Review: This is a musical celebration of life, good times and the blessings of planet earth from the Afriquoi collective. It is the first time the band have ever gone into the studio to record a full live-band sound, playing together at Octagon Studios. The material they played is finely honed and tuned music that has been perfected on the live stage over the years. There is kora, Congolese guitar, uplifting vocal work, crisp percussion and gorgeous chords all making this a truly African experience that brims with invention and vitality. For sunny times, there are few better albums.
Review: This is a Juno Exclusive from French producer Djar One that lifts off and cruises all the way to Puerto Rico. "Oye Como Va" is the breakbeat fuelled a-side with huge funk drive, oodles of instrumental flair and lively percussive sounds that bring that vital world flavour. "Dance Dance" on the reverse is a quicker jam with Latin flair to spare. It trills with summery time joy and drives on kicking drums. The fun loving vocals are the irresistible finishing touch. Both of these cuts will blow up and club, wherever you are in the world.
I Want You For Myself (KON extended remix) (10:40)
Review: Acclaimed crate-digger turned disco re-editor KON has decided to launch his own reissue imprint, Kontemporary. The idea is simple: to accompany re-mastered original tracks with fresh rubs from the man himself. 12" number one offers another opportunity to enjoy George Duke's soulful, sun-kissed, disco-era jazz-funk bomb "I Want You For Myself". On the A-side you'll find Duke's own impeccable 12" version, with KON's re-edit gracing the B. Having access to the original multi-track tapes has allowed the New York-based producer to not only include an atmospheric, extended intro (a tactic regularly used by fellow rework merchants The Revenge and Joey Negro), but also give more prominence to Duke's superb piano solos.
Review: It would be fair to say that the Egyptians are not one of the more celebrated soul acts from Cincinatti, Ohio. They released a smattering of seven-inch singles on tiny labels during the early-to-mid 1970s, none of which made much of an impact outside of their local scene. In recent years these 45s have become collector's items, with "Thanks To You" - a super-sweet soul slow-jam rich in harmonic group vocals and effortlessly fluid and jazzy guitar parts - being the most in demand of all. Here the record is finally reissued, with facsimile labels and the same track listing (vocal version on the A-side, instrumental take on the flip). If rare, life-affirming 1970s soul loveliness is your thing, it's well worth a listen.
Review: Big Crown are releasing El Michels Affair's latest and possibly greater album this month, but also this tidy new 7". The A side "Reasons" is a collaboration with Bobby Oroza that follows on from their last well received work together in fine style. The results is a deep and existential trip with lush guitar notes and Oroza's voice musing on the struggles of life. "Hipps" is pulled from El Michels Affair's aforementioned album Adult Themes and has a crushing beat and standout horn arrangements that have made the leader of this band so well acclaimed.
First Choice - "Dr Love" (Late Nite Tuff Guy Hypnotizin' Groove) (5:33)
Double Exposure - "Everyman" (Late Nite Tuff Guy rework) (5:31)
First Choice - "Love Having You Around" (Late Nite Tuff Guy rework) (6:37)
Review: There are few more celebrated edit kings than Late Nite Tuff. Now he is back once again with the goodness, this time tackling killer racks by First Choice and Double Exposure. All of the source material here is considered to be stone cold classic, so he's brave if nothing else. But of course, he also has the skills to make these edits worth your while - he extends the breaks, lets the grooves roll on and ensures the vocals remain in place to really get hearts sweeping and hands in the air. The unabashed funk, soul and disco joy of his take on Double Exposure's "Everyman" might be the standout here.
Marvin Gaye - "This Love Starved Heart Of Mine (It's Killing Me)" (2:44)
Shorty Long - "Don't Mess With My Weekend" (2:29)
Review: Each release in Deptford Northern Soul Club's multi-artist single series, which gathers together Northern Soul scene classics and offers them up in freshly re-mastered form, has been nothing less than essential. Predictably, the label's latest seven-inch is another doozy. On the A-side you'll find one of the rarest cuts in Marvin Gaye's vast catalogue - 1967 stomper "This Love Starved Heart of Mine (Is Killing Me)", which was for some reason pressed in extremely limited quantities first time around. Over on the flip the Deptford boys and girls serve up Shorty Long's "Don't Mess With My Weekend", an insatiably funky Northern Soul scene anthem that Motown only ever released in Australia.
