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: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.
Review: No longer dealing in edits, but instead long lost or out of print disco and soul gold, Super Disco Edits turn their focus to the early works of The Plainwrap Band here. These are all tracks produced and arranged by Marvin Augustus that were recorded to a dusty reel that ended up in the hands of producer Stu Gardner. He transferred the reels and once the label got wind they decided to track down Augustus. He'd forgotten all about the project but revelled that some of leading musicians from America's West Coast were called upon to play on these romantic, emotional and musical soul-groovers.
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.
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: New funk delivered the old way; Original Gravity follow up the 2017 hype of Floyd James & The GTs debut "The Switchback" with this powerful four-track EP. Charged with a strong northern soul feel both "Keep Lifting Me Higher" and "The Sweetest Thing" lead with the beat as Floyd and his super-tight band bounce back and forth. Flip for more energetic mischief as "The Wig" goes turbo blues while "Sweet Sweet Soul" closes on an epic, riffy sing-along. The title speaks for itself.
Review: Since its release in 1973, Ze Roberto's debut single "Lotus 72 D" has become something of an in-demand item amongst collectors of soul-fired Brazilian "MPB". So much so, in fact, that Mr Bongo has licensed it and served up this 7" reissue. In its original A-side form, the track is a carnival-ready slab of samba-soul brilliance rich in razor-sharp horn blasts, rich bass guitar, punchy hand-percussion and twinkling jazz piano solos. Roberto's confident vocals take centre stage, inviting us towards the dancefloor. Over on the flip you'll find a "Fast Version" of Roberto's tribute to 1972 Formula 1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi. This has a slightly more dancefloor-centric tempo, an effect achieved when it was accidentally pitched up for inclusion on a 2001 compilation.
Billy Squier - "The Big Beat" (extended Breaks Special edition) (2:54)
Le Pamplemousse - "Gimmie What You Got" (extended Breaks Special edition) (4:12)
Review: We've said this before, but there's something brilliantly simple about the Beats & Breaks label's "Extended Breaks" series of seven-inch re-edits. There's no superfluous fluff or needless rearrangement, just solid and matter-or-fact extensions of key drum breaks to both aid mixing and light up dancefloors. For proof, check the mysterious re-editors' take on Billy Squier's 1980 heavy rock workout "The Big Beat", which prioritizes the track's fat, bottom-heavy drums and the singer's impassioned vocal yelps while stripping out most of the gnarled guitar riffs. If you need a bit of a breather from the heavy dancefloor pressure, the crew's subtle revision of Le Pamplemousse's drowsy, synth-laden deep disco shuffler "Gimme What You Got" - a string-laden slice of sun-kissed sweetness - should do the trick.
Review: Now here's a traffic jam we're all happy to be in... Aussie funk super troupe The Traffic (comprising members of The Bamboos, Cooking On 3 Burners, Pickpocket and Punkawallahs) come correct with this follow up to their debut last year. Come for the awesome party-melting, wall-shaking Daft Punk cover on the A, stay for the groove-based soul-laced broken beat jam "Chasin' Feels". Both poles in their clearly broad and skilful musical scope, we can't wait to hear what they've got coming next.
Lafayette Afro Rock Band - "Hihache" (extended Breaks Special edition version) (4:23)
Gaz - "Sing Sing" (extended Breaks Special edition version) (4:27)
Review: More sneaky 45 action from the Breaks & Beats crew, a shadowy organization whose tried-and-tested re-edits offer DJ-friendly extensions of popular break-digging favourites (many of which were sampled on classic hip-hop cuts). Their latest seven-inch excursion begins with a tidy revision of Lafayette Afro-Rock Band's brilliant "Hihache", a low-slung favourite rich in lolloping, head nodding drum breaks, jazzy bass, flanged funk guitars and fuzzy horn motifs. The new version is deferential towards its source material, extending breaks here and there whilst leaving much of the tune in tact. One of the most doubled-up drum breaks in hip-hop history takes pride of place on side B, where Gaz's Salsoul released wiggler "Sing Sing" gets the re-edit treatment.
