Recommended smooth and mellow soul CDs
Recommended Gamble & Huff CDs
Recommended funk and disco CDs
Recommended jazz/funk fusion CDs
Recommended west coast soft rock CDs
Recommended chill out electronica CDs
CD WANT LIST
Care to help me track down some much sought-after CDs?
Blue-Eyed Soul refers to soul and R&B music performed and sung by
white musicians. The term first came into play during the mid-’60s,
when acts like the Righteous Brothers had hits with soulful songs like
"You Lost That Loving Feeling." Throughout the late ’60s, blue-eyed
soul thrived, as acts like the Rascals, the Box Tops, Mitch Ryder,
Tony Joe White, and Roy Head had a series of hits. During the ’70s,
blue-eyed soul continued to be successful, as acts like Hall & Oates,
Robert Palmer, Average White Band, Boz Scaggs, and David Bowie updated
|ABC: The Lexicon
Of Love – 1982
Produced by: Trevor Horn
ABC: Alphabet City – 1987
Produced by: Bernard Edwards
One of the more popular new wave bands of the early ’80s, the
British group ABC built upon the synthesized R&B pop of David
Bowie and Roxy Music. Ûber producer Trevor Horn was mainly responsible
for the success together with lead singer Martin Fry, a
fashion plate of a frontman with a Bryan Ferry fixation.
Horn’s production merged synthesizer sounds, groovy
beats, and lots of strings and horns (orchestrations by
Anne Dudley, Art of Noise). The Lexicon of Love is truly a classic album in my book, but be
sure to get the remastered version.
After a couple of not-so-god albums,
"Alphabet City" saw ABC returning to Motown and Northern soul that
provided the basis of their debut album. Bernard Edwards produced a
Chic-ish kind of sound with lavish strings and great songs and lyrics.
"When Smokey Sings" and "The Night You Murdered Love" were hits singles
but the best tracks are probably "King Without A Crown" and the mellow
and superb "One Day".
Wanting – 1998
Label: Warner Bros.
Produced by: Paul Brown & George Duke
Gabriela Anders got her big break singing a duet with soft jazz giant
Michael Franks, and like Franks, Anders wraps laid-back
vocals around even more tranquil rhythms. It’s all very calming and
proficient and breezy. Her debut
album "Wanting", mixes bits of her Argentine heritage with late-’70s California
jazz. A very Sade-ish album indeed…
|Burt Bacharach: The
Very Best Of – 2001
Produced by: Burt Bacharach
With a hit-single track record spanning four decades, Burt
Bacharach became one of the most important composers of popular music in
the 20th century. His sophisticated yet breezy productions borrowed from
cool jazz, soul, Brazilian bossa nova, and traditional pop to virtually
pop during the 1960s.
The Very Best Of by Rhino does not
concentrate on Burt Bacharachs own records, but rather on others doing his
songs. And, really,
that’s what makes it magical, since Bacharach wasn’t the best
interpreter of his own material – vocalists like Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield were.
The album is a great introduction to Bacharach and his classic songs,
although it does run out of steam toward the end, when "That’s What
Friends Are For" shows its ugly head, but there are no other single-disc
collections that offer such a accurate overview of Bacharach at his best.
Want more? Go for the 75 songs 3-disc box set "The Look
Of Love", also from Rhino Records.
|Beautiful South: Carry
On Up The Charts [Best Of] – 1994
Produced by: Mike Hedges & Jon Kelly
"Carry on Up the Charts: The Best of the Beautiful South" went 5 x platinum between its
release and the summer of 1995. The success was surprising, because
while the band had been modestly popular, their last few albums were
sliding down the charts. However, their hits collection, "Carry on Up the
Charts", went straight to #1 and stayed there for weeks. It’s nothing more
than all their singles, yet compiled together they make the most
convincing case for the Beautiful South’s sophisticated
|Bacharach & Costello:
Painted From Memory – 1998
Bacharach & Isley: Isley Meets Bacharach – 2003
Label: SKG Music
Produced by: Burt Bacharach
First I didn’t think and collaboration between Burt Bacharach
and Elvis Costello would work, how wrong I was! Painted From Memory is
simply great! Wisely, they chose to work within the stylistic parameters of
Bacharach’s ’60s material.
