Located just off Oxford Street at 42 Hanway Street, London you would find Contempo, a record shop and mail order company opened in 1970 by Blues And Soul magazine founder John Abbey. They dealt out some of the hottest Black Music of the time as well as becoming established booking agents and promoters. This brand new compilation of their record releases pays testament to the strength of both the label and the music which existed then – like a bygone age, acting in defiance of today’s often bland, mechanical repetition. Spanning three cd’s of bliss as voices soar, feelings are realised and music transcends it seems like a strange, hidden pleasure to discover such an experience in the digital reality of 2018. The other vital thing that becomes quickly apparent is the sheer diversity of the sounds from Northern Soul’s up-tempo R&B with the likes of Major Lance etc to the low-slung Funk of The Masai’s ‘Cross The Track’ alongside Cymande’s timeless ‘Brothers On The Slide’ – which still sends shivers. Of course, the music evolved with the years and fresh styles where absorbed as the second disc flies by. 1975’s Howeefeel ‘Just Can’t Do Without Love (A Thousand Faces) feels like a long lost breezy classic and there’s a whole lot more revealed of that calibre too. Disco never was a dirty word and Crown Heights Affair delicious ‘Dancin’ testifies to the fact. Sam And Dave’s wonderful version of ‘Why Did You Do It’ is also excitingly included, as is JJ Barnes uplifting take on How Long from 1977, ending the journey on a high which you sometimes might wonder where it has all disappeared to.
Release: August 24