Tuesday, 26 June 2012

En Vogue - Hold On (1990)

Atlantic – A 7908 CD, WEA International – 7567-86178-2-LO


I throw the word 'classic' around a lot in my write-ups, but I'm sure you will agree that this track is the very definition of the word.

I'm also quite sure you know all about En vogue already, but, if not, here's a bitesize guide: They're a Grammy-nominated R&B girl-band Assembled in Oakland, California, USA in July 1989 by  producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, formerly of Club Nouveau (Mick has already given us the lowdown on Foster & McElroy and Club Nouveau here.). En Vogue launched with original members Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson (who left in 1997 & went on to form Lucy Pearl with Raphael Saadiq & ATCQ's Ali Shaheed Muhammed) and Terry Ellis. They sold over 28 million albums and singles worldwide, and have won more MTV Video Music Awards than any other all female group in MTV history, a total of 7 VMAs. The group was named the second most successful girl group of the 90's and the 18th most successful act overall of the 90's according to Billboard magazine.

Hold On starts strong with the girls giving us a wicked rendition of The Jackson 5's Who's Lovin' You, showcasing each girls soaring vocals and the beautiful harmonising of the group as a whole. It gets better when the beat drops and suddenly we have an absolutely banging tune built on a loop from James Brown's beyond dope The Payback, over which the girls can strut their stuff and dispense beautifully sung knowledge and advice on keeping your man.

You know this tune, and you sure don't need me to tell you about it. There are three mixes on the CDS, not really a lot to pick from between them, but the extended version is worth the entry fee alone, as, unlike the other two versions, it hasn't featured on a million and one R&B compilation albums.

Last bit of trivia about this particular release: The inlay card was mis-printed with details about some German (I think) act called Tony Baez (see below). Weird.


  • Hold On (7" Edit)
  • Hold On (Extended Version)
  • Hold On (Radio Version With Intro)

The Download Link is here: Hold On.zip Filesize: 32.46MB

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Brand New Heavies - Sometimes 1997

FFRR Records BNHCD 8
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That sticker alone would have made this CD single essential to me. Anything sporting a Masters At Work remix was a 'must have' in my book but, let's step back a little and look at the list of accolades on this release.

The Brand New Heavies hit the scene via the UK's Acid Jazz movement. In the late 80's they were an instrumental funk outfit playing new retro music to Soul music's 'Rare Groove' crowd. For their first album the group featured the incredible vocals of Jay Ella Ruth on a few tracks. For various reasons, the group then hired the services of the very competent N'Dea Davenport who became a member and brought much polish to the bands veneer. The down side of this was the decision to re-record the debut album which resulted in the Jay Ella Ruth recordings being virtually forgotten. For their third album Shelter, from which this single was taken (fifth if you include the re-recording of the debut and sideline rap release Heavy Rhyme Experience) N'Dea Davenport had split for a solo career and the band brought in Siedah Garrett, a much lauded vocalist who had sung with Dennis Edwards, Michael Jackson & Maysa Leak (Incognito).

As an album track, Sometimes was one of the stronger tracks and it was therefore a logical choice for single release. The remix treatment by 'Little' Louie Vega & Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez on the MAW Smooth Mix created a nice vocal dancefloor track. Much of the House music fodder was void of vocals and this is why Masters At Work have always been considered a cut (or six) above the rest. I don't consider this mix to be one of their better examples but in 1997 I thought it was great. There were quite a few MAW remixes of this track on vinyl.

Finally, the unique feature on this release for me is Q Tip. The acclaimed rapper/producer from A Tribe Called Quest, who came to the attention of the public via De La Soul and the Native Tongues Posse. Q Tip has since appeared on many releases and remixes but this was a new thing at the time. The Ummah (Arabic for "brotherhood") was a production team consisting of members of A Tribe Called Quest and Jay Dee. Their work on this release is what keeps it fresh. Enjoy!

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  • Radio Edit
  • MAW Smooth Mix
  • Ummah Remix
  • Nuyoricans Meet The Heavies
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The Download Link is here: Download
Filename: Sometimes (BNHCD 8).zip Filesize: 36.27 MB

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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Brand New Heavies - Stay This Way (1992)

Acid Jazz Records BNHCD2


Mick has already written about the Brand New Heavies, so I'll skip all that and get straight into this particular release.

