Review: Hot on the heels of a re-work of Bobby Caldwell, edit stylist Caserta is back with another golden nugget. This time he turns his attention to the one and only Luther Vandross and serves up two equally essential but very different tunes that pay homage to his unique voice. The King Street Mix is all hip swinging claps and nodding bass riffs that are organic and heartfelt, whereas the Henry Street Mix nods to the '90s heyday of New York. With warm neon organ stabs that will get any floor pumping, both interpretations have Luther's soulful voice front and centre.
Otis Redding - "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" (Soul Flip edit) (4:03)
Gerri Granger - "I Go To Pieces" (Soul Flip edit) (3:33)
Review: Sometimes you just can't beat the golden oldies and so it is that Soul Flip turns his attention to a couple of raw soul bangers. Up first is Otis Redding's classic "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" with a rousing bass section which drives along the original version.The hits hit hard, the vocal is given room to breathe and the swing in the drums is infectious. The flipside houses a soaring tweak of Gerri Granger's "I Go To Pieces", with its clattering keys and rolling soul all quickly finding a way into your affections.
Review: Cannon & Mirrorball may not be the disco edit scene's answer to moustache-sporting 1970s/80s comedy heroes Cannon and Ball, but they certainly serve up tracks that will put a big goofy smile on your face. Their latest Disco Bits adventure begins via "Black Rhythm Rap", a chunky, hip-hop friendly rework of an obscure, late 1970s disco-rap bomb rich in funky guitar licks, cut-glass strings and party-starting MC flows. On the flip they get even cheekier, placing Loleatta Holloway's incredible "Love Sensation" vocal over a stomping, Blaxploitation-era disco-funk backing track and all manner of familiar soul and funk samples. Purists will no doubt sneer, but they really shouldn't: this is tastefully produced disco heat of the highest order.
Review: Dr Rubberfunk (AKA long-serving DJ/producer Simon Ward) may have reached the start of middle age, but he's showing no signs of succumbing to a typical "midlife crisis". In fact, his recent releases have been among the strongest of his career to date. The third part of his ongoing "My Life At 45" series is another belter, with opener "A Matter of Time" - featuring talented, fast-rising vocalist Izo FitzRoy - being a particularly strong exercise in revivalist 1960s soul. Elsewhere across the EP, "Slim's Mood" is a fine chunk of hazy rhythm and blues featuring some awesome, Peter Green style jazz guitar solos, while closing cut "Moody Drums" is a chunky beats track tailor-made for funk and hip-hop DJs who like to get busy in the mix.
Review: The Polyversal Souls are renowned for the strength of their collaborative singles, which to date have featured all manner of legends and rising stars from the underground African music scene. This time around, the German-Ghanaian band provides high-grade backing for guest vocalist Frank Karikari, son of legendary Highlife musician Ralph Karikari. The A-side medley of "Siakwaa/Nana Agyei" is particularly good, with Karikari's confident lead vocal rising above shuffling, soft-focus drums and ear-catching juju guitars. Flipside cut "Odo Agye Gye Me" is great, too, offering a slightly more upbeat and undeniably percussive fusion of highlife/Afrobeat fusion.
The Family Daptone - "Hey Brother (Do Unto Others)" (3:52)
Soul Fugue - "The 100 Knights Orchestra" (4:58)
Review: Soul and funk heads won't want to miss this very special seven-inch from the Daptone Records crew, and not just because it's the label's 100th "45". The A-side features an all-star '60s soul cover of the Frightnrs rock-steady cut featuring vocal contributions from Saun and Starr, James Hunter, Lee Fields, Naomi Shelton, Duke Amayo, the Frightnrs and two legends who are no longer with us: Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones. It's a one-off that won't be repeated for obvious reasons, but more importantly it's very, very good. Over on the flip main man Bosco Mann takes charge, conducting and producing "two opposing armies" of woodwind and horn players from the label's expansive musical roster. As you'd expect, it's something of an epic.