Bacharach hasn’t written such graceful, powerful melodies since his
glory days, and Costello… well I really don’t know since I’, not that
familliar with his other work. With its lush arrangements, sighing brass
and strings, gentle pianos, and backing vocals, it’s clearly a
classicist album, yet it sounds utterly timeless.
While the collaboration between soul singer supreme Ron Isley and
composer and arranger Burt Bacharach does not have the adventurous scope
of Bacharach’s collaboration with Elvis Costello — in that the tunes
featured here are mostly Bacharach classics — it is every bit as
satisfying. At 62, Isley’s voice is sweeter and more resonant than ever. This is a winner, a
beautiful effort that combines the give and take of the classic pop song with
the emotion of great soul singing.
& Eddie: Duophonic – 1992
Charles & Eddie: Chocolate Milk – 1995
Produced by: Josh Deutsch
Very 70’s soul inspired and with voices that harmonize
beautifully, Charles Pettigrew & Eddie Chacon delivers classic soul on
both "Duo…" and "Chocolate…". Although both albums are a bit uneven,
a compilation consisting of the best cuts would have been a killer and
right up there with the best of the best soul releases ever!
|Beverley Craven: Mixed
Emotions – 1999
Produced by: Beverly Craven
Although her first 2 albums have more stripped down arrangements, the
1999 "Mixed Emotions" is more of the same.
Except for her somewhat out-of-date lyrics on "Tick Tock" (wagging her finger
at women who choose careers over children), and the tasteless guitar solo at the end
which sounds a bit Celine Dionish, "Mixed Emotions" is great
pop songwriting and her over-all best
|Deacon Blue: Raintown
Produced by: Jon Kelly
An inspiring debut of well-crafted adult pop, heavily under the
influence of Prefab Sprout, it was originally released by CBS Records in
the UK in May 1987.
|Everything But The
Girl: The Language Of Life – 1990
Produced by: Tommy LiPuma
Although the hard core EBTG fan would probably disagree, – I say
that the "Language of Life" is Ben Watt & Tracy Thorn’s overall best
offering. At the time it was the logical extension of EBTGs cool-jazz approach to finally go all the way by hiring
veteran producer Tommy LiPuma and a L.A. studio full of fusion musicians like Joe
Sample (the Crusaders), Russell Ferrante (the Yellowjackets), Michael
Brecker, and, finally, Stan Getz.
|Daryl Hall: Soul Alone
Produced by: Daryl Hall & Jeffrey Smith
Daryl Hall: Can’t Stop Dreaming – 1996
Label: BMG Japan
Produced by: Daryl Hall & David Bellochio
Both these albums is blue-eyed soul as good as it gets! "Soul Alone"
shows Hall shining as both a songsmith and a vocalist, also on going
back to his youth in Philadelphia, and with it, the Philly Soul and
folk-rock that was so close to his heart.
While Can’t Stop Dreaming was for several years only available on BMG
International label in Japan. He still sounds great with one of the best
blue-eyed soul voices around. Hall’s smooth hooks, tight love
songs, and crisp arrangements are pretty much timeless. Tracks such as "Cab Driver," with its Steely Dan
feel, and the Marvin Gaye/Leon Ware-inspired "Let Me Be the One"
great, – especially vocally. Included is a remake of the Hall & Oates classic
"She’s Gone". Despite a very nice new arrangement, I
personally don’t think we really need a a remake of this, since it was so
god damn perfect the first time around…
|Hall & Oates: No
Goodbyes [Jap. CD release only] – 1977
Label: Atlantic Japan 1990
Produced by: Arif Mardin & Tod Rundgren
Daryl Hall actually recorded a single with Kenny Gamble and the Romeos
in 1966. The group featured Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell, who
would all become the architects of Philly Soul.
