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BÔ'VEL / CHECK 4 U / BE WITH RECORDS

Bô’vel’s independent UK soul masterpiece was the holiest of holy grails. The jewel in the crown of the ‘Rare Street Soul’ list on Discogs. After wading through any number of tracks using the nu jack swing beat (maybe I’ll get it one day), no, no, no… this stood out a mile. The purest British stripped down soundsystem music. Parred down beat, sub-bass pressure, the sweet untutored vocal whispering sweet somethings to a local ‘face’, this felt pretty much perfect.

You could say that street soul is true outsider music. Built and fostered away from the capital – a lot of London DJs don’t even acknowledge it’s a ‘thing’. Written, produced and sung by ‘real’ people, the vast majority of whom seemed to slip back into their normal lives leaving a couple of more or less anonymous stamped white labels behind them. At its very best it hits the sweet spot between lovers rock, boogie and r&b, the influences are writ large but it could only be British.

Check 4 U was quite the underground hit ‘pon its release apparently, and Bô’vel travelled to Bristol and beyond playing to sell out clubs. A huge, huge deal on the Northern pirate stations of the day too – the blue label release that you could see fetching demented money on Discogs being an “unauthorised repress” (she just called it a bootleg). There’s also a slightly older record that’s also very good – you can hear it on the end of my Animals Dancing mix here.

The tune continued to be a big deal with the original street soul DJs waaaaaay before it was picked up on by the nerds. Apparently many in Manchester were dead against it getting a reissue lest it devalue their precious original copies….

Well sadly for them, happily for us, Be With Records (and mastermined by your boy Ruf Dug) have reissued this timeless piece for everyone to enjoy – beautifully mastered too and timed just so for this British heatwave. Totally and utterly essential. 10/10. U need this.

Check 4 U is out soon on Be With Records

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