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HEELS & SOULS RECORDINGS

Heels & Souls Recordings roll into reissue number eight with a double dose of early '90s UK street soul magic, splitting the sides between two sought-after cuts from Elaine Vassell and 3rd Zone.

Step back to 1993, house music has hit, UK Soul is in full flow and its rawer, DIY street soul sibling is making its mark across the UK’s underground. Fuelled by accessible, affordable production gear and ignited through enthusiasm and an influx of ideas and sounds, two acts drew inspiration from a melting pot of genres they were exposed to, providing their take on soul as they saw it.

Up first, Elaine Vassell - ‘Never Give Up’. A rough breakbeat-driven, mid-tempo groover from a North West London production triple threat, made up of Longsy D, Pinky and Murray. Utilising Pinky’s home studio with its DX7, Juno 106, LinnDrum and 808, they masterminded a track that sits at the intersection between soulful house, hip hop and R&B. Its crunching drum loop, chest-rattling low-end and serene synth lines, lay the foundation for Elaine’s powerful yet emotive voice to take centre stage. ‘Never Give Up’ should have been a future classic, but never quite found its feet.

On the flip side another 1993 gem, as Sansel Ali and twin brothers Mark and Stephen Anglin joined forces to form 3rd Zone. Conceived in Mark’s makeshift bedroom studio, the trio laid down their first foray into recorded music, ‘You Stole My Heart’. Originally promoed as a limited whitelabel in 1991, it officially landed on the group's one and only EP ‘No Real Reason' in '93.

Armed with a handful of synth modules, a drum machine and a Korg M1, Mark, Stephen and Sansel hit with a tough but tender, underground triumph. Part dance, part romance, layering synth strings, chunky breaks and M1 stabs underneath Sansel’s heartstrung vocals and Stephen’s hip house rap interlude, it provides another perfect example of house seen through the street soul prism.

Two timeless tracks that fly the flag for the fact that big studios and big budgets aren't necessary to create songs that really resonate. Each side also contains an alternate version, with the A housing a beatless reprise of ‘Never Give Up’ and the B a tougher, bassier remix of ‘You Stole My Heart’.

Licensed from Pinky Music and 3rd Zone respectively and remastered from the original DATs by Justin Drake.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Elaine Vassell - Never Give Up
A2. Elaine Vassell - Never Give Up (Chill Zone Mix)
B1. 3rd Zone - You Stole My Heart (Vinyl Mix)
B2. 3rd Zone - You Stole My Heart (Remix)

Reissue number seven for Heels & Souls Recordings sees them look back to the sounds of South Africa’s townships in 1991, cherry picking four of Tashif Kente’s finest cuts from his sought after album A Boy And A Dream, giving them space to breathe on a 12" pressing.

Clearly influenced by the flavours bubbling over from the UK and US in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, from R&B through to boogie, proto house to new jack swing, Tashif’s productions are a melting pot of ideas and influences, laced with a distinctive South African flavour.

Born in Soweto, Mzwandile ‘Tashif’ Kente, cut his teeth with Harari for a brief period, a group that birthed greats like Condry Ziqubu, Sipho Mabuse and Alec Khaoli, before going solo in 1984 and releasing just one album as Tashif Kente, 1991’s ‘A Boy And A Dream’. An album that speaks of love, lust and longing, produced by Kente and Selwyn Shandel with Marc Rantseli also joining the fold, it has that signature South African synth bass, drum machine and killer keyboard combo of the Bubblegum and Kwaito scenes, topped with Kente’s buttery vocals.

Heels & Souls Recordings take four favourites from the LP and press them loud on either side of a 12”. On the A, the audacious new jack, dancefloor bubbler ‘Tell Him I Became Your Lover’ leads into the lovestruck, boogie-tinged grooves of ‘Somebody’s Got My Love’. Flip it over to find a jealousy jam of the highest order with the synthy soul number ‘Who’s That Boy’, before ‘I Like The Way You Love Me’, a lights down low, R&B flavoured lovesong rounds off the EP.

Licensed from Gallo, who transferred the original ¼ inch tapes for their archives, Heels & Souls have enlisted the expertise of Justin Drake to remaster these South African beauties for a new generation of listeners.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Tell Him I Became Your Lover
A2. Somebody's Got My Love
B1. Who's That Boy
B2. I Like The Way You Love Me

Heels & Souls step back to 1988 for their sixth reissue, relicensing and remastering Flair's anthemic soul number 'Chasin' The Rain.' For the uninitiated, strap yourself in for six blissful minutes of heavy bass licks, soaring vocals, and infectious synth lines.

Consisting of Janet Rose (aka UK Soul queen JB Rose), Joe Matz, Peter Bielig, and Peter Shindler, Flair was a predominantly German affair, with Rose being the only UK band member and Bieling living in London during the late '80s. This is a curious detail considering 'Chasin' The Rain' is often lauded today as a UK Soul classic - partially due to its release on the prolific UK label Champion. However, it's squeaky-clean production values, and the fact it was mixed and mastered at the famous Jankowski studio in Stuttgart by three Germans, reveals a somewhat different story.

The track has that UK street soul heavy low-end, but with a synth-pop flavour sprinkled in the mix - swinging synth lines and gated snares aplenty. Yet from chatting to Peter Bielig, who's been instrumental in getting this record reissued, the sounds sweeping across the Atlantic from the likes of Jam and Lewis, who blended R&B, funk, soul and pop, were clearly a big influence too.

