Top 20 mod/soul albums of 2014

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Everyone seems to be making lists at the moment, so here’s mine – 20 of the best mod and soul albums of 2014.

It’s been a great year for mod/soul releases. And if, nothing else, this list may remind you to put some of these on your Christmas lists – especially the more pricey ones like The Small Faces and Jam box sets.

I have put the albums of original new music at the top of the list, with the handsomely packaged reissues jostling for position below.

So, here goes… and if you think there are some glaring omissions from this list please give me a shout.

1. Big Boss Man – Last Man On Earth (Blow Up)
Great Hammond driven acid jazzy grooves with a 60s R&B twist and a soundtracky nod to the likes of Get Carter. Stand out track ‘Crimson 6Ts’

2. New Street Adventure – No Hard Feelings (Acid Jazz)
Debut album full of timeless soul tunes and poignant lyrics. There’s a touch of Curtis Mayfield here, The Style Council and long forgotten 80s outfit The Faith Brothers. Stand out track: ‘On Our Front Doorstep’

3. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Give The People What They Want (Daptone)
The sixth album from the New York soul shouter and her tight and funky band. Stand out track: ‘Stranger To My Happiness’

4. Nick Waterhouse – Holly (V2)
Californian Nick Waterhouse leans towards late 50s early 60s for his rootsy, raw R&B sounds. Stand out track: ‘Sleepin Pills’

5. Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed – Nights Like This (Warner Brothers)
Sharp skillful soul with a Motown/Stax feel on Reed’s fourth album. Stand out track: ‘Nights Like This’

6. Modstock: 21st Century Club Classics (Detour)
Classy compilation of mod, northern, garage, pysch and soul, brought to you by the New Untouchables. Stand out track: The Aquamen – ‘Line and Track’

7. Northern Soul: The Soundtrack (Harmless)
For many the film event of the year. And it didn’t disappoint. The soundtrack is brimful of northern classics, so hard to pick a favourite. Stand out track: Edwin Starr – ‘Time’

8. Motown 7s Box: Volume 2 (Universal-Island)
Despite reports of problems with the quality of this box set (records jumping etc) those of us lucky enough to get an untarnished version of this 7″ rarities selection were chuffed to bits. Stand out track: Jimmy Ruffin – ‘He Who Picks A Rose’

9. DJ Snowboy Presents The Good Foot (BGP)
Talented persussionist and veteran DJ Snowboy brings together some of his favourite tracks played at his weekly night The Good Foot. A quality compilation of 60s soul, R&B and latin with a touch of funk. Stand out track: The Dynamics – ‘Misery’

10. Mod Jazz And Then Some (Kent)
This quality series of compilations shows no signs of flagging, with the best in cool, late-night soho coffee bar mod jazz instrumentals. Stand out track: Googie Rene and his Combo – ‘Bossa Baby’

11. Acid Jazz Mod (Not Bad)
Quality collection of mod-friendly grooves released on Eddie Piller’s Acid Jazz label… though strangely put out on Not Bad. Includes tracks by the Moons, Corduroy, Geno Washington and more. Stand out track: Paul Weller & Andy Lewis – ‘Are You Trying To Be Lonely’

12. Keep Lookin’ – 80 More Mod, Soul & Freakbeat Nuggets (RPM)
Three CDs of mod friendly grooviness from The Artwoods, The In Crowd, The Sorrows and many more. Stand out track: Laurel Aitken – ‘Voodoo Woman’

13. Millions Like Us – The Story Of The Mod Revival 1977-1989 (Cherry Red)
Nicely packaged four-CD set featuring The Lambrettas, The Chords, Secret Affair, et al. Truth be told, if you got rid of some of the naffer tunes it would be a better listen overall but it serves as a decent snapshot of the time. Stand out track: The Circles – ‘Opening Up’

14. Small Faces – Here Comes The Nice Box Set (Sanctuary)
A must have for Small Faces fans, this 4CD box set with lavish hardback book, fine art prints and lyric book comes at a heavy price. One for the Christmas list. And a timely reminder of the late great Ian McLagan’s Hammond prowess. Stand out track: ‘Talk To You’.

15. Right Now: Atlantic Club Soul And Deep Cuts (Fantastic Voyage)
Compiled by journalist, soul lover and DJ Lois Wilson, Right Now features choice cuts of early R&B, soul, blues and rock n’ roll. Stand out track: Lavern Baker – ‘Voodoo Voodoo’

16. The R&B Singles Collection Volume 3 (Outta Sight)
Another quality compilation series which shows no signs of barrel scraping. Fine tracks from Little Joe Hinton, Wilson Pickett, The Miracles and more. Stand out track ‘Bruce Cloud – My Book’

17. New Orleans Soul: The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76 (Soul Jazz)
Hard pressed to think of a bad album ever released on Soul Jazz. And this collection of tracks from the Big Easy’s finest (Aaron Neville, Willie Tee, Jean Knight) is no exception. Stand out track: Robert Parker – ‘Caught You In A Lie’

18. The Jam – Setting Sons Super Deluxe Box Set (Universal)
Thirty fifth anniversary, bumper, super expensive celebration of Weller’s ‘almost’ concept album. Includes alternate versions of songs, dynamic live performances, singles and b-sides. Stand out track: ‘Wasteland’

19. The Who – Hits 50 (UMC)
In case you haven’t heard the news, The Who are 50 this year and here’s a career-spanning collection of maximum R&B brilliance to prove it. Stand out track: ‘I Can’t Explain’

20. Mary Love – Lay This Burden Down:The Very Best Of Mary Love (Kent)
Top collection from those nice people at Kent proving that there’s more to Mary than her northern soul classic. That said, stand out track has to be ‘Lay This Burden Down’

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