Review: If you've ever tried to track down Gaston's obscure funk-soul album My Queen, you'll know that second-hand copies of the 978 set regularly change hands online for eye-watering amounts of money. Happily, Soul Brother Records has managed to license it and have pressed 1,500 new copies of a special Record Store Day 2020 edition. Musically, it's one of the more interesting and hard-to-pigeonhole sets to come out of the North Carolina funk and soul scenes during the 1970s, with the obscure band offering up a mix of intoxicating, rock-tinged instrumental workouts (the decidedly cosmic 'Magnificent Choo Choo'), piano-laden Latin jazz-funk numbers ('Fantasy Garden'), sun-kissed songs ('Clock In', the twinkling 'My Dreams'), and hot-to-trot dancefloor cuts ('My Queen', the extra-percussive and alien 'Clap Song').
Review: Blue Note Re:imagined is a carefully curated collection of brand-new covers of classic material from the legendary label as served up by a selection of the UK scene's most exciting young talents including Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia and Brit Award-winning Jorja Smith. For this latest 7" it's Jordan Rakei, who actually hails from Aus, but let's not get mad about that because the super smooth soul singer reaches new heights on the free flowing, heart opening 'Wind Parade'. Jazz pianist Alfa Mist takes care of the flip with a suitably cosmic exploration on 'Galaxy' that pairs live, busy drums and soaring synths with rich chords.
Review: The mysterious Sault troupe is back with a call to action and revolutionary soul soundtrack that really bangs the box. "Ain't nothing gunna keep us silent" the lead singer yelps on 'Stop Der', which is an immediate banger after the soothing ambience and closely mic-ed whispers of the opener, which muse on what it means to be black. The rest of the record is a hard hitting mix of crisp drums and empowering vocals, with elements of classic soul as well as contemporary jazz colouring the grooves. This is powerful music with an even more powerful message.
Review: Expansion is pushing the boat out for Record Store Day 2020. Chief among the label's must-check RSD releases is this 12", which offers up fresh re-edits - courtesy of an un-credited re-editor - of two sought-after cuts by late-'70s and early '80s West Coast fusionists Halo. The headline attraction is undoubtedly the fresh edit of the ultra-rare extended mix of 1981's 'Let Me Do It', a warm and groovy modern soul/boogie jam primarily known for its' familiar "let me do until you're satisfied" vocal refrain. The band's shorter original version is also included in the package, alongside a shorter re-edit of their sparkling, synth-heavy 1988 single "Life". In keeping with the more celebrated A-side, it's an energetic, life-affirming earworm.
Bobby Moore - "(Call Me Your) Anything Man" (6:14)
Sweet Music - "I Get Lifted" (7:18)
Review: Soul Brother Records' Record Store Day 2020 release offers up re-mastered versions of two hard-to-find early 'disco mixes' of modern soul-era gems. On the A-side you'll find Tom Moulton's scarce, five-minute club version of soul man Bobby Moore's '(Call Me Your) Anything Man', a delightfully orchestrated and super-sweet dancefloor workout built around a Latin-tinged groove reminiscent of Grace Jones' 'La Vie En Rose', which of course Moulton later famously remixed. Over on the flip there's a chance to savour West End Records' boss Mel Cheren's wonderfully over-the-top dancefloor extension of obscure vocal group Sweet Music's soaring cover of K.C & The Sunshine Band favourite 'I Get Lifted'. It's very different to their much-loved take, but every bit as essential.
Iwishcan William (Nad Tyler dub Strip version) (7:12)
Review: Washington D.C's The 3 Pieces initially put this out on their own private pressing on DL Records in 1982. It is a cosmic-boogie-disco-jazz and rap jam with lashings of funk and a curious spoken-word delivery and guest spot from a school aged vocalist that lends it plenty of character. The synths are glossy and harp-like, the bass grumbles are infectious and the whole thing overflows with feel good factor. The Lexx vocal mix is like an early house track with claps straight from a Peech Boys record and the Nad Tyler dub is even more ready for the dancefloor.
