It’s been a long time since I added anything worthwhile to this site so I though I ought to pull my finger out. I haven’t been out much recently so can’t really say anything about venues although I do feel as if I am missing out on a lot at the moment! Despite that my system at home has taken plenty of hammer because the excellent tunes keep arriving. The soulful house epidemic seems to be dying down as the ratio of top quality sounds continues to reduce. It certainly seems that way to me unless you’ve got dig much deeper to find the best releases. Despite that, the pure soul stuff is top drawer at the moment with so many good tracks coming from independent labels and the UK soul specialists. Here’s a quick rundown of my favourite modern tracks just at the moment.
1. Felicia Adams - No One Else Has been only available as an independent release direct from Felicia herself but will be available in the UK from Cage De Soul from Monday. This track samples The Jones Girls "Nights Over Egypt" which makes it very instant. The entire CD is very good with "Share My Love" also being very good.
2. Michelle Williams - My Only Love Is You. Produced by Tommy Sims and sampling an old James Brown record this is excellent. Even more surprising because Michelle is one third of Destiny’s Child. Although current soul hero Tommy produces quite a few tracks on the CD, this is the only standout track.
3. Selah2 - When I Think Of You Very nice track from a very strong CD. Pronounced Selah Squared, this is from a gospel CD from a female duo. I could have picked “Hold On” too although “How Could I Ever” seems to be very popular.
4. R. Kelly - Happy People Takes off where "Step In The Name of Love" finished. A high quality tune from the annoyingly inconsistent singer.
5. Eric Roberson – The Vault 1.5 (Entire CD) I can’t pick really a standout track from this CD but if forced it should be “Rock With You”. The whole CD is very solid. Eric (or Erro as he sometimes records under) has been building a reputation for some time but still has to get his material out himself via his own website. Some tracks here are duplicated from The Vault CD. There’s not really any dancers on this CD but possibly the most consistent CD so far this year.
6. Roy Ayers – Sugar (Joey Negro Remix) Finally out on a 12” on BBE, this is fantastic. Originally recorded in the late 70s but never came out due to Roy’s prolific out put at the time. The Joey Negro remix adds a little bit extra to the unmixed version, which appears on the Virgin Ubiquity CD.
7. Sven Zetterberg – Heartaches Was All You Got This will cause all sorts of arguments. Sven is a Swedish blues singer (white, I guess) who has recently recorded this track which sounds like high quality crossover. It was announced at the recent Great Yarmouth weekender as being by Sven Goran Ericcson. If only he could produce a performance this good in Portugal!
8. The Spinners – Got To Be Love This appears on the Mtume/Lucas CD on Expansion. A fabulous CD with many well-known classics on it and a few surprises. I didn’t know this song at all until I bought the CD but I love it. It was recorded in 1981 and bears all the classic hallmarks of The Spinners and an Mtume/Lucas production – you can’t argue with that!
9. Rosie Gaines – I Can’t Get You Off My Mind This came on a Hidden Beach compilation CD last year but now appears on Rosie’s CD on Dome. I’ve always highly regarded Rosie and she produces the goods once again. She sounds eerily like Michael Jackson on some tracks. Great CD bar tracks 2 to 5. Everything else is brilliant.
10. Café De Soul Volume 4 The fourth and strongest of the Café De Soul compilations. A lot of this may be considered smooth jazz but it certainly isn’t bland and shouldn’t be associated with most of the material that comes under that banner. Standout tracks are Michael Sims, Exyt and Copeland Green but it’s all high quality stuff – just buy it!
11. Phillip Mitchell – Just The Beginning Out on Grapevine, this CD showcases mostly demos that Phillip cut for other artists to record. Some new stuff to me along with different versions of well known modern classics recorded by Bobby Womack, The Patterson Brothers and Corey Blake. Essential southern soul – I’m warming to this stuff.