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: "Fever" is one of Horace Andy's biggest hits. Amazingly, it has never been given its own release so Studio One has done the right thing and put it out on a super loud 12" for the first time. It first landed way back in 1973 before Andy rose to contemporary fame appearing with Massive Attack on five of their albums, but still hits hard. The lush vocals sit well in the swinging drums and bass, and makes it a sure fire dance floor destroyer that won't hang around. Comes accompanied with a Cedric "Im" Brooks instrumental version on the flip.
Review: Soul4Real has gotten 'soulful for real' with this third outing, coming through in the form of 2 previously unreleased gems from US band The Anglos. This is some pretty niche gear, what with the band having only put out a handful of 7s back in the 60, so it feels like a special occasion to have some new material from them on our shelves. These tunes were apparently destined to land on the Botanic imprint back in the day, and are famously produced and engineered by the great Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, which is why they have a certain roughness that is rarely heard on other soul records. "Broke Down Piece Of Man" is a fast, beat-heavy number with a psychedelic edge that reflects the state of mind back then, while "Four Walls Of Gloom" takes the gospel tradition as its main ingredient, offering a wonderfully uplifting midtempo rocker for the heart and soul.
Review: Pat Biggerstaff's ZIP catapults itself into the modern soul game with an arresting statement of intent; St Louie-born, Kansas-based Bryan Austin takes time off his calling as a missionary to lay down two soft, dreamy, string and piano based ballads. "What Would Marvin Say?" is rich in references and respect while "Sunday" takes The Moments' classic to slower, deeper, emotive pastures. Both establish ZIP as a new label with promise.
Review: Jazzman's Juke Box Jams series continues unabated to offer up those one-shot killers from the tangled history of jazz, R&B and soul - essential nuggets worth repeatedly popping dimes in the slot for. Here, it's the turn of Bobby Bland's "36-22-36", a heavy swinging and insanely catchy blast straight from 1962. Bland's voice is a perfect balance - cool as ice, but cracked around the edges - while the chorus line chants don't need a minute to get under your skin until you're singing along. "St James Infirmary" on the flip is a more downcast affair - one to drown your sorrows to, but certainly not the bottom of the bottle, as those hard stepping horns attest.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
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: 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.
Review: Athens of the North founder Euan Fryer has described Willie Dale's "Let Your Light Shine" as "one of the best discoveries in the last 15 years". Only five copies of the original 7" single have surfaced to date, with the most recent changing hands for eye-watering sums of money. You can see why Fryer was so excited by "Let Your Light Shine": while rooted in both funk and soul, the track also draws heavily on psychedelic rock and the fuzzy, funk-rock fusion brilliance of Sly Stone. Original B-side "Somebody Help Me" is an altogether more laidback affair, with Dale offering impassioned and melancholic lyrics over a psychedelic era take on old rhythm & blues ballads.
Review: With the passing of William Daron Pulliam last year, the music world truly lost a singular and unique talent. Here Californian soul daddies Ubiquity pay homage to his most recognised works "Didn't I See" with a limited edit-focused 12". There is of course the feeling one shouldn't mess with perfection - and this Darondo track certainly falls into that category - but each of the three edits that accompany the original are considered reworks that subtly add some extra character without losing any of its power to move. Kinjo Music founder Dave Allison perhaps excels the most in this regard, subtly nudging the tempo up and adding some extra percussive detail that soul selectors will appreciate.
Review: The Cosmologist's Under The Influence series returns with a soul 7" especially for RSD! "Child Of The Street" by Sam Dees originates from 1973 and comes dripping with socio-political undertones, which remain intact on The Cosmologist's 2015 tweak which subtly embellishes the groove into something close to a hip hop beat. Face down and we go back a decade to 1968 and the outright soul gem "Same Girl" by Barbara Acklin, twisting it up with the lesser known piano version from Young Holt Unlimited for 5 minutes that will nice up any dance!
The Lost Generation - "The Sly, Slick & The Wicked"
Review: Stomping northern soul vibes abound on this recently unearthed gem from The Demures. With its pumping beats and heart melting harmonies it's hard to believe this went unnoticed for so many years. If you're after something a little softer and emotional then flip for The Lost Generation's "The Sly Slick And Wicked". No, they're not describing Juno's record reviewers, they're lamenting over love lost and heartbreakers in the most emphatic, string-drenched soulful way. Two beautiful cuts on one 7". Bonus.
