Ne-Yo

Further unreleased music as "Schaffer".

Kandi and Tiny

Off The Hook: Unreleased demos from the early 2000s!

P!nk

The Truth About Choice.

Arika Kimble

A career ruined by mp3.com

Shiro

The First Lady of SoulPower.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Warren Stacey: From Popstars to Def Jam

Along with Terri Walker and Aaron Soul, former Popstars Finalist Warren Stacey (real name Warren Jituboh) was yet another very brief singing to Def Soul UK in the early 2000s. After failing to make it into the resulting group, he managed to bag himself a 5-album deal reportedly worth at least $1 million and was soon packed off to the US to work with big name producers on his debut album which would be “guaranteed to impress.” He also had the backing of Lynden David Hall’s former manager and Kwame Kwaten of D’Influence, but after only one single “My Girl, My Girl” nothing further was heard from him. Despite working with big name US producers such as Tricky Stewart and Warryn Campbell, he was determined to stick with his humble British roots. He said that he didn’t want to sing about “Bentleys and Hoes” as that just wasn’t him. Indeed, he came across as rather clean-cut. I guess he never could shake off those Popstars roots. Vocally he was a tad wet behind the ears but nothing that a few more years in the industry could not fix. It was a shame that he never got the chance. “When anybody compares me to anyone else I don't mind because there's always someone who's been there before you. It’s cool if somebody needs someone to compare you to, to describe what you do, then it’s cool...but I'm a bit perplexed when they say I look like Craig David though!!!” (2001)
 
Scared    3:15
Ayo    3:52
Alright Alright    3:19
Hot 4 U    3:18
Falling 4 A Stranger    4:14
My Girl    3:22
 

Surprising finds on "White Label" CDs

Rare underground tracks from a wide variety of underground UK artists, including unreleased tracks from mid-90s Croydon crooners Peace By Piece known for their single “Sweet Sister” in 1996. The song earned them a MOBO Award for Best Newcomers but they left Warner Records shortly after. On their debut album, they worked with Cutfather & Joe, Linslee Campbell and Derek Bramble (Jaki Graham) but it seemingly never had a very wide-release due to them leaving their label. In 2002, they were planning a return to music, describing their sound as "urban UK classic soul” but sadly nothing much ever became of that either despite hopes of collaborations with Craig David and other well-known UK stars at the time. Following the web address given in the booklet here, it seemed more than anything they wanted to branch into production. Prior to this, group member Trea Fisher had produced tracks for Beverley Knight, Tymes 4 and others. Tracks by them here are billed as “Urban Kings featuring PXP” but as per the inlay, appear to be written and produced by the group members themselves. Was this possibly a moniker for their production name? A further track by them features an unknown female vocalist "Nessa". 
 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Wayne Williams (ex-Another Level): Album Sampler (Abbey Road Studios, 2001)

 I never cared much for boybands but with their covers of classics such as “Freak Me” and the bumpy soul of “Be Alone No More” with a then relatively unknown Jay-Z, Another Level managed to skirt the boundaries as being more of an R&B group as opposed to yet more masturbation fodder for hormonal teenage girls (yes I know all the girls loved Dane Bowers.) Looks aside, the group was not bad and by the turn of the millennium caught the attention of Clive Davis who told them it was his intention to make them “massive” in America. Shortly after the groups’ main driving force Wayne Williams left the group. Williams as the group’s musician, he wrote the songs that later became hits and without him, there was no group. Bowers cried “ego” but Williams had already been unhappy for some time about being pushed to the back while they brought the more photogenic Bowers to the front. They were both more than capable singers but eventually Bowers was the one chosen to do most of the lead parts because as he put it “it did sound better on that (particular) song.” Williams could’ve made it as a solo artist but it seems he was shortly blackballed. While Bowers was later signed to Arista as a solo artist, Williams first single “He Can’t Love You” was not talked about at all. I guess that’s what you get when you say no to Davis though Bowers was the next member to get shafted when his own solo album “Facing The Crowd” was shelved in 2001. Altogether a sad fate for two guys who probably should’ve done better.