Review: During his time working at Jazzman, Athens of the North founder Euan Fryer tracked down the late, great Avelino Pitts, whose impossible-to-find mid 1970s work with Gold counts as some of the deepest psychedelic soul ever recorded. Here, Fryer offers up two of Gold's greatest, previously featured on a 2011 Jazzman compilation, on "45" for the first time. Both songs are deep, fluid, emotional and evocative, with Pitts' impassioned lead vocals rising above intricately detailed backing tracks that prioritise twinkling pianos, reverb-laden slow grooves and slowly shifting basslines over cheap soul showmanship. As a result, from the first listen you'll be hooked.
Rafael Cameron - "Let's Get It Off" (Dr Packer rework) (6:13)
Ripple - "The Beat Goes On & On" (Dr Packer rework) (7:30)
The Salsoul Orchestra - "You're Just The Right Size" (Dr Packer rework) (6:07)
Review: UK born, Australia based DJ and producer Dr Packer is back with more of his on point edits. He tackles some serious disco heavyweights here on Salsoul and first off, disco diva Loleatta Holloway and her mega-hit "Runaway" gets a fresh 2020 update with some soul uplifting studio skills. A heavy funk remix of Rafael Cameron's "Let's Get It Off" is next, with the original still taking centre stage, then the shimmering and glistening disco gold of Ripple's "The Beat Goes On" follows before in-house collective The Salsoul Orchestra also get treated to some elegant orchestral work and a sultry vocal hook.
Falling Deep In Love (Joey Negro 7" Disco Blend) (4:06)
Review: For the last two years, legendary London crew Horse Meat Disco has been teasing the release of its long-awaited debut album via a series of scintillating singles featuring guest vocals from the likes of Amy Douglas and, even more impressively, Kathy Sledge. Here they offer up their second collaboration with the legendary disco diva. "Jump Into The Light" is little less than a tribute to the Chic sound featured on the greatest Sister Sledge records, with Kathy Sledge delivering a typical fine lead vocal over Bernard Edwards style bass, Nile Rodgers-esque guitars and glittering orchestration. Over on side B there's a chance to enjoy Joey Negro's cut-down "Disco Blend" of previous single "Falling Deep In Love", which adds a little house flavour whilst retaining the crew's disco instrumentation.
Review: One of disco's biggest divas gets served up on a red hot platter here by Vinylators. "Extended Woman" is eight plus minutes of bubbling, piano laced and string happy disco with the iconic "I'm every woman" vocal taking centre stage over nice clipped drums. It's a tasteful edit that brings all the key parts to the fore. "Piano Woman" is more stripped back, with plenty of emphasis on some busy piano playing and the soaring original vocal left in place up top. "Dub Woman" is more paired back and built on the leggy drums, while plenty of golden strings add real colour.
Review: The third missive from crate-digging reissue specialists Discs of Fun & Love offers up a new pressing of a suitably obscure and hard-to-find private-press gem, Maggie Epting's sole single as Mandisa, 1981's "Summer Love". The song itself is superb: a wonderfully breezy and sun-kissed slab of dewy-eyed soul that sees Epting deliver an emotive lead vocal over a jazz-funk influenced smooth soul groove and plenty of spacey, intergalactic synthesizer sounds. Over on the flip you'll find original B-side "Love's Dream", a quirky, sax-laden slab of electric jazz that features an even bolder and more ear-catching Epting vocal. It's very good, though the real killer resides on the A-side.
Review: Serious soul heads should be familiar with the work of the Masqueraders - they're one of the most storied bands in the history of the style - although we'd be surprised if they knew much about the two songs presented here. Both were recently rediscovered in the band's extensive archives and are here given a vinyl release for the very first time. A-side "Make You Think You Love Me" was recorded in 1972 and sees the group layer silky-smooth vocals over a gorgeously detailed backing track rich in warm bass, mazy Hammond organ lines and well-timed horn blasts. Over on the flip you'll find the group's superb cover of Jerry Butler/Curtis Mayfield song "When Trouble Calls", which was previously featured on an ultra-rare 1993 cassette, with predictably loose, languid and soulful results.
