Various ‘For the Love of You’ 2LP/CD (Athens of the North) 5/5

In these lockdown times when a release takes you, imaginatively of course, to a dance, it could be anywhere with big bass scoops stacked to the ceiling and the herb filling the air with a sense of liberation, when that happens you know it’s exactly what you need in the here and now. Take me there right away. And this is what ‘For the Love of You’ a Lovers Rock compilation curated by Sam Don with supervision from Euan Fryer of the label ‘Athens of The North’ (AOTN).

It took these romantic bods over two years to put this together, with singer Peter Hunningale playing a pivotal role in linking up artists to the project. I am still a bit puzzled with the name AOTN but that’s another writing mission staying on topic this set of lovers covers of very soulful, rare groove tunes is top quality rub a dub smoochiness. Lovers has always been an underrated genre. One that is often dismissed as too lightweight by many weather-worn festival going fling-foot field-goers. Additionally, Lovers singers can really sing. Long before autotune, the imperialist plot invented by music software companies to rip out the soul out of singing flooded the market, many of the people on this release had stellar independent careers. Peter Hunningale, Michael Gordon, Christine Lewin, Pure Silk, the late Michael Prophet, all known in their own right and all amazing singers with passionate voices.

It’s not easy covering a rare groove song. In fact, to some rare groove train spotters, it’s sacrilege. However, leaving those minor details to one side for a moment, these songs are covered with respect and clarity of voice. I particularly like ‘Rocking You Eternally’ from the finest of the finest Peter ‘sweet like sugar’ Hunningale; ‘Do Me Baby’ by Family Love – mainly because it’s always hard to cover a Prince song – but they pull it off really well; and ‘ Juicy Fruit’ by Christine Lewin which is difficult because the original spaced out ballad by Mtume was so special to my musical upbringing that I am shocked I like it. So on the whole hats off to Athens Of The North Edinburgh, for a release that you can just play from start to finish (with a couple of flashy rewinds) in these moody lockdown times, to lift your romantic spirit and wish for better times.

Haji Mike