Review: Northern Soul diggers have spent many frustrating hours trying to track down copies of Roy Redmond's notoriously hard to find 1967 single 'Ain't That Terrible', which was initially released on cult label Loma. Listening to this timely and much-needed Record Store Day 2020 reissue, it's easy to see why. The track is exactly the kind of surging, stomping, up-tempo number that makes Northern Soul dancefloors go crazy, all topped off by an excitedly rousing lead vocal from Redmond. Over on the flip you'll find original B-side 'A Change Is Gonna Come', a lusciously arranged, performed and produced version of the Sam Cooke favourite smothered in melancholic horns, jazzy guitars and sustained organ chords.
Review: When it comes to modern soul albums of the mid-to-late 1970s, you'll find fewer more rare or sought-after than Timeless Legend's 1976 debut album Synchronized. Here the little-known Colmbus, Ohio-based group's masterpiece is given a special Record Store Day 2020 reissue courtesy of the soul diggers at Ohio Records. It's full of musically detailed, immaculately produced treats, with highlights including the summery grooves, dewy-eyed vocals and jazzy electric piano solos of 'Checking You Out', the snaking horn solos and impeccable group harmony vocals of 'Lonely Man', the heavy funk-rock-goes-R&B flex of 'River Boat Queen' and the pleasingly dubbed-out, effects-laden psychedelic soul of 'Ghost of Love'.
Carolyn Crawford - "Ready Or Not Here Comes Love" (2:26)
Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford - "What Made You Think" (3:11)
Review: We'd advise serious soul heads to take a look at this one. Part of the "Kent Select" series of dancefloor-focused 45s, it features two previously unissued 1971 recordings, both of which were produced by Mickey Stevenson. In some ways, it's incredible to think that Carolyn Crawford's "Ready Or Not Here Comes Love" has never previously been released; it's a genuinely inspired, up-lifting slab of soaring, stomping soul that will get Northern Soul enthusiasts racing for the dancefloor in their droves. Flipside "What Made You Think", credited to Hodges, James, Smith and Crawford, is almost as good, even if it lacks the rushing, celebratory positivity of the sublime A-side. In a word: essential!
Review: The considered crew of crate diggers and musical historians that is the Melodies International team returns with another vital piece that can make all out collections seem that bit more pro. In the spotlight this time is the gorgeous soul of La'verne Washington, who released this single, and this single only, at an unknown time in the past. The whole thing has been remastered by Floating Points and kicks off with the heart swelling joy of "The Promise" with its soaring vocals and rich musicality. "I Found What I've Been Searching For" slows things down to a more romantic and intimate mood, with lush chords and vulnerable vocals hitting a perfect sweet spot.
Review: US label coming with the ammo on it's debut 45 hooking up with their first release with a UK male Soul Legend with a masterpiece in dynamite vocal delivery. Two powerful renditions of funky soul classics first time on a 45. First up Toms gritty & powerful cover of Sam & Dave's ''Soul Man'' flipped by a tough version of ''Hold On I'm Coming''. Essential soul music with balls.Limited pressing. Don't sleep !
Review: This rather rare and emotionally raw disco bomb from Jackie Stoudemire & Al Stewart landed back in 1998 and often fetches upwards of L300, if you can find it. It now gets a full remaster and is presented with replica artwork for Record Store Day 2020. Opening salvo 'Dancing' is an uplifting jam with laid bare vocals soaring over a tight, kinetic rhythm section. After the dancing thrills of that one, 'The Two Of Us' is a more sentimental slow dance for lazy Sundays, and 'Running' closes out the triptych somewhere in between, with soaring strings and life-affirming Rhodes riffs.
Review: Jim Sharp slows things down a little with a pair of edits from the American South. Early West Coast gangsta hit "Dopeman" is the subject of side a with original drums but extended breaks designed to get the floor pumping. On the flip is a dirty south classic with prickling 808 kicks and hi hats that hit hard. It's super sweet soul music with raw grooves that can get any party started topped with vocals from Willie Hutch finishing things off in real style.
Review: Soul Brother Records is doing the world a great service by reissuing Sisters of Love's 1973 proto-disco anthem "Give Me Your Love", which is here presented in a Juno exckusive white vinyl edition. The song has been re-edited, bootlegged and reworked countless times over the years, and newcomers should be able to tell why straight away: the combination of brilliant group vocals, Blaxploitation style gyutars, fluttering flutes and powerful horns is simply superb. This time round it's accompanied by a lesser-known gem, "Try It, You'll Like It", which first featured on the B-side of a 1973 single. It's a powerful chunk of conscious funk/soul fusion of the sort that was incredibly popular during the period it was recorded.
