Classics: Soul II Soul – Keep On Movin (10 Records)
Initially a sound system comprising Jazzie B OBE, Nellee Hooper and Philip Daddae Harvey, Soul II Soul managed to so to say redraw R&B. This at a time – the end of the 80’s – when the US production had become overchargedly soundalike. And for this to happen, they sort of purified the whole. Meanwhile comin’ up with a unique and somehow minimalized approach. Blending deep vibes takin’ their influences from the Philadelphia Sound, Disco, Reggae and Hip-Hop. Cleverly enough, they recruited some of the most beautiful voices around. From Rose Windross to Chicago House diva Kym Mazelle. Not to mention Caron Wheeler to name a few. Thus scoring with the latter 2 of their biggest classics ever. In other words, ‘Back To Life’ and ‘Keep On Movin”
“Keep on movin’. Don’t stop like the hands of time. Click clock, find your own way to stay. The time will come one day. Why do people choose to live their lives this way?”
Nearly 30 years have gone since the arrival of that anthem. And one could feel nothing has really changed since. Although I guess it’s fair to say Soul II Soul haved paved the history of the contemporary groove back then. Eventually influencing the British R&B production. If not what would come a few years after from America which we remember as Neo-Soul.
Like many acts with Jamaican origins, Soul II Soul first came to recognition as a sound system. This with an initial line_up comprising Caron Wheeler, Doreen Waddell, Rose Windross, Daddae Harvey, Aitch B, and Jazzie Q around Jazzie B.
Their debut single – ‘Fairplay’ featuring Rose Windross – only peaked at #63 position in the UK charts. And its follow-up – ‘Feel Free’ – also failed to make it. But major success would come with their third attempt – ‘Keep On Movin” – along with Caron Wheeler on lead vocals. With history repeating itself with ‘Back To Life’. Then ‘Get A Life’ with Jazzie B‘s cousin Marcia Lewis fronting the band after the departure of both Rose Windross and Doreen Waddell.
From ‘Vol. II: 1990 – A New Decade’ which they recorded without Caron Wheeler who’d gone solo, one would most likely remember ‘A Dream’s A Dream’ along with Victoria Wilson-James. This in addition to ‘Get A Life’. Not to mention, although to a lesser extend, ‘People’ which Timmy Regisford happened to remix, and ‘Missing You’ featuring Kym Mazelle.
From ‘Volume III Just Right’ would most definitely come the uplfting ‘Joy’ featuring Richie Stephens with outstanding remixing work courtesy of The Brand New Heavies. With its follow ups – ‘Move Me No Mountain’ and ‘Just Right’ – achieving quite moderate success.
From then on, Soul II Soul progressively disappeared from the spotlights. Eventually disbanding in 1998 back in 1998 then resurfacing almost 10 years after for some tour activities.
In April 2013, Jazzie B and Charlotte Kelly launched the Soul II Soul ‘Classics’ Collection at Harvey Nichols in London. It features T-shirts and sweatshirts with Soul II Soul’s Funky Dred logo. And three years after, Soul II Soul released a single titled ‘A New Day’ credited to Caron Wheeler, which features production from Jazzie B and Louie Vega.
Meanwhile, on the remix front, SIIS are responsible for two killer reworks – ‘Do The Right Thing’ and ‘Ghetto Heaven’ – respectively for Redhead Kingpin And The F.B.I. and The Family Stand.
In March 2002, Doreen Waddell, who had been living in Hove following her departure, died aged 36 after being hit by three cars while fleeing from a shoplifting incident. And Melissa Bell sadly died 15 years later after suffering from kidney failure on Aug. 28, 2017.