Harmless Records’ BACKBEATS series has, in the space of a very short time, become the world’s most popular budget soul series with over 140,000 sales – quite an achievement in these straightened times. Reasons? Well obviously the price… for under a fiver each album represents real value, but, and more important, it’s the quality of the music that really counts. Each album in the series is put together with love by soul specialists who know their subject and know the kind of material that serious soul collectors want.

BACKBEAT releases its albums in sets of six and they’ve just issued their fourth tranche… six fabulous compilations across a variety of genres – but all containing sounds that are collectable and hugely in-demand.

First up there’s ‘LAY BACK AND CHILL’ – a 19 track set of sensuous soul put together by RALPH TEE. Featured artists include LUTHER VANDROSS, DIONNE WARWICK and TOWER OF POWER. There’s more laid back soul on ‘UNEXPLOITED and UNDER-RATED’ – an 18 tracker featuring hard-to-find items from people like BARBARA RANDOLPH, JJ BARNES and DAVID RUFFIN. Listen up to the fabulous ‘Back In Circulation’ from SWEET JAMES EPPS of THE FANTASTIC 4.

The 24 track ‘CROSSOVER TO SOUL’ is self-explanatory, while for those who still like their stompers there’s ‘DANCE FLOOR REVOLUTION’ (a collection of 70s dancers), ‘METROPOLIS STOMP TIME’ (compiled by KEV ROBERTS) and ‘DETROIT GOLD’ (23 Motor City rarities).

Six unmissable sets then… with reviews here @ SJF very soon.