It’s the time of year when the light changes. And the temperature. October is also Soul Togetherness month. This fine compilation series, put together by Richard Searling and Ralph Tee, is always a welcome light during the fall and winter months. I find myself regularly going back to the earlier releases and as far back as the very first one which came out in 2000. You can check out my reviews of the 2017 CD, the 2016 issue, and the 2015 comp.
As usual, what we get is indie soul of the highest quality with new names to check out, and long forgotten tracks; in this case it’s the 1982 Ritchie Family burner “One And Only”. The album was (and still is) overshadowed by its biggest and still unbelievably strong cut, “I’ll Do My Best (For You Baby)”, but “One And Only”, which is the third track on the original album, is worth the trip and doesn’t sound dated one bit. Very cool and sexy stuff indeed. Soul Togetherness 2018 starts off with the intensely grooving “That Feelin'” by Cornell “C.C.” Carter and features those immortal handclaps which were one of the treats which gave the period of the late 70s to early 80s a unique sound. It’s a heavenly start to a formidable collection of songs here. I already reviewed The APX and their fantastic album “Electric Funk” – their “Right On Time” gem is included here. I’m a big fan of Kenny Thomas who has come up with some wonderful releases since the mid 90s and his catchy midtempo soul stepper “Your Love”, released in the UK as a single earlier this year, will be included in a new album coming out in 2019.
France is covered here with singer Imaa and “Around The World”, a mixture of Evelyn “Champagne” King circa 1982, Jocelyn Brown circa 1984, and Lisa Stansfield’s earliest records. Great stuff. There are two tracks from the Motown Gospel label (founded in 1998), almost completely unknown and indiscernible over here. Brian Courtney Wilson and his “One More Praise” is a solid stomper with neat backing vocals and a crisp production. But it’s Lexi Anderson, a singer totally unknown to me before, which really steals the show here. Her “I’ll Take Your Word For It” is the perfect melange of modern soul meets early 80s soul. The tune has an irresistible groove and was co-written by Eric and Anson Dawkins of Dawkins & Dawkins, also a part of the Expansion family. James Day has been featured a lot on Expansion projects and is included here with an extended mix of “He’s A Hurricane” which has the great Cheryl Pepsii Riley on vocals and Joe Cunningham on sax. Cheryl sounds amazing and much more convincing than during her first recordings from the late 80s.
Welcome back Change. The legendary group is back (new album “Love 4 Love”) and their Italian masterminds and founders Davide Romani and Mauro Malavasi have come up with a very cool-sounding modern version of the Change sound which goes back to their earlier records on various occasions during “Hit Or Miss”, like on the amazingly hook-laden chorus and the backing vocals for example. They prove that their typical sounds from the golden days of the early 80s can effectively and convincingly be transported to 2018 (unlike the new Chic album which is a disappointingly flat affair). Another UK soul act is John Reid whose brilliant “All Night Long” is included here. More indie modern soul at its best, with great horns.
Ernest Ernie & The Sincerities and their “Do Something” sound like Marvin Gaye from his “What’s Going On” period. UK soul siren Jaki Graham (remember “Heaven Knows”?) is back with a new track (and album) called “About Your Love” which has a lot of Loose Ends, the S.O.S. Band or 52nd Street treats and a lot of Nick Martinelli production sounds on it. Jaki sounds wonderful. The final three tracks on here are from Polish singer Asia Yarwood on a track by DJ Spen called “Lies” – a pretty housey soul tune and the only track on this 15-song collection which really doesn’t click because of the mediocre vocals. More house sounds come from the always brilliant Peven Everett who is featured here on the Mousse T. song “Pleasure” – a perfect combination and a hypnotic groove. The album ends on an uptempo, positive, cheerful soul note with “Shine Your Light” by Prefix One feat. Andrae Melody Palmer.