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: Newcomers Energy MC2 are exactly the sort of ensemble needed by the supremely funky Soul Junction imprint. The label have done a great job in continuously finding new, raw talent in the soul game, and these dudes know the score. "If You Break It" features the voice of Vincent Bonham, and it's a veritable lovers tune, made for dance floor antics and Saturday night romance, whereas "Other Side Of The Mirror" is more of a soulful abstraction, a gorgeous little ballad led by the delicate, majestic vocals of Arnell Carmichael. Oh, boy...
Instrumental Band - "Love Can Last Forever" (4:04)
Review: All welcome Stylart: a brand new soul venture from Timmion. They're launching with Fred, a new artist who apparently has a complicated past. From the raw falsetto energy and emotion seeping from this slow burning jam he probably has. The authenticity is backed all the way by the equally vaguely titled Instrumental Band who provide the - you guessed it - instrumental on the flip. Beautiful.
Review: Izipho Soul recently described Frederick Davis as "one of Cleveland's hidden gems". This tasty seven-inch, which contains two tracks recorded way back in 1992 but never before issued, certainly backs up their assertion. A-side "Shoulder to Cry On" is something of a sparkling, late night synth-soul treat - a close-dancing slow jam that sees Davis's fine vocal rise above a backing track rich in chiming electronic melodies, post New Jack Swing R&B style beats and sensual saxophone solos. Flip for the similarly minded but arguably more elastic "Let Go", where the unheralded Cleveland singer whispers seductively over a killer synth bassline and more cascading '80s soul melodies.
Review: Little is known about Friction Band's hyper-rare 45" besides the fact it's a brilliant example of outsider, slightly experimental style of modern soul, it's passed hands for strong triple figures in recent years and it's just been injected with a whole new lease of life by Fryer. "Watchin' You" is a footloose boogie jam with unabashed use of freeform keys while "To The Sky" flips for a softer, more sentimental soul affair that's fringed by just the right amount of dreamy cosmicity. Another precision find by AOTN.
Review: New London groove duo Funk'N'Sly make their debut on Boogie Cafe's new Neon series with these three juicy electro boogie and soul originals. "Be Mine Tonight" hits with Chromeo levels of charm and sleaze that's backed up to the max by Ron Basejam on absurdly fat remix duties. "Tell Me So" drops its trousers to reveal a crisp set of Speedos and takes a dip into the serene Balearic shores, and "Intimacy" shimmers with some seriously authentic 80s soul feels. Think Soul II Soul era Nellee Hooper. Beautiful.
Review: TRAMP Records continues to delve into the archives of Tyree Glenn, Jr, a Germany-based American funk and soul stalwart whose musical pedigree is immaculate (his father, Tyree Glenn senior, was Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong's trombonist). This tasty "45" serves up two of the four tracks first featured on the thoroughly obscure "Samba Oh Samba" EP in the early 1980s. A-side "Jealous Love" is a killer chunk of multi-coloured P-funk featuring gnarled electric guitar solos and lead vocals by Georg Hahn and Wayne Bartlett. Glenn, Jr handles lead vocals on flipside "Beautiful Woman", a similarly synth-heavy chunk of 1980s electrofunk that also sports a rather fine - if sleazy - sax solo.
Review: Tramp Records has stayed close to home for this release, reissuing two killer cuts from the 1981 album "Mittwochs In Marl" album by Tyree Glenn Jr. While he is American - his father, Glenn senior, was famously Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong's trombonist - Glenn Jr had moved to Germany (where he still resides) around the time that the album was recorded. Lead cut "Superbad" is a genuinely heavy, full-throttle funk beast, with Glenn Jr doing his best James Brown impression over an insatiable groove and rousing sax solos. "Ma(r)l Sehen", on the other hand, is a much more breezy affair - an instrumental jazz-funk outing rich in dueling sax and electric piano solos.
Review: Athens of the North supremo Euan Fryer was helped in his efforts to reissue this sought-after soul ballad - arguably the most in-demand cut from obscure Dallas-based artist Willie Griffin - by Brooklyn-based crate digger Brian Sears. Together, they somehow managed to locate the master tapes for "I Love You", allowing this pressing to sound even better than the original seven-inch. It's a deliciously breezy and heartfelt affair, with Griffin's impeccable vocal rising above a lo-fi soul backing track rich in gentle guitars and loose drums. Also worth a listen is the slightly heavier and more dancefloor-friendly "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire", which features a glam-rock style beat, bluesy acoustic guitars and some seriously heavy bass.
