Started by the effervescent Tom (Top to his friends...well to me at least) Peel back in March 2014 Northsidestudio was established to big up north Birmingham’s music scene and one of the first physical fruits of these labours is a brand new album, The Acoustic Compilation, which is also raising much needed funds for The Norman Laud Association (who do sterling work by providing respite care for children with disabilities). There are 10 tracks on offer with some familiar names (step forward James Summerfield, Mike Moloney, Call Me Unique, Rick Wellings and, naturellement, Tom Peel) plus some new (to me anyway) artists and frankly there isn’t a duffer on it.
Ruby and Edd’s hymn to being happy who are you (something that sadly seems to be increasingly out of reach for people these days), Nobody But Me, kicks things off with the kind of chorus that’ll get you (yes, even you) singing along in seconds. Call Me Unique’s (why ain’t this lady a star yet?) deliciously free and easy vocals on Thank You and Marlem’s powerful take on the human cost of diamond mining in Five Feet fly the soul flag in fine style whilst listening to Flora Ward on Now Is The Time is like picked up gently by a hummingbird and flown around the flowers in a summertime breeze. Beautiful stuff. Tom himself closes proceedings with the gently spiritual Wisdom which, like George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, somehow even manages to appeal to a grizzled old atheist like me. A great album for an equally great cause.