Review: Garden Of Eden was another one of those obscure, one-shot bands who released a sole single at some point in the 1970s and then promptly vanished from view. That single, "Everybody's On A Trip", has long been sought-after amongst collectors of intergalactic disco-funk, hence this reissue from the Backatcha crew. The title track is a downlow delight, with flanged guitar riffs, spacey synth lines, punchy horns and quality male vocals rising above a hot and heavy groove. Over on the flip "It Takes Two" is sweet, slow and dewy-eyed in the tried-and-tested tradition of B-side ballads.
Review: For the first volume in their brand new Toxic Funk 45s series, the Breakbeat Paradise crew has turned to two stalwarts of the breaks scene, Easy Now Recordings co-founder Tom Showtime and long-serving DJ/producer Badboe. They hit the ground running with A-side "We Funk Tings", a cut-and-paste workout that peppers a head-nodding, bass-heavy hip-hop groove with funk licks, hazy horns and sneaky vocal samples from a variety of ragga and rap records. They continue in a similar vein over on side B, where the horn and piano-heavy hip-hop-funk of "We Have It Hot" is followed by the boom-bap booty business of "The Time Has Come".
Review: American funk band Breakwater is best known for their hit "Release The Beast," which gets a reissue treatment by Be With. Even if you don't know the name, you'll recognise the track's withering lead riff because it was sampled by Daft Punk for their iconic "Robot Rock". It's mad to think such a futuristic sound was created somewhere in Philly in 1979, but it was. The flip side houses the smooth and buttery "Let Love In", a feel good, deep cut funk gem with vocal harmonies, bulbous bass and hip swinging claps.
Review: 10 years ago, El Michels Affair - a hip-hop loving funk combo spearheaded by Leon Michels - released "Enter The 37th Chamber", an instrumental tribute to the world of the Wu-Tang Clan. To celebrate the record's tenth birthday, they've decided to reissue two of that album's most potent cuts. On the A-side they re-imagine Ol' Dirty Bastard's 1995 anthem "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as a fine fusion of rousing horns, jazz-flecked hip-hop beats and vocals provided by what sounds like a children's choir. Over on side B, Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" gets the cover version treatment, with the band peppering their deep, jazz-funk influenced groove with sharp horns and evocative electric piano solos.
Review: As Galcher Lustwerk's label continues to expand at an easy pace, so this intriguing prospect arises from the lesser known Double Pelican Man. As The Nassau Sessions title might imply, this is a departure from sleek house and techno into an abstraction of the island boogie sound, taking some cues from digi-dub and 80s dancehall but offsetting it with a final mix that is all its own. "Jet Ski" is a perfect slice of canned dub for mellow heads, and "Sweet Genius" is the pick for a more audacious application of delay and reverb, but the bass on "Shit To Buy" makes it the standout track on this collection of dubwise jams.
Review: Classic hip-hop head Godfather Don is loved by fans for his bulging back catalogue of solo joints and hot collabs. Diggy Down plunge deep into his vaults for this much sought-after track from a 2007 test pressing that has fetched as much as L700 over the years. Though it is rumoured Don was unhappy with the snare sounds on the track - hence it never before getting a full release - "Stuck Of The Realness" is now presented here, warts and all. It's an impeccable cut truth be told: the hits sound just right, the rhymes go deep and there's a woozy feel to the pads that really make you sink far into the groove.
Review: It seems so obvious you wonder why it doesn't happen more often: Stefano Torossi's "Feelings" album from 2000 was made up of track titles that convey certain situations and emotions that he masterfully reflects in the music. This new double 7" includes the highlights, such as the racing jazz and trumpet stabs of "Running Fast," the sustained and uneasy chords of "Fearing Much" and "Feeling Tense," which is actually a pretty lush bit of smooth jazz. "Walking In The Dark" rounds off the double pack with playful guitars and luxuriant synths that are pure soundtrack goodness. Ace.