Review: A new week, a new edits label, this time from BPlan & Fab_o. It kicks off in fantastic fashion with four edits that will boost your spot no end. There is loose and jumbled afro-disco on "Sweet Brasil" and then stripped back disco-house loops a la early DJ Sneak on "Aroma Club". The flip side again leans on afro for its sunny vibes with "Arabica Selection" and it might be that the best is saved until last. "West Africa" is built on funky bass riffs, with flailing percussion, chunky drums and vocal chants that will lock in any crowd.
Futuro Tropicale & Le Macchine - "Velenosa" (7:44)
Review: Next up on To Rack & Ruin release we have a split 12" full of Italian goodness! Futuro Tropicale has been a regular fixture of recent years at The Electric Elephant festival where his double team DJ sets alongside Balera FM have been the stuff of crate diggers dreams.. his voyage into the studio has not disappointed either. Velenoso is a wonderful bubbly box of chuggy, acidic, psychadelic, afro disco that rolls along with spaced out guitars & basslines. Disko Selectors have been staunch supporters of To Rack & Ruin so we were thrilled to hear some of their studio output and promptly snapped up Hiroshima for release they've got it right on the money and done that amazing feat of creating an absolute bomb of a track that pretty much is the same 8 bar loop throughout without tiring finally giving way to an absolute synth-tastic display of dance floor destroying bomb.
Review: Still mysterious, obscure and now even harder to decipher any actual facts due to the omnipotence of BTS, Fake Love hit their sixth volume of obscure edits since launching earlier this year. Once again it's a full cuddle of shades and flavours. "Track One" leads with more sleazy disco action, all slippery and blessed with a classic 80s flyboy rap, "Track Two" takes us deep into the heart of Lagos circa 74 where vital afro horns are laced over a fully primed disco groove, "Track Three" winds up this particular edition with a little Amazonian magic. Dust off those air pipes, you're going to need them...
Review: In 1977, Libyan musician Ahmed Fakroun flew to Milan to record some new material. The results were showcased on a pair of 7" singles, the most sought-after of which is being given the reissue treatment by Italy's Groovin label. The real winner here is "Nisyan", an Arabic interpretation of blue-eyed soul that fixes a baggy, sun-kissed sensibility, ear-catching Moog solos and a killer groove. "La Ya-Hob" is, if anything, even baggier and dreamier, with Fakroun delivering touchy-feely vocals over exotic, Middle Eastern synthesizer lines and a rolling, soft touch jazz-funk groove. Both cuts are equally breezy and jaunty, lingering in the memory for hours after each rotation.
Hooked On Your Love (John Morales unreleased edit) (8:13)
Review: Serious Philly boogie business: In 1979 the Aleem brothers teamed up with serial hit maker Leroy Burgess for this outstanding bass slapping floor burner. Listen closely and you'll hear a young Luther Vandross on backing vocals as the twins bounce off each other with their signature high ranges. Meanwhile on the B we have a previously unreleased edit from one of the most vital, direction shaping remixers of the time; John Morales. Expect nothing but 8 minutes of pure disco bliss. We're hooked on this!
Review: There was a time when original copies of Fantasy Life's sought-after 1985 Italo-disco gem "Over & Over" were changing hands for several hundred pounds online. While prices have come down a bit over the years, it remains a rare and hard-to-find delight. Happily, Dark Entries has saved us all a few bob by serving up this licensed reissue. The original version really captures the charming essence of Italo disco, matching chugging, motorized arpeggio synth-bass with cheery (some would say cheesy) synth-pop melodies and a catchy, impassioned vocal. Turn to the flipside for the dub style instrumental, which reminded us a little of some of Bobby O's early productions for the Pet Shop Boys (who were, fittingly, huge Italo-disco fans at the time).
