Cafe de Soul,
1) Phillip Hunter: I Can Love You Better 2) Tashan: After Hours 3) Darrius: Love Will Visit 4) Miles Jaye: Should Have Been Strong 5) Urban Ave 31: Heaven Help Us All 6) Lee Hawkins: Come with Me (Live with Me) 7) Tonia Woods: Will You Do It (You Make Me High) 8) DNA: So in Love 9) Sheree Monique: Because of You 10) Lee Hawkins: Don’t Run Away 11) Darrius: Just Wanna Know 12) Lugo: Good to Go 13) Race: I Found Love
It seems that Café De Soul has successfully taken the same role as the Expansion Soul Sauce
compilations had ten years ago: picking independent soul gems from small U.S. labels and releasing
them in the U.K. as value-for-money compilation CD’s. This is the third volume in the Café de Soul
compilation series, and it contains the two absolute killer cuts of this spring: After Hours by
Tashan and Should Have Been Strong by Miles Jaye, both of which have been topping
all specialist soul charts recently (Soul 24-7.com chart, Sweet Rhythm Chart, our own
Quality Time Cream Cuts etc.) – and with reason.
The aforementioned two songs are absolutely brilliant, indeed. Toby Walker introduces
Tashan’s latest (promotional) CD Life Goes On and the massive After Hours track on his
excellent www.soulwalking.co.uk site as follows: “On receiving the first initial
copy of this set, I called Ralph Tee at Expansion Records and played him the track
'After Hours' down the telephone. I sent him a copy of the CD (with the thumbs up from Tashan).
There then followed a series of 'networkings'. Ralph called Richard (Searling) at Expansion,
who called Tashan and there then commenced discussions regarding licensing the album.
Then the Cafe De Soul label enquired after the set.” Consequently,
Expansion released Tashan’s Best of set without After Hours, but luckily the track ended
up in Café de Soul’s latest compilation.
The track in question is a wonderful, mellow yet groovy soul swayer in the same vein as
Keni Burke’s classic Risin’ to the Top. After Hours is also based on a
meaty bass line, over which we hear some stylish keyboards and guitar, and Tashan sings the
splendid atmospheric song, which perfectly creates an atmosphere of a warm summer night
together with that special one: “After hours / when the sun goes down / girl I need your body close
/ so I can do those things that you really love the most / Can I hold you in the moonlight /
You got the key to my sensuality etc.”… An instant soul classic and a strong contender
for the soul track of the year!
Should Have Been Strong by Miles Jaye – one of my favourite soul artists of the last
15 years – is almost equally compelling. It’s dominated by a great, funky bass line
and coloured by jazzy keyboard soloing – all instruments played by Miles himself.
The actual melody effectively creates a dialogue between the lead singer and the
chorus vocals, which repeat endless lines of what he “should have done” to avoid some serious
heartache: “I should have said no / should have resisted / should have turned and walk away /
should have never let you in” etc. A magical song and one of the best uptempo tunes
Miles has recorded.
Obviously, the rest of the CD pales in comparison with these two monster tunes,
but luckily there are several other quality soul tunes still on offer. The opening cut
I Can Love You Better is an excellent mellow mid-pacer with a tasteful production
and a classy melody – Phillip Hunter is a new name to me, but certainly one to watch
for the future. You Do It (You Make Me High) is a strong duet between Tonia Woods
and Jarrard Anthony, taken from Tonia’s debut set All That Glitters,
which was reviewed in our issue 4/2002.
I also greatly enjoyed the Leon Ware-ish sophisticated soul atmosphere on Lee Hawkins’
ballad Come with Me (Live with Me) – the other track by Hawkins (Don’t Run Away) is
another quality tune.
In 2001 Café de Soul released Sheree-Monique’s CD Come See Me (reviewed in Soul Express
3/2001), and the song titled Because of You was one of the better tracks on that otherwise rather
disappointing set. Instead, the tracks featured on the Café de Soul CD by Darrius were
better than the two tracks by the same singer chosen to this compilation.
Both cuts suffer from the low-budget production.
Also, there would have been better tracks on Lugo’s Café de Soul CD Good to Go
than the title track that has been included here, but I’ve actually grown to like this
catchy pop-soul tune, despite the simple backing.
As a whole, another essential compilation from this worthwhile UK label. -IT