He met John Oates 1969, who was leading his own soul band at the time.
From their first hit in 1974 through their heyday in the mid 80s, Daryl
Hall & John Oates’ smooth, catchy take on Philly Soul brought them
enormous commercial success.
"No Goodbyes" is a compilation of their three Atlantic albums and includes
three unreleased tracks and the classic "She’s Gone" It confirms the fact that Hall
& Oates were still developing
their signature style.
More than 30 Hall & Oates
compilations has been released, but they are all single disc sets and they
definitely deserves at least a double CD set to cover their highlights.
"The Ballads Collection" is pretty good though.
|Bo Kaspers Orkester:
Amerika – 1996
Label: Columbia Sweden
Produced by: Kaj Erixton
Mixing pop and jazz influences, with heavy lounge tendencies,
BKO sounds like rock’n roll has never existed, Formed in 1991 and taking
parts of the name from front figure Bo Sundström, Bo Kaspers
Orkester was one of Swedens best selling band in the 90s. In my opinion
"Amerika" is by far their best effort, with witty lyrics (in Swedish)
and an excellent mix of soul, jazz and easy listening.
Ocean Drive – 1995
Produced by: Michael Peden
Ocean Drive, the debut album from the London-based duo
Lighthouse Family, is an extremely pleasant blue-eyed soul affair that
makes for excellent rainy-day listening. The smooth guitar chords and quiet percussion quickly become addictive.
Close your eyes while listening, you can almost feel yourself
driving along the coast, the wind in your hair and your responsibilities
left behind. Want more? Go for the 15 track "Greatest Hits".
|Love & Money: Strange
Kind of Love – 1988
These Scotsmen look to America for inspiration: funk, jazz and blues
combined with sophisticated arrangements and James Grant’s brooding
line in "Jocelyn Square" pretty much sums up his mood: "I loved you so
much I hated your guts". A blue-eyed soul Tears For Fears if you
will… Hard to get on CD.
|Matt Bianco: Matt’s
Mood – 2004
Produced by: Danny White & Mark Reilly
If you’re a fan of the Bossa Nova sounds of Brasil, you’ll
immediately get the Jobim references of this album. Formed by ex-members
of UK modern jazz ensemble Blue Rondo a la Turk, Matt Bianco evolved
into one of England’s top jazz-pop bands in the 80’s. Their version of
Georgie Fame’s "Yeh Yeh" received a European music award as Best Single
of 1985, while their single "Wam Bam Boogie" was the number one European
club track of 1988. Matt’s Mood is a great comeback and highly
recommended. You should also check out their 1982 debut album Whose Side
Are You On?
|Sarah Jane Morris:
Heaven – 1992
Produced by: Martyn Ware
British born Sarah Jane Morris attended London’s Central School of Speech and
Drama while singing jazz and soul
classics in local clubs. Morris was launched to fame after
appearing with Jimmy Somerville on the Communards’ chart-topping 1986
cover of the disco classic "Don’t Leave Me This Way." Her debut solo
album followed in 1989, featuring a controversial cover of Billy Paul’s
"Me and Mrs. Jones". Morris’s second album, the over-all
better Martyn Ware-produced "Heaven", was
released in 1992.
|Van Morrison: Poetic
Champions Compose – 1987
Van Morrison: Avalon Sunset – 1989
Produced by: Ivan Morisson
Van Morrison is rated among popular music’s true innovators, melting incantatory vocals and
fusion of R&B, jazz, blues, and Celtic folk.
On his 1987 "Poetic…", the opening five-minute jazz
instrumental "Spanish Steps" is just great and certainly sets
the mood for this record of mid-tempos and ballads, with Van’s soulful voice.