Review: Floridian modern soul band Rivage recorded just one single and a sole album during their early '80s heyday, and both are apparently amongst Athens of the North boss Euan Fryer's favourite records of all time. It makes sense then that he has decided to reissue their album, "Sittin' On It" - an ultra-rare affair from 1981 that is here presented for the first time with an alternative photo cover (apparently the band hated the original cover). There's plenty to get the juices flowing across the eight tracks, with our highlights including "Sha Na Na", a punchy call for "soul for the people" blessed with brilliant horn arrangements, the Clavinet-sporting disco-funk cheeriness of "I Need Your Love", the deliciously celebratory title track and sweet, flute-laden closer "Strung Out On Your Love".
Review: Doris Duke's version of Marlena Shaw's seminal, powerful "Woman Of The Ghetto" originally appeared on her third album Woman in 1975. It's a searing version, Duke's full-bodied and fierce voice adding even more urgency to the searing social commentary embedded in the lyrics. Added to that is the stunning orchestral arrangement, which gets a full instrumental airing on the B side of this reissue from SAM - the soaring strings whip up a rich, cinematic strain of soul with a weighty groove underneath it. The song has never sounded better thanks to some fresh mastering, and it looks great too on red 7".
I Know You Care (Arranged & Produced By Roy Ayers) (5:18)
It's Your Love (Arranged & Produced By Roy Ayers) (4:01)
Review: In soul connoisseur circles, Ethel Beatty will forever be remembered for her sole single on Roy Ayers' Uno Melodic label, which first slipped out in 1981. This Expansion Records reissue - pressed on white vinyl in a Juno exclusive - proves why it is still so well thought of. A-side "I Know You Care" is super-sweet, with Roy Ayers' immaculate production wisely focusing on Beatty's lovelorn vocal, and a disco era deep soul groove that's effortlessly warm and tactile. Also impressive is flipside "It's Your Love", Beatty's sugary but emotive rendition of a Dee Dee Bridgwater and Ayers composition that features some skittish, jazz-dance friendly drums and all-round soothing and seductive vibe.
Review: Spanky Wilson is one of the fiercest, sweetest voices in the golden era of late 60s / early 70s soul, with a modest but mighty mark left behind by her run of classic albums and later collaboration with The Quantic Soul Orchestra. This handy 7" gathers together two classic Wilson cuts, leading in with the heavyweight soul-funk of "You". On the flip is her evergreen cover of "Sunshine Of Your Love", which for our money bests Jack Bruce's original vocal performance to take the vintage track onto a whole other level of raw, passionate power.
Review: Moog mastermind Jean Jacques-Perrey first released "E.V.A." on his landmark 1970 album "Moog Indigo", but most children of the '90s would recognise the distinctive, effervescent lead hook from the Fatboy Slim remix that totally encapsulates the big beat era. This handy jukebox 12" carries Perrey's original on one side, and on the flip another iconic piece of Norman Cook source material. Camille Yarborough's "Take Yo' Praise" was a cult slice of jazz funk released in 1975 that really is just perfect in its original state, but there's no denying Cook struck gold when he flipped it into chart-topping hit "Praise You".
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: Ikebe Shakedown is a collective of hyper-skilled instrumentalists who have been pushing boundaries for a decade now. That draw on raw and emotive 70s soul, psyche-sounds and Western soundtracks, and distil all that on this new red hot and pink 7" on Colemine. There is real majesty and joy in this tracks, which were recorded by Ikebe's bassist, Vince Chiarito, at Hive Mind Recording. Lush textures, nagging bass riffs and impressive playing chops all feature across a pair of tracks that very much tell a story that will have you coming back for more.
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.
