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Any Major Soul 1986-87

As the mid-1980s turned into the late-’80s, the Quiet Storm sound, invented by Smokey Robinson and perfected by Luther Vandross, became the genre’s standard. When it was good, it really was good. People like Freddy Jackson, Anita Baker and Jeffrey Osborne were turning out some great music of that type (perhaps even the best); but when Michael Fucking Bolton started to muscle in on it, and Peabo Bryson sang MFB covers, Quiet Storm had to go (even if it had to be replaced by New Jack Swing and the soul-free wailers Boyz II Men). In any case, this mix represents much more than Quiet Storm material.

Southern Soul man Marvin Sease is in a rather restrained mood here. His surname rhymes with an adjective that would accurately describe the general gist of his lyrics (I certainly do endorse the title of his rather good 2001 album, A Woman Would Rather Be Licked). Here, however, he is not proposing the reciprocal performance of lewd acts, but old-fashioned marriage. Success took long to come to Sease: by the time he made his breakthrough as a solo artist in 1986, he already was 40.

One of my all-time favourite soul songs is on this mix, Tashan’s Ooh We Baby. Tashan (pronounced Tay-shon), who was signed on Def Jam, was received well critically, but never broke through commercially. It’s a pity; his 1986 album Chasing A Dream is one of the finest soul albums of the 1980s. The singer, born Thomas Jerome Pearse, is still performing, apparently releasing a new album this year.

Another unusually named singer here is Sherrick, who had a UK hit in 1987 with the excellent Just Call (which is on Any Major 80s Soul Vol 1) . The song featured here, Baby I’m Real, is a cover of the song by The Originals (I’ve always wanted to write that) and appeared on the same LP as Just Call. Sherrick evidently styled his look on DeBarge: dainty moustache and oiled hair just this side of the jheri curl. Like DeBarge, Sherrick (born Lamont Smith) had recorded on Motown, as the singer of the clumsily-named Kagny & the Dirty Rats; in fact, he was discovered by Berry Gordy’s wife Raynoma. His only solo LP, as far as I can ascertain, was released on Warner Brothers. Sadly, Sherrick died in 1999 at 41, just as he was beginning to record new songs.

It’s an injustice that English soul singer Paul Johnson did not have much success. His song When Love Comes Calling should be a soul classic. That and Half A World Away were produced by fellow UK soulster Junior Giscombe (Mama Used To Say). Johnson, who had a mean falsetto, had previously been a singer with the group Paradise. He later duetted with Mica Paris on her debut LP and released a second album in 1989. He has a Facegroup group, on which he writes: “My life is now somewhat removed from the music industry. I am head of a department in an inner city college where I work with young people and adults who despite very difficult circumstances are attempting to improve their lives through accessing education.”

I trust that nobody is going to confuse Shirley Jones with the mom of the Partridge Family. This Shirley Jones was one of the fabulous Jones Girls (who featured on Any Major Soul 1978-79 and 1980-81). I think that Shirley’s 1986 album, Always In The Mood, was her only solo effort. Do You Get Enough Love is the LP’s stand-out track, and topped the R&B charts. Apparently Jones took an extended break from recording after that to raise her son. She still performs on stage (find her on MySpace)

Shirley Jones’ MySpace page reveals that she has lately shared a stage with fellow Philly star Jean Carne (who added the ‘e’ to her name for reasons of numerology in the 1980s). Born in 1947 as Sarah Jean Perkins (Carne is her married name), she has had a long career, starting in the early 1970s — including a stint as female lead on Earth Wind & Fire’s first two albums — and reaching its zenith on Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International label (she featured on Any Major Soul 1978-79). Closer Than Close topped the R&B charts, but further commercial success eluded her. Carne is probably one of very few soul singers fluent in Russian.

Chicago-born Miki Howard launched her career with her Come Share My Love album, which included the hit Imagination. The daughter of gospel singers stepped out with the late Gerald Levert for a while, and played Billie Holiday in Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X. She had some success until the mid-1990s, when she retired from recording and became a radio DJ in Atlanta instead. She came out of retirement in the early 2000s and now performs as a jazz singer.

Prince Phillip Mitchell is better known as a successful songwriter than as a singer. He started his career as a teenage member of The Premiers and The Checkmates in the late 1950s. Like Jean Carn, in the ’70s he sang on Norman Connors records. His solo LPs made little impact, and in 1979 he withdrew from recording, reappearing briefly in 1986 with the rather good Devastation LP. He seems like a great guy with a good story. Check out this 2001 interview.

TRACKLISTING
1. Maze featuring Frankie Beverley – Before I Let Go (live)
2. Alexander O’Neal & Cherelle – Never Knew Love Like This
3. Force M.D.’s – Love Is A House
4. Sherrick – Baby I’m For Real
5. Marvin Sease – Let’s Get Married Today
6. Jean Carne – Closer Than Close
7. Tashan – Ooh We Baby
8. Freddie Jackson – Have You Ever Loved Somebody
9. Shirley Jones – Do You Get Enough Love
10. Kashif & Meli’sa Morgan – Love Changes
11. Jeffrey Osborne – You Should Be Mine (Woo Woo Song)
12. Luther Vandross feat Gregory Hines – There’s Nothing Better Than Love
13. Miki Howard – Come Share My Love
14. Paul Johnson – Half A World Away
15. The Winans feat Anita Baker – Ain’t No Need To Worry (12″ version)
16. Prince Phillip Mitchell – I Taught Her Everything

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