[Every Friday #26] > Special Touch – Garden of Life {1991}

Located somewhere on the edge of UK street soul (plus a little bit of deep house) Special Touch is one of the defining examples of this often retrospectively termed genre, which loosely categorised black, soul-inspired music with a DIY, bass-driven aesthetic from the late 80s to early-mid 90s.

A family affair through and through, producer and TSR founder Robert Charles Roper and his vocalist brother Duval created an LP that effortlessly married the rawness of underground hip hop, reggae and early house with the sentiment and warmth of soul music.

Few, if any, street soul tracks hit the same sublime heights as the title track ‘Garden of Life’, a consummate encapsulation of the Special Touch sound, decorated with breathtaking synth melodies layered over crunchy drum machine hits and Duval’s soaring vocals.

Admittedly, in 2007 I only came across this tune via the most excellent compilation ‘Computer Incarnations For World Peace’ by my buddy Gerd Janson and the hunt for an original LP was on. But, cough, cough, £250 is not my style and I was happy to cop the reissue from a couple of years ago. ‘Garden of Life’ reminds me of early Blaze and Josh Milan, whose oeuvre is another potential candidate for the “Every Friday, I post a tune for the weekend” series.

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