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Thursday 15 February 2018

Soul II Soul: Mainman Jazzie B Remembers Tommy Steele & Sound Systems Ahead Of Brighton Show

"We're from the days when a number 14 bus and a supermarket trolley got us around." Soul II Soul mainman Jazzie B remembers the lengths he and a school friend used to go to play dances with their first sound system when they were just thirteen years old.

It sums up the determination, resourcefulness and a love for music, that got Soul II Soul where it is today. 

And the here and now will see the iconic British band embark on a landmark tour of the UK - with a stop off at Brighton Dome, on Sunday 21st October 2018 - marking thirty years of hugely influential success, paying tribute to their legendary debut album, "Club Classics Vol 1".

Their first North London sound system, Jah Rico, played mainly reggae, but after three years changed the vibe to more soul and funk and Soul II Soul was born. 

"We came up with the name not just because of the music we played, it also stood for Daddae and myself - two souls moving together. 

"We've always had that kind of relationship – there are not many words exchanged between us, but everything that's happened has been very much in tandem." 

Soul II Soul quickly achieved a name in their community, but were in no position to give up the day jobs, and at age eighteen, Jazzie was working for cockney pop legend Tommy Steele, as a tape operator. 

He found himself one of the few black people working in London's recording studio and recalls how this shaped his attitude: 

"It made me vexed in one way, but it made me see that there are parts of the industry that we're not taking care of because we always want to be so upfront." 

As Soul II Soul grew, Jazzie was determined to create a dancefloor environment that would appeal across the board. 

By the mid-1980s the warehouse scene was in full swing, vibrant and underground, removed from the constraints of the mainstream – a natural fit for Soul II Soul's creativity: 

"We were very arty as an early sound. We never had conventional speakers, we used pyrotechnics in a dance, we had banners and strobes in a house party!" 

Nothing summed them and their crowd up better than their regular Sunday night spot at the now legendary Africa Centre in London's Covent Garden. 

This was truly the Soul II Soul experience, which, unlike other sound systems on the same circuit, wasn't just about the big name DJs, it was about a vibe. Jazzie remembers it as being unique: 

"You had people from all walks of life at the Africa Centre. A very eclectic crowd. It was like Benetton down there!

With huge hits including Keep On Movin (which sold over a million copies in the US alone) and the UK number one single Back To Life (However Do You Want Me), Soul II Soul progressed from being one of the leaders of the aforementioned 1980's warehouse scene to pioneering British black music around the world, and securing commercial success for themselves and the huge amount of artists they have influenced. 

During the course of their stellar career the band have sold over ten million albums worldwide and main man Jazzie B was awarded an OBE for services to music in 2008, as well as winning an Ivor Novello Award for Inspiration, as "the man who gave British black music a soul of its own".

They even have a slogan all of their own: "A happy face, a thumpin' bass, for a lovin' race."

Soul II Soul play Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Sunday 21st October 2018. For more info CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley


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