Ever since the rise of the Beatles in the early 1960s, England has had no problem giving the United States a serious run for its money in the rock & roll department. There is no getting around the fact that if you excluded British artists from your rock collection, it would be considerably poorer. R&B, however, has always been dominated by the U.S. and probably always will be. But that doesn't mean that England's contributions to R&B haven't been impressive-Hot Chocolate, Lisa Stansfield, Soul II Soul, the Chimes, the Brand New Heavies and Loose Ends are among the Brits who have provided excellent R&B over the years. Another major R&B talent from the U.K. is the charismatic Junior, who showed considerably promise on his debut album of 1982, Ji. That year, those who grooved to the singer's inspiring hit "Mama Used to Say" felt that he was destined to become a huge name in R&B-and that single wasn't the only reason for their optimism. The soulster is also quite promising on tracks that range from the melancholy "Too Late" (another single) to the funky "Let Me Know." But regrettably, Junior only had a few hits in the U.S. and didn't become as well known in North America as was in England. Some of the albums that followed Ji are also strong; nonetheless, Ji remains his most essential release.
by Alex Henderson