Review: As he does on the regular, Athens Of The North chief Euan Fryer has unearthed, licensed and reissued another obscure, impossible-to-find gem. Chuck Brimley's cover of Michael Frank classic "St Elmo's Fire" originally appeared on a tiny Milwaukee-based label in 1981, but pretty much sank without trace (according to Fryer, even local record-diggers didn't know of it's existence). It's something of a seductive, early AM radio gem - a deliciously warm, woozy and dewy-eyed mixture of AOR, soul, soft rock and the kind of glistening jazz-funk that would once accompany 'pages from Ceefax' on late night BBC TV. The track's jazzier elements - think trumpet and sax solos, twinkling electric piano riffs and so on -come to the fore on the accompanying flipside instrumental version.
The Group - "I Don't Like To Lose" (feat Cecil Washington) (3:02)
Review: Here's a treat for Northern Soul enthusiasts, as two sought-after classics that once made the Wigan Casino move are brought together on one must-have "45". On the A-side you'll find Mel Britt's 1969 gem "She'll Come Running Back", a heavy Detroit soul stomper (think bittersweet vocals, sweet orchestration and bold bass) that's long been unaffordable to all but the richest Northern Soul collectors. Over on side B you'll find The Group and Cecil Washington's "I Don't Like To Lose", a 1966 Motor City soul jewel that has been a "holy grail" for many soul collectors since leading scene DJ Richard Searling introduced it to the UK in 1979.
Review: First released back in 1978 on Parachute Records, Randy Brown's debut album "Welcome To My Room" is one of the better lesser-known Philadelphia soul style sets of the disco era. The team behind Expansions Records are certainly fans, because their latest "45" offers up two of the album's most potent tracks. A-side "I'm Always In The Mood" is simply superb, with Brown doing his best Teddy Pendergrass impression atop a heavily orchestrated, dancefloor-friendly backing track. Flipside "Love Is All We Need" is a little deeper but no less sumptuous, sounding a little like Vincent Montana producing "What's Going On" era Marvin Gaye. In a word: essential.
Review: A serious self-press rarity from the heart of Clarksville, Suggs never achieved the recognition he deserved during his tenure as a band leading soul man. Still in Clarksville and now a missionary, the sentiments of this recording history peak resonate with what he does now: "Everything That Looks Good" is a JB style message on the lure of temptation while "You Don't Deserve", an instrumental that sees Bubba switching his vocals for equally commanding sax, is a moment for poignant, soul-searching reflection. Lord have mercy.
Review: Dynamite excel with this rare bit of superb soul from Vernon Burch. "Lovely Lady" is set to be huge on the more heartfelt dance floors out there - the rolling bass loops sweep you off your feet, hip singing claps bring the joy and the vocal is as feel good and heartwarming as you can imagine. It's a tune that just keeps on going before a special dynamite cuts DJ edit on "Joy & Pain" ups the ante with a more driving disco groove. This one is powered by big horns and funk bass riffs, big backing singers and lead guitars that reach for the heavens. Utterly irresistible.
Review: Third time around for Keni Burke's 1982 boogie-soul classic "Risin' To The Top", a track that remained such a favourite on the jazz-funk, rare groove and jazz-dance scenes that it was given the remix treatment in 1992. The slick and smooth cut is still capable of sending shivers down the spine, with Burke's impeccable lead vocal rising above rich electric pianos, a killer boogie bassline and the track's famous "give it all you've got" female backing vocals. This time round, the track comes backed by another stone cold classic and DJ favourite, the 1981 12" version of "You're The Best". More up-tempo and synth-heavy, it remains a favourite with both boogie DJs and jazz-funk fans.
Candy & The Kisses - "Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby" (2:39)
Val Simpson - "Mr Creator" (2:11)
Review: Candy & The Kisses burst onto the Northern Soul scene with their first single and all-time classic "The 81" co-written and produced by the late Jerry Ross. "Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby" is a storming soul number that went under the radar for the most part, but is good as any of other hits of theirs like "Chains Of Love" and many others. Flipside "Mr Creator" co-written by Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson was taken up by The Apollas in 1967 on Warner Bros. and went on to become an all-time classic.
Review: Blue-eyed soul singer Mickey Carroll made his name in the late 1970s, offering up a handful of singles and a couple of rock-solid albums. His musical journey began much earlier though, as "I've Got Plenty Of Nothing" proves. It was recorded in 1969 but never officially released, presumably because Carroll couldn't find a label to put it out on. This then is the track's first release. It's well worth picking up, not least because it fixes his country-tinged, crooner style vocals to a stomping, Northern Soul style backing track with added big band horns. Flipside "Think Love" swings more than it stomps, with an arrangement and vocal delivery that reminded us a little of Terry Callier's "Ordinary Joe".
Review: Although he built his reputation as party-starting DJ, Mister Saturday Night co-founder Justin Carter has always been a singer-songwriter at heart.This debut solo release sees him delivering evocative, folksy vocals over plucked acoustic guitar lines and ghostly backing vocals. The song's fragile, slightly woozy nature comes to the fore on the flipside "Version" mix, which only emphasizes the weary beauty of Carter's lyrics and vocal performance. It's a bit of a sideways step for Mister Saturday Night, but then the label has never played by the rules.
Review: Bridge Boots main man Caserta has previously proved to be one of the most talented re-editors around, up there with higher profile artists such as the Reflex and Joey Negro. His latest offering, a red seven-inch single featuring new rearrangements of Diana Ross hit "I'm Coming Out", is another beauty. On the A-side he offers up a "Long Way Mix" that gives more prominence to Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards' killer backing track (partly via stripping it back to the groove at key points) while retaining most of Ross' vocals. On the flip you'll find a "Sing-A-Long Dub" that strips it back further during key instrumental passages to allow the Motown legend's vocals to shine.
