Review: Record Store Day 2020 keeps on serving up the gems even weeks after the official date itself. Here we're presented with the debut release on Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons now seminal Def Jam label. It's a vital release that truly shook the world thanks to its dark and evil bass and raw, hard hitting percussion and has never before been released on 7". It is a true collector's item for raw hip hop heads and features the ground-breaking 'Scratch Party Death Mix' as well as coming with its own fully iconic sleeve. Drop this one and step back to watch the club go right off.
Letta Mbulu - "Kilimanjaro" (The Revenge edit) (5:49)
Joey Negro Presents The Sunburst Band - "The Secret Life Of Us" (The Reflex Revision) (7:13)
Review: Z Records founder Dave Lee continues to celebrate 30 years of his iconic house and disco label with an ongoing series of various artist EPs. The fourth instalment is another belter opened up by the boss himself in Disco Blend form. He serves up libidinous synths and steamy vocals that get you on your toes and then sinks into a smooth and seductive deep house mould for his remix of Mistura's 'Smile. On the flip, disco don The Revenge works his magic on a lush afro disco cut and then comes a The Reflex version of The Secret Life Of Us which has big strings and a tight rhythm section all bringing the sunshine.
Review: Jimmy 'James' Shaw and his wife Maureen were collectively known as Unity, and were backed by eight piece NYC funk band Downbeats. It is these people being this 1968 slice of smooth R&B and bubbly funk that is now reissued by Fantasy Love. It's the sort of superbly tender and heart aching slow motion soul that will sound good until forever. 'High Voltage' is a more upbeat funk cut powered by deriving rhythms and big horns. Unity & The Downbeats would continue to tour the East Coast until the end of the 70s when they disbanded and left a fine legacy of great singles.
Review: The EEE series may utilise a very simple blueprint - each single-sided, one-track release combines tasty, 21st century tech-house grooves with vocal lifts and instrumental samples from a classic cut - but so far, the publicity-shy producer behind it has yet to put a foot wrong. This ninth instalment in the ongoing series is every bit as alluring as its predecessors, in part because the headline-grabbing Nina Simone vocal samples are used sparingly and dropped into the mix for maximum impact. They mainly appear within the melodious, smile-inducing breakdown, before making way for a return to the track's chunky, seemingly squeezable tech-house groove and sweet, glassy-eyed lead lines. On paper it shouldn't work, but it really does, making this another must-check EEE release.
Review: To close the 3 EP reissue series of Neville King and Lee Laing's King & City label, the all female group Charisma are presented with their summer infused Lovers cut, Everything Is Fine.
Three Lewisham friends, Angela Richardson on lead vocals, with Geselle and Janie backing, were active from 1982 to 1990, but are really remembered for the early recordings made with Neville King. Their debut, Everything Is Fine rides the Lovers sound at its peak. Written with One Blood's Lloyd Robinson, with the rest of band of Robinson brothers providing the rhythm section, this is pure South London sound system music.
Recorded again at TMC (Tooting Music Centre) Recording Studios - working alongside the likes of Dillinger, Tradition and New Musik - Everything Is Fine rides a beautiful soul reggae rhythm as Trevor (Drums) and Lloyd (Bass) Robinson set the foundations, while One Blood provide the Dub mix.
A true love's lament, a song of hope, serenity and pure vibes. Label head Chuggy slides behind the mixing desk for an extended Discomix that stretches, loops and dubs the vocal and dub back forth, to close a glimpse at this uniquely British phenomenon, taking reggae closer to it's heart and soul.
Review: Second time around for the Soul Surfers' superb cover of jazz-funk classic 'Summer Madness', which first hit stores in September 2019. This time round, it comes pressed on gold-coloured vinyl, though you'll have to act fast to secure a copy. It's worth doing just that though, because it sees the Californian act re-imagining one of the smoothest and most seductive cuts in the Kool & The Gang canon as a languid chunk of laidback instrumental soul complete with crunchy drums, elongated lead guitar solos and some suitably spacey analogue synth sounds. The luscious and lazy A-side version is backed by a 'Part Two' take that's a little more stripped-back, raw and heavy.
Now That I Have You (original Soundtrack '81 version) (5:33)
Now That I Have You (original Soundtrack '86 Hip Kik version) (4:54)
Stay With Me (original Soundtrack '81 version) (2:51)
Now That I Have You (original '86 Hip Kik instrumental version) (4:52)
Review: 'Now That I Have You' is simply one of the sweetest and most effortlessly lovely songs in the Tommy McGee canon. The artist himself certainly thought so, because he recorded it a number of times during the 1980s. This essential reissue boasts all of the best versions, starting with the brilliantly produced and performed 1981 original version, which we firmly believe to be one of the greatest cosmic soul tracks of all time. Arguably even better though is the 'Hip-Kik' version from 1986, a jauntier and more rubbery-sounding affair that replaces much of the instrumentation with drum machines and synthesizer sounds. The EP also boasts an instrumental version of this killer re-make nestled on the flip, along with a more laidback 1981 recording, 'Stay With Me'.
Review: Little is known about Human Race and their mysterious, self-titled debut single, other than they were the house band at the Continental Club in Miami, Florida, during the late 1960s. Their sole single, which slipped out on a tiny label at the turn of the 70s, has long been sought after by collectors. Having first been reissued in 2002, it has now been given a fresh pressing. It's well worth picking up, not least for the languid and laidback title track, where scat-style vocals and glistening guitars ride a groove rich in deep, weighty bass guitar, shuffling drum-breaks and ear-catching hand percussion. As it did on previous releases, the track comes backed by an even slower, more laidback instrumental number, the sweltering, sax-laden soul sweetness of 'Grey Boy'.
Vincent Floyd - "Meditation" (Deep88 remix) (6:55)
Brad P - "Time Machine" (6:35)
Brad P - "Time Machine" (Derek Carr remix) (6:59)
Review: Chubby's third volume of split EP goodness welcomes two seasoned veterans of the deep to spin some yarns, with a couple of equally sagely remixers on board too. Vincent Floyd takes up the A side with the beautifully lilting house haze of "Meditation". Deep88 takes the original and gives it a more forthright set of drums - a more visceral jack for those who love the mellow moods but want some bite for the floor. Brad P's "Time Machine" is a typically refined trip into the undergrowth with gorgeous techno synth lines flitting around a warm and easygoing groove made all the sweeter by a little broken beat kink.
Review: The Rollover Edit series from Anything Goes reaches volume number 5 with four more fantastic reworks that cover plenty of ground. Lele Sacchi serves up a a folk and Americana tinged version of 'Enzo' that is new age and organic. Jack Torsani takes 'Giorgia' into disco territory with big choruses and crashing hits all forming a strident groove while 'Espresso' delivers a direct caffeine hit in rolling disco form. The best might be saved for last, though, because 'The Duke Arrives (Pyramiden rework)' is a high speed police chase with funky bass and bristling grooves that are alive with great samples.
Review: The Live Band, a disco-soul/jazz-funk outfit helmed by bassist and vocalist Kenny Chavis, released a swathe of singles and a sole album on The Sound of Brooklyn in the early 1980s. Perhaps their most potent track was 'A Chance For Hope', an emotive, two-part plea for change that opened their 1982 debut album. On this first ever seven-inch pressing the order of the tracks has been reversed, with the swelling, scene-setting orchestration and atmospheric field recordings of the shorter 'Prelude' version appearing on the flip. That leaves the main vocal version, a superbly soulful chunk of boogie-era dancefloor soul rich in addictive grooves, sweeping strings and eyes-closed vocals courtesy of Chavis, rightfully nestling on side A.