VARIOUS: Luxury Soul 2019 (Expansion)

The annual Expansion Records sponsored LUXURY SOUL WEEKENDER is now a permanent fixture in the UK soul calendar (thankfully) and, as ever, the 2019 instalment comes (came) with its very own triple CD compilation. This year’s Blackpool bash starred Bluey and his Incognito team, so no surprise to see a clutch of Maunick-associated tracks on the album. In sequence they are; ‘Living For Today’ by Dira – a new cut, written and produced by Bluey; Maysa’s ‘Pressure’ another Bluey creation; Kloud 9’s ‘Everything Is Good 2Nite’ another Bluey song with Incognito guesting on the track; Olga Makovetskaya’s ‘Got To Keep Movong On’ – more Incognito input and ‘Brighter Tomorrow’ from the Diplomats of Soul – another guest spot from Incognito on this 2015 floor filler. You’ll know most of the songs, I’m guessing, but if you don’t, you’ll know that the Bluey Maunick link is a guarantee of quality.

The collection, though, is not all about Bluey. There’s plenty if class and quality right across the 34 cuts. Here’s just a sample of the highlights – by coincidence, tunes that we’ve highlighted here @SJF over the last 12 months. We’ve championed Brian Power’s Soulhouse project from day 1 and it’s one of that label’s cuts – Marc Evans’ ‘Falling Back Into Love’ that starts this whole collection off. We’re also big fans of the genial Chris Jasper and his laid-back ‘Show Somebody Love’ shines brightly here. Good too to see the Boogie Back team with their own tune (‘I Want You Back’) rather than just meriting a mixing credit. Then there’s Victor Haynes’ ‘Hopping, Skipping, So In Love’ – the Bobby Womack-flavoured cut that was used to promote the collection initially; Darien Dean’s gorgeous ‘Last Song’ , Philip Leo’s subtle and sweet ‘Don’t Judge Me’ and Lindsey’s Webster’s ‘Free To Be Me’ with cool jazz licks from Norman Brown’s guitar all come hugely recommended.

All those recommendations are new/newish tunes but as ever Ralph Tee and his Expansion team have included the usual generous ration of classic and in-demand oldies. Real soul fans will never tire of stuff like Ronnie McNeir’s ‘My Baby’, Jimmy Cobb’s lovely, old-fashioned 1983 ‘So Nobody Can Hear’ and Chris Ballin’s equally charming ‘Stay Away From You’. Then there’s Rockie Robbins’ 1991 ‘I’ll Always Love You’… we’re told, by the way, there’s a new Rockie album on the way soon. That’s going to be on Expansion too – another quality soul album addition to the Expansion catalogue; just like this ‘Luxury Soul 2019’ set.

(BB) 5/5