Review: Long time disco diva Gwen McCrae is an eternally in demand artist whose music reconnects with each new generation. "All This Love That I'm Givin'" is one of her biggest hits and for good reason. Now it gets a special 7" release on stunning yellow vinyl. The soaring vocals do most of the work but the tentative stabs help bring the funk. It's a totally different vibe on the flip with "Maybe I'll Find Somebody New", a much slower and more sensuous tune with luxurious strings and wind instruments complimenting her smooth and seductive vocal work.
Turn This Thing Around (feat Sulene Fleming) (4:07)
Turn This Thing Around (Exclusive unreleased instrumental) (4:04)
Review: Killer modern day funk masterpiece first released almost 20 years ago by the legendary Leeds outfit led by guitarist Eddie Roberts and the first time ever on a handy 7 inch format.Still as fresh as ever fierce drum kit and twangy guitar with hammond organ stabs leads way to upfront vocals from Sulene Flemming who has worked with Bernard Purdie, Reuben Wilson, Brand New Heavies and Incognito etc. Originally released in 2001 it still sounds fresh as ever and this version comes backed with an exclusive unreleased tuff breaks heavy instrumental version. Hand-numbered to 500 copies and served in a Juno exclusive sleeve. Supported by DJ Koco from Japan ,Skeme Richards,The Allergies & Oliie Cheeba from The Herbalizer so far..
Review: For their latest missive, British neo-soul duo Hil Street Soul have enlisted the production talents of New Jersey-based rising star Regi Myrix. The resultant collaboration, "In My Groove", is absolutely delicious: a deliciously sweet - and occasionally sleazy - late night love letter that sits somewhere between contemporary R&B and classic, horn-heavy '80s soul/jazz-funk fusion, all topped off with an inspired lead vocal. Nigel Lewis provides the flipside remix, cannily playing on the classic elements featured in the A-side original mix whilst adding some simmering strings and turn-of-the '80s musical touches of his own.
Review: David Ruffin's 1977 classic "I Can't Stop The Rain" has carried on being essential throughout the ages. An original copy is still worth much more than it was initially sold for and the Mississippi artist's voice carries as much soul now as it did right back in the Motown heyday. His biggest single takes up the a-side of this new 7" from Expansion and its swooning strings, buttery vocals and rousing and strident groove cannot fail to uplift. "Questions:" on the flip is a little more subdued, with more thoughtful vocals but the whole thing still benefits from superbly rich Philly disco stylings that are golden and glorious.
Review: The red hot 45 series from Dynamite Cuts continues apace with more gold carefully dug out from the rich archives of George Semper. This is the first time ver these tunes have been on 7", and the pressing is limited to 600. "Got To Find A Way To Make Some Money" is a sentiment we can all relate to right now. The tune will certainly lift your spirits though with its rousing vocal harmonies, cheery trumpets and vibe spreading soul sounds. "The Weight" (instrumental) is more intense, somehow, with bristling rhythm sections and lo-fi organs all serving up the heat.
Review: Take a trip deep into the spiritual soul and jazz funk sounds of the seventies with these two cuts from Lee Stone. They are taken from an album entitled Praise Poems and bring to mind swing, funk and big band. They tie on well swung grovers, with lush trumpets up top and Stone's vocals adding real heart. "What Is Life" is the upbeat roller that, muses on the sorrow of a love lost and has some fantastic solos, while "Eyes Full Of Starshine" is a more retro affair for the slow motion dancers.
Review: Way back in 1981, husband-and-wife team Manny and Corrine Collier recorded and self-released "I'm Hurting For Your Love", a now ultra-rare slice of disco-boogie that was recently reissued by Cannonball Records. During the licensing process, the Conneticut-based Colliers revealed the existence of a number of unfinished demos. "Cold As Ice", an infectious fusion of elastic slap-bass, boogie grooves, sparkling synth sounds and a great lead vocal from Corrine, was one of those demos. Now tidied up and finished off by the Cannonball Records crew, it appears on this must-have seven-inch in both vocal and instrumental mix forms.