Billy Hawks - "(O Baby) I Do Believe I'm Losing You" (3:03)
Review: This Juno colour vinyl exclusive finds Linda Lyndell serve up her own majestic cover of the classic "What A Man." Her vocal is smooth and buttery but also laden with gravitas, while the sweeping horns and jazzy keys all around her help to lift the spirits. On the flip is an ice cold slice of funk from Billy Hawks in the form of his "(O Baby) I Do Believe I'm Losing You". It's raw soul that glides at high speed with plenty of hip swinging claps. This is a much sought after reissue that will shift quick, so make sure you do too.
Review: Juno colour vinyl exclusive ! Back in 1992, Billy Garner's "Brand New Girl" was unearthed in the vast vaults of New Day owner Dave Hamilton. He soon got it out there and it just as quickly became an instant deep funk classic. It was only a limited release, though, so it has since gone on to become much sought after and rather pricey little number. Now given a new lease of life, it sounds as vital and moving as it did back then, so is sure to remain a grail record for soul lovers everywhere. "I Got Some" (part 1) is less hard hitting, but strikes an equally impactful emotional note.
Sweet Daddy Floyd - "I Just Can't Help Myself" (4:17)
Review: The popular Breaks & Beats series of light-touch, DJ-friendly re-edits of soul and funk classics has decided to reissue some of its most sought-after seven-inch singles on clear vinyl pressings. Fittingly, the first to get the reissue treatment is the label's first ever release from 2017. On the A-side you'll find a tasty extension of Melvin Bliss's warm, heartfelt, piano-heavy 1983 cut "Synthetic Substitution". While Bliss's brilliant original is largely kept in-tact, the mystery re-editor naturally makes more of the opening breakbeat. Flip for a similarly tasty rearrangement of Sweet Daddy Floyd's 1978 Blaxploitation style disco-funk shuffler "I Just Can't Help Myself", a cut rich in rolling breaks, densely layered percussion, punchy orchestration and "Shaft"-style guitar licks.
Review: The 5 Borough Breaks series has long been a good way of acquiring killer cuts that have some way played a part in the ongoing evolution of hip-hop culture in New York City. The hush-hush label's latest release boasts the full version of Betty Wright's head-nodding soul classic "Clean Up Woman", which boasts a breakbeat that has been sampled on scores of killer rap jams. On the A-side you'll find something a little less well-known: "Zulu War Chant", a 1992 cut by the Afrika Bambaataa and Rusty Egan-helmed Time Zone crew. It samples the familiar groove from "Clean Up Woman", adding a swathe of well known rapped and sung vocal samples and a hard-spun hip-hop beat.
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.
Review: Five years on from the release of the first seven-inch, Mako and Mr Bristow's Soul Edits" series reaches volume six. On the A-side's "Stealin Alright" they get to work on a riotous slab of funk-rock heaviness from the golden age of the sound - albeit one whose sweaty drum breaks, weighty bass and gravelly guitars also come accompanied by steel pan melodies. It's an odd combination but one that works really well. Over on side B, "Stealin' Nolan" is a tidy edit of another rhythm and blues style dancefloor workout, this time rich in stomping drums, memorable guitar riffs and stomping, Northern Soul style drums.
Review: This is the only album by mysterious Lui Williams (Lui), released in 1978. He and his band used to play at Maui Surf Hotel along Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii. (The hotel appears in the front cover.) This is a Hawaiian album, but his original "Oh, Oh (Think I'm Fallin' Love)" got popular among Soul / AOR lovers, and now the rare original LP is traded at a high price among collectors. It includes another his original "My Lover", Hawaiian cover of jazz standard "My Funny Valentine", Hawaiian traditional "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and so on. P-Vine reissued it as CD in 2018, and now we present it as vinyl.
Review: Leroy Burgess has made many terrific records in his time, and his turn-of-the-'80s boogie-era work for Salsoul contains many stone cold classics. Even so, he recorded few songs quite as addictive or impassioned as 1983's "Heartbreaker" - a strutting ode to a new lover featuring squelchy synths aplenty, inspired gospel style backing vox and a stunning lead vocal from the sometime Universal Robot Band maestro. On this reissue, Shep Pettibone's indispensable original 12" mix is backed by a fresh remix from Italian disco king Moplen. His version is a little more stripped back, expertly showcasing the original's immaculately programmed drums, bassline and squelchy synths. In his usual manner, you'll also find a number of sublime vocal breakdowns that really help the track soar. Superb!