Review: London's Soul Brother unit has been out of the picture for a little while, but you can always rest assured that the mythical Putney-based shop will come up with some solid reissue goodness. This time, the gold comes through a resurrection of Bill Harris' material, a legendary jazz trombonist who started his trade way back in the late 1950's. There's two versions of "Am I Hot Am I Cold" here, a short version for the dance, and a long version that delves deeper into the percussion, goes heavier on the drum breaks and lifts the track to higher grounds thanks to those prophetic vocals. A certified jazz-funk monster.
Review: Athens Of The North celebrate the longstanding contributions of host, presenter, writer, personality and occasional singer Bernard "Spider" Harrison. Recorded sometime around 1970, and fetching large triple figures between collectors, the feel good bluesy soul cut "Beautiful Day" first landed on Lulu Records and has barely seen the light of day since... Until now. And it's loaded with a never-before-released drum cut. Don't sleep, though. Only 500 of these have been pressed.
Review: Giving Nicole a rare night off, inimitable troupe The Soul Investigators team up with killer flautist Ernie Hawks for two impeccable instrumentals. "Scorpio Man Theme" is all slinky 70s cinematica with a wry nod towards Lalo Schifrin while "Journey To The Bottom" adopts a more languid perspective with slower beats, a smouldering groove and a flute line that takes us right down to the bottom of our souls and right back up again. Beautiful.
Review: Finnish revivalist funk combo the Soul Investigators are no strangers to collaboration, having previously provided backing for Nicole Willis, Myron and Ernie Hawks. Here, they once again join forces with the latter for two more chunks of instrumental funk and soul goodness. A-side "Scorpio Walk" is the kind of cut that should come with its own named dance; a shuffling, mid-tempo funk affair that layers Spaghetti Western guitar solos and fluttering flute lines over a backing track rich in flanged guitar licks, bustling bass guitar and on-point drum breaks. Flipside "Message of Love" is an altogether deeper and more dewy-eyed affair, with woozy backing vocals and electric piano solos rising above a shuffling groove.
Review: Here's something to excite those who dig quality 1970s funk, soul and disco: a tidy 7" containing two stone cold classics from the Rod Temperton-helmed, UK-based "international band" Heatwave. Side A boasts one of the standout moments from the group's much-loved 1977 album "Central Heating", seductive, string-laden love song "The Star Of A Story". It's superbly arranged and brilliantly produced, with warm keys, Spanish guitar solos and rich orchestration combining beautifully with the band's slick and smooth vocals. Side B is taken up by 1976 single "Ain't No Half Steppin'", a bolder and more dancefloor-friendly chunk of warm and woozy dancefloor soul.
Review: Incredible late night smoochy stuff right here from one of the most decorated bassists of all time. A major figure in the bands of Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder, Henderson was also a killer solo artist amassing eight artist albums between 76-86. This AOTN "45 showcases his true breadth as "Let Love Enter" lilts on a soft bossa with rising horns, velvet backing vocals and an unabashed come-to-bed message. "Come To Me" gets even deeper under the sheets with as he goes toe-to-toe, cheek-to-cheek with Rena Scott with smoking results.
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.
Review: Since 2003, Record Kicks has been the "explosive sound of today's scene" and, by the looks of this latest nugget from Martha High, they're right on track to fulfill that promise! The talented US vocalist was on the front row of James Brown's hits in the 60's and 70's, but she's since then focused on her own glorious soul material. "A Little Taste Of Soul" comes as a ray of shining light on a wet October afternoon, full of funky sensibility and heartfelt vibes, making for the perfect dance number for those looking for that groovy thang. For the B-side, "Unwind Yourself" slows the tempo down, breaks up the groove, and unleashes High's Goddess-like voice amid those tasty breaks - what a winner!
Review: This is the first single from Holy Hive's forthcoming debut album Float Back To You, and it suggests it's going to be a real cracker. "Hypnosis" is a heart achingly sweet tune with tight drum work and celestial keys lighting up a slow walk home during a warm summer's night. The vocal harmonies are the icing on the cake. "Broom" is beautifully downbeat and introspective, with gorgeous falsetto and star-gazing grooves all topped off by some joyful sax work from guest player Leon Michels. Fantastic stuff that cannot fail to find its way into your affections, and will certainly keep you warm through winter.
