SOUL LIBERATION are one of clutch of bands who actually released very few records yet enjoy a huge reputation amongst collectors and the cognoscenti. The band were built around New Yorker Tom Skinner – a gang leader (the notorious Harlem Lords) who after a life of criminality became a preacher. He saw his band as a means to help him in his crusades and Soul Liberation toured extensively but recorded only sporadically. Discogs list just a trio of singles and two albums – 1974’s eponymous set and 1982’s ‘Who Are You’ which is now hugely collectable.
So step in bbe Records who’ll be reissuing the 9 tracker at the end of August. The LP was recorded in Dallas, Texas and, yes, it’s a ful-on gospel album. The message in the music is simple – worship, praise, salvation, forgiveness, and love and that simplicity is reflected in the music – uncomplicated and direct but the album still has a lot to offer.
Tunes that caught the attention back in the day include ‘Touch Me Again’ and ‘Send Me’. Take away the message in the former and you have a hybrid of Keni Burke’s ‘Risin’ to the Top’ and Chaka Khan’s ‘Whatcha Gonna Do For Me?’. The latter channels the then fashionable Solar sound. And that’s the beauty of the album – gospel messages couched in contemporary soul sounds. In many ways this was a looking back to the work of people like Rance Allen and looking forward to the impact of the Sounds Of Blackness. Other noteworthy tracks are ‘Put on the Whole Armour’ and ’Father We Praise You’. The whole album ,though, is worth checking out!
Soul Liberation:Who Are You? Released via bbe Records 25.8.23 (2LP vinyl, CD, digital (remastered))