Monday 21 December 2015

En Vogue - Silent Night (1993)

First posted 20/12/2013.

From the 1991 album Remix To Sing, Silent Night takes the words of the popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr, and puts an En Vogue twist on them. Produced by Chuckii Booker (best known for the song Games), the song was surprisingly never released as a single in the US (as far as I know), but did merit a release in the UK and Europe.
But that doesn't diminish it's awesomeness one bit. Forget the seasonal nature of the song; its up there with the rest of En Vogues's catalogue.

- Mr Fabulous

Monday 7 December 2015

RIP, Mike Allen

It has been reported that Mike Allen passed away last night after a long battle with Alzheimers. For those of you that don't know, before Tim Westwood ever uttered a word on UK radio, Mike Allen was one of the pioneers of getting hip-hop played on UK radio (commercial or otherwise) and probably inspired a generation of people to listen or pick up a mic. His legendary show on Capital Radio (back when that station had a soul) was required listening; most of the shows still exist as his legion of fans taped the show every week. And one of those presenters with such a smooth delivery, he could make the weather sound interesting. And it wan't just a case of a DJ being mandated to present a show who only had a passing interest in the subject matter; he chose every track he played and his choices were based on his love of the music. And he was well known to the big America acts of the day, acts that went on to be household names; Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Ice T, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata were just some of the acts that mike-checked him in his show's jingles.
For those of us who remember the hip-hop landscape in the UK in the mid-late 1980's, Mike Allen's Captital Rap Show (and later, National Fresh) was the only way to hear real hip hop here in the UK; its fair to say that Allen and Morgan Khan (Streetsounds music) were responsible for a lot of us getting into the music.
He really was the John Peel of Hip-Hop.



Jingles all the way:

Interview with Public Enemy in 1987:


Run DMC giving props to The Boss:

The weekly Frontline chart, this one is from 26th April 1986:

And lastly, a sample from a show in 1985. Thanks to Mike Allen's many fans, a lot of his shows still exist:

Friday 13 November 2015

Modern Soul Week: Samm Henshaw - Only Wanna Be With You (Unplugged) (2015)

Samm Henshaw, is a British singer, songwriter and record producer signed to Columbia Records. Born in South London. Henshaw grew up with music but not in the conventional sense. Nobody in his household played an instrument, but there was always sound running through the house, which highly influenced his musical nature. Alongside gospel artists Helen Baylor, Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton and Alvin Slaughter, Henshaw is said to have spent his childhood devouring mainstream pop music, from Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to Usher and N-Sync. He pinpoints his biggest vocal inspirations as D’Angelo, Paolo Nutini, Lauryn Hill as well finding songwriting inspiration in Grammy award winner Frank Ocean.
Henshaw had essentially found his love for music and learned to play instruments in his church pastored by his father, where he developed his abilities further. He went on to study a Popular Music Performance degree at Southampton Solent.
In early 2015, during his final year at university he signed his first publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis; later in the year he went on to sign his record deal with Columbia Records. Henshaw began work on his debut EP The Sound Experiment which is set for a 2015 release and is set to feature production and songwriting input from Wayne Hector and Fred Cox amongst others.
Henshaw also performs with a live band composed of his closest friends, appropriately dubbed The Sound Experiment. The core of the The Sound Experiment band is made of Henshaw's childhood friend's who he grew up with nurturing his musical talents within church, as well as additional members he met along the way.
Henshaw has also garnered mainstream radio support from BBC Radio 1’s Dev and Phil & Alice, and was handpicked by James Bay to support him on tour.


Wednesday 11 November 2015

Modern Soul Week: Lee Fields & The Expressions - You're The Kind Of Girl (2012)

Elmer "Lee" Fields is an American soul artist born in 1951 in North Carolina, sometimes nicknamed "Little JB" for his physical and vocal resemblance with James Brown.
During his prolific 43-year career, he has toured with such figures of soul and R&B as Kool and the Gang, Hip Huggers, O.V. Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. He recorded his first single in 1969 and is still active today. More recently, he made recordings with The Expressions, including the 2012 album Faithful Man. In 2006, he recorded the song "Jealousy" with Martin Solveig, and in 2008, the pair reunited to record I Want You.
In 2014, Fields provided additional vocals for the James Brown biopic, Get On Up.


Monday 9 November 2015

Modern Soul Week: Leon Bridges - Coming Home (2015)

An absolute revelation. I heard this guys name banded about a while back, but only today did I get to hear his material. Within five seconds of hearing his voice, I was hooked; this guy is tapping into some serious Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and (gasp) Otis Redding vibe. And the best thing is? This was brand new material, released about six months ago, the album is more of the same and the singer is only 26 years old. If anyone tells you there isn't any good soul music being made now, point 'em in the direction of this guy.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Leon Bridges.