Back in the day soul was big business in Japan. For whatever reason, however, the last decade has seen a cooling in the Japanese passion for proper soul music. Now, Tokyo-based SWEET SOUL RECORDS is attempting to reverse that trend by aggressively promoting soul in all its forms. Their plan is two pronged. First, they consistently promote international soul artists throughout Japan and secondly, they create their own special brand of soul.

To that last end, in 2011 they issued their first compilation – ‘SOUL OVER THE RACE’ – a collection of Japanese takes on old soul favourites. The set was so successful that the label has just released Volume 2. For the 12 tracker NOBUO MIYAMAE, owner and DJ of the renowned “Little Soul Café” in the hip Tokyo suburb of Shimokitazawa, was put in charge of song selection while the musicians involved in the album have played with top Japanese artists, and visiting stars like STEVIE WONDER and JOHN LEGEND.

‘SOUL OVER THE RACE Volume 2′ features soul classics and rare groove items like THE JACKSON SISTERS’ ‘I Believe In Miracles’, BOBBY HEBB’S ‘Don’t You Care’, LEROY HUTSON’S ‘Lucky Fellow’ and THE ISLEYS’ ‘Harvest For The World’ – all given bright, new readings by up and coming Japanese artists like KAORI SAWADA, EMI HINOUCHI , SAYUMI, and FASUN. It all makes for a fascinating listen and there’ll be a full review @SJF very soon.

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