Bennson Whatever It Is (Part 1) (Soul Tornado Remix) (EU Raw Fusion 12”)
Originating from Australia, and released on Sweden’s finest imprint Raw Fusion, comes this belting 12” from Bennson. Two mixes over the twelve, with the Soul Tornado Remix taking the honours for me, this should blow hot for some time on the quality UK dance floors. A driving beat on the intro is soon joined by some nice electric piano stabs which continue throughout. The accomplished gutsy vocal comes in and we’re away, with organ and brass weaving in and out around the memorable hook, which should ensure some dance floor longevity. It has certainly done the business when I’ve played it out. I believe a full CD is only a matter of weeks away, and word is it’s a winner. Of course, it’s difficult to know whether this 12” remix will be included, so I would grab one anyway if I were you.
Fanatix Most cuts (UK BBE CD/LP “This Thing Of Ours”)
I awaited release of this LP with bated breath (well, actually, I didn’t………..so impatient was I that I downloaded the killer tracks ahead of the official release!). In a world traditionally dominated by our US counterparts, the names Aaron Ross and Neil Pierce shine like a beacon and fly the flag proudly for the UK. This is as an essential purchase as you will find in 2008 if quality soulful dance is your bag. Probably of most interest on the extreme soulful end of the spectrum is the Shaun Escoffrey sung “Can’t Let Go”, which I believe is good enough to finally see “Days Like This” and “Music In Me” confined back into the racks of the scenes DJ’s!! Requiring a little more penchant for dance music are the equally good “Ray Of Light” featuring Kadija Kamara and “Higher” with one of my favourite house diva’s Lady Alma (Horton) on vocal chores. Loads of good grooves on here…….Fanatix, Richard Earnshaw, Joey Negro…….big up the UK y’all!!
<!–[if gte vml 1]> <![endif]–><!–[if !vml]–><!–[endif]–> Neo Smile (UK HCS Records 12”)
This tune has been causing a stir since it was first played at Cleethorpes Weekender in 2007 as Gil Scott-Heron (not sure of the merits of the secrecy!!). It turns out to be French keyboard player Neo, featuring the vocals of Rudy Wilburn, and has been available for some time via Traxsource as an MP3 download, a package which includes a Yukihiro Fukutomi remix not included on the vinyl. However, there is an extended original on the 12” which was not available digitally. Confused yet?? Anyway, this has a good up tempo beat, and like the Bennson 12” has a hook you could hang your hat on (and similarly nice work on the piano/organ). It’s a good record and it’s clear to see why it has such appeal on the UK soul scene. I just wish some of the less obvious house cuts that come through week-in and week-out would get some needle/laser time, as many are just as deserving, if not so instant. And finally, I have to say that the secrecy/cover up malarkey on new releases does more to turn me off a sound than it does to attract me to it, which is a shame when the tune is decent like this one!
Phil Perry Most cuts (US Shanachie CD “Ready For Love”)
So to the issues really good news, and the fact that the man who could sing the Yellow Pages and hold your attention, is back with an album of new material, after his recent preference for cover versions. Yes, the former lead voice behind the Montclair’s is back with a new album for Shanachie records. Do you need it? You bet you do! Opening with the bright, bubbly “Desire” you immediately know you’re in the presence of true brilliance. This is followed by the sumptuous ballad “Ready For Love” on which Perry’s ability really shines, showing that he can still hold a note or two. “Shine On Me” is a likely candidate for the dance floor, adding to Phil’s impressive catalogue of dancers from various albums…..a DJ’s delight is Phil, delivering good proper dancers for grown ups!! “The Shelter Of Your Heart” is more great balladry, opening up with one of Perry’s trade mark whistled accompaniments……..trust me, it works. The mid-tempo “Why, Why, Why” featuring Salena is a further treat and could also work in the nations quality soul clubs (oh how I miss my early sets at Without Boundaries). There are a couple of covers on the back half of the set, including a sublime take on Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” which is simply superb, but 8 originals out of 10 tracks is pretty damn good. An absolute must have album.
Adrian Brown & Friends Free (US Nikab CD “Real Life Vol. II”)
Now then, on the gospel tip from the US indie’s, comes this 19 tracker from Adrian Brown and Friends. I’ve got to admit that I’ve only tracked this album once, and whilst I found one or two nice moments therein, it was only when I reached track 19 “Free” that I struck gold (or could that be Frankincense or Myrrh?). This track is worth the price of the album alone, a strutting snare driven, guitar plucked gospel R&B styled dancer of the highest order. The lyrics are great, gospel without being too heavy in the message, as the accomplished female lead declares on the hook that “it feels so good to me, and it feels so good to be free”. Line of the year though comes on a bridge in the shape of “…..like a baby being freed out of it’s mother’s womb, free like Jesus lifting him self out of the tomb”…….love it!! Perhaps you need to hear this to appreciate it. This really is so good yet to the best of my knowledge has had little exposure in the UK modern rooms. File it above some of those huge tunes of the minute in my opinion, but what do I know J
Studio Apartment feat. Kenny Bobien Justifiable (US King Street 12”/CD “The Rising Sun”)
King Street records, so called with reference to King Street, NYC, home of the legendary Paradise Garage club, celebrate 15 years of business this year. Of course, most of you know that Kenny Bobien can do no wrong, and this new cut is available on either the new Studio Apartment CD “The Rising Sun”, or on a 12” album sampler of the same name. If you are a collector of the Studio Apartment 12’s, you’ll already have lots of the good cuts here and may go for the vinyl. If the Japanese production team Studio Apartment are new to you, then the CD is a good bet. Anyway, back to this cut “Justifiable”, and all I can say to fans of Kenny is, think about “Hiya Luv” from the “Keep Hope Alive” CD and you won’t be far out. If you’re not familiar with that, just take my word for it that this is ESSENTIAL!!
