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Village Soul 2
(UK Expansion, 2007)

1) ADEVA – Don't Think About It 2) CHUCK JACKSON – Waiting In Vain 3) MIDNIGHT – Keep On Walking 4) THE REAL THING – Love Takes Tears 5) LARRY LONDON PROJECT – A Love Like That 6) URBAN BLUES PROJECT – Love Don't Live 7) BILLY GRIFFIN – Like Water 8) FUNCTION – Something About You 9) DELEGATION – One More Step To Take 10) ROSE ROYCE – Best Love 11) THE EBONYS – Do You Like The Way I Love You 12) CARL DOUGLAS – I Don't Care What People Say 13) RANDY BROWN – I'm Here 14) ARETHA FRANKLYN – It's Just Your Love 15) BRUCE CLOUD – Walk In My Shoes 16) Z)Z) HILL – Make Me Yours 17) THE DELLS – Bring Back The Love Of Yesterday

Terry Jones definitely delivers the goods, and I find it hard to swallow the fact that his first collection was released back in the Novemver of 2-03 - over 4 years ago! Where does it all go?! The first compilation was excellent, I think you'll agree, but this one is simply terrific! This has definitely raised the game a bar higher in my book; I mean not to diminish Volume 1, but to champion instead the serious quality of the songs chosen for this album, and the love, respect and knowledge used in so doing. It's an essential release and one of the better in Expansion's ever swelling catalogue. Hot on the heels of the 'must have' David Nathan compilatio “Dedicated To Soul” (review on its way!), “Village Soul 2” champions, yet again, past played faves from the excellent venue, as well as exposing newer cuts that would have gone down a storm in there. Say anything you like about the Village and its followers – but they certainly could not be accused of being narrow minded. If it was good, and soulful, it was played! The tracks were also appreciated, which is equally important. “Village Soul 2” is a set that you will appreciate whether you gravitate towards the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 00s. This is sneakily clever, too. This compilations look down the decades and manages to catch the very essence, or Zeitgeist, of what popular soul is all about – like shining a laser through the fabric of what makes a good groove from each era, and setting them down together in one easy to absorb album. Not a simple task!

The album kicks off in a lively mid 90s style with the Amazonian Adeva! This Lady can certainly cut the mustard in both soul and house circles. Please check out her “So Right” from her debut 1989 album for Cooltempo Records. This uptempo 90s gem “Don't Think About It” is a new one on me, but is one I would have enjoyed staggering about to at the time! Chuck Jackson's “Waiting In Vain” is new to me and being a cover of the reggae song I was a bit uncertain. However, it is superb and as soulful as you like, bearing little resemblance to the original hit. Liverpool's best export since Cilla Black and Jimmy Tarbuck are The Real Thing, who deliver a class 80s rendition of Johnny Bristol's “Feeling The Magic” (available in the CD shop!) This is a quality cover – something that pleases me, as I usually detest covers. You may well be familiar with the excellent Larry London Project who have released a recent three-header on Sundae Soul records. A remix version appears here! This is classy, soulful dance for 2008. Talking of classy uptempo material...check out the set's KILLER cut. Function are a UK outfit composed of – wait for it – 2 UK soulboys, joined by a SUPERB backing singer called Lincoln who is – wait for it - Craig David's backing singer! I kid you not. If you were to tell me this was Frankie Beverly I would believe you! Imagine Maze turning their hand to thumping soulful house a la Big Brooklyn Red or Masters At Work. This is a MONSTER groove and I hope that we hear more worthwhile material from this great setup.

From their 1982 release comes Rose Royce with the Rufus-like dancer, “Best Love” - a tune I was hitherto unfamiliar with, but now I cannot stop playing. This is exactly the type of 80s groove that gets me going. Old favourites Randy Brown and Z.Z. Hill also add a no-nonsense pedigree. Hill's cover of “Make Me Yours” equals Bettye Swann's original. Glady's Knight & The Pips Motown killer “Walk In My Shoes” was covered 2 years later by Bruce Cloud. Nice, and a new one to my ears but does not beat the original. Who can improve on Gladys Knight?! Both Carl Douglas and The Ebonys inclusions hail from 1974. Check out Carl's song which, to me, is pure class. The Urban Blues Project featuring Michael Proctor, is from 1995, is soulful house at its best complete with horn section and gospel-inspired backing vocals. Think Colonel Abrams meets Chuck Jackson and you're not too far from what you have here. “Village Soul 2” draws to a close with one of my all-time favourite groups, The Dells. This classic cut from 1974 would make Barry White or Gene Page proud. The backing owes a lot to the Love Unlimited Orchestra. Something Chess seemed to emulate at the time, if Solomon Burke's “Music To Make Love By” was anything to go by! Terry Jones helps keeps the flame alive with compilations as strong as this. ESSENTIAL. - Barry Towler

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