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on 3 February 2013
I am listening to Northern Soul 2012 for inspiration as I am writing this and it continues to inspire me no matter how many times I've heard it.
What Ian Levine has attempted since the inception of his Centre City label is unparalleled in scope and ambition. Immersed in the music of black America of the 60s and 70s, he seeks to re-create the music of his youth in the here and now. A Motown of the modern era, if you like.
This 24 track set opens with the latest song from Venecia Wilson, one of the UK's great female soul singers. Worth Every Drop of Rain sounds like it's straight out of 1960s Detroit. Northern Soul aficionados will recall her earlier This Time I'm Loving You.
Several veterans share the stage with the newer artists. Ronnie Walker contributes 3 recordings. Levine re-creates that Philadelphia sound on such tracks as Making it Easy, a mid-tempo finger snapper, and the delightful The Promised Land.
No-one who claims to be a fan of the genre can ignore the legendary Pat Lewis who has 4 tracks on this release. I had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady earlier this year and I can assure you all that she still has what it takes. Check out Time Is Running Away, an authentic piece of Carolina soul, and Mister Fortune Teller on this release and then search out The Very Best of Pat Lewis, which is available for download.
For reasons that are more to do with politics than music, Levine has struggled to make headway on the scene with his productions. Sometimes a bit of subterfuge is needed. Fooling people into believing that a record is 40 years old is sometimes the best for all concerned. Venecia Wilson benefitted from the misconception that a record is older than it is. Everyone wants to be the one to find the long forgotten classic, right? This predilection was used quite deliberately, however, to launch The Four Vandals on the scene. Levine has given the quartet of Steve Brookstein, Gerod Harris, Paul Esmond and Julian Cannonier a string of quality tracks since the The Wrong Side of Town took the scene by storm. Check out their rolling Brick By Brick Stone By Stone and Brookstein's solo effort, the Righteous Brothers inspired Reflections In My Mind on this release.
This is but a taster for 24 wonderful songs. What we have is a recording that has a broad range of musical influences. Soul from the 60s, soul from the 70s, inspired by the legendary producers from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Many of the tracks are directly inspired by a particular song, plucked from Levine's encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre. I hope that you will let it inspire you too.