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: Peak time dancefloor action with this 45 with the familiar classic b-boy sampling fodder coupled with an infectious r & b vocal club monster. It's never had a physical release till now. On the flip it's instrumental breaks galore for B-Boy/B-Girl back flips action from a sought after uk trio release now in handy 45 form with tuff breakbeats and smattering of electro vibe...Only 200 copies..
Review: Destination 78/79: Expansion take us deep into the illustrious back cat of revered boogaloo fusionist Willie Bobo for two of his many fiery delights. Side A is his feel-heavy cult instrumental take on Ronnie Laws' disco classic "Always There" while Side B throws us into the heart of his 1979 album Bobo with gutsy raw soul power (and just a few cheeky funk slap bass twangs for good measure) Two stone cold classics together for the first time on 45.
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: 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").
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: 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.
Ella Fitzgerald - "Get Ready" (Soul Flip edit) (3:53)
Tammi Terrell - "Two Can Have A Party" (Soul Flip edit) (3:44)
Review: The Soul Flip crew are back to rework and carefully tweak more classic cuts to get those dance floors in a spin. This time they turn their attention to the evergreen classic "Get Ready" from jazz great Ella Fitzgerald. The already student and empowering single is beefed up with drums that have extra kick, crisp hits and fills and string stabs that are as bright as the sun. Things get a little more soulful and sun kissed with Tammi Terrell - "Two Can Have A Party" and its hip swinging finger clicks and gorgeously soaring strings.
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.
Black Pumas - "Look At My Soul" (feat Kam Franklin) (3:27)
Review: Two years ago, Nacional Records released "Look at My Soul", an album from funk-soul multi-instrumentalist and producer Adrian Quesada that featured a wealth of guest performers. Here the LA label revisits the project, offering up two of the album's most potent cuts on "45" for the very first time. Veteran Latin American Texan Johnny Hernandez stars on superb A-side "Ain't No Big Thing", adding his gravelly but emotion-rich voice to a languid chunk of jaunty, horn-heavy 1960s style soul. On B-side cut "Look At My Soul", Quesada's psychedelic soul band Black Pumas are accompanied by righteous soul diva Kam Franklin on an even more emotive, organ-heavy chunk of end-of-night soul. By the end, we guarantee you'll be holding a lighter aloft and singing along with your eyes closed.
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: Brenda is thought to be the late Brenda Lee Jones from Ohio and the subject of the b-side here, which is the biggie, "Big Mistake," is thought to be her adopted son and mistakes his real mother made. It's a super sweet affair that will swell your heart with its lush soul sound. This reissue has been cut from the original master tapes and will help out anyone wanting to cop it without paying the L800 it cuttingly goes for online. The flip of record, "Super Stoke" is lit up with big fuzzy guitars and raw funk that never lets up.
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: For the second release on their new joint venture Mixed Signals, Henry Jones and Seance Centre founder Brandon Hocura have decided to offer-up a selection of tracks from Harold Lucious' overlooked 1990 album "Connected". Lucious' far-sighted blend of soulful house, new jack swing and what us Brits would call street soul comes to the fore on opener "Let The Feelin' - Turn You Out", a stripped-back, synth-heavy chunk of deep house-soul, and on the much more upbeat club cut "What Does It Take". It can also be heard, too, on delicious flipside opener "I Like It", where Lucious' layered vocals ride a tactile, lo-fi deep house groove. Our pick of the bunch though is sumptuously slow closing cut "Try My Love", which is much closer in tone to street soul.
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: By now, you should know Devon Russell's sought-after 1984 cover of Curtis Mayfield classic "Move On Up", a incredible, post-disco era reggae-soul revision that just oozes sun-splashed positivity. It's virtually impossible to pick up the original 45 so this dinked reissue from Mukatsuku Records is most welcome and has been lovingly remastered. The seven-inch is also notable for including another overlooked gem from Russell's even lesser-known 1993 album of Mayfield covers, "Darker Than Blue". His rendition of "Give Me Your Love" here presented for the very first time in a 45 format is blissfully glassy-eyed, colourful and hazy, giving the Mayfield classic a decidedly Balearic reggae feel via head-nodding grooves, fluid synthesizer lines and jazzy guitar solos. In a word: brilliant.Supported so far by DJ Koco & DJ Muro from Japan and Craig Charles BBC 6 Music, The Allergies,Mr Thing, Andy Smith & Boca 45 from the uk....
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: The latest missive from the must-check Rain & Shine label should appeal to serious soul collectors. It offers a new edition of a private press "45" by Illinois outfit Joel Ramirez Jr and Fantasy that's recently been changing hands for vast sums online. A-side "I'll Call You Every Morning" is a super-sweet modern soul number that combines a blue-eyed soul style lead vocal with a bright-and-breezy backing track rich in groovy bass, spacey synths, clipped guitars and seriously positive piano motifs. It's really rather good all told, and the kind of earworm that you'll be singing in the shower all week. Over on the flip you'll find the rhythm & blues/rock flex of "I Can't Let Her Go", which will probably appeal to AOR disco lovers.
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: In 1977, Atlanta fusionists Starfoxx had a big hit in the US Billboard chart with "Disco Rock", a cut that -as the title suggests - added a rock and rhythm & blues edge to the then dominant disco sound. It was something of a novelty, but much of their earlier work is pretty darn hot. "Oh Linda", which first appeared in stores in 1973, could well be the hottest of the lot. Sitting somewhere between the rasping blues-rock of Cream and more extravagant American funk and soul, the track is full to bursting with crunchy Clavinet riffs, throaty vocals and mazy electric piano solos. This reissue from TRAMP contains just the one track (pressed to both sides for some reason), but don't let that put you off: it really is a must-have.
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!