Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)"
Back to life however do you want me soul ii soul single.jpeg
Single by Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler
from the album Club Classics Vol. One
Released29 May 1989
RecordedMay 1989
Soul II Soul singles chronology
"Keep On Movin'"
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)"
"Jazzie's Groove"
Music video
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" on YouTube

"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" is a song by British R&B band Soul II Soul. It appeared on a second version of their debut album Club Classics Vol. One (titled Keep On Movin' in the U.S.) and was released as its second single on 29 May 1989. "Back to Life" was one of two songs on the album featuring British R&B singer Caron Wheeler and gained success in both the United Kingdom and in the United States. The song also features the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra.


The album version of the song was an a cappella which was remixed and re-recorded before being released as a single. Two new versions were produced — the first taking the original recording with instrumentation added, and the second was a re-working of the song with new lyrics and chorus (also adding "However Do You Want Me" to the title). It was the second version that became most popular. In a 2012 interview with British newspaper The Guardian on how "Back to Life" was made, producer Jazzie B said:

Everything about this single was magic. We weren't trying to follow any trend or fit into any category – we were just doing our own thing. ... Its shuffling beats were a cross between reggae and what was to become known as hip-hop: breakbeats and electronic sound. Caron Wheeler's vocal, coming over these very heavy bass beats, was the icing on the cake. ... We also had the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra on the track, and the RPO became a key part of our sound. ... We often look to America for our influences, but this was a moment that put British music back on the map. It also came out at a special time in the industry's history – just before digital took over and everything seemed to fall apart.[3]

"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" peaked at number four 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 1989.[4] For a time, the album was packaged together with a CD3 single including the new versions of the song. The single 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[edit]

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.[3] 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.

Live performances[edit]

Wheeler performed "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" on various televised appearances, including the Arsenio Hall Show,[5] Rockopop, and Later... with Jools Holland.[6] At the end of 1989, Wheeler later departed from the group. When Soul II Soul performed the song at 1990 Soul Train Music Awards, Marcia Lewis; a new addition to the group, performed the lead vocals.

The song was included in the group's set list for their A New Decade Tour in 1990 and was performed late in the set on tour dates. Lamya, a recent addition to group, performed the lead vocals to the song during the tour. Wheeler also included the song during her solo tours. A live recording of the song was released on Wheeler's live CD/DVD Live at Duo Music Exchange, which featured her performing live in Tokyo, Japan. In 2007, Wheeler reunited with the group and performed the song at the Lovebox Festival. In August 2012, Soul II Soul performed the song at the Rewind Festival in Remenham, Berkshire, with Charlotte Kelly singing lead vocals.

In December 2016, Soul II Soul released their live album Origins: The Roots of Soul II Soul which included a live recorded version on the song, sung by Wheeler.[7]

Impact and legacy[edit]

VH1 listed "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" at number 50 in their list of the 100 Greatest Dance Songs in 2000 [1]

Slant Magazine ranked the song at number 57 in their list of the 100 Greatest Dance Songs in 2006.[8]

The Guardian featured the song on their A history of modern music: Dance in 2011.[9]

In 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation's 18th favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[10]

The song was featured in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, as part of an extended dance sequence involving popular British songs from the 1960s through the 2010s.[11][12]

Track listings and formats[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Cover versions[edit]



  1. ^ "Best of House Music: Disco Nights, Vol. 5 - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Soul II Soul Featuring Caron Wheeler - Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) (CD) at Discogs". Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Watkins, Jack (22 October 2012). "How we made Back to Life by Soul II Soul". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 502–3. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ The Arsenio Hall Show - Season 2, Episode 31. Retrieved on 25 October 2017
  6. ^ Soul II Soul - Back To Life, Episode 10, Series 41, Later... with Jools Holland. BBC Two. Retrieved on 25 October 2017
  7. ^ Origins: The Roots of Soul II Soul - Soul II Soul. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 25 October 2017
  8. ^ "The 100 Greatest Dance Songs - Feature - Slant Magazine". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  9. ^ "A history of modern music: Dance". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  10. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (25 July 2015). "The Nation's Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn't make the cut". Metro. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  11. ^ Xan Brooks (2012-07-27). "London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony – as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  12. ^ Olympic Channel (2012-07-27). The Complete London 2012 Opening Ceremony. YouTube. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  13. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 30, 1989". Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
  14. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 29 July 1989. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Top 3 Greece" (PDF). Music & Media. 30 September 1989. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  17. ^ "The Game's 'However Do You Want It' - Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  18. ^ "Bog boi's 'Shutterbug' - Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2018-01-31.

External links[edit]