Step Into My Life (John Morales M&M main mix) (9:58)
The Two Of Us (Al Kent vocal) (11:01)
The Two Of Us (dub) (10:59)
Review: Daniel Maunick and David Brinkworth's second Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra album, Black Sun, was something of a rip-roaring, sun-soaked treat: a wholehearted tribute to Brazilian disco and jazz-funk that wowed us on its release a couple of months back. This 12" sees two of the album's standout moments get the remix treatment. Veteran New York disco-mixer John Morales handles side A, brilliantly extending and rearranging the brilliant "Step Into My Life" with the help of a few dub delays and a healthy dose of reverb. Al Kent goes all Balearic disco on side B, turning in a near 120-minute, pitched-down revision of the gorgeous "Two of Us", before dubbing out the same track in a similarly dreamy fashion.
Vendetta (feat Arthur Verocai - Al Kent main mix) (9:27)
Vendetta (Al Kent dub mix) (7:59)
Review: Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra are in safe hands right here as serial editor and connoisseur Al Kent takes the parts of one of their 2014 album highlights "Vendetta" and revisions them into a hypnotic dancefloor trip. Where the original is loose and prone to steamy Latin string histrionics, Al's edits restrain the emotion a little and let it leaks out much more gradually over an enticing weave of percussion. Whether it's the vocal or dub version, both are guaranteed to take your floor to new places.
Where Do We Go From Here? (Andres alt remix) (7:02)
Where Do We Go From Here? (LTJ Xperience remix) (8:40)
Review: The past six years have seen Far Out call on the great and the good to rework material by the Dave Brinkworth and Daniel Maunick-led ensemble, Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra with John Morales, Mark E, Theo Parrish, Marcellus Pittman, Dego and DJ Spinna among the contributors. La Vida man Andres is pulling ahead of the competition in terms of appearances on the series, having contributed two remixes in the space of a year. He's back for a third time with an alternate mix to "Where Do We Go From Here" alongside LTJ Experience man Luca Trevisi. Whilst the Andres mix of the track that featured on a 12" earlier this year was an exercise in chopped simplicity, there is a touch more complexity to this alternate take which shows off his ear for warming musicality. The LTJ take is super deep and super good!
Review: Brand new label Fat Edits succinctly sum up their MO with the title of their imprint alone. Whoever is behind the material knows how to mash up big samples and slamming drums right from the off. "West Of North" is sweaty and hard hitting with old school Chicago drums pumping away. "Love fever" recalls disco's hey day with its glossy diva vocals, here reworked over prickly drums with big horns and strings. "Who Have Nothing" is the righteous closer, with rapturous vocals getting hands in the air over tough kicks and incendiary hi hats.
Review: Disco cognoscenti and brothers in arms Faze Action return to the production fold with "Tattoo Man", coming at you like the theme song for an 80s action show. Recorded in the studio with a live band, the track combines infections bass, drums, congas and keys that give "Tattoo Man" a wonderfully loose and genuine feel. There are a whole load of different versions - a 7" radio edit, a live extended rerub, a special disco mix, an agogo dub for the boogie heads and a couple of remixes from Rudy's Midnight Machine - making this the ultimate single package for discerning disco jocks. This has already been getting love from Pete Herbert, Hunee, Jim Stanton and Joey Negro - so get on it fast.
Review: Faze Action have been on a roll with their collaborative project with Zeke Manyika, which first started up in 2016 and now reaches its fourth installment with the infectiously uplifting "Sununguka". In its original form the Afro-house burner artfully blends Manyika's Zimbabwean roots with Faze Action's knack for '80s tinged proto-house. "Rwendo" is a more laid back affair compared to the lead track, but it's no less effervescent thanks to Manyika's vocals. On the B side, Alan Dixon drops a feisty Italo version of "Sununguka" that sounds purpose built for spine-tingling sundown moments, while there's also a pumped up "Special Extended Dub" version to appeal to headsy DJs looking to keep the floor running at full tilt.
