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Various - Soul Steppin'
You've got to hand it to the British for helping sustain the careers of American soul artists well beyond their hit-making days. From northern soul to the current fascination with late-period disco, there's always been an appreciation of soul in England. The revivalist soul label Expansion exemplifies this uniquely British approach to soul, devoting about half of the tracks on Soul Steppin' to lost legends like Sister Sledge, Keni Burke, John Whitehead and Johnny Bristol, most of whom have not been heard from in years.

To their credit, these artists have returned with most of their skills intact. Burke's "Indigenous Love" is clearly in the mode of the classic "Keep Risin' to the Top," and Alexander O'Neal's trademark pipes are showcased to good effect on his duet with Simone Chapman, "Touch Me Baby." The surprise cut is "Let It Out" by Sister Sledge. Reflecting none of the Chic-isms that marked their biggest hits, "Let It Out" is in fact a mellow ballad.

The rest of the disc is given to Expansion's new discoveries, of whom Phillippe seems to have the most star potential. His "One Day" is the only tune to be presented in its club mix, although it's hardly as pounding as you'd expect. Gary Des-Etages updates 80s soul on "If You Ever Fall In Love," which could have been an outtake on an early Luther Vandross album. Closing the proceedings is "You're Losing Me," a new song from 60s diva Barbara Lynn. It's a fitting ending to a disc that attempts to blend the old and the new in a contemporary manner. 

Copyright 2002  All rights reserved.

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Released 1999 on Expansion

Selected Tracks:

Jay Dee - Simple Solutions
Nigel Martinez - Special Way
Keni Burke - Indigenous Love
Kloud 9 - Make You Mine

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