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Any Major Soul 1984

 

In the mid-1980s, much of soul music sounded like action-comedy movie soundtrack fillers: stabbing synth, plastic funk bass, dull drum machines, and soulless electric guitars that tried to recreate the magic of Van Halen’s solo on Beat It and failing dismally in doing so. It was mostly horrible. Diana Ross’ Swept Away is a perfect example of that hideous kind of overproduced musical sterility, the sort of thing no baby was ever made to.

This mix of soul from 1984 avoids these abominations, and there may well be people in their late 30s in the world today who were conceived to one or the other track on this collection. The year 1984 was not a high-water mark for soul music. Perhaps it was its nadir. And yet, I felt compelled to add six bonus tracks, on top of the CD-R length mix. It can’t have been that bad.

By the mid-1980s, the social commentary songs and declarations by strong women telling their no-good men where to get off from the 1970s had made way for love-and-sex lyrics, some as greasy as jheri curls and as predictable as AI prose.

Words were secondary to the jam. And there were some solid jams. The best slow jam of 1984 might have been Eugene Wilde’s Gotta Get You Home Tonight, which featured on Any Major Soul 1984/85. Wilde, who was born as Ronald Eugene Broomfield, returns here with a deep cut from his most successful of the four albums he released between 1984 and 1991 (another one followed in 2011).  After his singing career had fizzled out, Wilde became a songwriter.

Like Wilde, O’Bryan had that jheri-curled look which might detract from his talent (incidentally, O’Bryan and Wilde were born a day apart in December 1961). The singer, whose full and magnificent name is O’Bryan McCoy Burnette II, was a prodigy of Don Cornelius, who used O’Bryan’s funky Soul Train’s A Comin’ as the theme of Soul Train from 1983-87. O’Bryan’s 1984 album Be My Lover was his most successful. By 1986, diminishing returns had set in.

This set opens with a couple of songs that became hits only in 1985. The Intruders’ Who Do You Love was a single release in 1984; a longer version appeared on their 1985 album. A few other acts from back when were still producing good things in 1984. Featured here are the Bar-Kays, Bobby Womack and Major Harris, the Delfonics alumnus whose I Believe In Love was an outstanding comeback, which sadly was not the commercial success it deserved to be.

1980s soul often shone brightest when great singers collaborated with jazz fusion artists (and when these jazz artists appeared on their records). We have two such collaborations here. Bill Withers guests on percussionist Ralph MacDonald’s album. The line-up of musicians on In The Name Of Love, co-written by Withers, is impressive: Steve Gadd on drums, Marcus Miller on bass, Eric Gale on guitar, Richard Tee on electric piano, and Randy Brecker on trumpet. If the sounds seem familiar, it is because you’ve heard these guys play on countless records. Just check out the series of Steve Gadd Collections (Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3).

My favourite track on this collection is Roberta Flack’s collaboration with veteran Japanese fusion saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, Here’s To Love. And guess who the session musicians on that track are: MacDonald, Miller, Gale and Tee, and the great Barry Eastmond on synth.

Among the bonus tracks is a version of I Feel For You by Rebbie Jackson. It was released at the same time as the lightning-in-a-bottle version by Chaka Khan (whose follow-up single, Eye To Eye, features here). The song was originally written in 1979 by Prince for Patrice Rushen — who turned it down. Of course, Rushen features here as well.

.All Any Major Soul mixes from 1964 onwards are up again. Like all of them, this mix  timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-jhericurled covers, and the above text in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Intruders – Who Do You Love
2. The S.O.S. Band – Weekend Girl
3. Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Till Midnight
4. Patrice Rushen – High In Me
5. Bobby Womack & Patti LaBelle – Love Has Finally Come At Last
6. Loose Ends – Feel So Right Now
7. Ralph MacDonald feat. Bill Withers – In The Name Of Love
8. Sadao Watanabe feat. Roberta Flack – Here’s To Love
9. Chaka Khan – Eye To Eye
10. Amii Stewart – That Loving Feeling
11. Glenn Jones – Show Me
12. O’Bryan – Go On And Cry
13. Major Harris – Spend Some Time
14. Bar-Kays – Lovers Should Never Fall In Love
15. Mtume – You, Me And He
16. Jermaine Jackson – Do What You Do
17. Eugene Wilde – Rainbow
18. Teddy Pendergrass – This Time Is Ours
BONUS TRACKS
19. Peabo Bryson – If Ever You’re In My Arms Again
20. One Way – Lady You Are
21. Lenis Guess – Lay Your Head Down On Me
22. Cameo – She’s Strange
23. Cherrelle – Who’s It Gonna Be
24. Rebbie Jackson – I Feel For You

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  1. amdwhah
    July 11th, 2024 at 11:31 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. July 15th, 2024 at 15:40 | #2

    Thanks! No wonder The Blues Brothers were working so hard to bring back the Soul music they enjoyed. This stuff is just not the same, but change is inevitable.

  3. July 16th, 2024 at 05:08 | #3

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Great selection of tracks.

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