Review: Expansions' latest essential reissue takes us back to 1980 and the much sought after seven-inch edition of singer Ty Karim's collaboration with lesser-known soul man George Griffin. "Keep On Doin' Whatcha' Doin'" was written and produced by Karim's other half Kent Harris and, like the original seven inch, appears here in two parts. The glorious A-side version is a lolloping chunk of disco-era sweet soul rich in soaring orchestration, fluttering flutes and Marvin Gaye/Tammi Tyrell style duet vocals from Karim and Griffin. Part two focuses more on the killer groove and the duo's impassioned improvised vocalizations, with a variety of tasty solos helping to whip things into a mid-tempo dancefloor frenzy.
Review: Earlier in the autumn, obscure 1980s imprint Local Records - a label run out of the Tottenham-based home studio of London reggae and soul producer John Collins - sprung back to life with a reissue of Rick Clarke's sumptuous '80s soul slow jam "Love With A Stranger". Collins has decided to follow that up with a new edition of his 1984 production for Janet Kay, "Eternally Grateful". It's another electrofunk gem, with Kay's deliciously sweet vocal rising above reggae style horns, jangling pianos and a killer synthesizer bassline. As with the Clarke record, the flip features Collins' original dub revision ("Eternally Dubful"), a more stripped-back, echo-laden affair that's worth the entrance price on its own.
This Love Is Magic (feat Chanel - Soul Rockers mix) (3:48)
When It Rains (feat Cleveland Jones) (4:39)
Review: It would be fair to say that Dee "Kejam" Majek (real name Oladisun Majekodunmi) is something of a veteran, with the Nigeria-born writer, musician and label owner producing his first released music way back in the early 1980s. This double seven-inch single marks his debut for Izipho Soul, and his first release of any sort since 2016 debut album "Majek". There's much to admire throughout, from the slick '80s soul warmth of Lisa Taylor collaborations "Can You Feel The Love" and "My Only Love" - the latter featuring a slight two-step soul feel - to the electrofunk-influenced R&B shuffle of Chanel hook-up "This Love Is Magic (Soul Rockers Mix)" and the toasty, dewy-eyed goodness of "When It Rains", which features lovely lead vocals from Cleveland Jones.
Review: UK soul tour de force Michael Kiwanuka enjoys his first live album. A punchy five track selection with recordings from the Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and London Palladium we glide and slide from the tenderness of "One More Night" and the dreamy symphonic blues of "Father's Child" to the all out fusion of "Black Man In A White World". This captures Kiwanuka at his most delicate, honest and powerful.
Review: Barely available in its original format, Frederick Knight's first - and most highly sought after - release from the late 60s is a jacking, upstart bit of funky soul that is as relevant today as it was back then. "Stepping Down" carries an infectious groove, carried by wild organs and driving percussion all the way from beginning to the end, but it's "Heart Complication" that we've been waiting endlessly for - a slow and chilling soul ballad with Knight's seductive laments cutting deep and wide. Super!
Review: German bandleader Lutz Krajenski has enjoyed a long and successful working relationship with Agogo. The Austrian label has previously released countless singles and albums from his Hidden Jazz Quartett [sic] combo and here allows him a chance to go solo on a fine 7" single. Taken from an album of Agogo catalogue covers due to see the light of day in early 2018, A-side "I Got Hope" (originally recorded by the Hi-Fly Orchestra) is a sumptuous, slow-burning jazz ballad featuring superb vocals from Alana Alexander. She reprises her role on the flipside, where Krajenski and his collected musicians lay down a killer, Clavinet-heavy version of Timmy Thomas classic "Cold, Cold People".
Review: Temptations founder Eddie Kendricks has made some great solo albums over the years, but few are quite as good as 1972's My People...Hold On. For starters, it includes two of his finest singles, the heart-aching "Date With The Rain" (still brilliant all these years later) and proto-disco dancefloor gem "Girl You Need a Change of Mind". But the goodness doesn't stop there. Throughout, you'll find stone cold classics, from the low-slung conscious brilliance of "People... Hold On" (Kendricks in "What's Going On" mode, basically), to the sunshine soul cheeriness of "I'm On The Sideline", which sounds like a looser take on the trademark Motown sound. If you don't already own a copy, this reissue should be an essential purchase.
Sandy Barber - "I Think I'll Do Some Stepping On My Own"
Bill Avery - "Disco Fever" (re-edit)
Spooky & Sue - "I've Got The Need"
Vessie Simmons - "I Can Make It On My Own"
Scarbrough - "Make Love To You"
The J's - "When Did You Stop"
Larry Brown - "Breaking Training" (parts 1 & 2)
Review: In recent years we've become accustomed to disco compilations appearing at a furious rate. While many of these compilations are undoubtedly worthy of attention, the volume of releases can sometimes be bewildering. This eight track selection from Al Kent, the second in his Disco Love series, ticks all the right boxes, however. Even by the highest crate digging standards, these tracks are pretty obscure; many won't have had much of an airing since their original release. Those into the rich, soulful side of disco - that brand of string-laden dancefloor material most associated with the Philadelphia International label and studio -will find much to enjoy. Perhaps the most noteworthy is Scarborough's delightfully sweet "Make Love To You", an epic of biblical proportions that lasts longer than most drunken one night stands. See also Valerie Simmons' super sweet "I Can't Make It On My Own" and the rousing orchestral manoeuvres of "I've Got The Need". This luxurious gatefold double album also comes replete with extensive track notes from compiler Al Kent.
Review: No less than 45 years since she recorded her first single, the legendary Chaka Khan with a new album as relevant and up to the minute as anything pretenders a third of her age could dream of. "Hello Happiness" finds Khan drawing on the legacy of her roots while keeping things fresh, upbeat and contemporary, with THAT voice front and centre. Lead single "Like Sugar" has been tearing it up all over the place for good reason - with Switch on production chopping up classic Fatback Band break "The Bus Stop," Khan sounds as fierce as ever.
Review: One of UK soul's brightest sparks and Danger Mouse on production: Michael Kiwanuka's highly anticipated sophomore takes a running jump and kicks the Motowns out of the difficult second album cliche. Ranging from epic urgent cinematica "Rule The World" to the smouldering blues ballad "The Final Frame" by way of ELO-meets-Finlay Quaye fuzzy rock funk "One More Night" Michael and Mouse take us through a detailed, dreamy and dramatic adventure that really explores Michael's gutsy range and developed writing style. On level, if not better, than Home Again.