In short, I love this track. It's right up there as one of the best tracks the BNH's ever recorded in my opinion. It's effortlessly cool, and a beautiful summertime jam. N'Dea Davenport absolutely kills it with her relaxed and restrained vocal performance, and the boys provide a classy sunshine type jam for her to flow over.

The single version(s) has some extra instrumentation compared to the album version, including some nice bongos, with the Extended version getting a sexy sax solo thrown into the mix as well. All good stuff.

The backup tracks, Bang, and O-Fa-Fu, are good too. O-Fa-Fu especially sounds for all the world like an extended version of a theme tune to a 70s Cop Show with throwback vibes and wahwah guitars - a wholly good thing in my book.

All in all I think Stay This Way is one of BNH's all time classic joints, and an essential item in your summer playlists.

  • Stay This Way
  • Stay This Way (Extended)
  • Bang
  • O-Fa-Fu

The Download Link is here: BNH - Stay This Way.zip | Filesize: 39.51MB

Brand New Heavies - The Ticket E.P. 1994

The Ticket Cassette 1
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So, what can I tell you? The Ticket was a magazine that appeared on the bookshelves in London for a very brief spell before disappearing into magazine oblivion. It was quite a classy mag but amidst the glut of club lifestyle mags on the shelves at the time, it found no interest. I was lucky enough to spot the Brand New Heavies cassette stuck to the front and that was it.

To my knowledge these tracks, all written and produced by BNH, have not turned up anywhere else since BUT... I'm no expert on The Heavies. Touch Of Your Love and Keep Together were recorded at RAK in London, while Country Funkin' and Acid One were recorded in Hollywood Sounds, LA in August & September 1993. Enjoy!

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  • Touch Of Your Love
  • Country Funkin'
  • Keep Together
  • Acid One
The Download Link is here: Download
Filename: The Ticket.zip
Filesize: 27.44 MB

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Sorry about the cover scan, it's in good condition but the scan is nasty?
I have included CD sized cover art in the rar.

Mary J. Blige - Real Love (YD Remixes) 1992

MCA Records MCSTD 1721
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Todays post comes courtesy of my main man Sasha:

"I have the 12" back home in Australia but have just found it on CD Single. It was released in the UK in 1992 and the mixes are definitely as good as I remembered. Check out Track 3 and Track 4 for some really special and soulful mixes.
p.s. I have also included some of the other Blacksmith remixes that were on a 1993 UK 12" of Real Love, that someone sent me - vinyl rip. Cheers, Sasha"
A quick summary then, Real Love came out on 25th August 1992, the second release lifted from her excellent début album, What's the 411? It boasts executive production by Sean 'Puffy' Combs and is written and produced by Mark C. Rooney and Mark Morales (again). The track is built on a drum sample from Audio Two's 1988 classic, Top Billin'. The Hip Hop Mix by Bad Boy Ent. features a sample of Betty Wright's 1972 single, Clean-Up Woman and the first appearance of The Notorious B.I.G., then going by the name Big E. Smalls. The vinyl has the Hip Hop Club mix which much the same but without the acappella intro.

Then they brought out the UK Remix 12" which added '2 Special Mixes By The Young Disciples' and suddenly we have something to talk about. This is The Soul Vendor blog, we aren't interested in simply Classic Soul & R&B that everybody has in their collection. We try to target the long forgotten obscure and unusual mixes that you can't find. I think this fits the bill. Femi Fem of The Young Disciples on the controls and incorporating the services of Mad Marco, Phil Linton, Incognito's Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick on guitar and Omar Lye-Fook on keyboards. The Fresh 'N Funky Mix is my fav but The Talkin' Love Mix is just as good.

In the bonus collection you will find the 1993 MCA Records release on MCSX 1922. There were two 12"s with the same serial number (as with this 1992 12"). One featuredthe Phat Mix built on the Roy Ayers 'Love Will Bring Us Back Together' mentioned by Tosh. The other, absolute clincher here, featured the two Blacksmith mixes, the Brixton Flavour 12" and the Blacksmith's Summer Sound 12" both mixed by The Funk Mob with a rap by Sniper.

The Uptown 411 Remix featuring Biggie's rap and an introduction by Puffy, is the Hip Hop Mix with the intro changed. I'm not sure as to what release it is from?

