Monday, May 30, 2022

Unreleased music from two 90s dance divas and The X factor

Unreleased music from two 90s dance divas, formally of Soul II Soul and Livin’ Joy. While Soul II Soul wasn’t a dance outfit per se, their music reached a spanned a whole selection of different genres from R&B to reggae to dance. It was here that Melissa Bell gained notoriety as one of the co-lead vocalists, mostly for “Wish” released in 1993. She left the group in 1996 to pursue a solo career but was drawn back to groups a year later with Dazz, an Italian Jazz-dance group. Billed as “Dazz feat. Melissa Bell”, at one point they were signed to Acid Jazz, the label behind The Brand New Heavies, but their album was not released. The album in my opinion, was a masterpiece, with strong notes of acid jazz, UK street soul, funk and even dance music, the ultimate 90s combination. Highlights for me include a few amazing covers of Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” and Howard Jones’ 1984 new wave classic “What Is Love”, a cover that retains the song’s original melody with a rocky twist. The street soul tracks are divine, with “Show Me The Way” giving me strong Kiss The Sky vibes. It certainly would not have sounded out of place in 1997 so why was it seemingly on ever promoted it Italy? Sadly Bell’s name wasn’t really mentioned again until her daughter Alexandra won The X Factor in 2008. Most upsettingly she passed in 2017, never truly getting the recognition she deserved outside of Soul II Soul or later her own daughter. And just when you think you've seen the last of it, Cowell's dog and pony show pops up again in 2018 when a very humble lady called Janice Robinson walked out onto the stage saying that "it all started about 23 years ago with a song I wrote, it's called "Dreamer." The former massive voice behind Italian house project Livin' Joy, Robinson absolutely owned the stage that night and her performance is probably one of the most memorable in the shows' 17 year history. Already a veteran at the time, she recorded the above demos in the early 2000s for a project that once again never saw the light of day. With Livin’ Joy’s “Dreamer” since being given a new lease of life in 2022, with a voice, writing ability and passion for music like hers, I still I can’t help but feel this talented lady deserved so much more. So why was she reduced to appearing on the X Factor despite having one of the most memorable voices of the 90s? And of all people to mentor her...a former US soap actress Alya Field!