17 years after the release of Soul II Soul‘s ground-breaking ‘Club Classics Vol. 1‘ album, group leader Jazzie B regaled an audience of music industry personnel and fans with stories about his career and the making of the chart-topping album. ‘Club Classics Vol. 1’ was the subject of the Black Music Congress (BMC) organised Trailblazing British Black Music Album Anatomy, which took place on Thursday at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) office in London.
"The key point about the album really is the period of time in was done in. The fact that it was pre-digital, the impact that it had, and the fact that it was built up from the grassroots level," recalled Jazzie, adding, "It was inclusive, and still is an inclusive record, which really is a reflection of the times when that record was made".
Fellow panellists were strings arranger Mykaell Riley, who recalled Jazzie’s incessant "market researching" his dub plates in his clubs until he finally got the sound he wanted. Mick Clark, the Ten / Virgin A&R man who signed them, revealed it was for a £500 singles deal. Elyse Taylor, who handled the marketing, said the album literally sold itself. Official UK sales stand at 800,000 copies, although the album which spent over one year in the charts, is said to have sold well over 1 million domestically.
The host was former Virgin managing director and now BPI director of independent members services. The chair was BMC founder Kwaku.
"We were very privileged to have Jazzie B tell us some of the most intimate details of one of the most influential albums to have come out of Britan," said Kwaku. "That album was an artistic and commercial success. Its beats became the most prevalent sound of the late ’80s to early ’90s. And to cap it all, it generated two Grammy awards, which Jazzie revealed he was not expecting."
Looking to the present, Jazzie had some words of advice for those now entering the music business. "My best advice for people coming up in the music industry is keep your ears and eyes open – listening is the key".