Review: Way back in 1999, Acid Jazz Records launched an offshoot dedicated to disco edits: Original Sound Track Recordings. The best of the series' many superb reworks were later gathered together on a compilation album on EMI that now changes hands for significant sums online. Happily, they've decided to reissue some of their early releases, beginning with this 7" of Family Tree featuring Sharon Brown's "Family Tree". You'll find the peerless original - a breakbeat-driven chunk of lolloping funk brilliance - on Side A, with the label's 2002 "Super Disco Break Beat" version on the flip. Inspired by hip-hop DJs doubling up the track's brilliant drum breaks, it's a killer percussion workout with a few quick blasts of funk energy and carefully placed special effects (think flanged drums, reversed sections and so on).
This Is What You Are (feat The High Five Quintet - radio edit) (4:21)
This Is What You Are (The Brazilian Rime) (4:53)
Review: "This Is What You Are" is undoubtedly Mario Biondi's most celebrated work. He first sung it for original composers Was A Bee in 2004, before re-recording it for his debut album (alongside the High Five Quintet) in 2006. Since then it has been reissued or remixed on numerous occasions. Here it gets reissued on a tidy 7" single, with a punchy radio edit - a swinging, Sunday afternoon style chunk of Latin soul-jazz rich in jaunty grooves, soaring orchestration and smooth vocals - being joined by the "Brazilian Rime" rework. This tasty re-recording re-casts the song as a breezy, samba-fired slab of early 1970s style Brazilian MPB. It's an inspired interpretation and could well become the definitive version of the track.
Good Good Lovin' (Hifi Sean & Yam Who? edit) (3:58)
Review: Recently, legendary American dance producer Arthur Baker discovered two tracks in his storage on 1/4" tape recorded in 1979. He asked Hifi Sean (aka Sean Dickson of The Soup Dragons) to rework them - who brought on board Riot Recordings boss Yam Who? and they quickly got to work resurrecting these soulful disco anthems. On the A side, we have the souled-up disco power of "Reachin'" featuring Minnie Gardner's powerful vocals, then get prepared to get down proper to the group vocals and epic brass section in the uplifting "Good Good Lovin'" (Hifi Sean & Yam Who? edit) all accompanied by Baker's immaculate production style.
Review: The Disciples were formed in 1986 by brothers Lol and Russ Bell-Brown and went on to become pioneers in the UK scene. They produced exclusively for Jah Shaka and now we get to hear an unreleased gem thanks to Music Mania and Indica Dubs as part of their Mania Dub series. "African Odyssey" is an uplifting stepper thanks to the glorious top line and brightly coloured chords that light up the whole rumbling rhythm. "African Dub" on the flip is more pillowy and soft edged for you to sink into when you're at your highest.
Review: Music Mania and Indica Dubs are presenting a trio of colour 7" vinyl that celebrate the work of pioneering UK dub outfit The Disciples. They came together in 1986 and went on to make a big impact on the scene, most often producing exclusively for Jah Shaka. Some of their unrelated material has been unearth for this series, though, and "Deep Space" is a playful cut that tempts you to follow it with hypnotic chord vamps and a meandering bassline. The slippery drums are irresistible in the echo drenched "Deep Dub" on the flip which is arguably even more inviting.
Review: October sees a wealth of previously unheard material from the Disciples hit the shelves thanks to a focussed mini-series brought to you by Music Mania and Indica Dubs. Mindful of the fact this 1986 band were amongst some of the UK's most vital producers they have put together a trio of coloured 7"s. These two straight up dubs somehow slipped through the net. Our pick out of the two is "True Love" - a slowed down roller with a frazzled lead synth line and stepping drums that'll make you move your body.
Review: Disco Dub Band's "For The Love of Money", a one-off collaboration between producer Davitt Sigerson and reggae musician Mike Dorane, has long been considered something of a classic by those who like their disco to come with a big dose of dub-wise flavour. Here the instrumental O'Jays cover, which originally appeared on the Movers label in 1976, is given the remix treatment by long-time fans Mr Bongo. The superb A-side, in which Dorane's instrumental talents take centre stage, naturally comes accompanied by the frequently played Dub interpretation, a typically wild and bass-heavy affair that sounds like it was mixed "live" in one take in true Lee Perry/King Tubby style. If it's not already in your collection, it should be.
