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Soul II Soul - Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) (1989)

  • Video Views 87,271,950
  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.21
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

“Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” is a song by British R&B band Soul II Soul. The song also features ...

“Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” is a song by British R&B band Soul II Soul. The song also features the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. It appears on a secondary version of their debut album Club Classics Vol. One (titled Keep On Movin’ in the United States) and was released as its second single on 29 May 1989. “Back to Life” is one of two songs on the album featuring British R&B singer Caron Wheeler and gained success in both North America and Europe, topping the charts in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and peaking at number four in the United States.

Critical reception

Justin Chadwick from Albumism wrote in his review of Club Classics Vol. One, “While “Keep on Movin’” lit the fuse for the group’s ascendance across radio and the sales charts, another Wheeler blessed composition kept the flame burning bright. Originally—and in retrospect, somewhat incredulously—included on the album in stripped-down, acapella form, “Back to Life” further illuminated Wheeler’s vocal prowess as she sang about seeking romantic clarity, with the drums borrowed from Graham Central Station’s “The Jam” kicking in at the 2:40 mark. In short order following the album’s release, the song was reworked into a more robust midtempo groove, its instant earworm appeal and unforgettable hook (“How ever do you want me, how / How ever do you need me”) all but ensuring its ubiquity throughout the summer of 1989.” AllMusic editor Alex Henderson described it as a “Chic-influenced gem”. Geir Rakvaag from Norwegian newspaper Arbeiderbladet called it “delicate”. Daryl Easlea for BBC noted its “swooning chorus and churning beat”. Donald Ades from El Paisano commented that it is “rhythmically bland and predictable, but the moving vocals of Caron Wheeler breathe soulful life into an ordinarily boring single, making it bloom and flower into a swaying dance classic.” Duff Marlowe from Los Angeles Times wrote in his review, that “the gorgeously arranged, a cappella “Back to Life”, shows that the sound-system concept not only works, but also may be an effective way of presenting a wide range of talent.”

Chart performance

“Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” peaked at number-one on both the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play in the United States and the RPM Dance Chart in Canada. It went to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of Soul II Soul’s most successful singles in the United States (and the only one to enter in the Top 10). In the United Kingdom it performed even better, reaching number-one in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in June and July 1989. In Europe, it peaked at number-one also in the Netherlands, as well as on the Eurochart Hot 100. The single managed to climb into the Top 10 also in Belgium, Germany, Greece (number 2), Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland (number 2). In Oceania, it peaked at number 4 in New Zealand and number 45 in Australia. “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” earned a gold record in Canada and Sweden, a silver record in the UK, and a platinum record in the US. It went on to win the group their first Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1990.

Music video

The music video for “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” was directed by Andy Delaney, of Big TV! and was shot in Epping Forest. Wheeler’s former-Afrodiziak member and friend Claudia Fontaine sings and dances to the song throughout the video.

The video starts with an opening silhouette of the group dancing in a forest and proceeds with repeated close-up shots of Wheeler singing “Back to life, back to reality”. While Wheeler sings the first verse, video shots of the other Soul II Soul members and the band are shown. Another scene is shown on a rooftop during early sunrise as the group parties and dances to the song. Close to the end of the video, the group is shown dancing at night on the same rooftop. Wheeler closes out the song as she sings and dances to the song. The video was published on YouTube in March 2009. By September 2020, it had more than 61,1 million views.

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