Review: Emotional Rescue again delves in the world of private pressings, with a reissue of British electronic pop meets proto-House duo 4AM. With copies of their self titled album now highly sought after, this timely reissue presents two of their songs as a stand alone 7".
Consisting of multi-instrumentalist Steve Kirby - piano, guitar, bass, programming - and vocalist Kevin Finch, 4AM came together after youths filled with a love of music. Following a string of band attempts, Steve dived in to the world of midi, allowing him to build a studio set up and play solo. A meeting with new work colleague Kevin quickly developed to joining forces to expand on his early demos.
Their melodic, dance-influenced pop draws on a love of Japan, OMD and The The, but also ECM jazz and a touch of "white boy soul". The TR-808 drum and hi-hats, string stabs and random acid squelches - although no TR-303 was used - highlights the influence the nascent House sounds emanating from the "second summer of love" of 1988 / 89 had in their music melting pot.
Over this, personal lyrics flow, full of honest emotions and a touch of youthful naivety thrown in - of relationships, love, sex and passions. Intended as a personal artifact, the original album was released in 1990 with no promotion or live shows and has taken until now, some 30 years, to find a cult audience. I want you with a Passion.
You're The Only One (feat Bonnie Blanchard & The Mean Machine)
Right On Time (feat The Mean Machine)
Review: For their latest must-check rare soul reissue, German crate diggers TRAMP Records take us back to 1969 and the sole single from Philadelphia outfit Andy Aaron & the Mean Machine. A-side "You're The Only One" is a superb chunk of bass-heavy soul full of energetic drumming, fuzzy horn motifs, inspired lead vocals by Bonnie Blanchard and sax solos from none other than Grover Washington (then a young musician and member of the Mean Machine). Equally as potent is instrumental flipside "Right On Time", which is a riotous funk workout that boasts more lung-busting solos from an on form Washington.
Review: Hip-hop diggers will happily tell you that "Top Billin" was one of the tightest, heaviest and most stripped-back rap jams to emerge from New York in the mid 1980s. Here the 1987 hip-hop club classic is given the reissue treatment by fresh label Know How, marking the cut's first appearance on "45" for 32 years. The A-side vocal version - the most famous of the two takes - is a great example of the dancefloor power of stripped-back hip-hop, with the completed cut being little more than chunky drum machine beats and on-point raps rich in call-and-response sections and crowd-pleasing slogans. The harder to find flipside instrumental lays this bare, peppering the duo's beat with select snippets of reverb-laden chants.
Review: Ever since he first made an impact earlier in the decade, Bosq has proved adept at joining the dots between contemporary club culture and the heady heaviness of vintage African and South American dancefloor styles. He's also rather good at crafting authentic Latin dancefloor workouts, too, as this tidy seven-inch single proves. Check first "Rumbero", featuring the confident vocals of Nidia Gongora, a horn-happy affair that effortlessly joins the dots between rhumba, cumbia and psychedelic punk. His electronic influences come to the fore on flipside "Corazon (Camilo Tumbao)", a contemporary take on the Cumbia sound rich in fuzzy analogue bass, jaunty organs, dub-wise noises and Colombian style male vocals.
Review: First released back in 2016, "El Corredor Del Jaguar" remains one of the most potent releases by Combo Chimbita, a New York-based crew of musical fusionists whose roots are defiantly Colombian. Reverb-soaked A-side "Pajaro (Extended Mix)" is particularly potent, with the band brilliantly melding elements of cumbia, funk and psychedelic rock into brilliant new shapes. The four-piece's obsession with jumpy, loose-limbed drumming once again comes to the fore on the sweet and slightly more wild "Frio Severo", while closing cut "Chimbita Theme" is a kaleidoscopic mix of military strength South American percussive, mind-altering bass and trippy wah-wah guitars.
Review: As the title sneakily suggests, the latest volume in DJ Soopasoul's essential "Soopastole Edits" series sees the prolific re-editor and mash-up merchant take his scalpel to Sister Sledge classic "We Are Family". We could be wrong, but it sounds like it was created using the multi-track parts, focusing as it does for much of the duration on a stripped-back, DJ-friendly groove, selected vocal snippets and delay-laden musical elements not always audible on the original version. Over on the flipside "Cosmo On The Groove" version, he takes a slightly different approach, adding a classic old school hip-hop acappella to an expertly cut-up version of the Sister Sledge track that utilizes a little more of the sing-along chorus.
