Review: Sampled by the likes of Groove Armada and The Herbaliser, "Turn Off The Lights" runs with one of those bass licks you've known forever without realising. Flip for the jazz boogie badness of "Fuel For The Fire". Taken from the same 1975 album, here we find the same vocalist, Linda Logan, sharpening her tongue and getting her scat on with furiously funky results. Hard to find on 45, it's yet another example of AOTN's expert curation prowess.
Review: After her magnetic debut EP for Running Circle in 2017, Nottingham's Yazmin Lacey lands on our charts with her follow-up 12", a piece of work that sounds deeply accomplished and expansive for being her second EP to date. Largely roaming within the jazzo-sphere, When The Sun Dips 90 Degress is a beautifully seductive five-tracker, with the artist's voice reigning supreme over the cascading showers of piano keys and subtle electronics, somehow tapping into the Alice Coltrane sort of vibe. There's no harp here, but plenty of soulful charisma. Fear not thy devout jazz fanatic - this can get real deep and real smooth. It's a broken beat fan's dream some true. More from Lacey is, indeed, expected in the remainder of the year. Marvellous stuff.
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: A bonafide masterpiece; Minnie's first album post-Rotary Connection should need little introduction. A cult hit in 1970, a global smash when re-released in 74, Come To My Garden hasn't enjoyed a reissue for over 10 years. Her first pure soul and jazz album, this was the album where the world truly understood Ripperton's incredible range and tenderness. Powered by the breath-taking orchestration and song writing of Charles Stepney and her husband Richard Rudolph, everything about this album stands the test of time from the dreamy pastoral haze of "Close Your Eyes" or the delicate harmonies and nightingale rush of "Expecting" via the untouchable "Les Fleur". Immaculate music history.
Review: It's been almost 11 years since Featurecast dropped their heavyweight revision of Aretha Franklin's "One Step" on Wah Wah 45's "Dubplate" series. Here the sought-after side is finally given the reissue treatment. It remains one of their finest revisions: a loose, languid and head-nodding fusion of hip-hop beats, subtle dub skank, occasional Marvin Gaye samples and seduction sections from Aretha's sugary, string-drenched original. Over on side B you'll find another gem from Featurecast's vaults: a tidy hip-hop style revision of Marvin Gaye's "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" from 2016, which was made in collaboration with Washington D.C pal The Gaff.
Review: When copies of Raw Soul Express's The Way We Live crop up online, they regular fetch eye-watering sums of money. Originally released back in 1977 on T.K Records' soul/funk offshoot Cat, it remains the greatest single work by the short-lived Miami band. "The Way We Live" is a superb example of sun-kissed, feel good, conscious disco/soul/funk fusion, built around a killer, horn-toting groove and emotion-rich vocal. The jazzy, low-slung flipside "This Thing Called Music" is less in demand, but almost as good. As a result, this is a surprise reissue that all funk, soul and disco diggers should crave.
Candi Staton - "Now You've Got The Upper Hand" (1:53)
Chappells - "You're Acting Kind Of Strange" (3:34)
Review: Candi Staton is due to tour again in 2020, so this choice reissue is a timely one indeed for fans old and new. It features "Now You've Got The Upper Hand", a record that often goes for over L2000 amongst northern soul fanatics. It first came out in 1969 and is a lush, upbeat gem that has been remastered for extra bang. Chappells' "You're Acting Kind Of Strange" is another rarity that fetches upwards of 300 qui. Here it comes as a no strings version from 1969 and is a real rollercoaster from the East Baltimore quintet.
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.
Keep Rising All Night Long (Sunday Service mix) (6:19)
Review: GAMM has been a treasure trove of edits, golden old soul and forgotten funk gems for an eternity and they come correct again with this monstrous dance floor dynamite on a loud, one-sided vinyl pressing: Ukokos & Jabco's hip hop and gospel styled rework of the world renowned clip of Kanye West's Sunday Service band doing a live cover of "Keep Rising". A majestic, triumphant and real floor filling, crowd pleasing bomb that will bring everyone together for many years to come.
Review: It would be fair to say that the two tracks showcased here aren't among Lamont Dozier's best-known songs. For starters, they were originally tucked away on the legendary soul man's largely overlooked 1981 set, Working On You. A-side "I'm A Believer" is a breezy, string-drenched chunk of disco-boogie blessed with one of the singer-songwriter's best vocal performances. It's something of an overlooked dancefloor gem, all told. Flipside "Starting Over" builds steadily from a slow start, with Dozier's impassioned message of love reborn coming through loud and clear over sumptuous orchestration and super-sweet vocal harmonies.
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.
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.
Review: Athens Of The North strike again. A big spinner for the likes of Floating Points, this rare-as-pigs-shoes 1980 45 from Ohio troupe Love Company has gone for big sums in the past. It's not hard to hear why; "Love Tempo" raises the heat with an unrelenting disco beat, coastal guitar textures and harmonies to swoon to. "Somebody Help Me Be Fair" flips for a much more sentimental story as Love Company unravel the problems of a menage-et-trois. Steamy.
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: Straight form the heart of London via the mind of Detroit, the ever-consistent Soul Brother crew have laid down another stellar reissue here through Dee Edwards' gorgeous "(I Can) Deal With That". Originally out on the much-coveted De-To label in 1977, the original mix is a delicate, whaling soul monster that'll melt your heart from its first guitar riff - Edwards' voice is truly magnetic over the slow-burning percussion. There's a more stripped-down 'Strings' version to act as the cherry on the cake - you just gotta.
Review: The always excellent Be With turn their attention to Samuel Jonathon Johnson and his fantastic 1978 album "My Music", which was the only full length he put out. The smooth vibe you get from the cover art alone says a lot about the music the man recorded: steamy, downtempo soul, romantic disco and lots of strong laden gems to warm you and a loved one through. The well known "What The World Needs Now Is Love" is a slow motion soul soother, while "Sweet Love" is pure positivity and "You" brings gorgeous orchestral disco funk fusions that brim with vitality. His own libidinous spoken word vocals add loveable sleaze to "Just Us" and makes for one of many highlights.
Review: Anticipation for the northern duo's fifth album Mount Pleasant continues to rise as the Jalapeno funksters drop another cheeky doublet ahead of the release. Two sides, two very distinct vibes: "I Feel Alive" tips a wee nod at their label mates Kraak & Smaak with its fluttering space disco elements and hip-strutting beats while "Mr Hyde" takes us up a notch with a sweaty northern soul twist. Bring on the album.
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.
I Can't Get Along Without You (instrumental) (6:36)
Review: Kalita has already served up some seriously good reissues, but their latest may well be the most essential yet. It's the first licensed reissue of Vance and Suzzanne's sole single from 1980, "I Can't Get Along Without You" - a Larry Levan favourite that was only ever pressed in small quantities first time around. In it's A-side vocal form, the track is a deliciously warm and loved-up duet that mixes rich, mid-tempo New York disco grooves with some of the heady, glassy-eyed musicality of Philadelphia soul. It's genuinely magical - a super-sweet cut that sounds like end-of-night gold. Like the original 1980 private pressing on Vanton Records, the Kalita edition is backed by the similarly sweet, atmospheric Instrumental Mix, but this time we're also treated to a never-before-seen press photo, and extensive interview-based liner notes.