Former Another Level star, Wayne Williams , sees the release of his debut solo album out later in the summer. The sound evoked on the sampler tips a wink to Wayne's transatlantic heroes, Bobby Brown, Jay-Z, Teddy Riley and Sisqo, without shaking off his distinctive West London edge. From the latin influenced " Had Enough" to the ballad-like "Woman Scorned", Wayne is defiantly solo and this shines through in the soulful vibe of current single "He Can't Love You".

 

He Can't Love You    3:48
Lonely    3:15
Had Enough    3:47
Woman Scorned    5:26
Mr Right    4:02

David's Daughters: Album Sampler (ZTT Records, 1999)

Think of this duo much like a female version of Seal. Signed to his same record label (ZTT) and produced by his same producer Trevor Horn, they released only one single, the very up-beat ”Dreaming Of Loving You” and then disappeared. I have no idea what happened but their music, like Seal’s, was pretty much before it’s time. With a touch of rock, pop, soul and even drum’n’bass, they weren’t really a traditional contemporary R&B duo though much like Seal, did straddle the boundaries of pop music. They later provided back-up vocals to Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony’s “The Righteous Ones” off their 2000 album "Btnhresurrection" and recently “Dreaming Of Loving You” has been released to streaming with all the corresponding remixes. Were these girls better suited to hip hop and R&B music? Listen to both "The Righteous Ones" and "Desert Flower" below. 


Dreaming Of Loving You    4:11
Desert Flower    4:16
Is This Love?    4:00

Elizabeth Troy: Sampler (Talkin' Loud, 200x)

First featured on my Best of Street Beats playlist with the funky “Headstrong”, Elizabeth Troy is a versatile vocalist who was able to effortlessly glide between jungle music, UK street soul and UK Garage with ease. When the latter was all the rage in the early 2000s, she was the voice behind MJ Cole’s hits “Crazy Love” & “Sincere” before embarking on her own solo project with the release of “Minus 10 Degrees” in 2001. Her album was to be produced by Cole, Ed Case, Roni Size and other big names but sadly never saw the light of day outside of a few white label 12"s. This was possibly due to the label Talkin' Loud's association with the Mercury record label which at the time was in dour financial trouble. Such a shame, as UK Garage was fast beginning to lose the rawness which made it great in favor of a more radio-friendly pop sound popularized by acts such as Mis-Teeq and The True Steppers. 

Past Love    4:19
Keep Your Sorries    4:56
Minus Ten Degrees    4:07
Suppressing It    3:40
Black Lisa    5:12
Hold On Tighter    3:18

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Ali (Alistar Tennant): Promo EP (200x)

Formally of the short-lived early 90s R&B quartet Rhythn-N-Bass, Tennant, who was blessed with a raw and soulful voice, released his debut album "Crucial" in 1998 via Polydor. Initially  he appeared to be pushed to the US market and many of his singles were released via Island Black Music (while it was still owned by PolyGram.) In Britain, his album went by the alternate title of "Bitter Honey" and appeared to be marketed by Polydor sub label at the time WildCard. At the turn of the millennium, he released "Do Your Thing" via independent label 3MV which was many of the great rare tracks chosen by me to feature on my "Best Of Street Beats" playlist a few years back. I have no idea where the above set came from but along with "Jamila" was one of many CDs found by my friend (a producer and former library musician) in amongst the bits and pieces he'd collected over the years. Tracks such as "Three Wishes" and "Do You Don't Ya" are very much uptempo contemporary R&B with the remainder (especially "Look What You're Doin'" staying true to his blues/soul roots. 

Three Wishes    3:29
Finally    3:28
Do Ya Don't Ya    3:30
Look What You're Doin'    4:03

More publishing CD greatness

At first assumed to be an unreleased project from UK singer Jamelia, it actually has connections to another UK R&B star Shola Ama. Sung by an unknown singer "Jamilia", the CD features the original version of Ama's track "In Return". The track was originally written by Bradley Spalter and appeared on Ama's 1999 album of the same name. Compared with the other tracks on this disc by Jerkins, Wayne Lawes (Full Crew) and StarGate, I always found Ama's version rather filler-esque but here on part of the singer's fine vocals, it really stands out. The other track "Wishful Thinking" appears to have never been used by anybody else but the structure of the song is somewhat similar to Coco Lee's "All Tied Up In You" which was also written by Spalter. It does not appear to have been registered with ASCAP but was published via Shankman DeBlasio Melina Inc.

In Return    4:04
Wishful Thinking    5:25