Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Phil Driver's Unsigned Soul Column (JULY)

Phil Driver's Unsigned Soul on Blues & Soul
Phil Driver's Unsigned Soul on Blues & Soul Starpoint Radio Hot 20 on Jonathan Butler: So Strong Avery Sunshine (ALBUM) Soul Unsigned Vol 4: Various Cool Million: Back For More Leon Beal: Keep On Pushing Patrice Campbell: Garden Of Love Temptations: Still Here Joonie: Acoustic Love Yahzarah: The Ballad Of Purple St James Angela Johnson: Be Myself Philip Bailey: Love Is Real Augie's Side Effect: About Time

I went on a training course this month. It was the usual kind of thing, 15 or so delegates on a 3-day course. We turned up on the first day, made small talk over coffee and Digestives in the registration area, then headed into the training room to take our seats wherever we fancied. On day two, everyone returned and we all sat in exactly the same places. Personally, I think it would have been nice to sit by the window on the second day, or maybe next to the horny blonde delegate, but no, we all sat in the same seats, so I ended up next to the fat bloke with B.O. again.

A couple of days later, I was in Tesco with Mrs Soul Unsigned doing the weekly shop. When we got to the bog-roll section we discovered that they’d sold out of the one we’ve used since we started living together in 1988. Personally, I was quite happy to try out any of the bewildering array of alternatives, but we stood there for about 10 minutes while Mrs S agonised over what we’d be wiping our arses with for the next month or so.

Familiarity, it seems, is something that most people feel very comfortable with. It doesn’t matter if it’s the seat they sat in yesterday at a training course, or the bog-roll they’ve wiped their backside with for the past 22 years, most people like what they know and they know what they like.

Sadly, it can be the same with music. Instead of taking a punt on a CD by an unknown artist, many people still prefer to fork out their well-earned cash on the 15th album from an artist that’s well past the sell-by date. And the major record shops don’t help the situation. They’ll happily push the safe/known (and often under-whelming) stuff from established artists, but insist on parking any the new and interesting CDs in the racks at the far end of the shop. Or, worse still, they just ignore new music all together and concentrate on flogging Best Of Urban Vol. 347 and yet another Motown compilation.

That’s the advantage, from an independent artist’s perspective, of being on the online stores like CD-Baby and Amazon. At least with those websites an unknown artist can actually get a look-in by filling in the “sounds like” or “for fans of” section of their CD description. This means that when people type “Jamiroquai” into the search box they also stumble across all the unknown artists who think they sound like the UK funkster. It’s just a shame that many unsigned artists seem to be clueless about what they sound like. Or, more specifically, they’re often seriously deluded about who they sound like.

I’ve lost count of the promo CDs I’ve received from the “new” Michael Jackson. I’m not sure which one they are referring to, but it clearly isn’t the Michael Jackson that I knew and loved. And I always thought that Tower Of Power were an awesome funk band with the best horn section on the planet, but apparently they were actually two blokes making dodgy music in a flat in Milton Keynes. At least, that’s what I’m lead to believe based on the countless bands that send me music and claim to be “heavily influenced” by the legendary funk combo.

To be fair, some artists get it absolutely spot on. Take a listen to the track “How Many” on Toronto-based Lisa Banton’s soundclick page She reckons she sounds like Mary J Blige and I, for one, wouldn’t argue with her.

The problem, of course, is that this can become a double-edged sword. Being a convincing sound-a-like might help in the beginning when an artist is craving some much-needed attention, but what about the future? My guess is that they’ll end up spending the rest of their career trying to play down the similarity.

It seems a real shame to me that the only way some independent artists can get attention these days is if they sound a bit like someone more famous. Why does everyone have to sound like someone else? What happened to originality and the notion that variety was the spice of life?

I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but don’t you think the world would be a damn sight more interesting if we were all willing to swap seats from time to time? Or wipe our arses with a different bog roll.