Review: If smooth, synth-powered soul is your bag, we'd suggest checking out this EP from French future R&B star Jean Janin AKA Cezaire. It begins with a sumptuous slice of '80s soul revivalism featuring guests Phabo and Jordan Lee (the really rather good "You Came In Time") and ends with a bubbly chunk of deep electro-soul ("Je Plane", featuring Crenoka). In between, Janin treats us to some sparse, drowsy and distant lo-fi soul ("Beyonce"), a spacey slown jam featuring immaculate lead vocals by Ayelle (the synth-bass-propelled goodness of "The Answer"), and an all-to-short tribute to talkbox-sporting Los Angeles synth-funk jams of the 1980s ("The West Coast").
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: This reissue of American R&B/soul vocal group The Chi-Lites' "Are You My Woman?" (Tell Me So) from 1970 features a very familiar hook that was sampled on Beyonce and Jay Z's 2003 hit "Crazy In Love". Formed in 1959 in Chicago, Illinois, the group was led by Eugene Record and originally called Hi-Lites before adding on 'Chi', which derived from their hometown. They went on to release 15 albums between 1969 - 1990 and are best known for their classics "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl".
My Forbidden Lover (Dimitri From Paris 12" version) (6:30)
I Feel Your Love Comin' On (Dimitri From Paris remix) (8:16)
My Forbidden Lover (Dimitri From Paris instrumental) (6:29)
I Feel Your Love Comin' On (Dimitri From Paris instrumental) (8:15)
Review: It was 2010 when Dimitri From Paris first got his hands on the parts to some of Chic's biggest hits, with some of the resultant revisions appearing on an expansive "Chic Organization" box-set. Glitterbox has been reissuing them all over a series of 12" singles, with this volume boasting the Parisian's vocal and instrumental versions of both "My Forbidden Lover" and "I Feel Your Love Comin' On". The latter is a deliciously dubbed out affair that pushes the track's heavy electrofunk-meets-disco-funk groove to the fore, with flashes of Nile Rodgers' razor-sharp guitar riffs and echoing vocal snippets rising and falling throughout the mix. It's the versions of "My Forbidden Lover", complete with stunning orchestral breakdowns and extended instrumental breaks, that really set the pulse racing, though.
Review: Two powerful soul sessions from Alice Clark's eponymous debut 1972 album. "Don't You Care" is a hard-hitting soul standard (that became very popular in acid jazz scene in the early 90s) where Alice opens her heart for all to see while her incredible band ebb and flow with Clark's emotions. "Never Did I Stop Loving You", meanwhile, languishes in sentiment at a slightly lower tempo that allows her to really dig deep for those low notes. The real fun happens as we reach momentum towards the end and every band member brings out their A-game and bounces off each other - backing up Alice every step of the way. You will care about this.
Crowns Of Glory - "Lord, Look At Your People" (Joaquin Joe Claussell mix) (5:48)
Keith Barrow - "A World Of Lonely People" (Joaquin Joe Claussell mix) (7:37)
Review: If the rich history of US gospel soul, funk and disco gets your juices flowing, you need this new 12" from Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell in your life. As with many of the storied producer's edit-focused 12" singles, it has been pressed in limited quantities and should therefore be grabbed before all the copies disappear. On the A-side he offers up a tidy, dancefloor-focused tweak of Crowns of Glory's hard-to-find 1976 gospel soul cut "Lord, Look At Your People", brilliantly teasing out the intro before unleashing the song in all its inspiring righteousness. Over on the flip Clausell turns his attention to the Clavinet-heavy, Blaxploitation-era gospel disco anthem that is Keith Barrow's equally as inspired 1977 gem "A World Of Lonely People".
Review: Not to be confused with the sports commentator, David Coleman was behind the scorching boardwalk vocals that graced Hector Rivera's debut 1966 album At The Party. The right levels of swoon and croons over vital Latin orchestration - led by the renowned pianist and regular Tito Puenta collaborator - David exudes some serious emotion. "Drown My Heart" lilts with a soft samba while Coleman scatters powerful heartbreak tales, "My Foolish Heart" takes a much more stripped back rhythmic arrangement with yearning, soaring strings that break out into the full orchestra on the chorus. Both cult attractions on the northern soul and popcorn scenes, it's another hearty reissue from them up north.
Review: Storied Latin-jazz artist, composer, producer, and DJ Nicola Conte lays down a marker for his upcoming fifth studio album Free Souls with this delightful 7" of the same name. Brandishing two gens from the album, Conte's channelling soul jazz at it's purest on the title track, with a rhythm and blues arrangement that provides the perfect backing for Bridgette Amofah's gliding vocal delivery. On the B Side, "Shades Of Joy" is equally as memorable with Marvin Parks' soft croon enveloped in the smooth double bass and horn section. On the basis of this, the forthcoming album should be one of Conte's finest yet!
Review: Two big cuts taken from the Melbourne trio's sixth album Blind Bet, here the band flip two sides of a ridiculously funky coin. "Mind Made Up" features the vocals of Tru Thoughts starlet Kylie Auldist. Her rich emphatic vocals fit the 70s soul licks perfectly. Smooth and dynamically delivered with big horns, subtle strings, major chords and an instantly catchy chorus, you'll make your mind up on this long before the last horns blast a final cheerio. "Skeletor", meanwhile, is a much more party-focussed jam where big breakbeats provide the back bone for sharp horns, heavy Hammond slapping and warm gravelly vocals.