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Back To Life
Soul II Soul
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The music industry had been killing time in the mid-'80s when acid house exploded onto the scene and blew the roof off rock with its warehouse raves. DJs Jazzy B and Daddae Harvey, previously running house parties in Finsbury Park, revved up the sound system and responded with their perfect cooldown of funky beats and smooth tempos at London's Africa Centre.
Soul I Soul
Song facts
Composer Jazzy B/
Caron Wheeler/
Simon Law/
Paul Hooper
Genre Soul
Album Club Classics - Volume 1
Year of Release 1989

Joining forces with Nellee Hooper and an ensemble of singers, rappers and producers, they started to press a few records of their own and the music-making collective that was Soul II Soul was born.

It is the velvety purr of one of the stalwarts of the Soul II Soul posse, Caron Wheeler, that sets Back To Life apart in the dance music genre. She bestows dignity on the lyric "However do you want me, however do you need me?" and makes it sound more like a woman taking control than one making a desperate plea. So resonant is her voice that the original version of the song was a cappella and mixed into Jazzy's Groove.  

The drum beat under Back To Life is probably one of the most recognisable in dance music and marks the beginning of an era of smooth groove. While strings, a rare commodity in the genre, pick up the melody and add sophistication to the track.

The collective started to disintegrate shortly after Back To Life was made but, as the album claims, this was, is and always will be a true classic.

Susan McFarland
 


Jazzy B is working to plan, May 1990
Jazzy B
Jazzy B and Nellee Hooper talk about the vocalists they choose for their Soul II Soul projects.

Listen Listen to the interview

Other versions
DJ Clue
Listen Not wildly different to the original but the addition of Mary J Blige's vocals gives a kick to DJ Clue's cover of Back To Life.

For me, Back To Life was the start of dance music. That's when it all started. With Jazzy B.


Nicky

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BBC Music biography of Soul II Soul
BBC 1Xtra profile of Jazzy B
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