Wah Wah 45s make a welcome return to the world of re-issues. Having started out over two decades ago releasing dance floor funk from Benny Poole, Cheyenne Fowler and The Googie Rene Combo, and later re-releasing obscure Kompa-funk from Haitian pianist Henri Pierre Noel, they now turn their attention to an overlooked early 90s acoustic soul gem.
About thirty years ago, music teacher and budding producer Alex Boyesen found himself working as part of the Haringey Music Workshop - a community programme and outreach project funded by the local council in Haringey, North London (coincidentally the area in which the Wah Wah head office is now based!).
"Anyone could come and get lessons for free - ranging from piano, sax, guitar, drums, bass, singing and workshops including choral, jazz band and more." Alex Boyesen
It was during that time that Alex came across a young Sam Edwards.
"One day I went into one of the rehearsal rooms and there, by herself, was this girl playing a piano and singing. It was the most incredible voice I had ever heard."
Before long, the pair were playing all over London as a duo with Alex on guitar and Sam on vocals.
"Sam had never had professional training, she was simply an utter natural."
The Haringey Music workshop was connected with other projects in the borough, in particular a community project called the Selby Centre. Here they ran training programs for young people and one of these was a music business course. The idea was that they found an artist, recorded them and then promoted them. One way or the other they ended up picking Alex and Sam to be on their roster.
"My good friend Nixon Rosembert was brought in to oversee the recordings and they hired the Islington Music Workshop to do the recording. We got musicians from the Haringey Music Workshop to play on the sessions and spent a day recording two songs -American CarsandLife. The training workshop had created a label called Progression Music and out the record went."
Three decades later and out of the blue Alex started to get interest again in the record he'd almost forgotten about all those years ago. It had become something of a sought after gem on Discogs, and there seemed to be an interest in that 'acoustic soul' sound once again.
"I got three people asking if they could re-release it and finally here we are with Wah Wah 45s doing the business after all these years."
It was Hospital Records and Wah Wah 45s founder, Chris Goss, who first brought the idea of releasing this record to the table.
"This is a really special record for me, picked up 30 years ago, from a young James Lavelle at Honest Jon's in Ladbroke Grove. Sam Edwards would go on to perform and write songs with North London's Izit, the acid jazz collective fronted by Tony Colman - with whom I have built a music company, these past 25 years. Alex Boyeson worked with Tony at the Haringey Arts Project, who produced a one-off vinyl release of Alex's two compositions back in 1991. Thanks to Alex and Tony, we have been able to clean-up the original audio, uncover photos and lyric sheets to present, with real love and affection, these two lost gems from a bygone era." Chris Goss, Feb 2021.
The project was then expanded by Dom Servini, who got heavy disco legend Ashley Beedle and co-label owner and erstwhile producer Adam Scrimshire in to take on remix duties.
"When approached by Dom Servini to reworkAmerican CarsI had no idea about the history of the original song. After a good listen myself and studio partner Darren Morris set to work and all I can say that it was a lovely experience keeping the vibe of the original but giving it a spaced out feel in true Afrikanz On Marz fashion." Ashley Beedle, Feb 2021.
"Remixing without multi-tracks always brings a bunch of challenges, getting the balance between the bass and drums in the original and what you want to do with your own version. The song really dictates certain things to you.
But it was such a pleasure to explore that with this beautiful song and vocal performance. So many ways to approach it. I just wanted to draw out more of the melancholy in the original and make it an absorbing experience." Adam Scrimshire, Feb 2021.
Perhaps the last word should be given to Alex himself, who's very much enjoying the new lease of life that his music with Sam is getting.
"As I write this we are trying to locate her, she's somewhere singing something, that's all she ever did. Thanks for being part of my life Sam and I am so glad that this small bit of that time is being remembered." Alex Boyesen, Feb 2021.