Sunset" Van Morrison scored one of his biggest commercial successes. A record highlighted by the gorgeous
classic "Have I Told You Lately,"
one of his most heartfelt love songs and a major radio hit which helped
introduce his music to a new generation of listeners. Not a consistently
strong album, Avalon Sunset is nevertheless the work of a master
craftsman with its lush orchestration and atmospheric production.
Pressure Drop – 1976
Produced by: Steve Smith
Robert Palmer Double Fun – 1978
Produced by: Robert Palmer
British born Alan Palmer is probably best known for his 80’s music
videos in which shows Palmer as a suit-and-tie lady’s man who performed
his songs backed by a band of leggy models only, – much to the delight
of viewers who made him one of MTV’s biggest success stories.
On 1976’s Pressure Drop, Palmer’s silky "Give Me an Inch" and "Work To
Make It Work", plus the backing of Little Feat makes this a very good
blue-eyed soul effort.
The 1978’s self-produced Double Fun shows Palmer’s love of reggae-styled
grooves. "Every Kinda People," a catchy pop reggae groove with tasteful
orchestrations. Elsewhere, Palmer turns up the energy with "Best of Both
Worlds," a bass-driven dance tune that shows off his vocal with its
cleverly arranged and complex vocal arrangement, and the funky Alan
Toussaint track "Night People".
|Prefab Sprout: The 38
Carat Collection [Best Of] – 1999
Produced by: Paddy McAloon
One of the most beloved British pop bands of the ’80s and ’90s,
Prefab Sprout and singer/songwriter Paddy McAloon is regularly hailed as one of the
great songwriters of his era.
The 38 Carat Collection is a sublime overview of Prefab Sprout’s
remarkable career. Disc one is a decade-and-a-half’s worth of singles
that are truly gems. The second disc proves that McAloon’s album tracks are in many cases better than his singles.
Containing two to four tracks from each of Prefab Sprout’s six 1984-1997
albums, this disc covers McAloon’s more challenging or non-commercial
material. Though no collection can truly cover all of Prefab Sprout’s
high points — at least three of their albums, "Steve McQueen", "Jordan: The Comeback",
and "Andromeda Heights" are simply essential — this set is much better
than 1992’s single-disc compilation "A Life of Surprises".
Boz Scaggs: My Time – A Boz Scaggs
Produced by: Various
Boz Scaggs: Dig
Produced by: Boz Scaggs, David Paich
Born William Royce Scaggs in Ohio 1944, singer/songwriter Boz
Scaggs started out in the 60’s as a member of the Steve Miller Band but
went solo in 1968 and
achieve a commercial breakthrough with 1976’s "Silk
included the hits "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle". 1977’s "Down Two, Then Left" was also a success, and 1980’s
"Middle Man" reached the Top Ten on the strength of the singles "Breakdown Dead
Ahead" and "JoJo".
However, Scaggs spent much of the 1980s in retirement, owning and operating the San
Francisco nightclub Slim’s and limiting his performances
primarily to the club’s annual black-tie New Year’s Eve party. "My Time
– A Boz Anthology" is an excellent 2-disc set presenting most of his
best work. The 2001 release "Dig" on Virgin Records
includes the superb blue-eyed mellow "Miss Riddle". Co-produced by David Paich
and a very fine adult contemporary take on R&B that showcases Scaggs in
the finest voice in decades.
Swing Out Sister: Kaleidoscope World – 1989
Swing Out Sister: Somewhere Deep In The Night – 2001
Label: Universal Japan
Swing Out Sister: Where Our Love Grows – 2004
Produced by: Paul Stavely O’Duffy
Swing Out Sister’s sounds like Burt Bacharach meets St. Etienne or late period Everything
The Girl. With their love for lush soft pop, soul, and soundtracks of
the 1960s and early ’70s, vocalist Corinne Drewery and keyboardist Andy Connell were singing the
praises of Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, and John Barry back when those
great artists were thought to be the definition of unhip. Now those
same artists are widely sampled and copied by mainstream musicians.
