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Any Major Soul 1983

August 17th, 2023 Leave a comment Go to comments

 

Nobody vaguely sane has ever claimed that 1983 represents a pinnacle in soul music. Still, there was enough good stuff around to produce a fine mix — one on which synth stabs and lazily programmed drum machines, which blighted so much soul in the ’80s, are in short supply. So the music on this mix is relatively timeless, rather than being a time capsule.

If Patti LaBelle’s Love, Need And Want You sounds vaguely familiar, then it is because it was prominently sampled by Nelly for his 2002 hit with Kelly Rowland, the superb Dilemma. In the video, LaBelle appeared as Kelly’s mother, which was a great touch.

The Mary Jane Girls’ All Night Long has also been liberally sampled, most famously by LL Cool J on his 1991 hit Around The Way Girl, and a few years later by Mary J Blige on Mary Jane (All Night Long), which was more tribute than sample. But in recording the Mary Jane Girls song, Rick James did a bit of copying themselves: the bassline borrows from Keni Burke’s song Risin’ To The Top from a year earlier.

Perhaps the most sampled song on this mix is Between The Sheets by the Isley Brothers. Wikipedia counts 50 samples, including on Da Brat’s Funkified, The Notorious B.I.G.’s Big Poppa, Doja Cat’s Like That, Gwen Stefani’s Luxurious, and Pretty Ricky’s On The Hotline.

One place you probably would not begin a search for soul music is Sweden. And yet, our Scandinavian friends are represented here in the form of the band Shine. The band’s creative main man was the Ghanaian/Dutch jazz funk musician Kofi Bentsi-Enchill, who also takes lead vocals on So Into You, along with Swedish-French jazz singer Babette Kontomanou. Shine released one album, and then faded away. Babette went on to have a good solo career.

Joyce Lawson has three albums to her credit. Her eponymous 1983 debut was followed by an album in 1987, and a third set 14 years after that. Her career took off after winning the US talent programme The Gong Show. I have found no further biographical info on Lawson, except that she appears to be no longer with us.

I think I ought to issue an earworm warning in regard to Baby I’m Scared Of You by Womack & Womack. That line, “Houdini, was great magician, he could crack a lock [dut dut] from any position”, has kept me awake as it refused to leave my ear. And once I succeeded to dispel it, there was Cecil Womack sitting in my ear: “Oh, like Rudolph Valentino, I can fall down on my knees…” You’ve been warned!

The great cover version of Superstar by Luther Vandross was one of the first tracks on my shortlist, but at nine minutes it’s rather too long to be included on a CD-R length mix. It’s included as a bonus track. Superstar is the redeeming feature of the album it closes, Busy Body, which I regard as Luther Vandross’ weakest effort.

By the way, all Any Major Soul mixes from 1964 onwards are up again.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-houdinied covers. PW in comments.

1. Rufus & Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
2. Lionel Richie – Love Will Find A Way
3. Isley Brothers – Between The Sheets
4. The Manhattans – Forever By Your Side
5. Womack & Womack – Baby I’m Scared Of You Baby
6. Patti LaBelle – Love, Need And Want You
7. Al Jarreau – I Will Be Here For You (Nitakungodea Milele)
8. Randy Crawford – Why?
9. Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson – Maybe
10. Enchantment – Don’t Fight The Feeling
11. Gwen Guthrie – Oh What A Life
12. Shine – So Into You
13. Joyce Lawson – Try Me Tonight
14. Sister Sledge – Gotta Get Back To Love
15. Atlantic Starr – Touch A Four Leaf Clover
16. Mtume – Juicy Fruit
17. Mary Jane Girls – All Night Long
Bonus Track:
Luther Vandross – Superstar

GET IT!

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  1. amdwhah
    August 17th, 2023 at 08:42 | #1

    PW= amdwhah

  2. August 22nd, 2023 at 18:55 | #2

    Good selection, but clearly not the best era for sweet soul music. Gotta take the good with the bad though, at least there were still folks in there trying.

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