Etta James & Sugar Pie Desanto - "In The Basement" (Soul Flip edit) (3:20)
John Gary Williams - "My Sweet Lord" (Soul Flip edit) (3:59)
Review: On their latest limited edition salvo, the hardworking Soul Flip crew (AKA experienced DJs and producers Aldo Vanucci and Del Gazeebo) gets to work on two more stomping dancefloor cuts from the golden age of soul. First up on side A is a gently tooled-up and tightened up take on Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto's 1966 floor-heater "In The Basement", a hybrid soul-jazz/rhythm and blues jam rich in rubbery double bass, bustling drums, restless handclaps and brilliant lead vocals from the two legendary soul singers. On the flip they tackle Memphis musician John Gary Williams' 1972 cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", which brilliantly re-imagines the former Beatles' spiritual song as a sweaty gospel-soul stomper.
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: Cumbia champs Philthy Dronez have been turning out their quirky and curious takes on the genre since 2005. For their next outing on San Fran's Disco Mas they link with Su Brigada De La Cumbia for a brace of bonkers beats. Opener "Vamos A La Playa" is characterised by a big and wonky accordion line that reminds us of global dance smash "Heater" by Samim from a few years ago. It's as silly as it is fun, while "Sabor De La Cumbia" is a much heavier and grittier affair. Shades of digital dub define the grooves while a rather haunting lead keeps you on edge as it trundles along.
Just An Illusion (Ilija Rudman Night Institute mix) (3:04)
Don't Look Any Further (Ilija Rudman True Colours mix) (4:38)
Review: Off the back of the awesome "Sagittarii" LP on Stevie Kotey's Bear Funk earlier in the year, Croatian deep disco hero Ilija Rudman is back with a couple of sweet re-edits on Brooklyn Highs. He takes on Imagination's classic "Just An Illusion" for a "Night Institute Mix" where he pitches this sexy late night lovers anthem down a few notches for that good ol' low slung effect. On the flip, he delivers a respectful edit of Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett's 1984 classic "Don't Look Any Further" for a "True Colours Mix", which again goes for that slo-mo vibe just nicely.
Review: Norwegian music has long tended towards the eccentric, though we can't think of many quirkier releases than Leoparden's recent album "Stilen Er Stimmvel" - a decidedly off-kilter set that mixes lo-fi synth-boogie, reggae, African rhythms, P-funk, blue-eyed soul and lashings of Scandolearic vibes. This tidy 7" single offers up a taster of that set in the shape of album highlight "Hagefest", a decidedly spaced-out afro-reggae affair rich in reverb laden vocals, clipped guitars and off-kilter drums. Leoparden brilliantly strips things back on the flipside "Version", which layers dubbed-out snippets of vocal, guitar and synth over a beefed up version of the eccentric rhythm track.
Review: Wow, classics don't come much more special than this. A like-for-like repress of the 1970 RCA release, both sides here are soaked in Scott Heron's raw troubled soul. The endlessly sampled, hugely powerful and perfectly funky "Revolution" remains almost as poignant and prophetic as it was the day it was penned. "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" is much more personal and reveals his talent as a singer as much as the lead track boasts his poetry and ability to deliver a strong message.
Review: Powerful belters from soul supernova Baby Huey. The only solo 45s he cut for Curtom Records before he passed away aged only 26, this was released posthumously and OG copies regularly go for over 200 pounds. Now reissued on Soul Brother, the two sides give you the full fat Huey; "Hard Times" hits with a raw Lee Fields style gravelly, story-telling delivery while "Listen To Me" shows Huey's deft ability to band-lead an all-out rock jam. Raw and emotional, Huey left this world far too soon.