Their 1985 single "Breakout," was a
Top Ten hit in UK and Japan, and included on the debut album "It’s
Better to Travel". They hired Jim
Webb to arrange and conduct the orchestra on the 1989 follow-up "Kaleidoscope World",
which is in my opinion an overall better album. Both albums were huge
hits in Japan, producing a special Japan-only
collection of remixes, the 1989 "Another Non-Stop Sister". Several
albums followed during the 90s and SOS had become one of the most popular acts in
Japan. After 1994’s "The Living Return"
failed to chart in Great Britain, the U.K. office of Mercury Records
didn’t release 1997’s
"Shapes and Patterns", 1999’s "Filth and Dreams", or 2001’s "Somewhere Deep
in the Night" in England, their native country.
Both the 2001 "Somewhere Deep in the Night" and the 2004
"Where Our Love Grows" is packed with sweeping,
melancholy tunes that echo Bacharach, while the albums is held together
by lush instrumental themes that seem straight out of a ’60s soundtrack
album by John Barry or Quincy Jones. Also check out the superb 1993
"Live at the Jazz Cafe", but be sure to get the 2-disc set.
|Dionne Warwick: Then
Came You – 1975
Produced by: Jerry Ragovoy, Thom Bell
Dionne Warwick: Walk On By – The Definitive Collection – 2000
Label: Warner Bros.
Produced by: Various
In the early 60s, Dionne Warwick teamed up with Burt Bacharach and Hal David,
songwriters and producers who wrote their timeless classics for her alto voice. Warwick is
forever associated with those songs, even though she managed to build a
career after leaving Bacharach & David. In 1975, after Warwick attempted many styles and producers,
she teaming up with both Jerry Ragovoy and Thom Bell for a more R&B
on "Then Came
You". The title track – a duet with The Spinners – is pure Philly
With a career spanning from the early 60s, more than 40 (!) Warwick
compilations has been released. Warner UK have released one of the best
in "Walk On By – The Definitive Collection" A digitally remastered 2
disc set containing 40 tracks mainly from the heyday of her
collaboration with Burt Bacharach and Hal David. A must for
Warwick fans and worthwhile for anyone interested in classic singing and
songwriting. Excellent liner notes and photos as well.
|Wet Wet Wet: End Of
Part One – Greatest Hits – 1993
Produced by: Wet Wet Wet
From the time Wet Wet Wet’s debut "Popped In Souled Out" in 1987 to the
time this best-of compilation was released in 1993, the band managed to
become one of the biggest-selling acts in British chart history. The
songs on this 2 CD set compilation contains blue-eyed soul and
radio-friendly pop and is all the Wet Wet Wet you’ll ever need. Apart from their biggest single, "Love Is All Around"
in 1994, there
was nothing from the last few years of their existence that matched the
quality of the songs collected here.
Forbidden Lover – 1987
Produced by: Kiyoshi Itoh
Nancy Wilson was among contemporary music’s most stylish and sultry
vocalists; while often crossing over into the pop and R&B — and
even hosting her own television variety program — she remained best
known as a jazz performer. Her 1987 release "Forbidden Lover" is however
pure pop/soul! You should also check out her 1999 16 track "Greatest
Hits" on Columbia. This has a more classic lounge/pop approach.
|Workshy: The Golden
Mile – 1989
Produced by: Mark Fisher & Pete Wingfield
Somewhere in between Swing Out Sister and a downtempo Matt Bianco, –
with a dash Sade thrown in, – say hi to sophisticated coffee-table soul
and smooth jazz band Workshy. Their debut album "The Golden Mile" was
released in 1989. Don’t think the album raised much fuzz in the UK, but
it became a hit in Japan. As far as I know all of the later albums have
only been released in Japan. More on