Compared to previous years, I didn’t pick up so much soul in 2021. I’ve no idea why, but the stuff that I did, I’m bang into.
Lady Blackbird`s Black Acid Soul was an absolute essential – every home should have one – but was it soul, or jazz? Lovingly crafted, minimal but rich productions, covers and reinterpretations of classic songs from a variety of genres, tear-jerking takes on the blues, rock and R&B, like Nina Simone, they could even have slotted into a Cafe del Mar sunset session. The honorable Ms. B also very kindly granted us a very cool interview.
George Evelyn’s Nightmares On Wax, and Jake Ferguson`s The BRKN Record, both delivered LPs that had something to say. George’s Shout Out! To Freedom… called for unity, responsibility, and a collective push for change. The track, Up To Us, was especially beautiful.
Ferguson`s The Architecture Of Oppression Part 1, intercut with speeches – giving it an angry, and documentary tone – was a powerful indictment of institutionalized racism and fucked up policing. The music throughout was amazing. Hopefully future folks will listen back and wonder what on Earth was going on.
The brand new singles that I bought were all of a lighter, less conscious, note. Omar S backed Supercoolwicked for a boogie about bedroom equality – What’s Good For The Goose – which in its dubwise form was extra nice. Lynda Dawn`s Roses, when reworked by Pasadena’s XL Middleton, was made to bump and grind in a fabulously `80s flavoured fashion. Athens Of The North’s Euan Fryer teamed up with Nick “Linkwood” Moore, and as East Coast Love Affair they covered Eddy Grant, Eddie Kendricks, Mary Love-Comer, and Skys The Limit, in a smooth, slick, contemporary dance-floor style.
Looking back at the reissues that I invested in there is a definite message in the music, and you could be forgiven for thinking that I have finally got / found god.
There were calls for love and understanding from Muchos Plus, on Kalita, who had a cracking year, and Frankie Beverley`s Raw Soul – the former chilled, the latter scorching, fiery funk. All The People`s classic Cramp Your Style break got repressed, flipped by Whatcha Gonna Do About It – a pro-peace / anti-war ode that owes something to Stax, and Otis Redding. Sam, revived by Wah Wah 45s, and remixed by both Ashley Beedle`s Africanz On Marz and Scrimshire, exuded sweet, sweet, positivity. Arthur Foy, on Izipho Soul, was out and out romantic, while William Stuckley had this heartbroken – the bonus instrumental of this second song is blinding.
The Numero Group pressed Pastor T.L. Barrett`s Like A Ship onto a 7 – a gold one if you were lucky. I remember hearing this tune on a Phil Mison mix, back when the LP was first reissued by Light In The Attic in 2010, and being completely blown away. It`s heavyweight life-affirming, spirit-stirring stuff.
As far as compilations were concerned I was captured, enraptured, by Greg Belson`s Divine Funk collection, on Cultures Of Soul – Preacherman Isidore Womack in particular, whose “I`ve Got Power In My Mind, I’ve got lovin` in my heart” became a personal chant, mantra. When Isidore sings, “All of my love goes to my god”, if he’s referring to a universal vibration, rather monotheistic dogma and division, I`ll add an “Amen” to that.
Originally put together by former Nuphonic Records co-founder, David Hill, in 2013, copies of Overdose Of The Holy Ghost were changing hands for crazy money. Dave Lee / Z Records did the decent thing and repressed a few. The opening triumphant triptych of The Clark Sisters, Sharon Johnson, and Dan Greer, rocks, righteously, regardless of your religious denomination.
While the Al-Dos Band also looked to the heavens for guidance and inspiration, I must confess that it was actually the chorus of “Feel you next to me, sheer ecstasy”, on Love Jones Coming Down – a hit of horny, secular, not sacred, “balearic soul” – super suitable for an old school Terry Farley upstairs-at-Shoom set – that converted me to their cause.
Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul – Foundation Music
Lady Blackbird – It`s Not That Easy – Foundation Music
Al Dos Band – Doing Our Thing With Pride – Kalita
Preacherman Isidore Womack – I’ve Got Power In My Mind – Cultures Of Soul
Sharon Johnson – A Better Day – Z Records
Frankie Beverly’s Raw Soul – What Color? – Brewerytown Records
All The People – Whatcha Gonna Do About It? – Blue Candle / Above Board
The BRKN Record – His Mother’s Eyes – Mr Bongo
William Stuckley – The First Time – Athens Of The North
Sam – American Cars – Wah Wah 45s
Arthur Foy – Love Dreams – Izipho Soul
East Coast Love Affair – Come On Out Of The Sandbox
Muchos Plus- Love Misunderstood – Kalita
Nightmares On Wax – Up To Us – WARP
Omar S – What’s Good For The Goose (Dub) – FXHE
Lynda Dawn – Roses (XL Middleton Mix) – Extra Soul Perception
Gospel Travelers – Jesus Is Watching You – Cultures Of Soul
Al Dos Band – Love Jones Coming Down – Kalita
Dan Greer – Love Is The Message – Z Records
The Clark Sisters – Everything`s Gonna Be Alright – Z Records
Al Dos Band – Look To The Sky – Kalita
Sam – Life (Scrimshire Remix) – Wah Wah 45s