Yes it’s time again for “Soul Togetherness”, the brilliant indie-soul compilation which comes out once a year ever since 2000, usually in October and this year perfect for blowing the Berlin fog away. And it starts with a bang: Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis are back again with producing the latest Janet Jackson, but let’s not forget that they were already responsible for last year’s “Hey Lover” from the great “Forever, Charlie” album by the now legendary Charlie Wilson who is still in fantastic shape. Superb midtempo opener for this 15-song collection.
Opolopo, the remix ace from Sweden whose real name is Peter Major and who did some amazing work in the past for Gregory Porter or Mario Biondi, is featured here with a track that coincidentally has a very sad side effect to it: the singer on “Round & Round” is Diane Charlemagne who just passed away earlier this week at the young age of 51. Here, she shows once again that she was capable of giving dancefloor-soul cuts like this the perfect magic touch.
Louie Vega puts his signature soul-house features to the gospel-inflected 3 Winans featuring the Clark Sisters ditty “Dance” – the Sisters’ vocals sounding almost unearthly here. And then there are the new discoveries: Paris Toon & Mothers Favorite Child feat. Tanya Tiet are from Phoenix. They’ve been heard before on tracks by Eloni Yawn or JWhite, but this is from their still unreleased own album. “Reflections Of A Disco Ball” is a pretty catchy dance groover with Chic-like guitar work and very nice background vocals in the hook.
I have to admit that I’ve never been a fan of Syleena Johnson; her vocal too slick-sounding R&B Top 40-ish and the simuated vibrato too much to bear, but her “All This Way” is indeed an infectious song. Doesn’t live long, though I’m afraid. JD73 aka Dan Goldman is back with his superb “Believe In Love” which gets the remix touch here by Soulpersona. The track has a great 70s-sounding keyboard-driven vibe with soulful vocals.
UK soul singer Terri Walker is the featured vocalist on “Feel Right” by Joe Buddha. The song reminds me of the great Yarbrough & Peoples – Terri sounding as great as ever and just yesterday, she was part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of London’s Jazz Café. And speaking of Camden, that’s exactly where the sisters Leanne and Shannon McCrei started their career. Their “Show Me” soulful dancefloor cut is remixed here by Nigel Lowis – some vocal parts seem to be too difficult to handle though. But the groove and production are just great. Almost Philly-like.
We stay in Camden where gospel singer Lorraine Clarke-McGhie leads the Camden Schools Choir Music Festival. Her debut came out in 2005 and her wonderful 80s-sounding stepper “Do You Know” is from a new EP. Another catchy piece of soul here. Ashling Cole, who is part of Larry Graham’s band, also has a new EP out and her “Give It To You” is featured here. Her voice never stops to amaze me (remember her wonderful “Sweet Feelings”?) and “Biscuit”, as she is called by her fans, doesn’t disappoint on this one, too.
I have already reviewed two albums which are featured here: those from Aaron Parnell Brown (“The Tin Man”) and the new one from Kenya (“My Own Skin”). Both are included here with remix cuts by Soul Talk and Tom Glide, respectively. So fast forward to a new track by the Diplomats Of Soul. They have recorded the James Mason song “Sweet Power Your Embrace”, the Lonnie Liston Smith-like glider which gets added vocal touch by Incognito and Vanessa Haynes here and which was produced by Bluey. The original is on James Mason‘s 1977 LP “Rhythm Of Life” by the way. James Mason used to be a member of Roy Ayers’ band. A brilliant cover!
Also included again is a track from the good old days. This time around an obscure song by a group called Creators. Their 1980 record “Just You & Me” was written by Robert Browder and produced by Roland Edison and is finest brass-driven soul from the golden era. The collection concludes in finest 70s Earth, Wind & Fire style with Los Charly’s Orchestra featuring the soulful voice of Xantoné Blacq on “All Around The World”.