Review: Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul unleashes two more once-rare gems on 45: recently spotted on The Man From Unkle soundtrack, tropicalia fusionist Tommy Ze gets fuzzy and frenetic with "Jimmy Renda Se". With its deep cut, loose string riff, rhythmic Q&A vocals and occasional strings, it's one of many reminders of how out there Tommy was. Flip for the equally unique and alluring "Kizumbau" where Eduardo and his troupe let us imagine what life would have been like if The Doors and Babe Ruth were Brazilian and collaborated.
Review: vKeen Africa 45 followers should recognise Eshete's name as he's appeared on the series before. Mr Bongo call him the Ethiopian James Brown and the Abyssinian Elvis... And they're not far off. This 74 rarity shows him crooning and crying at full pelt over a solid funk groove that's powered by piano and guitar. Flip for an equally rare vocal track from fellow Ethiopian Girma. Recorded in 69, full focus is squared on the lavish organ leads while the horns provide a soft but sturdy backdrop.
Review: Since launching last year, Lil Static has offered up new, lightly altered editions of classic tracks from Jeru the Damaja, Kraftwerk, Run-DMC, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. Here they continue to serve up vital beats for break-digging DJs via classic cuts from Eric B. & Rakim and Mountain. The A side sports an edited version of 1986 cut "Eric B. Is President", a synth-bass propelled NYC hip-hop gem rich in unmistakable rap vocals and tight scratching. Over on side B there's a chance to savour Mountain's late '60s rock cut that provided the Eric B. & Rakim track (and so many others since) with its distinctive drum break, "Long Red". This edited version gives more prominence to the breaks, making it an ideal mixing tool for hip-hop DJs.
Review: ** REPRESS ALERT ** Epsilon were a cosmic funk/rock four piece from Marburg, Germany that released three albums between 1970 and 1976. While their debut LP went for a much more progressive rock style, the subsequent releases were a mixture of heavy rock and blues when frontman Michael Winzkowski (ex Orange Peel, Nosferatu) joined the band. This EP was originally released in 1975 and features the bluesy rock n roll swagger of "Leave The City" on the A side, and the super sleazy disco funk of "Wake Up"on the flip - which is absolutely terrific! Winzkowski went on to further (yet short lived) success as Michael Wynn/The Michael Wynn Band up until 1983, even breaking into the American market at one point.
Review: Astonishingly, original copies of Energize's 1979 private press single "Piece of Class" have changed hands for over 500 quid online. Helpfully, Rain & Shine have decided to save us all a few bob by slinging out this licensed reissue. The title track is something of a bustling disco-funk gem - a genuinely wonderful fusion of hazy vocals, dueling horn solos, spacey synthesizer flourishes and driving bass guitar. B-side "Star of the Disco" is an even more up-tempo affair, with mazy saxophone solos, rasping horn stabs and starry jazz-funk keys riding a walking bassline and high-octane disco drums.
Review: 10 years ago, El Michels Affair - a hip-hop loving funk combo spearheaded by Leon Michels - released "Enter The 37th Chamber", an instrumental tribute to the world of the Wu-Tang Clan. To celebrate the record's tenth birthday, they've decided to reissue two of that album's most potent cuts. On the A-side they re-imagine Ol' Dirty Bastard's 1995 anthem "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as a fine fusion of rousing horns, jazz-flecked hip-hop beats and vocals provided by what sounds like a children's choir. Over on side B, Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" gets the cover version treatment, with the band peppering their deep, jazz-funk influenced groove with sharp horns and evocative electric piano solos.
Review: It's been five years since Truth & Soul's octet gave us the incredible Wu Tang version album. It's been two years since they last dropped a single, too. However the band is back and their trademark cinematic soul is richer and more emotive than ever. From the instant the trembling flute and guitar open with the cuddly, ultimately positive "Kiddy Ditty" we're whisked on a largely instrumental journey that flings us through the wild west ("Little House"), soul's early JB chapters ("This Song For You") and straight up NY low-slung funk ("A Little Sloppy"). Climaxing with a Lee Fields featured "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", Loose Change is a kind reminder of just how accomplished and creative El Michels Affair are. No change there, then.
John Wagner Coalition - "Cold Sweat" (edit) (3:12)
Review: Mushi 45 is launching a new series featuring fresh edits of obscure covers of cuts by James Brown and the JB's. The first boasts two thoroughly obscure covers of "Cold Sweat". On the A you'll find a tidy tweak of a rousing, raucous and sexually charged 1968 version by El Klan, a Mexican band renowned for their heavyweight take on funk, soul and rhythm and blues. Over on side B you'll find an interpretation from the John Wagner Coalition that originally featured on their 1976 debut album, which unusually was made up entirely of James Brown covers. Their version is a little more laidback, with tons of spacey synthesizer flourishes, crunchy Clavinet lines and oodles and wild Hammond organ solos.
Review: Spinners frontman, Wilson Pickett and Curtis Mayfield affiliate and fantastic solo singer in his own right, John Edwards' rich range and emphatic delivery carries some serious show-stopping motifs. Here Kent Soul represent some of his rarer, non-album work. "Cold Hearted Woman" is a heart-wrenching lament where Edward really puts his heart on the line over a wet guitar-heavy groove. "Ain't That Good Enough", meanwhile, is a much more upbeat jam where the swooning strings and glistening glockenspiel are given some cool time under the arrangement spotlight.
Review: Straight form the heart of London via the mind of Detroit, the ever-consistent Soul Brother crew have laid down another stellar reissue here through Dee Edwards' gorgeous "(I Can) Deal With That". Originally out on the much-coveted De-To label in 1977, the original mix is a delicate, whaling soul monster that'll melt your heart from its first guitar riff - Edwards' voice is truly magnetic over the slow-burning percussion. There's a more stripped-down 'Strings' version to act as the cherry on the cake - you just gotta.
Review: More recently spotted with The Georgia Soul Drifters or The Coasters, Early Clover's recording history can be traced back almost 40 years with this previously super-rare 45. With his soft-but-arresting tones, his yearning vocal style is comparable to Stevie Wonder, especially on the slow and dreamy Innervisions-esque "Who Are You?" Meanwhile on the B, "I Wanna Take A Chance With You" switches dreams for funk reality with a Kool & The Gang style feel-good throw down. Silky.
James Brown - "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" (DJP edit) (3:44)
Eddie Floyd - "Knock On Wood" (DJP edit) (3:59)
Review: Flipping heck! Soul Flip invite everyone's favourite big glasses wearing editor DJP to the fold for some twists on two seminal, genre-affirming party joints. James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" gets a cheeky beat facelift with a fresh set of peppy breaks while Eddie Floyd's tree chopping sing-along enjoys a similar mix-friendly shake-up with a slower, roomier drum arrangement ensuring all the power of the '67 original is kept in check. Flip some switches.
Review: First time reissue: Christy Essien's fourth album from 1979 is a remarkable piece of work in so many ways. Well-chiselled songs, laced with Christy's signature poetry, a rich afrobeat fluidity runs throughout the arrangement flickering between soft-focus island style ("Respect Your Man"), salubrious foamy funk ("Take Life Easy"), powerful soul ("Understanding") and synth-rippled dancefloor soul ("You Can't Change A Man") Madly she was only 19 when she made this record! No wonder she's known as Nigeria's 'first lady of song'.