The Unsigned Soul column has teamed up with Starpoint Radio to bring you a monthly chart reflecting some of the movers and shakers on the current soul scene.

The chart is based on Starpoint’s own weekly Top 30 chart.

1 Jonathan Butler So Strong
2 Avery Sunshine Sunshine
3 Temptations Still Here
4 Patrice Campbell Garden Of Love
5 Leon Beal Keep On Pushing
6 Cool Million Back For More
7 Soul Unsigned Vol 4 Various
8 Joonie Acoustic Love
9 Yahzarah The Ballad Of Purple St James
10 Angela Johnson Be Myself
11 Angela Bofill All This Time
12 Philip Bailey Love Is Real
13 Augie's Side Effect About Time
14 Brian Temba, Something better
15 Wadz Various
16 2010 (Summer) Session Various
17 Russoul People Need Love
18 Live Tropical Fish, Life Is Too Short
19 Rahma EP
20 Gabbie McGee Mississippi's Daughter


Here are the latest playlists from the weekly Soul Unsigned Radio show which can be heard on various FM and Internet stations in the UK, Europe, Japan, Canada and The USA.

Show: 2010-025

Baby Face Jay Ft Elrae - Lunar eyes
Verna Francis - Why
Politik - Saturn (GP Remix)
Christophe De Villa - You are my girl
Muthafunk - By your side
Cagle & Nash - Big ol' empty room
Milano Jazz Dance Combo - Feelin good
Ray Lugo's Les Express - Love me good
Darryl Anders - Dont say you love me
Patrice Campbell - Finders keepers
Groove Stu - Forbidden love
Jay Hayden - No where
Da Wonda Twinz - Hey you
Kan Sano - Inner sun

Show: 2010-024

Tom Glide & The Luv Allstars - Kool party
Wadz Ft Oui & Fresh - Steppin out
Max Sedgley - All around me
Funkeepers - I'm gonna stay
Candycream - Love what you do
Edei - In my bed
Diesler - Zebra boogie
DeRobert & The Halftruths - The joy
CrossCountryCollective - Give it 2 ya
Boozoo Bajou - Take it slow
Jumbo Aniebiet - Love change the world
Groove Stu - Be free
KS - Worthless
YCB - Jazzified

Show: 2010-023

Kyra Simone - Lets just be friends
Wadz FT Winfree - Time
Diesler - Back to my old tricks
Planet Earth - Love someone
Eric Middleton - I cant lie
Gwen Majors - Your precious love
DeRobert & The Halftruths - Soul in a digital world
Leela James - The fact is
Yahzarah - All my days
Patrice Campbell - Do like we do
Solace - Be free
Carmen Rodgers - What hurts you
Jumbo Aniebiet - Timeless love
DJ Center - Center's groove

Show: 2010-022

Richard Earnshaw - In time
Katie Cole - Back into the sun
Clarisse Albrecht - Voce me da
Tim Terry Experience - Oooowee
Charlotte Newsham - Everything
Wadz Ft Enois Scroggins - 4 Seasons of love
Dr Rubberfunk - Northern comfort
Funk'n'stein - All day long
Avery Sunshine - Blessin me
Yahzarah - Love come save the day
Mirenda Rosenberg - Puppet
Danielle Haynes - I want to be close
Partice Campbell - Because of your love
DuFunk - Dreaming

Show: 2010-021

Tom Glide & Luv All Stars - Get it off
Leyo - Barcelona boogie
Cool Million - Hurry home
Wadz Ft Winfree - Attack
Planet Earth - Knock me over
Soul Talk - Loving you
Leela James - Tell me you love me
Angela Johnson - Be myself
Third Coast Kings - Give me your love
Rachel Brown - Lets fall in love again
Livin Out Loud - Cuz i gotta know
Jet Tricks - Love hangover
Kjazz - I'm in love with you
Velben - Send u
Diesler - Deepest cuba

Phil Driver

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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