Review: One of the richest, soulful voices in the European jazz, Biondi regularly works with the likes of Incognito. The High Five Quintet complements his delivery well with a Pimptones style soft-jazz structure but plenty of rhythmic welly. For a little more house and a little less jazz, flip for Opolopo's remix. Weighty and club-ready but with Mario's full vocal still intact, it's yet another notch in Opolopo's award-worthy remix bedpost
Review: Destination 78/79: Expansion take us deep into the illustrious back cat of revered boogaloo fusionist Willie Bobo for two of his many fiery delights. Side A is his feel-heavy cult instrumental take on Ronnie Laws' disco classic "Always There" while Side B throws us into the heart of his 1979 album Bobo with gutsy raw soul power (and just a few cheeky funk slap bass twangs for good measure) Two stone cold classics together for the first time on 45.
Review: Splash down to 1978-80: influential Philly funk troupe Breakwater gave the world two albums over two years.Full focus on slow jams and soulful fusion, the Breakwater melting pot is just as strong in jazz and Latin as it is soul and funk. Here we're treated to a selection of the best moments from Breakwater and Splashdown (minus the famous Daft Punk-sampled "Release The Beast") such as the unforgettable Floydian chorus of "That's Not What We Came Here For", the soaking wet bass and tight bright horns of the raunchy boogie jam "Do It Till The Fluid Gets Hot" and the sunshine soul of the sublime "Say You Love Me Girl". A sharp insight into a band that was criminally short-lived at the time..Rumour is there is a new album on the horizon and they still play live -there were two live uk dates in Jan 2017 already !
Review: Sun-kissed soul from 1975, not a lot is known about the Charisma Band besides their powerful musical abilities and their two 45s on Buddah and Columbia. "Ain't Nothing Like Your Love" is a horn-blessed feel-good summer get-together while "Bless The Day" takes us straight to the bedroom with its gliding guitars, velvet falsetto and spellbinding harp. It's not hard to see why originals of this have been known to pass hands for several hundred bob.
Review: Here's something rather tasty: a joint release between Expansions and Philadelphia International that brings together two hard-to-find tracks from Philly Soul group The Futures. On the A-side you'll find rare groove scene favourite "Ain't No Time Fa Nuthin", a typically sumptuous and musically rich affair that places the group's inspired soul vocals at the centre of a sugary-sweet Philadelphia Soul groove. B-side "Party Time Man" is a more traditional vocal soul stomper from the turn of the '70s, with sweeping strings and punchy horn lines tracking the group's sweet, sweet harmonies, which is great for getting the dancefloor going.
Review: This more than handy 7" single brings together two classic disco-era cuts from soul legend Willie Hutch. A-side "Easy Does It", which was originally featured on 1978's In Tune album, features Hutch in full-on Curtis Mayfield mode, singing passionately over a jaunty, jazz-funk influenced backing track laden with swirling strings, choral backing vocals (think Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" album) and Dexter Wansel style synthesizer solos. It's undoubtedly one of Hutch's finest moments and deserves to be in any serious soul head's collection. Flip for 1979's "Kelly Green", a sumptuous soul slow jam in which Hutch pines over a lost lover.
Review: 21 years later... The legendary Shirley Jones finally returns with brand new material. "Because You Love Me" is the first sign of freshness taken from her forthcoming album. Shirley's honey-tones are as strong and emotional as ever while Errol Henry's production is the ultimate in lounge-loving silkiness. Complete with a dub on the B, this is as smooth and authentic as you'd expect. Bring on the album.
Review: Straight from the Volt vaults! 50 years after their release, Margie's coveted breakthrough tracks get the Expansion treatment. Her famous crossover track "One More Chance" has never not been in favour through the soul phases. And by the way it builds triumphantly, it's not hard to tell. "Nobody" meanwhile has a real kick to its swing and a gradual sense of momentum that really catches you by surprise. Don't sleep on this one.