Review: Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a number of other 12" singles bearing remixes of this track. According to Gerd Janson, it's because he got a bit overexcited when commissioning club-friendly revisions of the cut, an "outsider pop" gem that will be featured on Feater's forthcoming album "Socialo Blanco". It would be fair to say that the mixes featured here are suitably big. Pepe Bradock handles the A-side, wrapping dubbed-out synth stabs, watery melodies and fireside-hot bass around a skittish, techno-tempo rhythm track. It's one of the French producer's most accessible and peak-time ready revisions for some time. On the reverse, Ricardo Villalobos offers up a suitably percussive, off-kilter minimal techno take that makes great use of short vocal and guitar sounds lifted from Feater's Balearic-minded original mix.
Review: Arthur Russell and Nicky Siano... You'd donate a crucial limb to be in the studio when these were conjured, right? Expertly extended with full emphasis on the groove, Sleeping Bag have treated the heritage with the utmost respect. The guitar and horn noodles and dynamics of "Tiger Stripes" are given heaps of space to do their thing while the percussive groove takes on an even more hypnotic edge. Meanwhile on "You Can't Hold Me Down", the scratchy, unrelenting guitar rhythmic backbone remains the main focus while more attention has been paid to the drums, most notably the weightier kicks. A very respectful revisitation.
Review: Newcomer Feon up next on Optimo Music, with some some gorgeous and sunkissed balearica. The London based producer wrote these tracks in a brisk 10 day session, shortly after the experience of Ayahuasca ceremony - which is evidenced in the psychedelic sound of the first track. He has explained that the production involved his vocals being layered 30 times in different harmonies, then put through a space echo and you can sure hear it! This one was awesome. On the flip, we have the trance inducing muscle disco of "Holland Fly By" with its super cosmic influences enough to propel your mind into the stratosphere. Finally there's something much more experimental on the solemn, breaks-driven tripper "Without Sound".
Review: Pleasure Unit is doing a damn fine job building up a catalogue of discoid deviance from the likes of Skatebard, Lunar Concept and Loose Change, and now it's the turn of debutant project Field Of Dreams to lay down some 80s-tinged grooves for the smoother kind of dancefloor. "Pourquoi" features Queenie, and it shows off the individual heritage the two producers in Field Of Dreams have (one was in 90s chart toppers D:ream no less), all plush chords and slinky grooves with an alluring French vocal thread coursing through the middle. "Draw The Line" is a more synth-rich affair that leans towards the moodier end of acid-tinged disco, and then "Line Drawn" drifts out into Balearic boogie of a dubby nature, providing plenty of variation for the warm up or melt down dancefloor.
Review: You might recognise Finnebassen from his numerous releases on vinyl and digital over the past twelve months for labels such as Electronique and Nastyfunk. A new year brings a new approach from the Oslo based producer, with this double pronged slab of chuggy dancefloor material that slots neatly between disco and house. All on a rather dashing candy coloured clear vinyl plate. Lead track "Monday" is a deft reworking of a 90s R&B number that slots in nicely alongside the current wave of Hot Creations output, whilst Finnebassen does the unthinkable on the flip and delivers a tasteful electronic disco cover version of the Purple One's timeless power ballad on the flip.
Review: Shirley Finney's 1979 debut album "Pray Again" has recently become something of a sought-after set amongst collectors of disco-era gospel soul. Original copies of the LP are expensive and hard to come by, so Rain & Shine has decided to stick two of the set's most admired tracks on one 7-inch single. "Pray Again" is rather wonderful, with Finney delivering a strong, heartfelt vocal above a backing track rich in sustained organ chords, jangling pianos and clipped guitars. "Give Your Best To The Master", meanwhile, is a more up-tempo and stomping gospel-disco affair that benefits greatly from some stellar choral backing vocals. It sounds like the sort of thing that Tony Humphries may have championed at Zanzibar in New Jersey back in the day.
Review: Pioneering disco outfit First Choice built up a fine arsenal of hits in the 70s and 80s. Amongst them was their epic "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" which now gets two new versions served up by Brookside. Hot Mix 5 and Chicago house legend Ralphi "The Raz" Rosario is the man doing the work and the brings big drums and vocals with some superbly soulful keys next to Craig J Snider. On the flip, the band's most iconic tune "Love & Happiness" gets a rework by Mike Maurro. It is more soulful and warm, laced with big drums and sweeping pads.
