Review: Longstanding New York troupe El Michels Affair bite down on 2017 with two on-point left-sided soul jams. "Tearz" is a biggie, not least because it features Lee Fields and The Shacks. A warm, organ groove with loose breaks and drops into pure harmonic bliss, it's another spellbinding affair from the Wu-approved crew. "Verbal Intercourse" takes more of a slinkier, subtle approach with clipped horns spitting an insistent hook over sparse, twanging instrumental elements. Stunning, as always.
Review: Deep into his chamber-lurking follow-up Wu odyssey, Leon Michels stumbled upon shy New York twosome The Shacks and convinced them to record this hazy summer-primed 45". Singer Shannon steals the show with softness and honesty as the band weave a psychedelic bed of sliding guitars and faraway harmonies. Both laced with a woozy 60s edge and beautifully playful lyrics, the whole EP sparkles with soul and talent from both The Shacks and Leon's ever-reliable troupe.
Review: Taken from Lee's brand new album Special Night "Make The World" is Fields at his finest, fieriest and funkiest - a message of clear unity delivered with his signature gutsy vocals over a beautifully tight groove from The Expressions. Rolling with a real sense of momentum and cool drama, Fields and his troupe still have heaps of love to give. The feeling's mutual too.
Review: Nicole "Lady" Wray has reinvented herself in recent years, swapping the contemporary, radio-friendly '90s R&B of her youth for a sound heavily influenced by vintage, 1960s and '70s soul and funk. It's a blend that was explored on last year's superb Queen Alone full-length. The two tracks showcased on this 7" were both featured on that album. "Underneath My Feet" is particularly potent, with Wray offering a rasping, impassioned vocal that seems to soar above the triple-time backing track. "Guilty", with its sweet guitars, harmony backing vocals and rock solid funk breakbeat, sounds a little like some of Sharon Jones' more poignant moments.
The Lively Set - "Blues Get Off My Shoulder" (2:48)
The Three Dudes - "I'm Beggin You" (2:45)
Review: The unstoppable Big Crown label is back with what is, once again, a rare find. In fact, we have two previously impossible tunes to get on this tidy 7" - first up, The Lively Set's excellent "Blues Get Off My Shoulder" roars a deep wave of glorious vintage soul, putting the very best of James Brown material to the test. As a follower, The Three Dudes' "I'm Beggin You" is one for the swings and the shakers, storming out of the speakers with that inimitable Mo-Town glory. An unmissable little 7" from the heart of the 60s!
Review: Big Crown bring the beat heat once again with two raw funk / soul gems. The Sonics' rare-as-hens-teeth northern soul anthem "Find Myself Another Girl" gets liberated from its high ticket collector price with this much needed reissue while an old master tape prowls to life on the B as Texan troupe S.C.A.M's take on the well-covered Classics IV 1968 standard "Spooky" enjoys a release for the first time. Divine.
Review: Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Sunny and the Sunliners were one of Texas's most successful groups. They specialised in "Tejano music", a Tex-Mex fusion of popular American and Latin American styles. "Should I Take You Home", which was first released on 7" single in 1969, is arguably one of the group's "straightest" tracks; a sweet, laidback soul ballad full of Stax style horns, close harmony backing singing and a sublime, emotion-filled lead vocal. Flipside "My Dream" is similarly heartfelt and saccharine in feel, with bandleader Sunny Ozuna's vocal alternating between impassioned sweetness and world-weary melancholy.