Review: Kalita Records are proud and honoured to announce the first ever official reissue of the four choice tracks from Randolph Baker's privately pressed sought-after 1982 disco album 'Reaching For The Stars', plus an unreleased instrumental take of 'Party Life' sourced from the original 24-track analogue master tapes.
Originally recorded at Jim Morris and Rick Miller's Tampa-based Morrisound Studios, 'Getting Next To You' features both a mixture of both local Florida talent plus jazz superstar Nat Adderley and bassist John Lamb at their finest. Originally pressed in a limited run of just one-thousand copies, with no distribution and most copies being sold in the local city and on Randolph's own merchandise table at the back of live gigs, original copies have long been sought-after by both collectors and DJs alike, acknowledged as a true grail and masterpiece in the disco scene and deservedly demanding extortionate figures to those lucky enough to find their own.
Here, in collaboration with Randolph, Kalita Records have chosen to re-release the four choice tracks from the album: 'Getting Next To You', 'Jazzman', 'Callin' Me' and 'Party Life'. The former is an in-demand horn and chant-filled disco masterpiece, which, as Randolph explains, concerns unity and "everyone on the same level in other words, everyone just loving life". It is arguably the song that Randolph is most well-known for in the disco and funk scene and perfect for the modern discerning dance floor. 'Jazzman' is an instrumental track with prominent trumpet and saxophone solos working with funky basslines to produce a truly great jazz-funk groove. It was "a tribute to Nat Adderley and Duke Ellington's bass player, John Lamb, for being so generous and saying yes to the project". 'Callin' Me' is a soulful disco number featuring the lead vocals of Laurie Erickson and is "about being on the road and ensuring loved ones that you will always come back home no matter what. It was like a promise to ensure loved ones they didn't have to worry". Lastly, 'Party Life' is a joyous disco track with a strong funk bassline and horns. As Randolph recalls, it "was the joy like after an actor finishes a movie. There was nothing but joy. It's finished; let's celebrate big time. Where everyone in the studio yelled at the top of their lungs - The End!" Here, with access to the 24-track master tapes we have been able to include the original version plus an unreleased instrumental take, allowing us to focus on the infectious bassline and make it even more ready for the modern dance floor.
Accompanied by extensive interview-based liner notes and never-before-seen photos.
BIG Poppa's Got A Brand New Bag (instrumental) (3:59)
Review: When it comes to mash-ups and unofficial reworks, sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that make for the most effective versions. That's certainly the case here, as Soul Mates main man Amerigo Gazaway crafts four slabs of funk/hip-hop fusion fusing funky beats with hip hop accapellas plus the all essential instrumental versions...only 300 copies. Don't sleep !
Review: If you dig disco but have yet to explore the bulging back catalogue of De-Lite Records stalwarts Crown Heights Affair, this double-pack could be exactly what you need. It draws together a quintet of the group's most potent and essential moments, beginning with the soaring mid-tempo brilliance of "Say A Prayer For Two". That sublime chunk of disco-funk perfection is followed by the buzzing horns, walking bass and high-register vocals of "Galaxy of Love" and the punchy disco stomp of "I'm Gonna Love You Forever", where relentless horns and spacey synth flourishes do their best to whip listeners into a frenzy. The second 12" offers another chance to own "Dreaming A Dream (Goes Dancin')" and the bouncy disco-funk epic that is "Dancin' (Disco mix)".
Review: Ultra Vybe remain deep in their Brunswick excavations with these two sublime cuts from the label's super troupe of session players Directions and their one and only album. Released 1976, OG copies fetch almost L200 and just these two tracks alone hint at why. Shimmering with a strong Faze-O feel with an evocative contrast of falsetto and deep baritone and twinkling instrumentation, both tracks swoon with everything that was so smooth and emotional about the label who gave the world Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites and Gene Chandler. Show some love.
Review: Penny deliver's a flute led Jazz version of Marvin's soul classic flipped by a funky organ backed version of Gil Scott Heron's Lady Day & John Coltrane with both tracks lifted from the Portrait Of A Gemini LP.
Review: Late, great Japanese funk don Takehiro Honda's vaults get the treatment from HMV as two of his many famously fizzy jams enjoy a new lease of life. 1971's "Ain't It Funky Now" should be familiar by all as it subverts the good work of the greatest band leader of all time with mild jazz and funk fusion. "Greasy Spoon" on the B can be found a few years deeper into Takehiro's discography as part of his 1973 album "What's Going On". Another supreme, lucid fusion cut; not only does it still kick up a fuss on the dancefloor, it also salutes the best cooked breakfasts on the planet. Not to be slept on.