Review: Two Arista classics from 79/78 respectively, the cult (not to mention heavily sampled) charms of Pittsburgh soul queen Hyman are presented immaculately right here on this heavyweight vinyl double-A. "You Know How To Love Me", taken from the 79 album of the same name, is a straight up disco stomper that should be recognisable to all with its distinctive horn fill and rousing backing vocals while "Living Inside Your Love" (from her 78 album Somewhere In My Lifetime) is a slinkier, sultry affair with some sizzling scat vocal flare and harmonies that will have you weak at the knees. It's all love.
Review: Previously spotted passing hands for over 5000 quid, this one-off 45" from North Carolina troupe Ice has enjoyed cult status over the years in both the deepfunk and northern soul scenes. Straight from 1980, there's a great balance of classic soul motifs and modern production as "Reality" swoons and sways unhurriedly but emphatically while "Hey Hey" ups the boogie ante with firm focus on the party, sharp switches on the chorus and some insane bass runs. Another ice cold reissue from AOTN.
Review: The first of two major Infinity licences from AOTN this month, this is a significant excavation even by renowned digger label founder Fryer's standards. Usually seen passing hands for well over 500 quid, this second and last single from the relatively unknown troupe Infinity is a stone cold jam that's been sought after for many many years. Absolute rare groove sleaze on the bass and horns, "Queen Of My Universe" sparkles with soul in every element. Meanwhile "Up" strips things back even further with an uptempo disco twang and tight Q&A vocal play between the band. Infinite love for this one!
Review: A stunning soul double A with a percussion heavy smoky soul cover of Leroy Lane & The Upstairs Maids' "There's A Man" and a big-swing, horn-heaved late 60s Motown-style ballad "I Have This World & You". Canadian soul act Joey Irving & Just Us only wrote and recorded a handful of songs and - madly - they couldn't get a deal on home soil so turned to Belgium's Baltic label which was usually the sole preserve of elevator music and native Flemish folk. Few original pressings have been spotted, but when they do they regularly fetch over L200. Jump on this.
Review: The James Walsh Gypsy Band is kind of the outfit to go to if you're looking for some blue-eyed soul but, just like Ned Doheny and his sublime reissue on Numero, the band never fully came out of its shell, and were limited to just one album on RCA Victor, 1998's self-tiled LP. I've Got The Feelin' was recorded a year later, in 1979, at the legendary Muscle Shoal Studios, but it never made it out onto the shelves apart from a seriously limited CDR run. Norway's Preservation has thankfully done the right thing by pressing its two best singles on 7". The lead tune, "I've Got The Feelin" is a graceful, soul-driven disco bomb guided by James Walsh's memorable vocal chorus - a true LA kind of beast - while "Caves Of Altamira" is more sensual in its approach, but Walsh's inimitable voice still rides proudly at the centre of the mix. Two killer soul slingers - TIP!
Review: Soul Tribe celebrate the epic legacy of Chess subsidiary Argo with two of the label's many outstanding soul burners. Etta's big swing sauce-pot number takes pride of place with all 55 years of sultry devotion still deeply embedded into the recording. Banks' slightly lesser known pastoral ballad sets up camp on the B. Lilting and lolloping with horseback storytelling, it's the perfect foil both musically and narratively.
Review: Should you require further evidence of the all-round genius of Curtis Mayfield, look no further than this early '70s funk gem from Patti Jo. "Make Me Believe In You" was written and produced by the velvety-voiced musician in 1973, one of just a few singles released by Patti Jo but undoubtedly now an all-time classic. That rolling drum intro, the ear-wagging piano, the subtle orchestration and, above all, Patti Jo's killer vocal all combine for a perfect example of the halcyon days when funk was beginning to transform into disco. Mayfield himself later covered the track for the closer to his Sweet Exorcist LP! This BGP 7" sees Tom Moulton's extension of "Make Me Believe In You" combined with his remix of the other Patti Jo burner, "Ain't No Love Lost". Any self-respecting DJ needs the A-side though.
Review: Destination 1970: after a string of heartfelt cuts on the likes of Expo, Bobby Jones makes himself known on little known Detroit label Kack Records. Lost in midst of times and long forgotten crates, he's not enjoyed the microscopic revival like so many Chicago crooners of the time. Until now. "Welcome Back A Foolish Man" is a full of orchestral drama and just a little northern stomp while "Lovin' Hard Livin' Good" hits with a wider sense of emotion with prominent strings, rolling percussion and dreamboat backing harmonies. Welcome back for good.