Review: Expansions' latest essential reissue takes us back to 1980 and the much sought after seven-inch edition of singer Ty Karim's collaboration with lesser-known soul man George Griffin. "Keep On Doin' Whatcha' Doin'" was written and produced by Karim's other half Kent Harris and, like the original seven inch, appears here in two parts. The glorious A-side version is a lolloping chunk of disco-era sweet soul rich in soaring orchestration, fluttering flutes and Marvin Gaye/Tammi Tyrell style duet vocals from Karim and Griffin. Part two focuses more on the killer groove and the duo's impassioned improvised vocalizations, with a variety of tasty solos helping to whip things into a mid-tempo dancefloor frenzy.
Review: A reissue of American singer Debra Laws' 1981 single here on Expansion. She made her debut as a solo recording artist in in the same year, with the release of her album titled Very Special. This album, produced by her brothers Hubert and Ronnie, was a success with the singles "On My Own" (a lovely neon-lit disco-funk groove) and "Very Special" (a super sensual ballad on the slo-mo tip) being featured here. Up until the beginning of the '90s, Laws worked with her three siblings, recording and doing many live performances in the United States and abroad. Samples from "Very Special" can be heard in Jennifer Lopez's 2002 hit single of "All I Have".
Review: Recorded and originally released in 1999, "The Bottle" has been released twice by Expansion on 12" single and now finally gets its first 7" issue. The song is the most classic Gil Scott Heron song, vocalist Maysa Leak (of British supergroup Incognito) is still the finest contemporary soul singer with a unique voice and all here with the magic of a full Incognito production. It is coupled with "Hooked On Your Love", both songs from the Incognito produced album All My Life'. Another fine rendition of this timeless anthem by one of the all time greats.
Review: When Leo and his Sunshipp crew asked for the sunshine way back in 1980 they meant it. And with a tune as beautiful as this, they deserved it too. Released in 1980 in various forms (and also on the funk trio's only album in 1978) the most sought after was the 45" that came with the gutsier, more upbeat traditional soul cut "I'm Back For More". But let's face it, this is all about the lead track. A cult Balearic soul funk jam and one of the coolest summer cuts ever pressed to wax, reissues have been on request for over 30 years... Like the summer itself, this won't hang around.
Review: A lot of us have to thank Expansions for switching us on to Matlock in the first place, thanks to them unearthing him for their Soulchasers collection way back in the early 90s. Here they return to two of Glenn's finest, silkiest soul diamonds. Written for the romantics, produced for the dancefloor right at the very end of the classic 70s sound, "You Got The Best Of Me" has an upbeat Barry White feel to its delivery and sentiment while "I Can't Forget About You" has a lighter touch and flightier flow. The former previous super-rare on 45, the latter never press to 45 before... Both supreme and timeless.
Review: Singer, songwriter and session vocalist for Motown and Chess, Jeff Perry spent the late 70s on his own solo adventure and "Call On Me" was one of his earliest endeavours. A fairly urgent torch song executed with few theatrics but rather layers of soft harmonies, a funk-riddled break and a dreamy middle eighth. Flip for the instrumental and you'll hear just how much power and emergency the Jeff's vocals provide now they're removed.
Review: A modern day Scott-Heron, without the myriad of demons on his back, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Porter has such a distinctive voice, charm and band command. He clearly lends himself well to edit culture (as proved by the huge success of the many "1960 What?" versions in recent years) and this 7" from Expansion is no exception. "On My Way To Harlem" is straight up narrative jazz with fantastic attention paid to the subtle samba and solemn horns. "1960 What?" speaks for itself; far more authentic to the original than the other versions that have popped up, if you've not already got a favourite edit - Jazz & Cole have the answer.
Review: Through his solo releases and work with Leon Ware, Richard Evans and Skip Scarborough, Rockie Robbins became one of American soul's most celebrated artists and producers in the early 1980s. This year's he's set to release his first album of note since 1985, with these two cuts offering a taste of what's to come. Interestingly, "Good Life" sounds a little like it could have been written and produced in the 1980s, even if the mixing, mastering and lilt in Robbins' voice reflect its contemporary status. Either way, it's warm, positive and comes blessed with a wonderfully strong chorus. "Let's Groove", meanwhile, is a little deeper and more loved-up, perfectly reflecting that side of Robbins' 1980s output.