Picks and Pans Review: Road to Freedom

updated 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Young Disciples

These U.K. club sensations sprang out of the "Rare Groove" vibe of the late '80s, a rediscovery of '70s R&B à la Earth Wind and Fire and the Ohio Players. The band's sound—combining rap, reggae, soul, jazz—creates a magical cross-pollination. Released in Europe in 1991, Road to Freedom has finally arrived on these shores. Simply put, it's essential.

Shining brightest is featured (and now, sadly, departed) singer Carleen Anderson. The daughter of a former James Brown session player, she has a smoky, weary, womanly alto and is achingly human on the breathtaking "Freedom Suite." With more grit than Soul II Soul and more depth than fellow trendmates the Brand New Heavies, the Disciples defy categorization. Their Road to Freedom is paved with exquisitely original soul music. (Talkin Loud/Mercury)

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