[10] Emeli Sandé, ‘Heaven’

Emeli Sandé

“Will you recognise ME?” Sure. You’re that Shara Nelson, aren’t you?

Bit of satire there, ladeezangennelmen. Junior seems to know all the words to this one already – which is more than we can say about ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ because I never play it, having absolutely KILLED it in 1991. It left a grimy fingerprint on the stereo along with Screamadelica, Eg & Alice’s ‘Indian’, Jesus Loves You’s ‘Bow Down Mister’ and Jellyfish’s Bellybutton. And, let’s face facts, The Milltown Brothers’ debut album.

Junior asks if she’s English, obviously, but of course Sandé couldn’t be less English if she was Neptunian. She’s Scottish and let’s say that she caresses ‘Heaven’ with that peculiar Scots soul passion, ranking alongside Sharleen Spiteri, Lorraine McIntosh, Marti Pellow, Pat Kane, Lulu and, er, Maria McKee. On firmer ground, the beats are terrific and the strings – ahem – sympathetic. That Critics’ Choice BRIT will look lovely in her palm.

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[19] Soul II Soul, ‘Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)’

Caron Wheeler

Junior’s hair’s growing fast, but stops just short of Funky Dreads. OK, miles short. She and the iDog were content to shake metaphorical dreads, nodding their heads sagely as if they were teetering on the cutting edge in the Africa Centre in the late 80s. The Africa Centre. It was just a rubbish shop in Covent Garden, wasn’t it?

A seminal record, this, so we’re told. I always find it oddly unsatisfying. Where’s Jazzie B’s searing insight into being selective and objective and an asset to the collective? I mean, come on, we’re on this mission to achieve. But yes, Caron Wheeler does a lovely job – early Shara-Nelson-bad-solo-career prototype that she was – and the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra keep it swinging. They had plaits, incidentally, not Funky Dreads. They were no a to the c.

I had this single on 3” CD. Weren’t the 80s great?

[1] Massive Attack, ‘Unfinished Sympathy (Paul Oakenfold Mix)’

Shara Nelson

“Forced” by public opinion and common decency to drop the ‘Attack’ half from their name for the duration of the first Gulf War, Massive still managed to score their debut hit, almost as if the publicity did them no harm. Cynicism aside, it would’ve been a travesty if this hadn’t troubled the chart scorers. As it is, it only flirted with the edges of the Top 10 when it surely deserved to climb far higher. This is the beefed-up Oakenfold single mix: it kicks off properly rather than ambling in like the album version. Pretty much everything else is the same. Shara Nelson still rules, her abortive solo career just a dull twinkle in the corner of her eye.

Junior has chickenpox and I lost my job last week, so we have plenty of time to sit here and pick over the song and its band. But we took potshots at the post-Blue Lines output in the 1995 rundown; maybe we’ll just enjoy this record. Junior gives it the paradoxically supportive shake of the head and waves around the cow-on-a-stick. This is no faint praise.

Right, we all know the drama and beauty of this track, so let’s concentrate on the trivial. My mate had Blue Lines with the ‘Attack’ intact, mine just said ‘Massive’. He thought his was the better artefact, but history would prove him wrong, no?

While we muse over these matters, and where to go next with this place, we’re playing Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Junior is applauding the Dame.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]