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: Soul doesn't come much bigger or more dramatic than this 1980 stone cold classic from Crystal Clear. It now gets a first ever reissue on a today 7" from Universal and will have you emptying your lungs, swinging those hips and clapping along throughout. To say the vocal is impassioned is an understatement, and strings don't come much sweeter than those in main highlight "Stay With Me". Over on the flip is the more romantic and revered "You're So Unreal", one that still reaches some pretty moving heights along the way.
Review: Ultra Vybe remain deep in their Brunswick excavations with these two sublime cuts from the label's super troupe of session players Directions and their one and only album. Released 1976, OG copies fetch almost L200 and just these two tracks alone hint at why. Shimmering with a strong Faze-O feel with an evocative contrast of falsetto and deep baritone and twinkling instrumentation, both tracks swoon with everything that was so smooth and emotional about the label who gave the world Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites and Gene Chandler. Show some love.
Review: This tidy new 7" takes two singles from a 1973 album by Bobby Hutton, who was a cult Northern Soul singer from Chicago. Both of them are big tunes, with "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love" soaring to the heavens on lush backing vocals and gorgeous basslines. Hutton himself sings in glowing, heart sweeping ways as the horns compliment his delivery. "Lend A Hand" - written by Terry Callier and Larry Wade - is a more uplifting, good time groover with big horns and stabs, loose claps and grooves to really tie yourself up in.
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: 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.
Review: Rare Betty Wright sup[er soulness reissued with artwork for the Japan market on a tasty little 45. not many stores got this outside of the land of the rising sun ....Don't sleep on this beauty !
Review: Shelved since 1981, "Three Little Words" is a collection of unreleased recordings from a veritable supergroup. Comprising heavyweights such as songwriter/producers Bill Meyers and Guy Thomas and Blood Sweat & Tears' Neil Subenhaus, Toto's Jeff Porcaro, Novo Combo's Carlos Rios, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Boruff and Mike Fisher, the album is an AOR-meets-yacht-meets-80s ballads that's captures every member's prowess and collective tightness over nine short sweet tracks. Slick, incredibly well produced and loaded with a keen eye for arrangement and composition, it's remarkable these haven't surfaced before. An incredible piece of excavation from Preservation Records.
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.
Ramon Pyrme/Jean Claude Cornely - "Vacance Union" (4:49)
Zanma - "Poutchi" (4:47)
Swanha Desvarieux - "Nou Ke Sa Enmew" (4:06)
The Group NSI - "Mande Moin On Lajan, Pa Mande Za Fe An Moin" (3:43)
OREA - "Biguine Inferno" (4:49)
Milton - "Mizik Nou" (4:49)
Selekta - "Fle Pou'W" (3:59)
Meliza - "Anrage" (4:35)
Acayouman - "Si Ou Ladje Moin" (4:00)
Eddy LA Viny - "Indiano" (3:38)
Review: Here's yet another rare '80s compilation with even more deep cuts than the last. Where do they find them all? Heavenly Sweetness clearly know but they ain't telling! They are showing though, and here on Digital Zandoli they reveal 12 newly discovered disco, boogie and zouk tracks recorded about 30 years ago in the West Indies. We're clearly spoilt for choice on this record, but highlights include the synthetic sea breeze grooves of Puzzle Pulsion's "Mwoin Ka Songe", the mellow Afro grooves of Zanman's "Poutchi" and the abstract body music via a sandy beach vibes of OR EA's "Biguine Inferno".
Review: Later this year, crate-digging specialists Cordial Recordings is set to release an album of previously unheard recordings by cult German jazz-fusion combo Afrodisia. To get us in the mood, the London-based label has decided to reissue the band;s sole previous album, 1980's Elephant Sunrise. While the album is best known for the impeccable jazz-funk sweetness of "Sugar Free" - recorded, like much of the rest of the album, by a mixture of locals and guest musicians from a nearby U.S army base - there's much to enjoy throughout, from the psychedelic heaviness of opener "TMFF" and elastic dancefloor workout "Psychic Summers", to the slap-bass-propelled funk-rock of "Wild Turkey" and intense, full-throttle closer "Zugabe (Encore)".
Review: Following on from the Distant Air EP, bright young things Anushka come back to Brownswood to deliver their debut album, showing off a distinctive twist on R&B that worms subtle flecks of minimal electronics, house music and more into a melancholic, richly melodic soulful whole. "Never Can Decide" is loaded with crossover appeal with its bombastic chorus sweeps while keeping a delicacy in the production that keeps the music on the right path. Really though it's Victoria Port's vocals that shape out the identity of Anushka, charged with just the right kind of energy to worm into many an ear as the Brighton-based duo spread their wings.
Review: Cult folk funk opus from two Hawaiian sons of a dolphin whisperer, this self-titled album was written and released 45 years ago but still sounds just as calming, alluring and mystical as ever. The dreamy flutes and staggered tempo of "Wake Me In The Morning", the gutsy ballad and soaring strings of "Joe Arnold", the staccato bluesy pop of "Katy" and the positively Balearic classic "High Tide"... Moments like this will always resonate. The only album the Batteaux brothers ever released, relatively rare and prone to bootlegs, this is the first official re-release in over five years and a great chance to catch up.
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.