Soul gems / Soul II Soul – Back To Life (However You Do You Want Me) (10 Records)
In an environment already dominated by the formats inherited from the States, Nellee Hooper and Jazzie B made their reputation while coming up with a much refreshing approach in terms of production. They most likely did it while only keeping the essential alive. At a time when their American alter egos had fallen into the syndrome of overproduction. As a comparison, they came up with a minimalistic concept. An approach that left more space for both the harmonies, the vocal parts and the beats. Eventually giving birth to the so called Brit Soul, they released gems such as ‘Back To Life’. But also ‘Keep On Movin’, and ‘A Dream’s A Dream’ to name but a few. This, along with guest singers such as Caron Wheeler, Kym Mazelle and Victoria Wilson-James
10 essential Brit Soul gems / Lisa Stansfield – All Around The World (Arista)
Takin’ on where the late Dusty Springfield left, although on a different style… Lisa Stansfield is the incarnation of UK Blue-Eyed Soul. She first came to recognition though with the (back then) House producers Coldcut. Delivering classics such as ‘This Is The Right Time’ and ‘People Hold On’. The second single from her ‘Affection’ album which marked her debut back in 1989, ‘All Around The World’ is her biggest classic ever. Eventually re-recorded 3 years after as a duet with the late Barry White. Besides, I found it quite weird if not pathetic to see her considered as a R&B/New Jack Swing artist on Wikipedia!!!
10 essential Brit Soul gems / Brand New Heavies – Never Stop (Delicious Vinyl/FFRR)
Formed back in 1985 by Jan Kincaid, Simon Bartholomew and Andrew LevyThe Brand New Heavies are one of the very few British acts that managed to get recognition Stateside. The possible reason being that they also got signed straight at their debut on US label Delicious Vinyl. Re-recorded for its American release back in 1991, their eponymous album would see the presence of N’Dea Davenport on most of the tracks. This resulting in classics such as the aforementioned and ‘Stay This Way’
10 essential Brit Soul gems / Loose Ends – Hangin’ On A String (Contemplating)(Virgin)
Putting a face to the emerging British R&B in the 80’s (along with Billy Ocean and Five Star)… Loose Ends probably opened the path for what was to become the Brit-Soul back at the end of the decade. From their 1985 ‘So Where Are You?’ album, the mellow and vibrant ‘Hangin’ On A String (Contemplating)’. It is most likely their most famous in a series of classics. From ‘Tell Me What You Want’ to ‘Magic Touch’ ‘Slow Down’ and ‘Ooh You Make Me Feel’ among others. It also stands as a signature remix for the late <Frankie Knuckles who reworked it 7 years after on sublabel 10 Records…
10 essential Brit Soul gems / Omar – Feeling You (Ben Schwarz Remix) (Peppermint Jam)
Omar Lye-Fook came to recognition with the release of the memorable ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ on his dad’s label ‘Kongo Records’. A cut which got Gilles Peterson to offer him a record deal on Talkin’ Loud back in 1990. Gifted with a unique voice and style, he would display a rare versatility. Eventually collaborating with underground producers/remixers such as Maddslinky and Atjazz . Not to mention German guru Ben Schwarz on this 2010 remix pack on Mousse T‘s ‘Pepermint Jam label…
10 essential Brit Soul gems / The James Taylor Quartet – Love Will Keep Us Together (Acid Jazz)
An ever evolving line-up along with time, around Hammond famous player James TalorThe JTQ, with their blend of influences (soundtracks, Mod Rock, Funk and… Jazz) pretty much embodied what Acid Jazz happened to be about. They would get their biggest successes though along with vocalists. Beginning with Noel McKoy on ‘I Love The Life’. But also with Alison Limerick on the opening cut of their 1995 released ‘In The Hand of The Inevitable’ album…
10 essential Brit Soul gems / Mica Paris – I Should’ve Known Better (4th & Broadway)
One of the most beautiful voices hailing from the UK, Mica Paris. Not even aged 20, she created the sensation. This with the release of her critically acclaimed ‘So Good’ album back in 1988. An album which featured gems such as ‘My One Temptation’and ‘Breathe Life Into Me’. Not to mention her cover version of ‘Where is The Love’ with Will Downing. Co-produced along with Omar Lye-Fook back in 1990, the mellow ‘I Should’ve Known Better’, although released as the flipside of ‘South of The River’, remains nevertheless among her most famous songs…
10 essential Brit Soul gems / Drizabone – Real Love (4th & Broadway)
From the reunion between producers Billy April (real name Billy Freeman) and Vincent GarciaDriza Bone caused quite a stir back in 1991 with the release of their remix of Shanice Wilson‘s ‘I Love Your Smile’. But also the classic ‘Real Love’ under their own guise. A cut speaking of which the identity of the singer happened to be the subject of countless speculations. They would release their debut-album – ‘Conspiracy’ – 3 years after. Then nothing more for 16 years and a second album which they recorded as Drizabone Soul Family. More recently Billy went back to more regular activities. Remixing ‘Your Smile’ and ‘Soultown’, respectively for Neo and Ola Onabule on indie label DSG Music…
10 essential Brit Soul gems / D-Influence – Hypnotize (Echo)
Anoter great voice hailing from the UK, Sarah Ann Webb. She came to join Kwame Kwaten, Ed Baden-Powell and Steve Marston as the lead singer of D-Influence at the beginning of the 90’s. They eventually released their debut-album – ‘Good 4 We’ on EastWest back in 1992. Its title cut, but also ‘Good Lover’ and ‘No Illusions’ standing as their most famous gems. Not to mention the bumpin’ ‘Hypnotize’ which saw the light 5 years later as a part of their ‘London’ album on Echo. They are also remembered for productions and remixes for various artists. From Shola Ama to Deni Hines. But also Mark Morrison and Lighthouse Family to name but a few…
10 essential Brit Soul gems / Diana Brown & Barrie K Sharpe – The Masterplan (FFRR)
From the vaults of FFRR, this 1990 infectious Wah-Wah-ish led funky gem. By the likes of Diana Brown and singer/songwriter, producer and cloth designer Barrie K Sharpe… It stands as one of the absolute highlights from that period. It opened the path to other gems such as ‘Love Or Nothing’ and ‘The Sun Worshippers (Positive Thinking)’. As many tracks one can find on ‘The Black, The White, The Yellow And The Brown (And Don’t Forget The Redman)’album. Strangely enough, this would be their first but also final album 2 years after…

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