Various Artists - Sweet Summer Soul 2014 (2014)

Various Artists
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New label Tee Gee records has been busy in its initial year of operation. The compilation disc Sweet Summer Soul 2014 illustrates exactly how busy that label has been. The compilation boats 18 original tracks representing the depth and variety of the soul music. Artists such as Randy Muller will be familiar to American audiences due to his work with Skyy, Brass Construction and his more recent solo work. Others might be household names in Europe, but we know that means buyers of Sweet Summer Soul 2014 might be the first to listen to the next Adele or Sam Smith. You just never know.

New label Tee Gee records has been busy in its initial year of operation. The compilation disc Sweet Summer Soul 2014 illustrates exactly how busy that label has been. The compilation boats 18 original tracks representing the depth and variety of the soul music. Artists such as Randy Muller will be familiar to American audiences due to his work with Skyy, Brass Construction and his more recent solo work. Others might be household names in Europe, but we know that means buyers of Sweet Summer Soul 2014 might be the first to listen to the next Adele or Sam Smith. You just never know.

That’s the beauty of these types of compilations. Projects such as Sweet Summer Soul 2014 treasure sounds and sub-genres that folks on this side of the Atlantic dismiss as passé. Much on this album owes a debt to music that dominated American radio in the 70s and 80s. Sweet Summer Soul 2014 contains generous helpings of up-tempo funk, some disco and a bit of house or dance music. Ok, maybe more than a little bit. They even managed to throw a bit of 1960s brassy instrumental soul in the form of “Beautiful Day,” a Muller cut that was a part of his Brooklyn Soul Biscuits album.

Sweet Summer Soul 2014 starts strongly. The remix of Muller’s  cut is followed by Cool Million’s infectious bit of 1980s era digital funk “Back For More” with 80s crooner Eugene Wilde handling the lead vocals. Vocalist Tista D’Mour fronts the Latin-tinged stepper’s cut “Change My Heart,” a track that compares nicely to some of Incognito’s work. The deep driving bass and guitar riffs along with the muscular vocals of Hamish Stuart that harken to the work he did with the Average White Band inject “Midnight Rush” with energy, and serves as another track many folks were boning up on their Bluey throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Tom Glide and Joe Leavy check in with ultimate throwback party jam – the aptly named “Party People.” The cut calls up all of those signature pieces from great party anthems that came out in the late 1970s and early 80s – the syncopated hand claps, thumping bass, tight brass work, memorable hooks in a song that releases the grown folks to turn it up at the club.

The last third of the album ventures into dance music territory and while a couple of the numbers, particularly  instrumental pieces such as “105th and Amsterdam,” suffer from having patience trying introductions and being repetitive, the album’s final third contains some solid work such as “Tease Me,” and the jazz infused “Hidden Soul.”

Sweet Summer Soul 2014 dropped toward the end of the season. Still, the record contains enough quality work to keep the party hot during the dark days of winter. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
Choice Cut - Maysa - "Lovin' You Is Easy"

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