Just a little curio that I came across when trawling YouTube the other day. I thought I would revisit the soul/jazz/funk movement of the mid-eighties, which included such bands as Loose Ends, Incognito, early Everything But the Girl, Swans Way, Carmel, prompted the formation of The Style Council with Dee Cee Lee backing Weller and Talbot, and influenced poppier acts such as Swing Out Sister, The Blow Monkeys and even Scritti Politti. There was lots of music that either had Courtney Pine guesting on it, or sounded as if it had been produced by Quincy Jones or the boys from Chic.
This scene eventually moved in two different directions. Some acts, particularly those artists and DJ’s who leant towards the jazzier end of the spectrum, were important movers in what became the British House music scene, while the more soulful acts, many of whom who had obviously been listening to a lot of Steely Dan, tended towards a more popular sensibility. It was this later movement that paved the way for the success of the blue-eyed soul explosion in Scotland that that included Hipsway, Love and Money, Deacon Blue, Danny Wilson, Fruits of Passion, Hue and Cry and others too many to mention here.
The Queen of the original scene was Helen Folasade Adu, better known simply as Sade. Sade was the cover girl for a movement that was started on the streets of London and supported on the pages of The FACE magazine. This lead to accusations that this music was a case of style over substance. But sometimes you can have style and substance, and it wasn’t all high waisters, Breton shirts and braces, there was a lot of innovative and talented artists at work.
Because a lot of the music that was influenced by the early soul revival became undeniably bland it has largely been dismissed. But bands such as Loose Ends, and, perhaps the best of them all, Working Week did not stray far from their influences, and it showed with an authenticity that others lacked. It may seem sacrilegious to many of my more Modern friends, but I listen to The Style Council’s Cafe Bleu more often than I dig out All Mod Cons. Perhaps some of the music hasn’t dated well, but Sade’s début album Diamond Life is one of the few albums of that time that I would still listen to today, and it was while looking at the video for single Hang on to Your Love that I noticed two well kent Scottish faces with lower hair-lines than they currently sport, and it was the only excuse I needed to write this piece. It’s only Alex Norton and Gerard Kelly. Here’s the proof: