There were a good few years when nearly all my dough would go on old and reissued Soul 7s. At the monthly gig we have at Bonobo, I`d play the stuff both upstairs (chillout) and down (main). Max (Essa) would be dancing, and I would be singing. Such emotion. I would soar. High. Irrespective of whether the room was busy or not. As if experiencing the love and heartbreak at first hand. Caught up in lyrics often penned during the USA`s Civil Rights struggles, calling for racial equality and unity. Like any high, there`d be a crash, and you`d sometimes find me crying during the 5-6 AM back-to-back. I`d be exhausted. Plummeting. The same way I would after a weekend speed binge.
The “Crying DJ” ain`t such a great gimmick, so for the last twelve months I tried to take it easy on the Soul. But when I set about writing this I found I still had around four hours worth of vinyl to choose from.
UK institution Expansion ran a series of 7s this year. Collecting classic Modern and Rare Groove. Linda Clifford`s Leroy Hutson-written and produced March Across The Land. Crystal Motion`s You`re My Main Squeeze. Spyder Turner`s 1978 I`ve Been Waitin`. Al Johnson & Jean Carn`s downtempo take on I`m Back For More. Often double-A sided. Like The Aristocrats` Let`s Get Together Now, paired with the previously unreleased, Lovin` You Is Mellow. Effectively cornering the market of lazy, opportunistic “diggers” like me. Fogeys still harbouring large “Wants Lists” but with limited resources.
Aristocats – Let`s Get Together Now
Linda Clifford – March Across The Land
Crystal Motion – You`re My Main Squeeze
Spyder Turner – I`ve Been Waitin`
Al Johnson & Jean Carn – Back For More
Soul Brother also reissued some essential Rare Groove on 45s. Maureen Bailey, Rita Wright, and Voices Of East Harlem were the picks for me.
Maureen Bailey – Takin` My Time
Rita Wright – Touch Me, Take Me
Voices Of East Harlem – Take A Stand
Be With Records pressed up their second treasure from the vaults of Leon Ware (who sadly passed away this year). Where the first had featured Flora Purim and Airto Moreiro, Rockin` You Eternally was in part a collaboration with their fellow Brazilian Marcos Valle. While the title track alone is a must-have, I`m also partial to In Our Garden.
Leon Ware – Rockin` You Eternally
Leon Ware – In Our Garden
Athens Of The North seemed to consciously move further away from obvious Classics, and instead focus on lesser known gems. Like Frazelle`s Today Is The Day. Or unreleased versions. Like the original full-length recording of Earth, Wind & Fire`s Brazilian Rhyme.
Frazelle – Today Is The Day
Earth, Wind & Fire – Brazilian Rhyme
Elsewhere, Daphni edited the Luther Davis Group and Floating Points did the same for Maurice Moore & The Family Affair Band. Both turning super elusive 7s into extended 12s.
Luther Davis Group – You Can Be A Star – Jiaolong / Now Again
Maurice Moore and Family Affair Band – Everything That Shines Ain’t Gold – Melodies International
Japan has a domestic reissue schedule all of its own. With Universal, HMV and UltraVybe making available high quality, often picture-covered editions of Soulful desirables from the catalogues of Brunswick, Prestige, Salsoul, Tabu, West End, etc., etc.… Picking “anthems” from the likes of Gary Bartz and James Mason. More obscure stuff from bands like Directions and Maryann Farra & Satin Soul. Enlisting the selecting and editing skills of legendary DJs such as Muro and Nori. Titles on the HMV-financed, Muro-curated Captain Vinyl label will disappear from on-line stores in minutes. I`m not normally quick enough to land anything, but I`m so glad I nabbed a copy of this – with Nori-san on the edit:
Sharon Ridley – Changin` – UltraVybe
Back in London, Suncut lovingly restored this “masterpiece”:
Masterpiece – Love Affair