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  • Album Version
  • Hip Hop Mix
  • The Fresh 'N Funky Mix
  • The Talkin' Love Mix
The Download Link is here: Download
Filename: Real Love (Mixes).zip  Filesize: 59.25 MB

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Method Man feat Mary J Blige - I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By (1995) - CD1 & CD2

Def Jam Recordings – DEFDX 11, Island Records – 579 833-2


Back in the day, LL Cool J got laughed out of town when he dropped the (admittedly terrible) I Need Love on an unready Hip-Hop world, but Wu-Tang Clan core member Method Man had no such consequences for delving into the world of the Hip-Hop love song when he dropped All I Need on his debut album Tical. However, that might be because he's a bona-fide dope rapper, and managed to steer clear of the cheesey sentiment displayed by LL, opting more for a heartfelt, thugged-out, Shaolin roughneck poem of love to his woman.

Despite that, the track wasn't really one of my faves on Tical, I often used to skip it in favour of diving straight into Bring The Pain, Release Yo'Delf or Mr Sandman... I guess it seemed a bit average to me.

That is, until, it got the RZA remix treatment, with added Mary J Blige doing a Marvin Gaye chorus on the Razor Sharp Mix. Daaaamn, now that's how you remix a track! The remix ranks up there with the Redman collaborations as one of the best things Meth has done outside of the Wu and one of the best beats RZA has concocted. Try and listen to it without bobbing your head. It can't be done.

The single was a two part affair. Disc One was a suite of remixes of All I Need, including an instantly forgettable one by Puff Daddy, and two (three if you count the Instrumental) great versions by our very own Dodge (Soul Inside Edit & Keep It Tight Mix), who knocks the ball out of the park with more killer productions that have become the expected norm when we talk about anything Dodge touches.

As good as the Dodge mixes are, RZA's Razor Sharp Mix remains the definitive version of this track, but do check out the Dodge's mixes and let me know what you think.

Disc Two & DL link after the jump.

  • I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By (Puff Daddy Mix)
  • I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By (Soul Inside Edit)
  • I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By (Soul Inside Instrumental)
  • I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By (Keep It Tight Mix)
  • I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By (Razor Sharp Mix)
  • I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By (Puff Daddy Instrumental)

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Def Jam Recordings – DEFCD 11, Island Records – 579 831-2


The Razor Sharp Mix gets another showing on the second disc, which also features two mixes of Bring The Pain, in which The Prodigy aka Liam Howlett and The Chemical Brothers bring their respective electronic vibes to the track.

Both mixes are quality, but, being the Hip-Hop girl that I am, I do prefer the album cut of Bring The Pain. Still, they're nice to have for when the mood suits you.


  • I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By (Razor Sharp Mix)
  • Bring The Pain (Chemical Vocal)
  • Bring The Pain (Prodigy Mix)
  • Bring The Pain (Chemical Instrumental)

The Download Link is for both CD's is here: Meth - All I Need.zip | Filesize: 95.14MB

Friday, 8 June 2012

Jamiroquai - Emergency On Planet Earth (1992)

Sony Soho Square Records 659578 2


Take one white boy. Give him horns. Yeah, horns. Really though. And the funk. And some seriously fresh dance moves. Hey presto, you have one Jay Kay.

Back in the day, young Jay Kay was quite an angry young man, or had ingeniously spotted a gap in the market for funky 70's throwback protest songs... but you can be the judge of his artistic integrity; I'm not quite sure how worried about the environment you can truly be whilst being a complete petrol-head and owning about three hundred and ninety seven sports cars, then again, the sentiment seems heartfelt enough.

Still, whatever you make of the man, you can't deny the body of work of his band, especially albums one and three (Emergency On Planet Earth and Travelling Without Moving); I'd call them both funk/soul masterpieces.


This then was the title track of his first album. It's one of the best songs among a bunch of excellent songs if you aks me. To my mind you can't go wrong with lush string arrangements over wah-wah guitars, horn sections and funky slap bass. Add in some well written socially conscious lyrics that pick up the baton from Marvin Gaye in the What's Going On/Mercy Mercy Me era and you have an instant classic.

In addition to the Extended Version, which is the choicest cut, there is an edit. But aside from the Extended version, the hidden gem here is an Acoustic Version of If I Like It , I Do It, one of my fave non single releases from the same album, which is fabulous and a real treat, with Jay Kay enjoying a couple of almost Minnie Riperton-esque falsetto moments. Check it.

There's also a demo version of Revolution 1993 which ain't bad, but if pushed, I'd say get straight onto Emergency On Planet Earth (Extended Version) and If I Like It , I Do It (Acoustic).


