NICOLE WILLIS: Keep Reachin’ Up: Remixed (Label: ATC Recordings)

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NICOLE WILLIS: Keep Reachin' Up: Remixed

Nicole Wills and the Soul Investigators’ ‘Keep Reachin’ Up’ was one of the biggest underground soul successes of 2007. It crept out of the cold wastes of Scandinavia and quickly won over Northern soulies, modern room people, the chattering classes and media types like Jonathan Ross and Mark Lamarr. The album’s appeal was obvious – like all best soul, the simple approach was shown to be the best and Nicole’s committed vocals over the Investigators’ tight tracks got it just right. In an attempt to capitalize on the LP’s success, the label has offered the album to all kinds of trendy remixers and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that, given what I’ve just said, by and large, they shouldn’t have bothered. Clever, pretentious desk twiddlers like Raw Fusion’s Simbad quite take all the soul away from stuff like ‘Invisible Man’, while Mike Slott’s take on the ‘Soul Investigators’ Theme’ is far too fractured to connect with the soul in the titling. Where the new takes work is where the new boys keep things simple. So on the new look at the title track Rob Life uses samples from the James Brown archive and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled across an old Lyn Collins’ cut. Mr. Scruff conjures up the funk too on his look at ‘This Ain’t Love’, livening it all up with Herbie Mann-style flute, while Aaron Jerome just about gets ‘Feeling Free’ right too – plucked strings and samba style percussion add interest. Elizabeth Shepherds’ alternate mix on ‘If This Ain’t Love’ is interesting too – setting the piece in the cool world of the jazz lounge – but for the rest, well, I’d stick with the original incarnations.
(BB) 3/5