Automatic Soul is billed as a companion piece to Late Night Tales' 2012 album Music For Pleasure, also mixed by (one half of Groove Armada) Tom Findlay. Where that album pulled together a fine collection of yacht rock this album is focused on the last great period of soul - 80s soul music that has had an injection of electricity... Drum machines, 808s, synths and keyboards prevail.
There are a few relatively well know tracks in here but there are also a slew of lesser known gems. Mtume's Juicy Fruit opens and elsewhere we have a few other very recognisable numbers such Rene & Angela's I'll Be Good. There are also a number of tracks better known for what they have more recently inspired... Gloria Estafan backing vocalist Donna Allen's Serious is best known as the track sampled by Strike's U Sure Do, but it sounds far better here in full. Similarly Thelma Houston's You Used To Hold Me So Tight shatters another illusion from my former years - Richard X wasn't as original as I'd thought, and his collaboration with forgotten pop star Javine, You Used To, was really just a polished cover.
Speaking of polished covers... This being a Late Night Tales album Findlay has included his own cover, as Sugardaddy, his collaboration with Tim Hutton. Together they take on Dennis Edwards' Don't Look Any Further.
Much in the same way Music For Pleasure shined in the way it resurfaced and recontextualised forgotten gems, Automatic Soul does much the same. Change's Change Of Heart is an absolute classic example of exactly what made this form of electronic soul so great - snappy, inventive and catchy as hell. You Are In My System by The System does much the same, bumpy minimal electronic rhythms wedded to soulful vocals to create something utterly of the future when it first came out. Fonda Rae's Touch Me is utterly irresistible, the well known vocal hook of "Hold me baby, drive me crazy, touch me... all night long" sure to lodge itself deep into your head and heart.
Every bit as great as Music For Pleasure, Automatic Soul's only misstep is coming two months after summer ended. Get it, treasure it and remember to get it out next July.