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Gareth's Nordic Soul Nuggets

Brighton vinyl fiend and Jazz Rooms regular Gareth Stephens digs deep once again, this time with some 'Nordic Soul' gems.

Through my years of record collecting I have been astonished with the rich output of amazing soul/funk/jazz/psych folk to come out of Nordic/Scandinavian counties. Artists such as Little Dragon & Jimi Tenor have become known globally, but others are little known out side their countries of origin / or amongst small music scenes. Though I am no expert in Nordic Soul, Funk & Jazz, but here are a few bands & artist (both new & old) that have influenced me.

I haven't heard much Danish or Icelandic music in these genres. If you have any recommendations please drop us a line as would love to hear them.


I first heard Doris' 'You Never Come Closer' on a tape which came free from the 'That's How It Is' club night run by Gilles Peterson, James Lavelle et al in the early 90's. The track has been a favourite ever since. I've still not tracked down an original Swedish issue (which is extremely rare), but thankfully Mr Bongos have repressed the album. It also includes the funky classic 'Beatmaker'.


Timmion Records

Timmion Records are one of those rare labels which I can buy anything I see by them without listening; I know it's going to be good. With a large output of amazing funk, soul & R'n'B 7's under their belt (some of the early ones are now fetching big money) and a number of artist LPs, Timmion are like the Finnish version of the Daptone. With key members playing on records under different pseudonyms and backing singer such as Willie West, Myron & E and Nicole Willis. Additionally the label runs SF Timmion, which focuses on music in the Finnish language such as Yona and also a vinyl cutting / master service. For me Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – Keep Reachin' Up (2005) is the best of the new breed of funk/soul lps and there is also a new album due out this year from these guys to look forward to.


Traveller Records

Another fantastic Finnish record label is Traveller / Kojak Giant Sounds run by all round good guy Dj Ionik. A forthcoming re-issue gem on the label is from Finnish jazz man Heikki Sarmanto (also look out for Heikki’s track Duke & Trane – epic spiritual jazz).  On this track which was originally released in Finland in 1980, Heikki is joined by singer Jeannine Otis for a disco nugget Magic Song. Another big tune on the label last year was by the Swedish group Combo De La Musica entitled Why. Sister label Kojak Giant Sounds puts out some killer disco re-edits. 

Cornelis Vreeswijk – I Rio De Janeiro

Singer songwriter Cornelis Vreeswijk is a legend in Sweden, with a prolific back catalogue.  I love this easy listening samba cut from 1968, where Cornelis lets lose with his take on Brazilian Music.


Frode Thingnæs - Wheels

I heard Wheels by Norway's Frode Thingnæs in the early 2000's at Russ Dewburys Jazzrooms. But it took my years to find out what it was; finally it was ID'ed for me by record hero Gary Johnson. Norwegian DJ / producer & record collector Fred Fades kindly tracked a copy down for me. Fred recently informed me that Frode passed away at the age of 72 in September 2012, but was still playing live in Norway well into his old age. Love the crazy synths at the start of the track!


Jo Stance

I never understood why Jo Stance's 2010 lp didn’t get much love in the UK. I thought it was a classic soul album. Released on the Finnish Ricky-Tick records (who where responsible for loads of great jazz records by artist such a Timo Lassy, The Five Corners Quintet etc) it’s a strong album through out from this talented singer.   I was disappointed to never see any Ricky- Ticks artist live whilst visiting Finland. So on my last visit there I was taken on one of DJ Åbo’s magical mystery tours; which resulted in getting to see Jo Stance singing gospel at a church mass on a dusk spring afternoon in Helsinki.



I was first introduced to G-Litter whilst working in a record shop in Brighton, when a 6 foot 4 inch Fin insisted that I should stock a Finnish Funk compilation he had for sale. I was glad he insisted as the compilation was great and he also became a very good friend (DJ Åbo). My favourite track on the compilation was by G-Litter. I love the folky funk feel of their music. The 2002 12” Paiste is a classic on some scenes in Finland, but I haven't heard it played in the UK much, an amazing track & band!



Another track that found its way into the record shop at that time was a 7'' by Tuomo called Don't Take It Too Hard. This was adopted by the modern soul scene and was also a classic at Russ Dewbury's Jazz Rooms club. Russ featured the track on his A Night At The Jazz Rooms compilation.


Sahib Shihab

Jazzman Sahib Shihab moved to Denmark and recorded some great records there. His one 1965 with the Danish Radio Jazz Group is a real classic.

Elan Elou

Another favourite out of Denmark is this soulful folky track by singer songwriter Elan Elou called Sunday Times which came out in 2010. A lovely melancholic song, which makes a great Sunday soundtrack.


Pekka Streng

Finnish singer songwriter Pekka Streng sadly died young, but put out a couple of amazing record. A film was made about him in 2009 entitled The Magnetic Man. My favoruite track by him is Puutarhassa. Released by the Love Records label which has put out some amazing varied collectable records (for example see the Pekka Pohjola track on Andy's samples blog)

We've turned this post into a Spotify playlist, although not all the tracks were on there. Enjoy.