Bob Brady & The Con Chords - "Everybody's Goin' To The Love-In" (2:48)
Review: Party brand-turned-record label Deptford Northern Soul Club is doing a great job in offering up reissue seven-inch singles packed with hard-to-find soul stompers from the late 1960s. Their latest "45" delivers two tried-and-tested classics from 1968. On the A-side you'll find Herb Ward's superb "Honest To Goodness", an effortlessly soulful and energetic affair in the typical Northern Soul style that benefits greatly from a life-affirming call-and-response style chorus. Over on the flip you'll find Bob Brady & The Con Chords "Everybody's Goin' To A Love-In", a scintillating blue-eyed soul affair reminiscent of some of Smokey Robinson's greatest moments. Two classics, one essential "45" - don't sleep!
Review: Milton Wright's perfect deep Soul classic "Keep It Up" has always been a top shelf record, everything about it is almost flawless! Whether it's Milton's silky vocal delivery, the incessant guitar driven back beat or the total space Funk vibe of his omnipresent ARP-2600 synthesizer this record has it all. Originally released on TK Disco's more Soul and Funk orientated Alston label which was home to many legendary artists and records, this 1975 sunshine classic never fails to make people move. A classic rare groove indeed. "The Silence That You Keep" takes up side-B, a jazzy, flute driven love song that again features Milton's perfect voice and some fantastic arrangement. A real gem of a record, with the original 45 changing hands for over L100 a time in used condition.
Review: During the 1970s, Dale O. Warren's ever-changing 24 Carat Black project delivered some of the finest hybrid soul-jazz music around, with the project's 1973 debut album considered something of an underground classic. "III" is the collective's third "official" album and was put together by Numero Group following the discovery of a number of 1980s recordings by the late, great Warren (with vocalists Princess Hearn, Vicki Gray, and LaRhonda LeGette) in a storage lock-up. Sparse but warm, languid and jazzy, it's a leisurely, soft-touch collection of cuts stripped of production trickery but high on dewy-eyed vocals, organic drums and tactile instrumentation.
Review: The Allergies' debut album introduced the world to the way they effortlessly fuse funk, soul, disco, hip-hop and breaks into dancefloor-ready nuggets of ear candy. Taking classic sounds and reshaping them for the modern age is the signature that won them plaudits across the globe. Not ones to rest on their laurels, it hasn't taken long for them to deliver more of the goods on their second full-length album. As well as taking the successful formula of the first record and expanding on their sound, the band enlisted two giants of underground hip-hop to bless mics on the album as well. After a hugely successful collaboration on their debut LP, once again the dynamic lyricism and production skills of the inimitable Andy Cooper (Ugly Duckling) are present and correct in this new collection.
Review: Retro soul fans rejoice. This is a superbly suave collection of instrumental soul and classic British library sounds that ooze class. The lush keys bring lounge goodies, the wind leads bring the feel of a 60s spy drama or detective show theme tune and the tight rhythm sections will bump on any floor. All the tracks have an inescapable sense of conversational narrative and while some strut their stuff in chest pumping fashion, others glide on more silky and seductive keys. If ever you want to imagine you're an international jet-setter, this is the perfect soundtrack.
Review: 2020's inaugural Love Record Stores campaign is an exciting prospect for those who love coloured, marbled and "split" vinyl releases. The latest essential album to get this treatment is Black Pumas' self-titled 2019 debut. Helmed by multi-instrumentalist Adrian Quesada, the Austin-based band's trademark sound tends towards the psychedelic end of soul, offering up songs that variously doff a cap to Tower of Power, Sly and the Family Stone, Rotary Connection, Terry Callier and the Chambers Brothers - all topped off with impassioned, effortlessly soulful lead vocals from mic man Eric Burton. Given the inspirations, it's no surprise that the band's tracks sound authentically old, though there's also an inherent vibrancy and freshness that means they never stray into hollow pastiche.