Review: "Cramp Your Style" by All The People surely belongs among the canon of all time funk standards, sampled aplenty over the years, included on numerous compilations as well as being the recipient of cover versions from Breakestra and Killer Meters. Originally issued on the Blue Candle label back in 1972, a newly remastered edition of that 7" is now available for any funkateers out there without the 45 in their collections already. Robert Moore's yearning vocal sounds all the better for it too! And don't sleep on the bluesy delights of B side track "Watcha Gonna Do About It?".
Review: On Discs Of Fun & Love's fourth release, the crate-digging imprint has dipped its toes into the wonderful world of gospel for the very first time. The songs are taken from Rubenstein "Ruby" McClure's notoriously hard to find sole solo album, "Rubenstein", and their reissue is sadly given extra weight by the recent news that "Mother" McClure passed away in July. A-side "Joy" more than lives up to its' title, offering an uplifting slab of gospel-soul perfection topped off with a sublime lead vocal from McClure. Bandleader Fletcher Washington handles lead vocals on the soulful brilliance of gospel-blues flipside "Somehow (Make a Way)", a track that's every bit as essential as the "A".
Review: Once again Night Owls have cooked up a soul-stirring 45 with classic grooves and reggae rhythms from some of LA's finest. Dan Ubick of The Lions, Connie Price and the Keystones is on the guitar, Blake Colie plays drums, The Lions man Dave Wilder slaps the bass and Roger Rivas of The Aggrolites plays organ and piano. "Gossip" is a swaggering tune with sunny percussion and organic riffs that whip up all the right feelings. "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" is another happy, bubbly tune with fine vocal acrobatics and a rhythm section that you never want to stop playing.
Review: The second salvo in the occasional Summerjamz seven inch series more than lives up to its sun-kissed premise. A-side "Poppa In The Sheets" is a near perfect lazy afternoon jam: a killer combination of languid, head-nodding jazz-funk and boogie instrumentation, dewy-eyed chorus vocals (both lifted from the Isley Brothers' "Between The Sheets") and the Notorious B.I.G's slick, laidback rap from "Big Poppa". Over on the flip "Funny High" is similarly laidback, expertly combining high-octane raps (borrowed from a classic hip-hop cut), head-nodding beats and the kind of warm, woozy instrumentation best suited to intimate nights between the sheets with your nearest and dearest.
Review: With its stomping backbeat, killer group vocals, wall-of-sound production and energy-packed productions, the Hyperions' "Why You Wanna Treat Me the Way You Do" has long been a staple on the Northern Soul scene. We say staple; while popular with dancers, copies of the Perry Botkin Jr-produced "45" have long been extremely hard to come by (hence seriously eye-watering second-hand prices online). Here the killer cut finally gets the reissue treatment. As with the original release, it comes backed by sweet ballad "Believe in Me", whose vocal harmonies are particularly alluring. While good, it's the A-side that's the really essential cut.
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: Expansion's latest must-check seven-inch mines Roy Ayers' 1983 album "Lots Of Love", a sparkling post-disco set that combined the vibraphonist's usual jazz-funk flavours with colourful synthesizers and genuine boogie flavours. "Everybody" on the A-side is particularly potent; a lolloping synth-boogie head-nodder rich in life-affirming synthesizer squelches, rubbery jazz-funk bass, fluid Ayers vibraphone solos and background vocals that sneakily reference "Everybody Loves The Sunshine". Flipside "And Then We Were One" is if anything even more summery in feel, with mazy synth and vibraphone motifs dancing atop a killer jazz-funk groove. It's a little more up-tempo than the A-side, but arguably a little less addictive.
Review: Gregory Porter's beautifully buttery baritone has won him plenty of acclaim, fans, and Grammy nominations. How up to his sixth album, the jazz and soul singer is back to uplift you with his heart-felt, joyful celebrations. Of course, the whole affair is perfectly smooth and seductive, but also mighty powerful. Tracks like "Faith in Love" are string laced and upbeat songs to get a wedding crowd in a spin, "Long List Of Troubles" is a dramatic, dynamic jazz anthem and "Modern Day Apprentice" is a trend, stripped back song from, and to, the heart. This is another record that spans the ages in some style.