SPECIAL TOUCH "Garden Of Life" UK STREET SOUL BOOGIE FUNK HOUSE LP
When you talk about UK Street Soul, and the sounds that define it, it’s impossible to look past Special Touch’s first and only album, Garden of Life. A shining example of this often retrospectively termed genre, which loosely categorised black, soul-inspired music with a DIY, bass-driven aesthetic from the late ‘80s to early-mid ‘90s, this impossibly rare record from cult label Top Secret Recordings weaves a unique brand of positivity and musicality across nine uplifting tracks.
A family affair through and through, producer and TSR founder Robert Charles Roper and his vocalist brother Duval created an LP that effortlessly married the rawness of underground hip-hop, reggae and early house with the sentiment and warmth of soul music. With original copies never having traded hands for below £100 on Discogs, this fully licensed, remastered reissue for Heels & Souls Recordings debut release will be a welcome sight for many.
The continuous thread over the nine tracks is an uplifting optimism, whether on the house-flecked ‘It’s Your Life’, the slung-back ‘Tonight’ or the breakbeat-punctuated ‘Music’. And few, if any, street soul tracks hit the same sublime heights as the title track ‘Garden of Life’, a consummate encapsulation of the Special Touch sound, decorated with breathtaking synth melodies layered over crunchy drum machine hits and Duval’s soaring vocals.
A high-point of an underground street soul scene that caused vibrations throughout UK dancefloors, blues parties, soundsystems and pirate stations from Manchester, London, Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham and beyond, Heels & Souls Recordings are delighted to be working alongside Robert to present a relicensed version of Garden of Life for their debut release, remastering the record from the original DAT tape at The Bakehouse Studio.
Complete with a printed inner sleeve detailing the history of Special Touch and the record’s significance, label co-founders Ben Croft and Patrick Forrester, alongside Prime Direct Distribution, will also be donating their respective share of profits to The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise delivering Black British history programmes and teacher training to facilitate both national curriculum and wider societal changes.
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