Instant Funk - "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)" (T Groove remix) (4:43)
First Choice - "Love Thang" (T Groove remix) (4:52)
Review: Here are two absolute gold standard Salsoul classics given a new spruce up thanks to the remix skills of T Power. Wisely, they've chosen to take a softly softly approach to such sacred material, but there's a little extra dancefloor oomph where it counts to make these tracks pop off that little more against more modern fare. First up is Instant Funk's evergreen classic "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)", and on the flip it's the impossibly perfect "Love Thang" by First Choice. Both have never sounded better - full credit to T Power for doing this one right.
Review: Seven years later... Jay Kay and his band of merry soulmen return with bonafide grooves. Raw, to the point and covering a huge amount of ground, "Automaton" is an electrified hair-raiser that's designed to lift floors while "Nights Out In The Jungle" tickles the backbone from Daptone with its slinky, JB-style bass/drum groove and light rap/spoken word. Pure funk in both its original and most futuristic style... and on limited clear vinyl, too.
Review: This bold project from Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 captures the world's most prominent afrobeat musicians in the midst of a world tour, entering the studio for a one-shot blast that captures the raw, unpolished talent of a mammoth ensemble locked into a groove. Kuti brought his band to the Artone Studio in Haarlem, Holland, and without rehearsal they laid down this album of effervescent afrobeat grooves in one take, cut direct to disc on the in-studio lathe in a true capturing of the moment. Every vibration in the room going through the cutting lathe's needle, now forever immortalized on this record. What's not to love about that?
The Big Throwdown (Muro vocal edit version) (4:36)
The Big Throwdown (Muro instrumental edit version) (4:32)
Review: Japanese digger doyen Muro returns to one of the most important OG rap records of all time; South Bronx's ultra-funky, politically-sharpened block party jam "The Big Throwdown". The edit titles say it all; Muro's vocal edit really flexes Mike Serrette's vocals right down to the iconic gutsy 'huh!' chant and the big backing vocal rhythm while his instrumental version lets that groove run loose as the plucked bass walks cut through with charm and the keys spiral out of control in the best way possible. An stone cold classic.
Children Of The Night (Ryuhei The Man edit) (3:38)
Children Of The Night (3:59)
Review: Japan seems to excel at everything and anything it does, including reissuing golden jazz funk. This time out, Hysear Don Walker's "Complete Expressions Vol. 2" is mined for the two escapist and mellifluous tracks that make up this essential 7". Ryuhei The Man edits "Children Of The Night" into a smooth flowing bit of late night and romantic jazz funk. It rides on a pensive bass loop and has a subtle sense of drive, while the slower original is that bit more sentimental with its noodling chords and more meandering mood. Both sides are pure winners.
Review: In 2016, Family Groove Records released a 12" of previously unheard 1979 demo recordings by Webster Station, a boogie-funk band from Dayton, Ohio whose studio efforts were initially binned by Warner Brothers for not being commercial enough. Demand for Family Groove's limited 12" of their recordings has remained high, so the label has decided to do a reissue. There's much to admire throughout, from the high-octane thrills of opener "Are You For Real" and the spacey warmth of the super-soulful "Can You Feel My Love", to the sugary sweetness of the Latin tinged ballad "Lady" and righteous closer "If You Feel Like Dancing", a killer combination of spacey synths, crunchy drums, urgent vocals and killer Clavinet lines.
Review: Rare Betty Wright sup[er soulness reissued with artwork for the Japan market on a tasty little 45. not many stores got this outside of the land of the rising sun ....Don't sleep on this beauty !
Review: Over the next few weeks, Past Due will be reissuing a swathe of material from The 9th Creation, a Californian funk and soul band whose 1970s and early '80s releases have been extensively sampled over the years. "Reaching For The Top" is one of the band's more intriguing albums. It was initially released in 1977 by legendary NYC label Prelude, and you can tell. While it remains rooted in West Coast funk and soul, the album's nine tracks contain far more nods to disco and Philadelphia soul - rather than the dominant commercial forces in black American music - than almost any of their other albums. Highlights include the rubbery funk hustle of "It Ain't Right", the sugary disco-funk swing of "Why Not Today" and the gospel-tinged brilliance of "He's Coming".
