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“Cold fresh air – feel the melody that’s in the air”

#45 Back To Life (However Do You Want Me?) Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler

[630] Writers: Beresford Romeo, Caron Wheeler, Simon Law & Nellee Hooper.
Producers: Jazzie B & Nellee Hooper.
10 Jun 89 – 14 weeks on chart – #1 for 4 weeks from 24 Jun 89.

This was Soul II Soul’s follow-up to their #5 hit Keep On Movin’, which came after two hits which had floundered at #63 and #64. The man with the stick was one Beresford Romeo, AKA Jazzie B, with his new take on British soul. The stick was possibly to help him stay standing when trying to get through the local park with all the mad dancing people in it. (Meaningless if you don’t remember the video, I admit.)

Soul II Soul was a ‘collective’, not a group. Oh no. They had a philosophy, don’t you know. “A happy face, a thumping bass, for a loving race.” They had also used three different singers on the first three hits, but stuck with Caron Wheeler again on this one. And boy did it pay off! Four weeks at the top, and the soundtrack to the Summer. ‘Back To Life’ hit number one around Pride week, and forever reminds me of the boyfriend I started going out with that very weekend. (Hi Simon!) Don’t get too happy though, dear reader – the tear-jerking song of our break-up is coming later.

This single was the funky fresh filling in a PWL #1 sandwich, as it knocked off Jason Donovan (which I very much wanted to do at the time, to the narcissistic extent of having the same floppy blond haircut) and was deposed by pop puppet Sonia. “Er…..Mersey!”

Soul II Soul notched up twelve more hits after this, including three more top tens. Caron Wheeler managed another five all on her own,

This little exercise made me dig out my Club Classics Volume 1 album and play it again after more than a decade, and do you know what? It sounds brilliant, and not dated at all. It too made #1 and spent 60 weeks on the chart. Strangely though, the album doesn’t even feature a ‘proper’ version of ‘Back To Life’, just an a capella version, which meant that people had to buy the single if they liked it.

‘Back To Life’ is the #1 favourite of Marcus and the #6 of Rob , who says it “reminds me of Summer in Birmingham, marvellous”.

Factette: Some copies of the single didn’t credit Caron Wheeler on the sleeve or the label. But others did, so I have too.

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