VARIOUS: Soul Togetherness 2008 (Label: Expansion)

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VARIOUS: Soul Togetherness 2008

Expansion’s 2008 ‘Soul Togetherness’ set continues on the evolutionary trajectory which the series embarked on a couple of years ago. That’s to say, more and more of the selections are being sourced from outside the States, the spiritual home of soul. Here eight of the fifteen cuts are non-American and of those eight only three are British; they are The Sunburst Band’s retro groove ‘Put A Lyric In It’ , Gina Foster’s infectious ‘B-side Of My Love’ and Reel People’s pacey ‘Amazing’. The other five “outsiders” are Bennson’s Australian recording ‘Let The Love’, Sweden’s Peo with ‘Tonight’, Ghanaian Sophie Nelson’s French-recorded ‘Woman in Love’, Richard Stepp’s Canadian oldie ‘Caught Up In A Whirlwind’ and Cool Million’s Scandinavian monster ‘Give Me My Love’ . Each of those five stand more than favourable comparison with any recently recorded American modern soul with the Peo and Cool Million cuts sounding as if they might have been recorded in the US in the 80s. Of the “newer” sounding “foreign” flavours Bennson (aka Ben Grayson of the Bamboos) offers a very crisp and brassy beater with ‘Let The Love’ (fab vocal there from Kylie Auldist, by the way) while Sophie Nelson provides a more relaxing tempo on ‘Woman In Love’. The compiler’s reliance on non-American material might be because the American production houses just aren’t coming up with too many quality soul moments at the moment… a theory compounded by the fact that much of the included American material is old. Jean Wells’ ‘What I Have Got To Lose’ is a 1969 recording, James Walsh’s ‘Cuz It’s You Girl’ dates from the 70s, JP Rodgers’ ‘All My Lovin’ was recorded back in 1982 while George Benson’s long-neglected ‘When Love Comes Calling’ comes from his 1996 ‘That’s Right’ LP. Of the new American stuff there’s Kloud 9’s ‘Love’s Just Better With You’, Sheree Brown’s ‘Adore You’ and – the real gem in the collection – Teddy Pendergrass’ ‘My People’ . Already big on the modern soul scene as a Harold Melvin ‘cover up’, the song (which owes something to ‘Wake Up Everybody’) has everything that makes modern soul so hugely irresistible. Indeed, despite the variety in recording dates and the international flavour of the musicians and artists, all the tracks are built around their own infectious groove … and it’s that which gives this album its quality and consistency.
(BB) 4/5