Review: In 1972, Marvin Gaye set to work recording what was scheduled to become the follow-up to his greatest single studio album, the previous year's "What's Going On". In the end, only one single from that mooted set ever appeared - "You're The Man", a weary assessment of that year's U.S Presidential Election - and Gaye's bitter arguments with Motown continued. This intriguing album tries to set the record straight, gathering together work completed for the shelved album with newly mixed songs based around previously unfinished works. There's much to admire throughout, with the material flitting between the kind of lusciously orchestrated, conscious songs featured on Gaye's previous set and more commercial-sounding Motown pop (much of which was produced by Willie Hutch).
Review: Were it not for dusty-fingered crate diggers, obscure early '80s electrofunk outfit Gift of Dreams would be merely a footnote in p-funk history. Serious boogie collectors, though, have long considered their five-piece's debut album, The Gift, as something of a "Holy Grail" - a ridiculously hard-to-find set that regularly changes hands for hundreds of pounds online. Happily, Dutch imprint Everland has decided to give the album the reissue treatment, in the process delivering this first official CD edition. It's a breathlessly brilliant set, all told, with the crew's hard, synth-driven dancefloor workouts being joined by sunny, soul-fired jazz-funk grooves, loved-up sing-alongs and sparkling, Solar System style Jheri Curl anthems.
Review: Audiophile reissue specialists MPS deliver another killer jazz reissue. This time, they've turned their attention to American pianist Joanne Grauer's 1978 sophomore set, which saw her introducing the world to a new talent: vocalist Lorraine Feather. While the latter's contributions - particularly her classic, big band style vocals on the samba-soaked "See You Later" and "Can't Sleep" - are unquestionably superb, the star of the show is undoubtedly Grauer herself. Whether soloing manically over frenetic, up-tempo jazz ("Gork" and the brilliant, album closing Frog Child") or hammering out killer, Jimmy Smith style organ workouts in a jazz-funk style (a superb cover of "Evergreen", the love theme from 1976 Barbara Streisand flick "A Star is Born"), Grauer hits the spot time and time again.
Review: Co-produced by none other than James Brown and featuring a band led by fellow funk/soul legend Dave Matthews, The Grodeck Whipperjenny's sole album has long been considered something of a must-have by heavy funk fans. Original copies have tended to be hard to come by, so this Record Store Day reissue from Now Again Records, which comes complete with a booklet telling the story of the 1970 set, should be an essential purchase. It's a curiously psychedelic affair, with string-laden, near symphonic moments (see the almost entirely beat-free "Conclusions" being joined by cuts that explore spiraling funk-rock ("Sitting Here On A Tongue") and acid-fired psychedelic rock ("Why Can't I Go Back").
Ricardo Marrero & The Group - "And We'll Make Love"
Koko Ateba - "Si T'es Mal Dans Ta Peau"
Sookie - "Tonight" (feat Jeannine Otis)
Raphael Toine - "Femmes Pays Douces"
Eboni Band - "Desire"
Robert J Riggins - "I Need You Now"
Salero - "Teardrops & Wine"
Momo Joseph - "Teardrops & Wine"
Claude Genteuil - "Dreams Of Love"
Gatot Soedarto - "Sayangilah Daku Kasih"
Synchro Rhythmic Eclectic Language - "Pasto"
Review: Since the Beach Diggin' compilation series launched a few years back, a number of its obscure, Balearic-minded selections have been given full length reissues of their own. We can probably expect a number of the tracks from this brilliant fifth volume to get the same treatment. As usual, the wide-ranging track list is thick with highlights, from the synth-heavy, French language reggae of Raphael Toine's 1986 bubbler "Femmes Pays Douces" (taken from the artist's frustratingly hard to find Ce Ta Ou album) and vibraphone-laden jazz-funk smoothness of Yasuko Agwa's sought-after "L.A Night", to the barely-known brilliance of Andre Maria Tole's Cameroonian gem "Sweet Dole". In other words, it's another essential selection.
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