Frenk Dublin - "Good Vibes We Bring" (feat Clinton Sly)
Frenk Dublin - "Good Vibes We Bring" (feat Clinton Sly - dub version)
Review: The Dub Communication label has already made it into our Juno Recommends Dub chart this year, and now the Dutch outfit mints a new compilation series with a tasty triple 7" pack that delivers an equally impressive punch. Once again there is a decidedly electronic bent to the dub served up here, so fans of Basic Channel and Maurizio are sure to snap it up. Label boss Frenk Dublin takes care of four of the cuts, which are underpinned by a halftime swagger, digital synths and sci-fi effects, while Blind Prophet's more sparse rollers come laden with oodles of reverb and flabby bass.
Review: The second salvo on the Street Knowledge series of golden era hip-hop reissues comes from legendary East Coast twosome Gang Starr. It offers up a pair of much-loved 1990s club bangers: 1999's "Full Clip" and '92's "DWYCK". The former is a classic DJ Premier production: a toe-tapping, head-nodding bounce through rubbery beats, jazzy guitars and toasty bass topped off with the fine flows of the late MC Guru. "DWYCK" meanwhile is a more bass-heavy, floor-friendly affair, with Premier's on-point scratching complimenting Guru's vocal and the addictive weightiness of the groove. In other words, these are two golden era classics you definitely need in your life.
Gagle - "Vanta Black" (instrumental (Produced By DJ Mitsu The beats))
DJ Mitsu The Beats - "Old Town Uplift" (instrumental)
Review: Two tracks from Japan produced by DJ Mitsu the Beats . First up is a lush and string laden jazzy instrumental version of Vanta Black from DJ Mitsu's Sendai hip hop group GAGLE taken from the album of the same name from 2018. On the flipside we are presented with Old Town Uplift taken from the Turntable album on Jazzy Sport .Double bass focussed hipnotic jazz with poignant piano keys and strings from Otoji + Ray underscored with sounds effects from field recordings obtained in Tokushima. Limited to 300 hand-numbered copies and not available in Japan.
Review: Alex "Omar" Smith traditionally uses the "Sidetrakx" series to release music that doesn't fit with his club-rocking house and techno 12" series. Even so, few would have expected him to use the latest edition - the sixth in total - to offer up a dancehall cut featuring Jamaican singer and MC Nardo Ranks. "Love Me Like Cooked Food" features Ranks chatting and singing in Patois above a dancehall "riddim" rich in rubbery bass guitar, echo-laden machine drums and flanged guitar riffs. It may be a curveball, but it's rather good. Over on the flip, "Renault used car salesman" John FM guests on a lo-fi R&B/soul workout that also includes some deliciously tongue-in-cheek, poodle perm-sporting soft rock guitar solos.
Review: First up on Discs Of Fun & Love - a fresh reissue label launched by London diggers Miche and Frederika - is a fresh 7" pressing of Rochelle Rabouin's sole single: a 1977 45 that has long been a sought-after "side" amongst crossover soul collectors. A-side "This Is My Year" is the one for dancefloor plays, offering as it does a celebratory vocal over what would then have been called a "modern soul" backing track (disco, basically, though the term was used in Northern Soul circles as a catch-all for anything that wasn't old and stomping). Side B's "Keep This In Mind" is a superb slow number smothered in strings and glassy-eyed orchestration that's probably always on rotation at the mythical "Heartbreak Hotel".
Review: The Street Knowledge "45 series" appears to have been set up to educate heads on original 1990s hip-hop jams, or at the very least deliver fresh pressings of some seriously classic cuts. This inaugural release begins with Warren G and Nate Dogg's 1994 heater "Regulate", a deep and seductive number that makes great use of samples from Michael McDonald's teary blue-eyed soul classic "I Keep Forgetting". Flip to the B-side and you'll find Luniz 1995 hit "I Got 5 On It", a cut that's been bitten, reworked and re-made umpteen times in the 24 years that have passed since it was first released. As this reissue proves, the Oakland duo's original version is still streets ahead of the rest.
Review: Mr Bongo's Brazil 45s series rarely misses a beat, with each successive seven-inch showcasing two more hard-to-find treats from the dim and distant past. The latest instalment opens with "Vou Morar No Teu Sorriso", a sought-after cut from Trio Tenura's eponymous 1971 MPB/soul fusion album. It's a genuinely summery treat, with ear-catching, reverb-heavy vocals and rising horn lines rising above a life-affirming backing track. On the flip you'll find "Quem Vai Querer", the title track from a superb 1977 album by Eliana Pittman. A breezy chunk of sizzling samba-soul, the cut features an impeccable lead vocal from Pittman and some sing-along group chorus vocals