Song Review: Soul II Soul – “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)”

Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” was released as the act’s second single and featured vocals by Caron Wheeler. It was originally released in the UK in May of 1989, and was released in the United States later that year. The song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Caron Wheeler wrote and sang the lead vocals for both this track, as well as Soul II Soul’s first single, “Keep on Movin’.” Prior to working with Soul II Soul, she had done backup vocals for Elvis Costello, Howard Jones, and on two of the songs on Erasure’s The Innocents album (“Chains of Love” and “Yahoo!”).

The version of the song that appears on Soul II Soul’s album (Club Classics Vol. One internationally, while it was titled Keep On Movin’ in the United States) is an a cappella track. Before being released as a single, it was re-worked and re-mixed and the “However Do You Want Me” subtitle was added to the title.

I was in the ninth grade when this song was released, and it was one of those songs I heard quite a bit at school dances that year. As a dance track, it holds up well, even today. Unlike a lot of the dance music that came out during the late 1980s and early 1990s, “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” doesn’t sound very dated.

The music video is a rather simple affair, but it’s overall an enjoyable viewing experience and works well with the song. Something that I just didn’t catch or really pay attention before is how some shots repeat back-to-back two or three times to create a “stutter” effect. When I watched the video before writing up this post, I noticed this several times and it ended up drawing too much attention to itself. Oh well. I still like the song, anyway.

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