Soul with A British Accent

Transatlantic musicians like Mick Hucknall, Lisa Stansfield and Seal revitalize an American pop invention -- and in some cases make it better

In the 1960s and '70s, the soul sounds of Detroit and Philadelphia were the glory of American pop. From the funk styles of James Brown to the fervid testifying of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, soul music was something you could not only hear but also feel: rhythm without blues, emotion without sentimentality. Then in the '80s a few big record companies discovered they could rack up sales by substituting hyperactive beats and overdressed arrangements for soul's honest impact. Subtle vocal stylists gave way to crooners; soul gave way to dance music, marketed mainly to black listeners. Even powerful singers like...

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