A compilation sent from heaven thanks to Rainer Trueby, DJ and producer whose main focus lies on boogie, 2-Step, Modern Soul and Jazz. Starting off the proceedings with Peter Brown‘s “Without Love”, a track from his 1977 “A Fantasy Love Affair” LP featuring the vocals of Pat Hurley, the mood is set with an elegantly swaying soul tune, almost veering towards a mystical affair. Composer, arranger, and pianist Les Hooper, mainly responsible for composing music for TV, has recorded only sporadically. “Lady Of The Night” has some frantic sax work courtesy of Dave Boruff. In tandem with the Rhodes work of the leader, the track is a fascinating blend of jazz and soul, incorporating the vocalise of Bonnie Herman, underscoring the track with a sort of fusion feel.
I’ve never heard of the artist called Ambiance, but the smoothly gliding “Camouflage” reminds me of some mid-to late 70s Lonnie Liston Smith pieces, complete with some intoxicating electric keyboards and sax work. My favorite track at the moment is “Making Love In The Fast Lane” (not the Shalamar tune) by Mellaa. This 1983 midtempo soul beauty, released on the LARC Records label, which was also briefly home to the Chi-Lites at around the same time, is pure class. Soulful, sincere vocals, a mesmerizing hook, chirpy brass adds and a soothing backdrop make this one of the highlights of the set.
The Eden Ahbez classic “Nature Boy” can be heard here by Ray & James, another unheard of artist on the LaJam Records label, a true gem from 1982 which clearly has something new to offer to this still beautiful cut, done to perfection in 1977 by George Benson on his “In Flight” LP. The falsetto vocals thrown in here and the back-up, choir-like vocals are supreme. Great choice. The fading part could go on forever. Amazingly soulful, funky ending. The group Bridge recorded an album in 1981 for Bang Records which was never officially released until the UK-based First Experience Records threw it out in 1999. From “Crying For Love”, the track “Next To Me” is included here. Wonderful lead vocals by Debravon Lewis and the group also included Claytoven Richardson who has worked a lot with Narada Michael Walden.
Modern indie soul can be found by the duo Fifth Of Heaven. Denise Johnson and Steven Williams’ “Just A Little Love” is a really therapeutic slice of midtempo soul. Magic stuff. The only song I actually have in my vinyl collection is Patrice Rushen‘s 1984 beauty “To Each His Own”. Long time no hear and a welcome addition to this superb collection. Italian-American fusion group Cast is included with a piece from their only LP from 1980 with vocals by NY-born Naimy Hackett who later gained prominence in the Italo disco scene. The Latin-tinged soul/rock tune complements her sweet and soulful vocals perfectly.
Another artist I haven’t heard of before is Demo Cates (Demetrius Cates) who recorded the “Memories Of Moments” album in 1981 on the indie Scorpio Records. Another superb soul cut from one of my favorite periods. Demo plays a brief sax solo here. Another wonderful soul indie is “Lovers Holiday” by Crystal Winds from 1982. The track features the effervescent vocals of Theresa Davis, complementing both M. Cortez Brown and Paul N. Coleman on this svelte stepper. Lots of buzz last year on singer Donna McGhee whose rare 1978 LP “Make It Last Forever” was finally re-released. Donna was a part of the Patrick Adams gang in the late 70s and sang with Phreek and The Fatback Band and her “It Ain’t No Big Thing” is timeless. Simply stunning and oozing with class and spark over 40 years later. And speaking of Patrick Adams, the legendary soul, disco and boogie producer, songwriter, and arranger who has worked on a million projects, is mainly the man responsible behind Cloud One who released the album “Atmosphere Strut” in 1976. “Dust To Dust” off the album is this compilation’s closer, putting a laidback, easy-going spin to the proceedings. This comp saved my day.