Various Artists - Dome 30 Years, Vol. 1

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    Various Artists - Dome 30 Years, Vol. 1

    Dome Records has infiltrated the British soul market for three decades with a solid roster of home-grown talents and American R&B vocalists expanding their reach outside of the States. Giving wider distribution to independent releases by some who fall into the latter category (e.g. Gordon Chambers and Donnie), the label has also established the careers of original signings like Hil St Soul, Beverley Knight, and Richard Darbyshire. Additionally, Industry mainstays such as Incognito and Lulu have migrated to the fold at various points in their artistic journeys.

    Various Artists - Dome 30 Years, Vol. 1

    Dome Records has infiltrated the British soul market for three decades with a solid roster of home-grown talents and American R&B vocalists expanding their reach outside of the States. Giving wider distribution to independent releases by some who fall into the latter category (e.g. Gordon Chambers and Donnie), the label has also established the careers of original signings like Hil St Soul, Beverley Knight, and Richard Darbyshire. Additionally, Industry mainstays such as Incognito and Lulu have migrated to the fold at various points in their artistic journeys.

    Dome 30 Years Vol 1 collects 25 tracks from the label’s catalog, spanning Lulu and Bobby Womack’s 1993 remake of the Al Johnson/Jean Carne classic, “Back for More,” to Incognito’s brand-new rendition of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This.” Yes, covers of old-school soul jams have been an important component of Dome’s mandate since inception, with treatments ranging from Beverlei Brown’s faithful yet funky 2002 interpretation of France Joli’s “Gonna Get Over You” to Lasperanza’s surprisingly transformed 2019 take on Gwen Guthrie’s “It Should Have Been You.” While some of the cover versions haven’t added much new to the mix, a definite standout is Jarrod Lawson’s new spin on The Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark.” Embodying Ron Isley’s vocal essence without mimicking it, his gutsy and gratifying performance is complemented by an authentic but modern arrangement that is strikingly effective for a tune so closely identified with its originators.

    A combination of original album versions and remixes make for a well-rounded two-disc assembly. Brenda Russell’s jazzy, Brazilian-flavored 2004 groover “Make You Smile” fits comfortably in the company of the 2021 Micky More & Andy Tee remix of Shaun Escoffery’s “Nature’s Call.” Drizabone Soul Family’s 2010 update of the 1990 gem “Real Love” (then recorded by an earlier incarnation of the group) captures a nostalgic sense of groove, while Mr Gone’s Samba De Sueo Remix of Down to the Bone and Flora Purim’s “The Flow” resonates with mellow nightclub vibes.

    A number of hidden treasures are present on Dome 30 Years Vol 1. Producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Stevens’ 1995 re-creation of 52nd Street’s “Tell Me (How It Feels),” fronted by Meli’sa Morgan, is a heavenly slice of contemporary-jazz-meets-modern-soul that arguably bests the original. The much too short-lived R&B/acid jazz sextet Seek’s 2003 midtempo jam “Talk about It,” as well, is worth certain revisiting. Furthermore, it’s a treat to time-travel back to 2001, when Angela Johnson was leading Cooly’s Hot Box on the socially conscious, sophisticated swing of “It’s Alright”; and to 2004, when the now long-MIA Avani joined forces with Carl McIntosh and Rahsaan Patterson on a cool, bumpin’ redux of Loose Ends’ “Watching You.”

    A few notable acts from the Dome roster are absent on this volume—Beverley Knight, D’Influence, and Anthony David come to mind. Hopefully, there will be a second installment to further complete the musical picture that the label has so smoothly and soulfully painted throughout many winds of change in modern R&B. Until then, Dome 30 Years Vol 1 is an impressively engaging way to listen back—and hear what you might have been missing.

    by Justin Kantor

     
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