Paul Weller, the Brand New Heavies, Leftfield, the JTQ, Mica Paris, the Young Disciples, Alison Limerick, Max Beesley, Moloko and members of Jamiroquai are just some of the artists that turn up on this celebration of the 21st Birthday of one of the most influential independent labels of the 1990s and beyond. “London Street Soul” is a look at the heavily soul-influenced output of Ed Piller’s label. A modernist vision, embracing a gritty mix of soul, beats and retro influences learned in clubs such as Talking Loud at Dingwalls, that at its height not only encompassed world-wide hits, but also ownership of London’s Blue Note nightclub (declared by Time Out in 2000 to be the club of the Millennium).
Acid Jazz was a resolutely London label, mod to its core in the widest definition of that word, and absolutely dedicated to soul music. In the early part of the decade this served it well. Records by the Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai were lauded by the music monthlies, soul publications and style press, but when Brit-pop arrived in 1994 and the inkies returned to the fore as the repository of musical wisdom, soft southern soul boy music was not a popular genre and the label began to be overlooked. The label started to experiment with different forms of music – all with soul roots but rarely appealing to the pure soul boy.
The music on this compilation tells the story of the label from its earliest hits such as the beat-laden ‘I’m The One’ by D-Influence and the Brand New Heavies’ ‘Never Stop’ - here in the chart-bothering David Morales 7” mix – through to its recent top 40 hit by Andy Lewis and Paul Weller and on into this year’s great hope, Twisted Tongue. Along the way we come across the very first production by Leftfield, Sandals’ ‘Profound Gas’. The 7” mix has never been released before. Also included is the largely forgotten performance by Brit-soul diva Mica Paris in a wonderful duet with Mr Exe and most of the Young Disciples hooked up with Max Beesley in the Subteranneans. Cloud Nine were Mark Brydon’s project prior to the chart topping Moloko; that fell apart when a sampling problem drove them asunder.
The great Acid Jazz acts are all here including JTQ with Alison Limerick on the modern soul classic ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ and Mother Earth with the Brendan Lynch radio mix of ‘Jesse’. There are also several lesser known gems that shine through, including the wonderful ‘Lovesick’ by the Nightrains, the jazzy soul of Pure Wildness and the Sun Ra space soul of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
In 2009 Acid Jazz is looking hit-worthy again. The next volume will be “London Street Beats” and the series will culminate with “London Street Jazz” a trio that celebrates the label’s heart and soul.
By Dean Rudland