Review: First Choice's era-defining disco funk anthem "Love Thang" gets dusted off by Salsoul. Timeless struts, silky bass flurries, huge orchestration and gutsy vocals; this still sounds spotless today. Complete with an acapella and instrumental, the real boon here is Kon's edit. If anyone is going to edit such a classic appropriately it's this guy; with a more mix-friendly, break and vocal focused intro, dynamic stripdowns and build ups and a big drum-focused pay-off, Kon reminds us how artful editing can be in the right hands... Again.
Review: In its original, hard-to-find "long version" form, First Choice's "Love Freeze" is one of the greatest chunks of soaring Philadelphia Soul/early disco around. It was recorded and released - initially in edited form - in 1975. You can find the elusive "Long Version" on the flipside of this essential reissue, which is headed up by an even more epic "Re-Freak" by the effervescent DJ Spinna. Clearly re-mixed from the original master tapes, his near ten-minute version builds slowly, breaks down in the middle, builds up again and finishes with an impressively dubbed-out conclusion. It actually sounds like the sort of floor-focused late '70s remix with which Tom Moulton made his name. That, of course, is no bad thing.
Review: Originally released way back in 1973, "Smarty Pants" is arguably one of the foundation records of the Philadelphia Soul sound that quickly evolved into the disco sound we know and love today. Here First Choice's superb original version (A2) gets a reissue, this time accompanied by an extended multi-track "Re-Freak" by DJ Spinna that sounds like a classic Tom Moulton "disco mix". Side B boasts two versions of 1976 soaring disco cut "Are You Ready For Me": a gently beefed-up, house-friendly "Uplifting Version" by remixer T-Groove and the Norman Harris and Stan Watson-produced original version. If disco is your thing, you need this in your life.
First Choice - "Dr Love" (Late Nite Tuff Guy Hypnotizin' Groove) (5:33)
Double Exposure - "Everyman" (Late Nite Tuff Guy rework) (5:31)
First Choice - "Love Having You Around" (Late Nite Tuff Guy rework) (6:37)
Review: There are few more celebrated edit kings than Late Nite Tuff. Now he is back once again with the goodness, this time tackling killer racks by First Choice and Double Exposure. All of the source material here is considered to be stone cold classic, so he's brave if nothing else. But of course, he also has the skills to make these edits worth your while - he extends the breaks, lets the grooves roll on and ensures the vocals remain in place to really get hearts sweeping and hands in the air. The unabashed funk, soul and disco joy of his take on Double Exposure's "Everyman" might be the standout here.
Do You Really Wanna Dance? (DJ Spinna Galactic Funk remix) (6:39)
Review: Since debuting on Highsteppin' way back in 2009, German four-piece First Touch has delivered some of the finest revivalist boogie, electrofunk and proto-house around. Here they return to Italian imprint Mother Earth with another essential EP of synth-powered goodness. The A-side is all about "Do You Wanna Dance", a clap-happy synth-funk masterpiece that's also given a tougher, funkier and more bass-heavy tweak by DJ Spinna. Flipside opener "Skyhigh" is a breezy, piano-heavy boogie-era disco-funk affair that reminded us of Randy Muller and (New York) Sky, while "Upwind" is a deep electrofunk shuffler blessed with effortlessly emotive piano solos.
Review: So far we've yet to hear a duff track or release from Flamingo Pier, a hybrid Anglo-Kiwi crew whose vibrant and colourful music combines a plethora of musical influences in pursuit of disco-fired dancefloor gold. There's tons of goodness to be found throughout their latest collection of cuts, from the drowsy, Holy Ghost style deep disco warmth of opener "Tripping Up", to the sprightly '80s electrofunk brilliance of "Boogie Meltdown". Sandwiched in between you'll find two more heaters: the kaleidoscopic, synth-heavy nu-disco cheeriness of "Indigo" and "Jungle Groove", a tight and throbbing proto-house number that sounds like the missing link between Paul Simpson and Escort.