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Any Major Soul 1984-85

This mix should persuade those who believe that soul music was dying by the mid-1980s of their error. There is much that’s great on this mix, and among tracks that did not make the cut.

Some of the songs are surprising. Cameo are more usually associated with funk and camp codpieces, not deep soul music as this duet between Larry Blackmon and Barbara Mitchell of Hi Inergy (who featured on Any Major Soul 1976-77). Denise LaSalle, during the time covered by this mix, had a hit with the awful Don’t Mess With My Toot Toot; the song here, an old-fashioned southern soul number, preceded that atrocity  by a year. And those who associate Amii Stewart only with thumping Euro disco will hear another side to the long-legged Washington-born and Italy-based singer. And if there has been a perception that Deniece Williams had sold out to pop with Johnny Mathis duets and Let’s Hear It For The Boy, Black Butterfly (from the same album on which the latter appeared on) will dispel that notion.

The 1980s saw much collaboration and crossing over between jazz fusion and soul. We saw this on the Any Major Soul 1980-81 mix, on which the great Grady Tate provided vocals for Grover Washington. Likewise, here Roberta Flack guests with Japanese saxman Sadao Watanabe on the very lovely Here’s To Love. Likewise Bobby Womack guests on Crusaders’ saxophonist Wilton Felder’s cumbersomely titled but gorgeous (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Looking Up You. Womack, who had previously sung on Felder’s Inherit The Wind, was accompanied by Alltrinna Grayson. Grayson was discovered by Womack while singing in a burger joint; when Patti LaBelle dropped out of Womack’s tour, he roped in Grayson (her vocals here suggest that she was an astute replacement for LaBelle).

Bernard Wright, like his childhood friend Tom Browne, had a jazz-funk background and recorded on Dave Grusin’s GRP label, though Mr Wright, on which the featured song appeared, was released on EMI subsidiary Manhattan.

Paris L. Holley is the son of a bandleader for Billie Holliday, and recorded in Chicago, apparently only this one single — but what a magnificent single! Google reveals that there is a music producer and web developer of that name, but I have no idea if that’s the same person.

A few veterans from the 1970s were making comebacks: The Intruders had been recording since 1961, though their breakthrough came only in 1968. After success through the 1970s, two of the trio left to become Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the other member, Eugene Daugherty, became a truck driver. In 1984, he left the road to reform The Intruders with a new line-up, and scored a hit with Who Do You Love. The Spinners went back even further, when as the Domingos they shared the stage with the Four Ames, who’d become the Four Tops. After a stint with Motown and various personnel changes, the Spinners enjoyed their most successful period in the 1970s. Their last big chart hit was in 1980.

And Teddy Pendergrass made his comeback with Love Language in 1984, two years after the car crash that left him paralysed. Truth be told, Love Language was mostly inferior by TP’s standards (he’d hit a final high in 1988 with his Joy LP). In My Time is standard ’80s soul crooning fare, but I think TP’s understated vocals are rather touching.

If I had to choose favourites from this set, the contenders would certainly include the two opening tracks, and the Cameo song and Patrice Rushen’s High In Me from her Now album, the tape of which I wore out driving on the Autobahn in 1984. Hear a podcast interview with Rushen at the fine jazz blog Straight No Chaser.

PW is amdwhah.

TRACKLISTING
1. Sadao Watanabe & Roberta Flack – Here’s To Love
2. Bill Withers – Oh Yeah
3. Paris – I Choose You
4. Amii Stewart – Friends
5. Alexander O’Neal – A Broken Heart Can Mend
6. Bernard Wright – Just When I Thought You Were Mine
7. Denise LaSalle & Latimore – Right Place Right Time
8. Wilton Felder feat. Bobby Womack & Alltinna Grayson – (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Looking Up To You
9. Deniece Williams – Black Butterfly
10. Cameo – I’ll Never Look For Love
11. Patrice Rushen – High In Me
12. The Intruders – Who Do You Love?
13. S.O.S. Band – Just The Way You Like It
14. DeBarge – Time Will Reveal
15. The Spinners – Love Don’t Love Nobody
16. Teddy Pendergrass – In My Time

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  1. May 11th, 2010 at 15:26 | #1

    I have no idea why, but I’ve always had a thing for DeBarge. Perhaps it was because they sang really smooth ballads that you could slow dance to at the high school dances.

    Yeah, that’s definitely it.

  2. halfhearteddude
    May 11th, 2010 at 15:43 | #2

    So DeBarge caused DeBulge?

  3. JohnnyDiego
    May 26th, 2016 at 11:43 | #3

    @halfhearteddude Oh, that is funny, Dude. Six years later I read your reply to My hmphs and my coffee streams out my nose. Good one.

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