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BBC – Music – Review of Various Artists

Written by on October 27, 2020

There is no messing here. The 60 tracks of The Trevor Nelson Collection – recorded between 1979 and 2010 – do indeed, as the sticker on the CD cover screams, represent “The Biggest R&B Club Classics Of All Time”.

Hardly looking a day older than when he started DJing in the mid-80s, Nelson is a true music enthusiast and wants his audience to share his passion. Whether you like his choices or not, you know that what Nelson selects always tickles his personal fancy.

Nelson’s skill has always been in his blend – knowing exactly when to drop a classic into his set to sweeten a preceding rarity or new track. But there are few unknowns here – virtually every cut has charted highly.

However, The Trevor Nelson Collection never goes too route one. And, when it does, it’s simply because that song deserves to be heard – whether it’s Luther Vandross’ sublime Never Too Much at the start of the first disc or Aloe Blacc’s I Need a Dollar at the very end of the third.

It’s like a roll call of the best of the past three decades’ contemporary soul. Michael Jackson (who kicks off the collection with Rock With You), Mary J Blige (Real Love), TLC (Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg), Mariah Carey (Fantasy), Usher (U Remind Me), Rihanna (Rude Boy) and Alicia Keys (No One) are all here.

Even records as ubiquitous at the time as Killing Me Softly by Fugees or Kelis’ Milkshake sound fresh in this context.

But the real joy of the collection, like the best of Nelson’s radio shows, is in his gathering together of the tunes you’ve forgotten about, such as Lucy Pearl’s Don’t Mess With My Man, or Tweet’s sultry Boogie 2nite.

Elsewhere, Mark Morrison’s Return of the Mack reappears with all the swagger it did when he was briefly touted as the future in 1996, and Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It is still the best soundtrack to an open-top car ride ever.

The Trevor Nelson Collection is, of course, primarily a useful party selection. But it also should be given to those who are scathing of contemporary RnB, to allow them to listen to some fantastically soulful and beautifully crafted pop songs.

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