VARIOUS: Soul Unsigned Volume 2 (Label: Soul Unsigned)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • VARIOUS: Soul Unsigned Volume 2 (Label: Soul Unsigned)
VARIOUS: Soul Unsigned Volume 2

This is the second of Phil Driver’s Soul Unsigned compilation albums and it carries on where that excellent set left off. That’s to say it’s stuffed with quality, real modern soul drawn from all kinds of different sources. Here, there’s soul from the States (of course), South Africa, Norway, Spain and France … why there’s even a track from a Scouser! Said tune is ‘Everybody Knows’ from George McShane under his professional moniker, Judderbass. That name implies the track might be a shuddering, bass heavy thumper; it’s not at all… it’s actually a delightful mid-paced sweet soul groove featuring a floating vocal from Joanna Brown. The whole thing’s more redolent of balmy Californian freeways than the mean streets of the Independent Republic of Liverpool. It’s one of the album’s highlights – but one amongst many. As good is the brisk opener – ‘Natural’ from Cape Town’s Nash Reed. The lady offers a wonderful modern room dancer built around those familiar ’80s retro groves that are so popular at present. There’s more of the same on GLO’s ‘Don’t Take Me For Granted’, Unkle Funkie’s ‘Gonna Give It To You’ and Maxi’s ‘Stepping Out’. However, before you start to think that the collection is just another exercise in recreating the past allow me to highlight the real variety within the 14 cuts. Sean Miranda’s ‘Dig It’ is a lovely nu-soul confection that might satisfy Maxwell addicts; Londoner J-Funk (Justin Stephenson) offers a very understated and gentle ‘Breakthru’; Destruments’ ‘Take A Closer Look’ is loose and jazzy; while Brummie band, Muthafunk, achieve a wonderful, organic live feel on their ‘True Love’. Followers of the funk will welcome Various Funkus’s ‘Get On The Beat’ and Calumet’s ‘Keep The Funk Alive’, while Kevin East’s cover of ‘When Are You Gonna’ wouldn’t be out of place in the more sophisticated of our dance clubs. All great stuff, but the compilation (like the Marriage Feast Of Cana) saves the very best to last. The set closes with the Frank Felix and the F.U. Express instrumental ‘Club 44′. Featuring the indomitable Snake Davis’ sax and some uncredited vibes, the cut seems to bring together the album’s disparate flavours in one uplifting soul jam. If someone told you that this was an outtake from Drizabone’s ‘Conspiracy’ album, you’d have no problem believing them. A great ending to a great album … for more details go to and don’t forget Phil Driver’s regular radio shows – monthly on Solar and weekly European shows; the Soul Unsigned site will point you to those.
(BB) 4/5