So then, grab this slice of Jamiroquai before they went all dance/disco and lost their jazz/funk vibe.
  • Emergency On Planet Earth
  • Emergency On Planet Earth (Extended Version)
  • If I Like It , I Do It (Acoustic Version)
  • Revolution 1993 (Demo)

Download here: Emergency On Planet Earth.zip - Filesize: 45.33MB

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Dodge City Productions - The Clarity EP (1992)

4th & Broadway Records BRCD 231 - 886 397-2


Strange name, the Clarity EP. Containing two versions of The Road In Front Of Me, you'd have thought it would be better nomenclature to call it The Road In Front Of Me EP. The Clarity part comes from the new mix of The Road In Front Of Me, as opposed to the Black Mix which was found on the album, and part of the chorus I guess.

Anyway, I've already told you all about the DCP boys here, so to the tracks themselves.

I have problems picking out what version I prefer as I like them both; I think The Clarity Edit just edges it as the drums seem a bit tighter, but there's not a lot in it. What do you think?? It's backed up by two solid cuts from the album: Ain't Going For That (actually a sequel to the album cut) & The Slow Jam which is a gorgeous jazzy cut that slinks its way under your skin, and features... yeah, you guessed it, our man Ronnie Jordan on guitar.

All in all, a quality release.

  • The Road In Front Of Me (The Clarity Edit)
  • The Road In Front Of Me (The Black Mix)
  • Ain't Going For That (Part 2 '92)
  • The Slow Jam

Download here: The Clarity EP.zip | Filesize: 47.2MB

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Steven Simmonds - Tears Never Dry (1998)

Rhythm Series – CDRHYTHM 14, Parlophone – 7243 8 86116 2 6

Wow. This is such a sexy track.

You get the impression that poor Steve had been dumped by his woman when these tracks were recorded. He's really taking it hard, and beating himself up for having screwed up.

Still, his pain seems to make for good music, and so we have the tracks Tears Never Dry featuring popular Swedish singer Lisa Nilsson and One, which is track two (heh). Tears Never Dry is a catchy, nice little slice of pop soul. One is a man vs piano slow jam of repentance that's a little too self absorbed for me.

No disrespect to tracks one and two, but head straight into track three, the Soul Inside Mix. It's perfect. Dodge brings something really special to the table, and turns a good song into a f***ing great one. Better bassline, better beat, and you've got to love that mournful guitar. It's wicked. I'm sure that's Ronnie Jordan, considering his ties with the DCP boys, but he's not credited. Anyway, this remix really brings the track to seductive, moody life, and is so good that I only ever listen to this and not the original.

Stephen Simmonds, big up your naughty, got caught cheating behind your girls back, chest.

By the way,his album Spirit Tales, which is the only other release I have by him, is excellent, and comes highly recommended by me.
Here's an artist bio stolen from LastFM: STEPHEN SIMMONDS is a Swedish Alternative Soul recording artist, son of a Jamaican musician Father and Swedish Mother was raised in the south of Stockholm, the United States and Israel. 
After completing a high-school education at the Stockholm music school Södra Latin, Swedish producer Peter Cartriers heard of Stephens talent in 1995 and invited him to his studio in Stockholm where they made a demo that first attracted the attention of a Swedish indie label and then secured a record deal with the UK major label Parlophone/EMI Music as well as Priority Records in the US. Stephen wrote and Peter produced Stephens first critically acclaimed and 5 times Grammy nominated album “Alone” (the album was re-mixed and re-named “Spirit Tales” for his UK and US release) and Stephen Simmonds had his breakthrough in 1997 with the hit “Tears Never Dry” a duet with Swedish superstar Lisa Nilsson that quickly became the most played track on radio that year.
Since then his talent has brought him to the US and the UK where he has collaborated with renowned artists such as Raphael Saadiq, Masters At Work and Mica Paris. His US release “Spirit Tales” was highly recommended by Prince and the New Power Generation on their official website.
He has performed for Stevie Wonder and Amnesty and he is the only Swedish artist who has been reviewed in the Quincy Jones founded Soul and R&B bible Vibe Magazine.
PS - I think there are some other mixes of this floating around, which I've never heard, so if you have these, why not share the love with us?

  • Tears Never Dry
  • One
  • Tears Never Dry (Soul Inside Mix)

The Download Link is here: Tears Never Dry.zip | Filesize: 37.68MB