Ramon Pyrme/Jean Claude Cornely - "Vacance Union" (4:49)
Zanma - "Poutchi" (4:47)
Swanha Desvarieux - "Nou Ke Sa Enmew" (4:06)
The Group NSI - "Mande Moin On Lajan, Pa Mande Za Fe An Moin" (3:43)
OREA - "Biguine Inferno" (4:49)
Milton - "Mizik Nou" (4:49)
Selekta - "Fle Pou'W" (3:59)
Meliza - "Anrage" (4:35)
Acayouman - "Si Ou Ladje Moin" (4:00)
Eddy LA Viny - "Indiano" (3:38)
Review: Here's yet another rare '80s compilation with even more deep cuts than the last. Where do they find them all? Heavenly Sweetness clearly know but they ain't telling! They are showing though, and here on Digital Zandoli they reveal 12 newly discovered disco, boogie and zouk tracks recorded about 30 years ago in the West Indies. We're clearly spoilt for choice on this record, but highlights include the synthetic sea breeze grooves of Puzzle Pulsion's "Mwoin Ka Songe", the mellow Afro grooves of Zanman's "Poutchi" and the abstract body music via a sandy beach vibes of OR EA's "Biguine Inferno".
Review: On its' original release in 2002, Tony Allen's HomeCookin album was arguably a little overlooked. Like its' predecessor, 1999's Black Voices, the set updated the legendary drummer's Afrobeat sound for a new millennium. As this timely reissue proves, it was a particularly successful exercise. The album's genius lies in the Nigerian sticks-man's combination of traditional elements - most notably his loose, skittish polyrhythms, guitars and punchy horns - with elements of future-jazz, modern soul (see the brilliant Eska collaboration, "What's Your Fashion") and hip-hop. British rapper Ty excels himself on a number of killer cuts, though it's a more traditional Allen style dancefloor workout - the sublime "Crazy Afrobeat" - that really stands out.
Review: Since its release in 1999, Tony Allen's Black Voices album has earned a reputation as an overlooked modern classic. While a scaled-down reissue appeared on Kindred Spirits in 2014, this edition marks the first "full repress" of the original double-album version. The Doctor L-produced set remains hugely alluring, thanks largely to the warm and attractive mixture of Allen's loose and languid Afrobeat rhythms, fluid jazz and jazz-funk instrumentation and vocals that recall the legendary drummer's work with Fela Kuti. Like the original set, you'll find a number of tasty dancefloor reworks nestled on the second disc, with the fuzzy and disco-fied PsychojujuMix of "Ariya" - complete with rubbery bass and sweaty drum solos - standing out.
Review: Two titans of African music come together for a collaboration that will sadly never be repeated after the passing of the late Hugh Masekela. Allen's instantly recognisable drumming and Masekela's iconic trumpet are a match made in heaven - after all their paths first crossed back in the 70s thanks to Fela Kuti's galvanizing energy. Forget the throwback stuff trying to capture the spirit of the originators, this IS the originators sounding cool and deadly in every way. Funk lovers, Afrobeat heads, curious ears and dancing souls take heed - this right here is an unmissable transmission from two grandmasters in their field.
Review: Gbubemi Amas is hardly Nigeria's most famous musical export. He began his career at the dawn of the 1980s, enjoying a certain level of success with debut album Grill. That set, reissued here for the first time since, was in many ways typical of developments in Nigerian popular music at the time. Amas was one of a new generation of artists moving away from the Afrobeat and Highlife styles that had dominated Lagos in the 1970s, instead laying down punchy, pop-tinged cuts heavily influenced by both American dance music (and in particular disco and boogie), and AOR rock. Highlights include the tasty disco-boogie of "Slow Down", the horn-heavy dancefloor sweetness of "For You", and the atmospheric synth-pop of closer "Listen".
Review: 1975's "Simigwa" album not only launched the career of Afro-funk fusionist and eventual Highlife great Gyedu Blay Ambolley, but also inspired a Ghanaian dance craze. The album was co-produced by another Highlife great, Ebo Taylor, and has long been exceptionally hard to find on vinyl. For this official vinyl reissue on Mr Bongo, Ambolley's landmark set has been fully re-mastered for the very first time. It sounds spectacular, with great clarity on the ear-catching brass solos, serious weight to the bass and superb stereo separation. Highlights include - but certainly aren't limited to - the Afro-blues brilliance of "Toffie", the jaunty dancefloor fuzziness of "This Hustling World" and the heavyweight swing of ear-catching opener "Kwaakwaa".