There’s no music genre louder and prouder in Melbourne town right now than soul. Fresh outta the new Northside Records label, The Soul of Melbourne documents this funky, tight and thriving scene.

Who better to narrow down the plethora of Melbourne soul talent than Lance Ferguson (Cookin’ on Three Burners, The Bamboos) and Chris Gill (3RRR’s The Get Down, Northside Records).The shared experience of these two soul buffs, ensures this album delivers the some funky goodness.

The 18 track album features the cream of the Melbourne soul crop. While the choice of some artists are obvious, a decent amount are a pleasant discovery for those vaguely familiar with the scene.

The Bombay Royale’s track, “Monkey Fight Snake,” transports you to a high drama Bollywood motion picture, with electrifying trumpet riffs and equally constant bass groove. It’s clear why these guys were crowned The Age EG Award’s ‘Best New Talent,’ fighting off the likes of Saskwatch, The Cactus Channel and Chet Faker, who coincidentally are all featured on the album too.

There’s a surprisingly upbeat soul number from The Mighty Show-Stoppers on “Hippy Skippy Moonstrut.” Then Clairy Browne and her Bangin’ Rackettes provide the powerful and punchy harmonies on “Love Letter.”

While AXOLOTL opt for a modern electronic sound with “Debris.” A similar sort of electronic influences governs ‘future soul’ outfit Hiatus Kaiyote, yet their sound is something oh-so-unique.

Cookin’ on 3 Burners adds the needed dose of hammond to the mix. Not to mention the funky fretwork of Lance Ferguson on “Skeletor.”

Speaking of Lance Ferguson, no Melbourne soul compilation would be complete without the The Bamboos. “What I know” features vocals from the original Bamboos songstress Kylie Auldist, who also has her own disco infused track “Changes”. On top of this, the band also back Syl Johnson on “Is it because I’m Black?”

Also featured are Deep Street Soul, Electric Empire, The Putbacks, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Menagerie and Gypsy Brown.

Some are calling it ‘the soul resurgence,’ and that’s fair enough comment. But soul music never fully disappeared, and isn’t something that’s now being regurgitated. These talented Melbourne bands are embracing the soul style and taking it to places the likes of James Brown never would have imagined. There’s no doubt about it; Melbourne’s got soul.

This is a terrific compilation, and true acknowledgement of these artists. Grab a copy, but better yet, go and see these bands live; its the way soul should be experienced.

The Soul Of Melbourne LP is promised soon. After all, vinyl is the way music was meant to be recorded.


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