Those were heady days for four young twenty-something musicians, with Peter recalling cherished memories these tracks bring back, telling of his and JB's PA sessions at London's Gulliver's nightclub. However, while 'Chasin' The Rain' had all the hallmarks of a chart-breaking hit, Champion prioritised other projects and the record never broke. Sadly the group disbanded after only two releases, and this musical gem was consigned to the crates of those in the know. Soon after, Peter Bielig went to Jamaica to work at Tough Gong Studios, working on albums for Rita Marley Music. He now lives in Brazil, producing local artists in his studio in Salvador.

Unfortunately, the master tapes were nowhere to be found, so we had the maestro, Sean P, rip and restore a mint copy of the record, with award-winning mastering engineer Cicely Balston working her studio magic for that added punch.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Chasin' The Rain
B1. Chasin' The Rain (Dub)

Top tier tackle from Heels & Souls Recordings for their fourth reissue as they let loose a much anticipated double header, Gold In The Shade’s 'Over You' backed with 'Shining Through'. Rough, tough, straight-from-the-heart ‘90s street soul, coming courtesy of TSR bossman Robert Roper and the Gold In The Shade ladies Arletta Davis and Sonia Johnson. One of the most sought-after cuts of this scene, it encompasses much of what made street soul special - heavy bass, gritty breaks, emotive chords and off-kilter vocals, marrying together to form a snapshot of a raw DIY scene with optimism at its heart.

The trio’s first single from 1990, ‘Shining Through’ is a no nonsense, bassbin-rattling love song from the underground, seeing long-term friends Sonia and Arletta pulling on the heartstrings from the mic as Robert works his magic behind the studio controls.

Lovingly remastered from the DAT by Cicely Balston, if only ‘Over You’ had been so easy. Two years of endless searching for the tape and subsequently a clean copy of the record, Heels & Souls even went to the lengths of having the multitracks restored so that Robert could attempt to recreate the original mixdown in the studio – but the magic of ‘91, unfortunately, can’t simply be conjured at the drop of a hi-hat.

After all but losing hope, Sean P (by way of Backatcha’s Aiden Leacy), came to the rescue with a mint condition copy of the record that he had from running in the same circles as Robert and Duval back in the day, ripping and restoring it with a precision he’s rightly famed for. And so (finally!) here it is: distorted samples, low-fi hits, speaker rumbling bassweight and all. Raw to the core, but that’s the point – pure, unbridled emotion from the depths of North West London.

Fully licensed from Robert Roper, 20% of profits from Heels & Souls Recordings and Prime Direct Distribution will be donated to Lives Not Knives, a youth-led London-based charity, working to prevent knife crime, serious youth violence and school exclusions.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Over You
A2. Over You (Mix 2)
B1. Shining Through
B2. Shining Through (Dance Mix)

Pilgrims Of The Mind

What's Your Shrine?

    Heels & Souls Recordings’ fifth reissue sees them reach across the Atlantic to Vancouver, pressing up Pilgrims Of The Mind’s 'What’s Your Shrine?' for the first time ever on vinyl, 25 years since its CD-only release on Map Music. A departure from the label’s previous releases, the LP is a beautiful smorgasbord of styles - progressive house, downtempo, ambient, tech house and trance all nestle together, a wiggling journey of sonic delight from the mind of Stephane Novak.

    Turn the dial back to ‘97 and Vancouver's underground had a distinctive buzz to its rumblings, an amalgamation of scenes and styles gave rise to a cohort of producers that were unconstrained by genre, offering up a heady mix of sounds to expand the mind. ‘Welcome To Lotus Land’ the key 1996 compilation on Robert Shea’s seminal Map Music, championed much of this output including two cuts from POTM. Stephane then released his first and only full-length album, ‘What’s Your Shrine?’ on the same label the following year.

    Picking out choice moments from an album as considered and complete as this is tough. Those horizontally inclined will be drawn to the ambient dwellings of ‘Sandcastle’ & ‘Following the Sofuto Kuriimo’, tracks like ‘Nothing Can Pull Us Apart’ and ‘L’Amour? Encore?!’ are perfectly suited to warming up limbs on the dancefloor, ‘My Baby Likes Rum’ and ‘Loosejaw’ prime for one in full swing. Yet to pick individual tracks misses the stunning sum of its parts that this 70+ minute cruise is, surely one of the finest albums from the American West Coast during its halcyon days of the ‘90s.

    Digging deep in his vaults, Stephane managed to uncover the original unmastered DATs that have been given a fresh mastering by Justin Drake at the Bakehouse Studios. This beautiful, double-disc gatefold comes complete with liner notes from Ciel, words from Stephane himself, plus never-before-seen photography - the complete package this music always deserved.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1.  Smell Zee Flower
    A2.  Nothing Can Pull Us Apart
    B1.  My Baby Likes Rum
    B2.  L'Amour? Encore?!
    C1.  La Belle Du Jardin
    C2.  Loosejaw (Co-produced By Andrew Ross-Collins)
    C3.  Following The Sofuto Kuriimo
    D1.  Sandcastle
    D2.  Something's Pulling Me Under


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