Something most musicians can but dream of.
Elle J Small 2009
Soul II Soul's pivotal debut album is 20 years young. Make anyone feel old? 1989's Club Classics Vol. 1 has firmly cemented itself in UK soul music history. With their funky anthems, unforgettable lyrics and signature beats, appreciation for the group’s unique twist on classic soul can be found from America (where Soul II Soul hit top 10) to Australia (where they still tour today).
Chunky, ballsy single Fairplay was both Soul II Soul's first official release and the reason major label Virgin signed Jazzie B's groundbreaking group. Having already created major hype on the underground with their street party soundsystem (Notting Hill carnival still hosts the collective), Fairplay was proof that the Londoners could cut it in the mainstream.
Twisting voluptuous female soul vocals (Caron Wheeler, Rose Windross, the late Do'Reen Waddell) with rare groove-styled dance beats gave Soul II Soul a niche that would see them win a broad array of fans worldwide. Back To Life (However Do You Want Me), their best-recognised hit, is a classic example of this musical melting pot.
Keep On Movin' –another key anthem- was the group’s first real mainstream success (Fairplay only made it to 63 in the UK charts) and came at a time when American artists saturated the R&B scene. Founder Jazzie B made his record label more than happy as the track hit number five in the UK and number one on the US R&B chart.
Much like Bristol's trip-hop supergroup, Massive Attack, Soul II Soul have had a huge and important effect on black British music. Like Massive Attack's Blue Lines, Club Classics Vol. 1 is one of those rare albums that make you want to listen to every single track, over and over, again and again. Something most musicians can but dream of.