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The Independent Culture
The recent arrival of an official British R&B chart symbolised a development the Top 40 charts have heralded, by way of a glutton of hits, for months. Chintzy 1990s soul is huge. Jade, NM8 and R Kelly are just a handful from the sweet vocal/swanky groove task force who are cleaning up, financially if not always lyrically. Even Croydon's own pop-soul acolytes, Eternal, six hits from one album down the line, have benefited.

The sassy soul revolution's roots aren't difficult to pin down - Janet Jackson's sultry but sophisticated chirrups via blockbuster albums since the mid-Eighties; En Vogue turning the fem group thing into a glamour contest; SWV breezing in with urban-girl street cred. Chances are, you wouldn't have heard of any of them before the video on TOTP, but they sell stacks. Which is why relative unknowns For Real (right) can play two nights at the Labatt's Apollo as if they were regular fixtures like Suede.

The Californian clones sing like honey-tongued angels and while single "You Don't Wanna Miss" (A&M) isn't riveting, the forthcoming album by the veggie teetotal quartet is wholesome and focused enough.

Gig support comes from Raja Nee, whose single "Turn it Up" wades around in familiar P-funk waters. Like male troupe Lo-Key, the third name on the bill, she is produced by Jam and Lewis, Janet Jackson's miracle workers. Beware: the cool Americans are here for your hearts and cash. Alternatively, get ready to party.

For Real, Labatt's Apollo, Hammersmith 25 and 26 Feb

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