A few quick spins then and I can’t sign off without mentioning the new Jeff Floyd CD “Keepin’ It Real”, new for William Bell’s Wilbe set-up, with “Lock My Door” likely to see dance floor action. Also the new “Southern Soul & Blues Party” compilation contains some belters on the Southern Soul tip. The Angie Whitney CD (Little Dizzy Records) is worth checking too. On the 12” front, there’s a brace of goodies from our friends at Especial over in Japan, with the Bakura “Mistaken” EP, and the Hajime Yoshizawa “Japan” album sampler, the latter being one for the jazz-heads. There’s a great new 12” from Jazmina based around the classic Frankie Knuckles’ “Tears”, and on the soul tip, a surprise to me in the shape of “Magic” from Robin Thicke, whom I knew could sing a bit but wasn’t expecting something as tasteful as this from somehow! Out of Europe, do check out the Samuel Sartini & Michael Watford “Real Love” on Glitter…..definitely house music for the soul heads. Readers of these pages especially should check out two new 7” releases by Marc Evans on Defected, a taster of his forthcoming album and well worth a purchase as future collector’s items. For those of particularly eclectic taste, you might like to check out 2000 Black’s “A Next Set A Rockers” on JAP Third Ear (what a label title!). A real mixed bag, with broken beats included, but there’s a superb soul dancer on there…..don’t miss it! Rounding things off with some more US released albums, and on the gospel tip, fans of Donald Lawrence might do well to check the new album form The Murrills “Family Prayer”, featuring the monster dancer “Friend Of Mine”. On a more main stream R&B tip, but with a touch of class for us soul peeps, check out Noel Gourdin’s “After My Time” for Epic. I believe he’s currently causing quite a stir across the pond, and it’s easy to see why.
Mark Randle’s Starpoint Radio playlist for August 2008:
Phil Perry – Walk On By (US Shanachie CD)
Hajime Yoshizawa feat. Navasha Daya – Celebration (JAP Village Again CD)
2000 Black – Simple Sacrifice (JAP Third Ear CD)
Luisito Quintero – Tumbao (Louie Vega Main Mix) (US Vega 12”)
Jenna Burke – The Brightness (US Micah Communications Inc. CD)
Noel Gourdin – Make The Most (US Epic CD)
The Murrills – Friend Of Mine (US Verity/Zomba Gospel CD)
Evelyn “Champagne” King – Standing On The Rock Of Love (US Big Day CD)
Terell House – You’re The One (US La Trebor Records CDS)
Amp Fiddler – Superficial (Amp’s Soul Special) (US Camp Amp Studios CD)
Slique – Got It For Me (Terry Hunter Remix) (US T’s Box MP3)
Bigggshady – My Shero (US Bigggshady/Moses Dailey Music Promo CDS)
Bakura feat. Darien – Mistaken (JAP Especial 12”)
The Soul Children – The 3 Of Us (US JEA Right Now CD)
Ragan Whiteside – Options (US Randis Music CD)
Sheree Brown – Adore U (US The House Of Zion CD)
Jimmy Abney – You Bring Me Joy (US Yoruba CD)
Mark Grant feat. Russoul – It’s Over (9th Ending) (Original Soul Pass Vocal) (US Blackstone MP3)
Leon Ware – Smoovin’ (US Stax CD)
Stacey Mallory feat. Gerideau – Changes (Fanatix Remix) (US Iwanai MP3)
Phil Perry – Shine On Me (US Shanachie CD)
Dave Hollister – Glow (US Zomba Gospel CD)
Anthony David – Lady (US Universal Republic CD)
SIMPLY SOUL MAIL ORDER HOT TEN SALES
(w/c 25 August 2008)
Don-E – Natural (UK Dome CD)
Phil Perry – Ready For Love (US Shanachie CD)
George Duke – Dukey Treats (US Heads Up CD)
Heston – Storyteller (US Worldsoul Music CD)
Various – Stereo Sushi Vol 13 (UK Hed Kandi CD)
Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Open Book (US Big Day CD)
Studio Apartment feat. Kenny Bobien – Justifiable (US King Street 12”)
Mixed Feelings – Sha La La (US Soul Cal 12”)
Tayvon – From My Heart (US LTPD Record Company CD)
Cheers……………Mark Randle (September 2008)